The family would appear to originate as a Saxon family who lived in Northumbria, in the days when Northumbria stretched all the way north to Edinburgh. First recorded in 886, their name and the arms of the family refer to the family's prowess at ridding the area of wild boar. As with most border families they were made up of brave soldiers and clever statesmen, who knew which side to support and when to change. At various times they were out of favour with authority, but always managed to return to favour at a later date, thus keeping their lands and titles.
Major General Sir John Swinton, who lives at Kimmerghame, is Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, but the head of the family lives in Canada.