24 Dec 2011

How can you learn about the Swinfields?

Happy Christmas to all those who follow the Swinfield Blog.

When you are together over the festive season, let us find some time to talk to other family members about our relatives and the ancestors from who we are descended. Now is a good time to collect those family stories. Let us remember where we came from and record all the family memories and tales before it is too late. Dig out all the old family photos and record the names, dates and places of the images from our past. Then make a New Year's resolution to share them with all of us who are part of the wider Swinfield clan. I would love to hear from you and to have new material and images to write about in 2012. Tell me what you have discovered so that we can pass the information to all who are interested. This Blog is a great medium for telling stories and illustrating them with documents and photographs.

If you have not done so, join the Swinfield Genealogy & DNA Group too. As of today, there are 58 members. 47 are called Swinfield or are members of one of its family trees. The other 11 members are friends and colleagues or are just interested in what we are trying to achieve and discover. I am grateful with all your support. If no-one reads it, what is the point of writing?

Of the 47 Swinfields, I can identify 37 of them with certainty on my pedigrees. The other 10 have yet to give me enough information to tell me exactly who they are. They can be categorised as:
Family 5:    20 members
Family 3:    7 members
Family 4:    8 members
Family 33:  1 member
Family 44:  1 member (Swinfield-Wells)     

Of the eight major lines, on to which nearly all of us can be placed, we still have no representatives of the remaining three families which are now named as 1, 2 and 12.

If you want to look at the main family trees, albeit the male lines of ancestry and descent, these can be viewed on the Family Tree DNA Swinfield DNA & Genealogy website. There you should be able to link into your own Swinfield line. If not, let me know and I can consult my extensive records.

On the FTDNA site, you can also view the results of the limited number of DNAtests that we have done so far. More males are urgently needed to participate please so that we can learn so much more! Their sale price offer of just £80 is available until 31st December. Any takers? Write to me at geoff@gsgs.co.uk .  

8 Dec 2011

Updated family trees. I need to hear from you!

At the top right hand side of this page, you can view the pedigrees of the Swinfield families whose story has been told through the first 16 parts of my Blog. These illustrate the lives and the connections between all of those who have featured in my accounts of the history of our relations.

There are other branches whose stories are still to be told! Many of you out there must have people in your Swinfield families who have stories which need to be told. Let me have your tales and have your photographs and I will be delighted to include them. I look forward to hearing from you.

7 Dec 2011

Part 16: A question resolved!

Those of you who have followed this Blog from the beginning will remember the tragic story of Jane Swinfield. My great-great-aunt, who was baptised at Earl Shilton in 1829, was convicted at the Leicester Quarter Sessions of January 1841 for stealing her mistress’s purse containing money, a gold ring and a pair of scissors. An account of her sentence can now be read through the very recent release of the digitised images of many 19th century newspapers from the British Newspaper Archive. Both the Leicester Mercury and Chronicle ran the story. We now know that Charlotte Bugg was the victim of the larceny.

Jane was sent away to Millbank Prison, Westminster, in late May where she was still awaiting transportation for seven years at the time of the 1841 census. Due to the intercession of a charitable prison visitor, who petitioned on her behalf, she was pardoned and released in very early August. What became of her?

No sign can be found of Jane in the 1851 census using any clever searches in the national indexes which are available from any of the major providers and there is no “good” marriage for her. The only possible record for her was a death registered in late 1854 in the Windsor district of Berkshire. Was that her? I have now obtained a copy and her fate is known.

Poor Jane died on 23rd November in the Union Workhouse aged just 26. It would be interesting to know when she was admitted as she was certainly not there in April 1851 at census time. Of course, no records of that institution survive from that date. The cause of her demise was recorded as phthisis, otherwise TB. It seems that she finally succumbed to the physical weakness which had been the reason for her early release from prison. Her “unsound lungs” gave up in the early winter of 1854. Perhaps she would have been better served by being sent to the other side of the World to join her distant cousins in sunny New South Wales!

