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About the study

This is a very new one-name study for the Sweetingham surname.

Variant names

The variants Sweetingham, Sweetenham, Sweetenam are being considered. These do not appear to be related to the Swetenams (with one 'e' after the w) and these are not being included at this stage.

Name origin

The surname Sweetingham and its variants Sweetenham and Sweetenam, do not, at present, appear to be related to the one ‘e’ name Swetingham/Swetenham. The latter is rooted in Cheshire and is said to have '€˜been seated at Swettenham in Cheshire, before the Conquest, and there the male succession continued till 1788. The name is still borne by a descendant of the female line who is (in 1860) the owner of Swettenham.'€™ (Lower, Mark Antony, A Dictionary of Surnames Wordsworth Editions, Ware (1988) p. 336.) This hamlet of Swettenham lies between Macclesfield and Crewe. When one considers how the pronunciation is altered by the addition of the extra '€˜e'€™, it becomes clearer that the two names are likely to be distinct, rather than variants of the same name. Despite this and the completely different geographical distribution, surname dictionaries group Sweetingham and Swetingham together and appear not to be able to establish a meaning. The closest attempt is that by Mark Lower (Lower, Mark Antony, A Dictionary of Surnames Wordsworth Editions, Ware (1988) p. 336.), who considers the surname Sweeting to stem from the old Anglo Saxon personal name Suet; Sueting being '€˜son of Suet'€™. Thus, one supposes, Sweetingham is the hamlet or farmstead of the son of Suet.

Historical occurrences of the name


Name frequency

There are 171 bearers of this surname and its variants in the 1881 census for England and Wales.

Distribution of the name

According to the 1881 census, apart from one individual (Sweetenam) in Newport Pagnall, Buckinghamshire, all 171 '€˜two e'€™ Sweetinghams are found on the coast or river estuaries. By this date, there is a distinction between those with the '€˜ing'€™ and those with the '€˜en'€™. Sweetenhams predominate in Alverstoke and Portsea Island, either side of Portsmouth Harbour. The, more numerous, Sweetinghams, on the other hand, are mostly found further west towards Southampton, between the rivers Itchen and Hamble. By 1881 there is also a notable enclave of Sweetinghams on the banks of the River Thames. Like almost every family, Sweetinghams made their way to the colonies and the name can be found in Australia and the United States.


Data collection is only in the initial stages, with basic census and General Registration records still being analysed. All the Sweetingham baptisms, marriages and burials for the Isle of Wight are held.