The Swanström coat of arms was assumed (I believe) during or shortly after World War I, perhaps about 1918, and certainly before 1942 by my great uncle Hugo Ferdinand Swanström (1886-1971). The arms might be older. No records exist of the arms assumed and borne by Swedish commoners, so the arms could have come down to Uncle Hugo from previous generations. However, the arrangement of three charges is so typically an English form that I doubt these arms came from Sweden.
In heraldic blazon, the arms are described as:
Azure two bars wavy Argent between three swans rising Argent beaked and membered Or, wings elevated and addorsed. Crest: Issuant from a crest-coronet Or a demi-swan as in the arms. Motto: Sans Tache.
Sköld: I blått fält två av vågskuror bildade bjälkar av silver ovan åtföljda av två inbördes frånvända och nedan av en svan, alla av silver med beväring av guld och med lyftade vingar. Blått hjälmtäcke fodrat med silver. Hjälmprydnad: En dylik svan uppstigande ur en hjälmkrona av guld.
Jeanne Swanström registered a version of these arms with the American College of Heraldry in 2005. I registered another version with the Bureau of Heraldry in South Africa in 2006. The arms are also included in the database of the Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen. Finally, the arms were registered with the Committee on Heraldry at New England Historic Genealogical Society in 2020.
The Swanström arms are canting arms, meaning that they are a picture of the surname. In Swedish, svans-ström means “swan’s-stream,” or more poetically, “river of the swans.” The arms show three swans beside a stream.
Most stories about symbolism in heraldry are fantasy, but I find it interesting that a swan is said to denote a music, poetry, and harmony. For more information on the symbolism of swans, see my Swan Lore pages.
- The Augustan Society, The Augustan Society Roll of Arms, 52-53 (Justin Durand, 5 March 1983).
- Magnus Bäckmark, Gröna Stubbens Vapenrulla (Hugo Swanstrom, 1999).
- Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen, Heraldiska Källan, No. 1646 (Hugo Swanstrom, 1999).
- American College of Heraldry, No. 2793 (Jeanne Swanström, 17 November 2005).
- United States Heraldic Registry, No. 20070204E (Jeanne Swanstrom, 4 February 2007).
- United States Heraldic Registry, No. 20070204F (Hugo Swanstrom, 4 February 2007).
- United States Heraldic Registry, No. 20070204G (Justin Swanstrom, 4 February 2007).
Other Swanstrom Families
The American Swanströms are not related to the Svanström family who were untitled Swedish nobility. Augustin Larsson Svanström (1600-1658) was ennobled by Queen Christina in 1647 (No. 397). His father Lars Michelsson was Governor of Helsinski Castle. The family became extinct in the male line with the death of Capt. Frans Ludvig Svanström in 1678. Their arms are illustrated below.
Other Swedish Families
The Laxmand family in Sweden bears arms that would have been equally appropriate to a Svanström family. Their arms are illustrated below.
Because of the inherent difficulties of creating a unique design, families separated by time and distance occasionally choose identical designs. I have not discovered any other families that bear the same arms as the Swanströms, but following are close:
- Swan, of Badwinstown Castle, co. Wexford. Azure on a fess wavy Argent, between three swans displayed Proper crowned Or, a trefoil Vert. Crest: a swan Proper crowned Or charged with a trefoil Vert. Motto: Sit nomen decus. (Sir Bernard Burke, The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales (1864), 989.)
- Waters, of Lenham, co. Kent. Sable three bars wavy between as many swans Argent. (John Woody Papworth, Ordinary of British Armorials (1961), 44.)
A black swan is the badge of Western Australia, which has for its motto Cygnis Insignis (Distinguishged by Its Swans).