27 Nov 2011

Part 15: The end of an eventful life

William and Elizabeth Swinfield, my great-grandparents, married in Aldershot church, Hampshire, just before the end of his lengthy service of nearly 20 years in the 60th Rifles. He had now to settled down to life as a civilian which must have been a very different experience to that as an active soldier.
          1881 census of the Staff Hotel

By 1881, we find them at the Staff Hotel, Camberley, Surrey. They lived in a cottage adjacent to his place of work. He described himself as a gentleman’s servant and pensioner of 40. His wife was recorded as “Edith”. By then, she had produced two sons. The elder, William Thomas, was then 2. The second, Joseph, was born and died in 1880. Was this occasioned by the diseases contracted by the father during his army career?
From "The Story of Camberley 1798-1992" by Gordon Wellard  
1891 census of Camberley
On 27th March 1883, their last child, my grandfather Arthur was born at Barossa Common, Frimley, not far from the Staff Hotel. William was still earning his living as a servant. They were still in that area on the night of the 1891 census living on the London Road, what is now the A30, that very old coaching road which runs through Camberley from the West Country. William was 50 and a domestic servant and Elizabeth worked as a dressmaker. There two surviving sons were with them.

By the time of the 1901 enumeration, a double tragedy had befallen William! Firstly, his oldest son, William Thomas, then aged about 20, was severely wounded at the Battle of Glencoe, Natal, on 20th October 1899 during the Boer War, whilst serving with the 1st Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He died two days later. He was one of the many casualties suffered during that engagement.
Secondly, just over a year later, on 21st November 1900, his wife died in the Farnham Union Workhouse in Surrey . She was just 55 and died of “morbus cordis”. William was then a gardener of Frimley. It appears that this double loss had a profound effect on William.

By the time of the 1901 census, William and his sole surviving son had moved back to Earl Shilton in Leicestershire where they were lodging with his married sister, Sarah Raven. However, shortly afterwards he was on his own as Arthur left home.

In 1905, William had returned to Camberley where he had spent most of his married life. In very early January, he was found homeless by an acquaintance, Albert Smith, who took him back to spend the night at his home at 55 Park Street.  Albert's mother was awakened in the night by a noise and found William lying dead at the foot of the stairs. The report of the inquest in the Camberley News describes how William had fallen and broken his neck.
So ended the very dramatic and sad life of my favourite ancestor.      

20 Nov 2011

Part 14: A life in the Queen's service

We left my great-grandfather, William Swinfield, in Part 5. His father had left home at least two years before his birth in 1841 at Earl Shilton. As we know, Thomas, was to settle for a while in Calverton, Nottinghamshire, where he became a Chartist, fathered a child, and emigrated to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with his new “wife” and daughter in 1854. Our recent visit to America has resolved the story of his life there and his final resting place.

Sarah Swinfield nee Hewitt, his estranged wife, now lived with Thomas Brown, the life-long bachelor, who would be her partner for many years until she died in 1862. Young William had left home too by 1851 when he was a 9 year-old coal miner at Bagworth. What did he do the rest of his life?
We find him in 1861 serving with the army as a private soldier of just 20. He was stationed at Winchester Barracks. His “soldier’s documents” record that he enlisted at Leicester into the 60th of Royal Rifles on 24th or 25th August 1859 aged just 18. He was just over 5 foot 5 inches tall with straight light brown hair and blue eyes. He was immediately sent to Winchester where he was treated in the middle of 1860 for that most common of soldier’s ailments, gonorrhoea, before his 20th birthday. After his first 4 years, all spent in England, he was posted to the East Indies where he spent time, more than 8 years in all, at Meerut, Calcutta, Madras, Ramandroog, and finally Bellary. He suffered from a range of diseases inflicted by the climate, a blow from a cricket ball causing “contusis pedis” and completed the set of STDs in 1868 when he was treated for syphilis! The MOs gave him a wide range of treatments which included tonics, iodine bandages, purgatives and leeches.

He returned via Aden to Shornecliffe and spent a further 8 years at Chatham, Winchester, Aldershot before being discharged, after a total of 19 years and 4 days in the Queen’s service, on 25th November 1878 at Colchester. His name appeared 20 times in the regimental defaulters' book and he was once tried by court martial. He avoided any wounds and was generally a good soldier.

