Oswald is a surname of Scottish, northern English and German provenance.
Origin of name
The surname derives from the Anglo-Saxon personal name Oswald, in particular, King Oswald of Bernicia and later Northumbria. Bernicia consisted of what is now the Lothian and Borders areas of southern Scotland and the English counties of Northumberland and County Durham, while Northumbria was formed by uniting this kingdom with Deira(Yorkshire) to the south.
As described by Bede, after his death in 642, Oswald soon came to be regarded as a saint. The name was introduced to Germany as a result of his fame being spread by Celtic missionaries to southern Germany.
The surname is most prevalent, as regards frequency, in Scotland and the southern part of the German speaking area (Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria). Also in some but not all former German colonial territories (Tanzania, Namibia and Rwanda).The United States is the country with most occurrences of the name.
Scotland and northern England
Oswald is most frequent in the KY postcode area (i.e. Fife and Kinross-shire) and the PH postcode area (namely in and around Perthshire) in Scotland, . Also in the DH postcode area whih covers central parts of County Durham in northern England. The town with the highest frequency is Burntisland in Fife. In 1881 the distribution was more concentrated and the area with the highest frequency was Fife and Kinross-shire (KY). In that year Fife and Kinross-shire contained 31% of all Oswalds in Scotland.
Austria and Switzerland
In Austria the name frequently occurs in all areas, except west Tyrol and East Tyrol, north Burgenland and some areas west of Vienna. It is also common in neighbouring eastern Switzerland in parts of Thurgau, Graubunden and Glarus.
Occurrence of the surname
Until the recording of surnames with the census in Scotland from 1841 onwards, the occurrence of surnames can be ascertained from the register of births and baptisms of each parish. This registration became prevalent throughout Scotland from about 1690  when the present Church of Scotland was re-established.
As shown by the parish registers, the Oswald name in Scotland in the period 1690-1800 was concentrated in Fife (45% of Oswalds), with lesser concentrations in neighbouring counties of Kinross, Perth and Stirling. The County of Edinburgh (i.e. Midlothian) also had a high occurrence.
|County||Oswald Births||All Births||Per 10,000|
|Births with Oswald surname 1690-1800, with rate of occurrence per 10,000 births.
Counties with zero occurrences not included
From the end of the 17th century  until 1938, a family of the name Oswald owned the estate of Dunnikier, near Kirkcaldy, Fife. Originally their seat was Dunnikier in the parish of Dysart, Fife, at Pathhead. This property anciently belonged to the family of Lundin of Balgonie. However in 1791-93, James Townsend Oswald arranged for a new mansion to be built in the northern part of the parish of Kirkcaldy, by Alexander Laing (architect). The estate was then also named Dunnikier. The family lived there until the last of the line, Colonel St Clair Oswald, C.R., died at Dunnikier House on 14th Dec 1938. His wife died at Wellington, Somerset in 1973 and was interned at Dunnikier.
Another family descends from James Oswald of Kirkwall, who was born about 1590, and died about 1660. He had a son, James who was a Bailie of Wick, Caithness. His descendents settled at Scotstoun, Renfrewshire (now in Glasgow) and, in 1759, at the estate of Auchincruive in Ayrshire. Richard Oswald built the present Auchincruive House (St Quivox parish) and the estate remained in the possession of the Oswald family until 1925.
Scotstoun, which was a mansion and estate on the north bank of the Clyde in the parish and county of Renfrew (but now subsumed in Glasgow), was purchased in 1748 by the brothers Richard and Alexander Oswald from the creditors of John Walkinshaw. The brothers were merchants in Glasgow and grandsons of James Oswald, Bailie of Wick. Being unmarried, they then left the estate to George Oswald, also a merchant in Glasgow, who was the eldest son of their cousin Rev. James Oswald, minister of Methven, Perthshire. George succeeded to the estate in 1766. The estate of Scotstoun remained in the possession of the Oswald family into the 19th century.
South of Balgray, in the parish of Mearns, Renfrewshire, lay the Barony of Fingalton, which was originally of great extent and one of the oldest possessions of the Hamilton family of Preston. Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Hamilton of Preston (died 1672), married Sir James Oswald and in 1681 Sir William Hamilton secretly sold Fingalton and other estates to Sir James Oswald, his brother-in-law. Sir William Hamilton then went to Holland to join the party of William of Orange. By 19th century Fingalton had passed out of the possession of the Oswalds and Fingalton itself only existed as the name of its mill.
Prior to the Reformation, Denny, Stirlingshire, had a vicar by the name of Oswald. Being then within the parish of Falkirk, he was subordinate to the rector of Falkirk. The vicar managed to secure 28 acres of glebe land next to Denny, subsequently known as the lands of Dryburgh, to his family, which was confirmed by King James VI. This property remained in possession of the Oswald family until the death of James Oswald of Dryburgh in about 1815. 
In 1666, Charles II granted by charter (confirmed in 1669 by Parliament) to Andrew Oswald of Dalderse, advocate, and his heirs the town and lands of Dalderse, Stirlingshire, with houses, fishing rights, etc. Furthermore, that these properties were to be incorporated in a whole free barony, to be called for evermore the barony of Dalderse. Dalderse lies within the parish of Falkirk.
|Dunnikier, Fife||a star of six points, waved, argent||Monstrant astra viam|
|Dalderse, Stirlingshire||comet star||Monstrant astra viam|
|Fingalton, Renfrewsire||dexter hand issuing out of a clond and pointing to a star of eight rays||Forti favet coelum|
|Scotstoun, Renfewshire||ship under sail||Non mihi commodus unl|
|Auchincruive, Ayrshire||dexter hand issuing out of a clond and pointing to a star of eight rays||Sequamur|
|Crest and Motto as recorded in 19th century |
Oswalds in Fife
The first census of Scotland which included the recording of surnames at each address was that of 1841. The latest published with names (due to confidentiality policy) is 1911. The occurrence of the Oswald surname at these two census shows that the name was distributed in the south of Fife, especially around Largo Bay from Kirkcaldy to Largo (see map).
