The Name:

It is currently suggested that ADAM DE SWYNLEYHURST, living late 12th Century in the Forest of Bowland, straddling the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire, acquired the appellation about 1184 when he leased land of that description and thus may be considered to be the first Swindlehurst. One theory is that this spelling of Swynleyhurst (Swine Pasture/Grazing Wood) and early variations such as Swindlehurst (Swine Dale Wood) and Swinhillhurst (Swine Hill Wood) indicates that the earliest bearers of the name were 'swine farmers in the wood'. Early work records suggest however that the emphasis is on the -hurst (hurst - often a wooded hill/ridge), and this gives rise to other possibilities: (1) that Adam was living at a place already named from an earlier usage even though he was not personally involved in the pig-rearing business, and (2) that, although living elsewhere, he was leasing that named land mainly to fell trees and to prepare and use the wood for building, etc, and not necessarily farming swine (pigs/boar)? (An extended version of this paragraph can be seen here.)

Our Origins:

According to latest science (2010), the first Homo Sapiens developed in Africa. It has been rumoured that our family may be of this species hence our earliest parents may well have lived by a river in Africa at least 200,000 years ago. A few families emigrated north c200,000-150,000 BC, some, including our possible foreparents, eventually moved up to the Black Sea area, on through Europe to Scandinavia as 'Vikings' - Cove hiding Pirates - then to Ireland and eventually England c800 AD.

Which Viking group or family did we come from before settling in Bowland and are we related to the Viking King Swein?

With the original document yet to be found, our English surname may have begun as in:
"Among the odds and ends left by Frank Swinglehurst is a newspapercutting dated 29th March 1910 from the 'Burnley Express' regarding the Swinglehurst family. It states - Swinglehurst spelt in all its various ways, has been for centuries closely connected with the district of Chipping [Forest of Bowland, Lancashire side] The Swinglehursts (Swynhulhurts) had a lease of land about 1190 [1184] when Sir Robert Fitzhenry, Lord of Lathom, gave part of his land in Aules-Large [to Adam de Swynhillhurst] which was called 'Swynleyhurst' or 'pig-grazing wood'. The Lord of Lathom had jurisdiction over most of Lancashire and was the forerunner of the Stanley family who became Earls of Derby."

A Lancashire Architect and Historian has since informed us that documents regarding the Lathoms are not always reliable.

Apparently, wild boar (swine) graze (in pastures - leys) under cover of woodland (hursts). Wild boars were feared European animals in those days, used as symbols by warriors and royalty, so our naming may have nothing to do with any wild boar which may have existed on our land. Either way, our earliest named foreparent(s) may have required skills with weapons and fighting as well as those for farming and building. Perhaps our line even goes back to the 'Green Knight' of Arthurian and Camelot legends? Our land in Bowland, with what may be signs of an ancient defence mound and fort, has been suggested by at least one scientist as possible home of the Green Knight.

2009 Update. Our researcher and former Language Teacher Paul of Leigh suspects the Swin part of our name may be derived from Swain - a Knight's personal Aid. Paul also found that it was common for Knights to lease land to their Swains

2010 Update. Our first surnamed father Adam of Aules-Large may have had a son William if Adam is as in: (from Tom Smith's History of Chipping): "Among the Derby MSS. are deeds, without dates, but of the time of John and Henry III. (1199-1272), in which grants of land in Chipping are made by Robert, son of Richard de Chepyn, to Richard, son of Leodovic de Knoll; by Robert, son of Roger, son of Sir William de Chepyn, to William, son of Adam de Aula. Also by William the carpenter to Thomas, his son, of land called Birchenlees; and by Henry de Thelewell to Richard de Knoll of land near the Kirk Brigg."

The National Trust has compiled a database of English language surnames and has produced a location density map for each name. Those particularly relevant to us are Swindlehurst and Swinglehurst. These links are to locations as at 1998. There is a link on each page to the 1881 equivalent.
blank spacer

The DNA Study:

Over the past several years the University of Leicester has carried out an exhaustive study of the DNA of different groups of people sharing a surname. Turi E. King and Mark A. Jobling, Department of Genetics, at the University, have published their findings in a paper "Molecular Biology and Evolution - Founders, drift and infidelity: the relationship between Y chromosome diversity and patrilineal surnames" which is on line here. In the case of the Swindlehurst/Swinglehurst family, Dr King has issued a letter (November 2008) to 40 of the people who participated in the study (by providing DNA samples) which includes this:

The DNA study shows clearly that all of you receiving this letter are descended from a single ancestor.

The implication of this is that it should be possible to connect the whole world-wide tree, with a bit of effort and a lot of luck.

The area:

Based on information so far identified, the Swindlehurst name originated in the valley of the River Hodder, in the Forest of Bowland, on the very edge of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Names which appear in the early history such as Fair Oak, Park Gate and Stakes are still in use. The area is shown on this Google Earth vertical photograph centred on Ing Wood, historically known as Swindlehurst Ing.

blank spacer

View Larger Map
blank spacer

Ing Wood is considered to be pretty much the centre of the area occupied by the early Swindlehursts. The area shown in the photograph can be changed by using the arrows, and can be enlarged or reduced using the plus and minus buttons.

The area covered by this photograph is contained on Ordnance Survey maps at various scales. The most convenient is Sheet 103 of the Landranger series at a scale of 1:50000, the area of the photograph being approximately the rectangle with co-ordinates (sw corner) SD646444 and (ne corner) SD659454.

The earliest series of maps of this area produced by the Ordnance Survey is a 6 inches to the mile version, issued between 1850 and 1860. The sheets are shown on this page, prepared by Ron Catterall.

On Saturday the 4th April 2009 a small group of members of the Lancashire Archaeological Society visited the site to carry out an eyeball survey of the area, hoping to identify traces of medieval occupation and usage. The weather was less kind than we hoped, and the more recent activities in the area have made it unrecognisable from what it probably looked like 800 years ago. The basic morphology hasn't changed - the river still runs through the valley - but a lot of engineering has taken place. There have been major pipe-line works associated with the Stocks Reservoir project (opened in 1932) and a significant later coniferous implantation along the sides of the gorge has changed its appearance. We walked through the flat land bordering the east bank, north of the aqueduct at the top of the photograph, examined briefly the woodland around this area, and criss-crossed the large field to the east of Ing Wood. The bank and ditch of the medieval park can be seen in parts, and there are signs of later activity (a very pretty lime kiln for instance). But no joy for us.

The 1893 re-surveyed OS map of the area shows, at the north end of the flat land, a building named as Lilyholme Barn. This structure no longer exists, although evidence of it is still obvious on the ground. It was possibly demolished when the main pipeline was constructed. The building appears to have been of undressed quarry rock, of dry stone construction. Its age cannot be guessed at.

A return visit took place on Easter Sunday (12th April 2009) in glorious sunshine and mostly peace and quiet - ie - early before the Sunday drivers appeared. The photographs are on this page. There is a caption to each picture. Following this visit, we arranged for a representative from the Lancashire County Council's Archaeology Dept (responsible for the County's Historic Environment Record [HER] - formerly the Sites and Monuments Record [SMR]) - to examine the mound of stones on photograph no 19. This site has now been added to the HER, as a potential burial cairn.

Return to the previous page

blank spacer