Just before he was discharged, William finally married at the age of 36. The ceremony took place on 14th Novembe 1877 in Aldershot parish church, Hampshire. His bride, who was to become my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Postlethwaite, was 30 and the daughter of a postman. William did acknowledge Thomas Swinfield as his father. Surprisingly, after all his array of illnesses, the couple were to have three boys including Arthur, my grandfather.

More of his later life is still to come.

16 Nov 2011

Part 13: The mystery of Family 4!

As related in Parts 7 & 8 of these accounts of the Swinfield family and its branches, Families 3 and 4, which settled in NSW, Australia, descended from two brothers from Wolvey in Warwickshire, born in the first decade of the 19th century. William and John emigrated in 1848 and 1853 respectively with their young families. Our Australian cousins, their descendants, live there today.

1841 census of Mancetter
John’s eldest child, Edward Swinfield, baptised in 1834 at Mancetter church, Warwickshire, was with his family at the time of the 1841 census but was not living with them just before they left these shores. He did not go with his family for some reason and the £10 advance paid for his travel was refunded in 1856 on the grounds that he was “unable to emigrate”. What became of him when he was stayed behind? It is clear that he married Emily Rowley on 13th December 1866 at Atherstone. What happened to him then?  Thereby hangs another mystery!
Marriage of Edward Swinfield in 1866

Six current members of the Swinfield Genealogy & DNAGroup can trace their immediate ancestry back to George Alfred Swinfield and Naomi Henshaw who married in Leicester Register Office on 30th December 1916. The groom was then serving as a driver in the army during WWI and living in Fulham, London. He recorded his father as Edward Swinfield, boot repairer. The witnesses to the ceremony were Frederick Alexander and Florence Gertrude Swinfield. It would appear that these were his brother and sister-in-law although no reference to their union can be found in the national marriage indexes for England and Wales. Frederick Alexander died in 1968, aged 80, and Florence in 1972, both in the Leicester district. She was born on 1st July 1889.

George Alfred was born, according to the informant of his death in 1970, on 1st January 1888. Were he and Frederick twins? If so, neither of their births appears in the indexes of that time. Several members of the family have been told the story that there were twins, that their original surname was Higginbotham and that they had been “adopted” by the Swinfields. Amazingly, neither boy was registered under any variant of that surname either and they cannot be found in any census taken from 1891 to 1911.
Edward Swinfield, who George Alfred acknowledged as his father, does not appear in any census after 1841 and there is no death for him. Where was he before and after his marriage in 1866? Emily, his wife, can be traced through each of the censuses of 1881 to 1911, continually stating that she was a widow. What had become of her husband? If he was dead by as early as 1881, how could he be the father of the twins born in 1888?  Emily did have two children who lived with her in 1881. Both had been born at St Kitts in the West Indies. Why had she been there shortly after her marriage? What had taken Edward there and did he return? The marriage record of 1866 would appear to show him to be a planter. Was that what took him to the other side of the Atlantic?

1891 census for Emily Swinfield and her two children

Are the English members of Family 4, like myself, not “proper” Swinfields, bearing the surname but not having ancestors who were true descendants of whoever assumed the name way back in the past? Genetic tests may again answer many of these unresolved questions! 

5 Nov 2011

Part 12: Thomas settles down?

1191 Islington Street from the railway line
and off Barberry Lane
We have now returned from our three week and 2,500 mile drive around NE America and into Canada. Having found and visited both the house and grave of Thomas Swinfield, I now had a better idea of his life in Portsmouth during the 40 years that he lived in that delightful town.

The deeds of Rockingham County show that he had purchased the land, where the houses on Islington Street still stand, in the early 1870s. The other boundaries of the site, set out in a document of 1874, were what is now Barberry Lane to the east and the Concord & Portsmouth Railway (later the Boston & Maine Railway) to the rear. There he built the first house which he was to leave to his daughter and grandson in his will. The second house constructed on the land was to become the residence of William Warburton and his family by 1920. It is a pity that no-one was at home at 1207 Islington when we visited. I must contact the current residents to see if they can send me images of its interior to see where he lived. The lady, who now lives at no. 1191, knew little about its early history and no. 1205 is now occupied by high school students.

