Family History Notebook

A Dictionary of English Surnames by P.H. Reaney and R.M. Wilson
published by Oxford University Press, London 1997

In "A Dictionary of English Surnames" (P. H. Reaney, R. M. Wilson: Oxford University Press: Revised third edition 1997) there is an entry

Swindell, Swindells: James Swindell 1621 SRY; Humphrey Swindells 1647 PN Ch i 147. From Swindale House in Skelton (NRY).

As I interpret this it means that

the name James Swindell was found in the Subsidy Rolls for Yorkshire in 1621 and the name Humphrey Swindells in a reference from 1647 in 'The Place Names of Cheshire' from the English Place Names Society, Vol i, page 1471. The name is believed to have derived from Swindale House in Skelton in the North Riding of Yorkshire.

In "A Dictionary of Surnames" (Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges: Oxford University Press 1988) the equivalent entry reads

Swindells. English (Lancs): of uncertain origin despite being a very common name in Lancs. It is possibly a habitation name from Swindale in Skelton, N. Yorks., so called from OE swin pig, wildboar and dæl valley.


1    The reference should be to page 145 (of The Place Names of Cheshire, Part One, by J. McN. Dodgson published by the Cambridge University Press in 1970). The reference is to Swindels-Gate Farm in Rainow.
"SWINDELS-GATE FM cf. Humphrey Swindells 1647 Dow, v geat a gate".
The Dow is an abbreviation for the reference "The Downes MSS in the possession of Dr B.K. Blount; Downes MSS., ed J. McN Dodgson (NRA) London 1958". I have been unable to find further information about this manuscript. However, according to the IGI, Swindells and its variants occur frequently in the parish records for Prestbury (Cheshire), which includes Rainow, with the earliest references going back to 1565. It should be noted that the local term for valleys is 'clough' not 'dale' and that it is more likely that Swindells Gate farm is named after a Swindell rather than the reverse. Swindells Gate Farm still exists today.