People with surname Oswald
- Alice Oswald (born 1966), British poet
- Andrew Oswald (born 1953), British economist
- Debra Oswald (born 1959), Australian writer
- Denis Oswald (born 1947), Swiss rower
- Eleazer Oswald (1755–1795), American soldier and journalist
- Ferdinand Oswald (born 1990), German footballer
- Gerd Oswald (1919–1989), American film director
- Henrique Oswald (1852–1931), Brazilian composer
- Ian Oswald (born 1929), British scientist
- James Oswald (disambiguation), several persons
- Jimmy Oswald (1868–1948), Scottish footballer
- John Oswald (disambiguation), several persons
- Julian Oswald (born 1933), British naval officer
- Kai Oswald (born 1977), German footballer
- Karlheinz Oswald (born 1958), German sculptor
- Karsten Oswald (born 1975), German footballer
- Kirsten Oswald (born 1972), Scottish M.P.
- Lance W. Oswald (born 1937), Australian footballer
- Lee Harvey Oswald (1939–1963), presumed assassin of John F. Kennedy
- Lucas Oswald (born 1988), American musician
- Pascal Oswald (born 1980), Swiss skeleton racer
- Peter Oswald, British playwright
- Philipp Oswald (born 1986), Austrian tennis player
- Richard Oswald (1880–1963), Austrian film director
- Richard Oswald (merchant) (1705–1784), Scottish merchant
- Richard Alexander Oswald (1771–1841), Scottish politician
- Rob Oswald (born 1964), American drummer
- Stephen S. Oswald (born 1951), American astronaut
- Theresa Oswald, Canadian politician
- Thomas Oswald (1904–1990), British politician
- Walter Oswald (born 1955), German footballer
- William D. Oswald (born 1936), American missionary
- Dictionary of American Family Names, publ. Oxford University Press, 2013
- Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, Book III, chapter 9
- Dictionary of First Names (Oxford Quick Reference), Paperback, by Patrick Hanks, Kate Hardcastle Kate and Flavia Hodges, publ. 5 March 2007
- http://www.forbears.co.uk - search for the surname Oswald. Retrieved Aug 2016
- 1998 information from gbnames.publicprofiler.org - Search for the name Oswald. Also explanatory text on how the distribution is mapped. Retrieved Sep 2016
- 1881 information from gbnames.publicprofiler.org - Search for the name Oswald. Map shows that the KY postcode area represented the entire upper sextile, whereas in 1998 it was spread across this and two other areas. Retrieved Sep 2016
- Scotland's people website (A partnership between the National Records of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon) www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/search/census/index.aspx?1881 Search Oswald for 1881 census, for both Fife and all Scotland. Retrieved Sept 2016
- See geogen.stoepel.net Search Oswald then select the map of the Laender. Retrieved Sep 2016
- See geogen.stoepel.net Search Oswald
- http://www.gen-evolu.de/ (enter Oswald in search box) Retrieved Sep 2016
- namenskarten.lima-city.at search Oswald. Retrieved Sep 2016
- http://www.verwandt.ch/karten/relativ/oswald.html retrieved Sep 2016
- 1841 Census, Scotland's People website http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/content/help/index.aspx?r=554&1262 Retrieved Sept 2016
- Coverage of the Old Parish Registers, from National Records of Scotland website www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/old-parish-registers/list-of-old-parish-registers Retrieved Sept 2016
- Scotland's People website http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/search/oprbirth/index.aspx (apply for free logon) Search Oswald and select each County (not City) in turn. Retrieved Sept 2016
- The Scottish Nation, by William Anderson, publ. A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1863. Article on Oswald
- Glasgow Herald 15 Dec 1938
- Scotland Places website, article on Dunnikier House http://www.scottish-places.info/features/featurefirst62808.html Retrieved Sept 2016
- The Times newspaper (London)25 Oct 1973, p.38
- Caithness Family History, by John Henderson. Publ. Edinburgh 1884. Chapter on the Oswalds, p.232
- Historic Scotland website portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB99 - Article on Auchencruive. Retrieved Sept 2016
- A General Description or the Shire of Renfrew, Including an Account of the Noble and Ancient Families; orig.publ. 1710 by George Crawfurd and continued by George Robertson; Published by H. Crichton, Bookseller, Paisley, 1818; pp. 342, 347
- A General Description or the Shire of Renfrew, Including an Account of the Noble and Ancient Families; orig.publ. 1710 by George Crawfurd and continued by George Robertson; Published by H. Crichton, Bookseller, Paisley, 1818; pp. 39, 286, 293, and 296.
- New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol 8, Dunbarton-Stirling-Clackmannan. Article on Denny, p. 115 of Stirlingshire section. Publ. William Blackwood, 1845. Article revised 1841.
- Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2016), www.rps.ac.uk/search.php?action=print&id=38595&filename=charlesii_trans&type=trans Retrieved August 2016
- General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, And Wales, by Sir Bernard Burke, C.B., Ll.D. Ulster King Of Arms, publ. Harrison & Sons, 50, Pall Mall,London,1884; p. 765
- British Crests Containing the_Crests and Mottos of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland; by Alexander Deuchar; publ. Kirkwood & Sons, Parliament Sq., London, 1817. See entries for Oswald
|This page lists people with the surname Oswald. If an internal link intending to refer to a specific person led you to this page, you may wish to change that link by adding the person's given name(s) to the link.|