City directories record Thomas G. Swinfield as a pedlar at what was then numbered 71 Islington from as early as 1861. He later appeared consistently as a resident in that road, sometimes called “Creek” as that is where it leads, working as a farmer to his death in 1893. I still have no idea what became of his “second” wife Amy. 
Divorce of Thomas
and Chrlotte Swinfield 1887
By 1886, his “third” marriage appears to have broken down as his wife Charlotte was boarding away from the marital home at 48 Pleasant Street near the middle of town. In fact, Thomas divorced her in January 1887 on the grounds of “abandonment” (the pot calling the kettle black?). This discovery was made in the NEHGS Library in Boston. Sincere thanks to David Dearborn for his tour of its extensive collections.    

1900 census of Pleasant Street, Portsmouth, showing Charlotte Fraser

Charlotte Swinfield was no longer listed after 1892, reverting to her previous surname of Fraser. At the 1900 census, she was 85 and still lived at that address with her son by her first marriage and her daughter-in-law. They had left Canada in 1850.  

Morley Button Factory,
Islington Street, Portsmouth















Whilst buying flowers to put on the grave, at a florist just off Islington Street, we were intrigued by a large building now converted into a studio for artists. On enquiring what it had been used for, we were told that it was the old button factory. Amazingly, both William John and Edwin Swinfield Warburton, Thomas’s grandsons, worked at Morley Button Factory and William died on the premises in 1930!  Another fortuitous and great discovery!

8 Oct 2011

Part 11: Visit to New Hampshire

Thomas Swinfield had died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1893. He was apparently buried in Proprietor’s Cemetery along with his daughter, Elizabeth Warburton (1839-1925). Despite all my efforts to contact someone at South Street Cemetery, of which Proprietor’s is just one of five enormous parts, in advance of a trip to New England (as part of a 60th Birthday extended holiday to NE America and Canada), no-one answered the phone or replied to the messages which I left.
St John's Episcopal Church

On arrival, we went to the Portsmouth Public Library. The man who showed us around the “Special Collections” room was very helpful and we had the resources to ourselves. They hold an index to those buried at South Street which links the inscriptions to a map showing where the graves are. Not only did we locate the Swinfield/Warburton plot but also the burial of Thomas’s “wife”, Maria, Elizabeth’s mother, who had emigrated with him in 1854. She died as early as 31st October 1865, stated to be aged just 60. This was recorded in the records of St John’s Church in Chapel Street. She died just prior to his marriage to his second wife, Amy, in 1866. Both Frances and William John Warburton, her grandchildren, were married in that church in 1882 and 1890. 


We were then able to visit Proprietor’s Cemetery and go straight to the grave. What an amazing feeling it was for both Di and me to stand by the stone which commemorates Thomas’s passing and where he was laid to rest after such an adventurous life! He was later joined by his daughter and her husband as well as his grandson and granddaughter. It seems that Edwin Swinfield Warburton commissioned the inscription about 1926 leaving room for his death year to be added when he finally joined them. That was not done! The other grandson, William John Warburton (1864-1930), is buried with his family elsewhere in the Harmony Grove area of South Street. He was the great-grandfather of my newly found 3rd cousin, once removed, who lives in South Carolina. It seems that someone still tends the Warburton/Swinfield grave as fresh pelargoniums have recently been planted. I have left a card asking them to contact me the next time they visit. I wonder who they are?

1207 & 1205 Islington Street
We even visited the house where Thomas died in 1893 at 1207 Islington Street. It had been divided into two parts, as required in his will. The eastern half, now 1205, was left to his grandson. Another house, 1191 Islington, was built on the same plot around the time of WWI, where William Warburton lived until his death in 1930.  
1191 Islington Street






It is very strange and moving that we have now found out so much about Thomas after more than 30 years of searching. It was very hard to leave Portsmouth, which is a lovely place to live!  

3 Oct 2011

Part 10: Cousins in America!

Elizabeth Swinfield Cooper, born at 10.15 am on Tuesday, 28th February 1839, at Calverton, as the illegitimate daughter of Thomas Swinfield and Maria Cooper, was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at the time of the 1860 census. She was the newly-married wife of John Warburton, a painter. What happened to her and do we have American cousins?

Marriage of 1859 
The card index of registration records for New Hampshire is searchable through the FamilySearch website of the Mormon Church. Elizabeth Swinfield had married John on 27th August 1859 in the Middle Street Baptist Church, Court Street, when she was 20. It is believed, from all the records found for her, many unearthed by genealogist, Sandi Hewlett of Philadelphia, that she produced at least four children. They were Frances, born in 1862 at Portsmouth; William John born 6th December 1864 somewhere in the state of Massachussetts; Annie who was born and died in 1865/6 at Philadelphia and Edward or Edwin on 28th October 1866 in Boston.   

By 1870, when the census was taken, this couple and their three young children were back in Philadelphia. John was working as a French polisher. 
1880 census of Portsmouth, NH

1886 Portsmouth City Directory

In 1880, Elizabeth was a young widow of just 40, living with Fannie, William and Edward at 9 Bartlett Street, back in Portsmouth. The 1886 Portsmouth city directory places them in residence at Islington Road/Street, the house which Thomas Swinfield left in his will, dated 1891, to his daughter and his grandson, William. Interestingly, although Frances Swinfield Jameson did not die until 1923 and the other son, Edwin/Edward, lived until 1927, neither was mentioned by their grandfather.
1910 census of Islington Street, Portsmouth
for the Warburton and Davis families

Death of Elizabeth
Swinfield
Warburton in 1925 




Elizabeth remained a widow throughout the remainder of her long life, living at Milburn Street in 1900 and Islington Street in 1910 and 1920. She was at 1207 and her son at 1191 and were these the two halves of the same building as bequeathed by Thomas? Elizabeth finally died at the age of 86 on 23rd January 1925 of a brain haemorrhage. Her obituary was published in the Portsmouth Herald on that same day. She too was laid to rest in Proprietor’s Cemetery, possibly with her father.

Her obituary in the Portsmouth Herald
Frances Jameson had a daughter, Josephine, who married Charles Edwin Davis. They lived with the Warburtons in 1910. After the death of her husband, she moved to California where both she and her own daughter died. It is not yet known if there are any living descendants of hers.







William John Warburton (1864-1930), the executor of Thomas’s will of 1894, had three sons. Only one, John Edwin (1891-1964) had issue. Just this week, we have, through the social network which is Facebook, made contact with his granddaughter in South Carolina. My sons have an American 4th  cousin!  

29 Sep 2011

Part 9: Seeking a better life?

Great-great-grandfather, Thomas Swinfield, baptised in 1808 at Earl Shilton, was last heard of living at Town Street, Calverton, Notts, living with Maria, his “wife”, and their 11 year-old daughter, Elizabeth. There is no record of a death of either Thomas or Maria in England and Wales and no reference to a marriage for their child. None of these three can be identified living here at the time of the 1861 and subsequent censuses. Had they disappeared or changed their names?
Thomas's naturalisation card of 1864
1860 census of Portsmouth, New Hampshire 
After having looked for the fate of this man for nearly 40 years, since beginning my study of the Swinfield family, Ancestry’s index to American census records revealed the solution to this mystery. Thomas G. Swinfield, aged 52 and a stocking weaver, was living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in June 1860. With him were Maria Swinfield, who was 53, and John and Elizabeth Warburton, all born in England. They had emigrated, presumably to find a better life on the other side of the Atlantic. The same website includes an image of this naturalisation record issued at Exeter, New Hampshire, on 5th March 1867. He had arrived in the US on 11th June 1854. The card even records his, previously unknown, date of birth as 2nd April 1808! There is no online record which tells us on what ship he, and presumably his family, sailed and from where.
1880 census of Portsmoth, New Hampshire
1876 Marriage
In 1870, the census shows that he was still in Portsmouth, but was now apparently married to Amy, also an English woman. By 1880, his wife had changed once more, she now being Charlotte from Nova Scotia. Records for that state reveal that at least he waited for the death of Sarah at home in England in 1862, before he married Ammy Welch in 1866 and Charlotte Ann Fraser in 1876. Was he made aware that his estranged wife had passed away, leaving him free to marry again? Thomas does not seem to have been too successful in relationships. By 1888, the Portsmouth city directories indicate that Mrs Charlotte Swinfield had left the house on Islington Street to board at 48 Pleasant. Strangely, no deaths or remarriages are recorded for any of the women who he lived with in America. They are not listed in censuses after they separated either! What became of them, I wonder?
Thomas's death in 1893
With the help of David Dearborn of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, I learned that Thomas G. Swinfield did well there. He was recorded as a party to 11 land transfer deeds from 1869 to 1892. These can all be viewed online. In 1894, his grandson, William J. Warburton was signatory to another document which stated that Thomas’s will was proved on 9th January 1894. 

David abstracted the will, a copy of which is in the NEHGS Library. Thomas bequeathed the westerly half of his house to his daughter, Elizabeth, and the eastern half to his grandson. The property still stands to this day on the corner of Islington Street and Barberry Lane.

Thomas died on 1st June 1893, aged 85 years and 2 months of “old age” and was buried in Proprietor’s Cemetery, Portsmouth. At last, I know what happened to great-great-granddad!

26 Sep 2011

Part 8: The Australian branches

The two Swinfield brothers, William and John, born in Wolvey, Warwickshire, emigrated to New South Wales.

Marriage of William Swinfield in 1848 
William was the first to arrive right at the end of 1848. He and his new wife, Sarah Williamson, had married at Nuneaton parish church on 27th August 1848 just two weeks before they travelled down to Devon to sail from Plymouth. They took with them four of William’s children by his first wife, Sarah Ballard, who had died in 1845. The “Walmer Castle” was a comparatively small ship to make the arduous voyage of some 14 weeks to the other side of the world. Mastered by Joseph Thorne, it had a crew of about 50, 10 cabin passengers and just over 300 government emigrants. Two of the infants died en route.

Of the sons who went with William, John (William), born in 1837, had ten children. Four of the sons, Henry (1858-1923), Albert William (1866-1934), Arthur T. (1868-1917) and James E. (1871-1923) had many descendants between them (Family 3A). Linda, a member of the Swinfield Genealogy& DNA Group, is on this branch of the tree.

Daniel Swinfield (1842-1877)
His youngest son, Daniel (1842-1877), also has living representatives (Family 3B). One of his great-grandsons, Raymond Francis, has provided me with many documents and photographs including those for Daniel and his son, Daniel junior (1877-1905) who lived at Pymont in Sydney.
William produced a further seven issue by his second wife and their modern descendants still live in various parts of Australia (Family 3C).
Death of William Swinfield 1876
The extended Family 3C taken in about 1911
at Arthursleigh, Westbourne St, Kogarah, NSW
Sarah was to die in 1861 and William married for a third time to Louisa Tober. He finally died in 1876 at Petersham. Most Swinfields in this line descend from their son, George William (1854-1935), who had nine offspring. Vanessa Swinfield and Shirley Stott Despoja represent
this branch within the current Group members. Shirley has a wonderful photograph of George William, his wife, all of their children and four grandchildren taken in about 1911. 

John Swinfield, the younger brother, and his family had a far more hazardous passage to NSW on board the “Beejapore” in 1852/3. It was “home” to over a thousand passengers from all over England and Scotland, of whom 55 died during its 14 week voyage from Liverpool. On arrival, they were lodged at the infamous Quarantine Station which had been built for only 150. The majority were housed in tents where measles, scarlet fever and typhus claimed another 62 lives. Indeed, John’s wife, Mary Ann, and his youngest son, William, were amongst the victims. John married again to Eliza Hartley and died in 1874 at Waterloo but there are no living Swinfield lines from him that have been identified to date.
Refund of emigration fee for Edward Swinfield 
His branch, termed Family 4, has many representatives in England who originate from John’s oldest son, Edward, born in 1834, who chose not to emigrate. His £10 fee was refunded. He was very lucky not to go! Five members of the Swinfield Group can trace their ancestry back to him. These include Marie and Paul Frederick who are distant cousins to the Australians.

It would be great to do a DNA test on a male Australian to confirm once and for all the connection between Families 3,4,5 & 13.   


22 Sep 2011

Part 7: Family 3 & 4 - The cousins

The DNA evidence strongly suggests that the Swinfield family from Earl Shilton (which I originally called Family 5), from which myself, Derrick and all our relatives descend, was connected with that of Family 3& 4. This relationship must have been at some point from the 14th to the 17th century, after our distant common ancestor had chosen to use our distinctive and pretty rare surname. What do we know about the history of that branch of our family?
Wolvey Church
Records have enabled that line to be traced back as far as John Swinfield and Frances Collins who married in the church of Wolvey inWarwickshire on 25th August 1755. They were buried in the churchyard there in 1796 and 1805 after having five children, only two of whom survived their childhood. The only adult son, Thomas, who had been christened on 8th July 1781, married in the nearby church of Monks Kirby on 21st August 1803. His bride was Elizabeth Hackett from Copson. The couple settled in his parish and they named 10 children there from 1804 to 1822. Eventually, they moved six miles to the north-west to Mancetter where their last two issue were baptised. Thomas was buried at Nuneaton in 1847, aged 66.   

The Blue Pig on the road to Wolvey Hall

1841 census of Nuneaton  
Of their 12 children, half were boys, of whom one died when he was only 4. Two of them, Daniel, who was a rick cloth worker in Foleshill, and Samuel, a medical doctor in Nuneaton, had no surviving male offspring.

Three have living present-day descendants. George Swinfield, born in 1825, became a boiler maker, probably connected to the railways. Moving south to the East End of London by 1865, his two sons, Daniel and Herbert Victor, and all the modern representatives of “Family 13” still live there today. These include Paul Frederick, whose DNA matches with that of Derrick Joseph George of Family 5.


Passenger list of "Walmer Castle" in 1848

What was the fate of the two oldest sons, William and John, born in 1804 and 1806? They both emigrated to Australia in the middle of the 19th century. William had already been married and had buried his first wife in Nuneaton by the time that he left with his very new second wife sailing from Plymouth on 12th September 1848 aboard the “Walmer Castle”. They arrived with his four children on 30th December 1848. The oldest son, Thomas (1824-1881) remained in England and has produced a plethora of living Swinfields! William started another family with his new bride, Sarah (Williamson), in New South Wales. There are many branches which descend from both of his spouses there today. 
Passenger list of the "Beejapore" 1853  
John Swinfield left with his wife and five children on the “Beejapore” which docked on 9th February 1853. She and their youngest child died on arrival. Of course, he married again soon after and had more offspring. He too had left his oldest son of 21 behind in Mancetter, Warwickshire. That son, Edward, is also the head of a very large pedigree with many English descendants.
There are just so many cousins who are part of Families 3, 4 & 13. The stories of some of them remain to be told.      

21 Sep 2011

Part 6: It's all in the science!

So who was the real father of William Swinfield, my great-grandfather, who was born in 1841? Although, on paper, he was born legitimately to Thomas and Sarah Swinfield, who had married at Trowell in 1829, there was overwhelming evidence that Thomas had left his family behind by as early as 1839 and was living at Calverton. In that year, his new partner, Maria Cooper, had his child, whom they named Elizabeth Swinfield Cooper.

Sarah Swinfield remained in Earl Shilton and produced two illegitimate issue in 1843 and 1845, whom she named Joseph and Sarah. The evidence leads us to believe that the father was her long-term partner, Thomas Brown. Could genetic tests be used to determine if Thomas was also the father of my William?
My 37 marker haplotype certificate
By testing the Y-chromosome, which is passed from father to son and which makes children male, it is possible to produce a profile for any man. There are many marker sites along its length which can be “scored” for the number of meaningless repeats of very short sections of DNA known as short tandem repeats (STRs). By comparing the STR profile (called the haplotype) of two or more men, an assessment can be made of how closely they are related. Usually, this is done for men who share the same surname, adopted as a family name about 1300.
Graham's 37 marker haplotype 
Joseph Swinfield had three sons and from them there were many lines of male descent. His great-grandson, Graham Albert Swinfield, my 3rd cousin, was traced. He kindly agreed to provide a sample of his DNA and that was compared with mine using Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). The results can be viewed on the Swinfield DNA & Genealogy Group page.Amazingly, we were identical at 35 of the 37 marker sites tested.  Not only that but we also had an extremely rare haplotype for English men. We certainly shared the same male ancestor. Whoever was the father of Sarah’s illegitimate child in 1843 was also the genetic father of my great-grandfather. The evidence put the ball very much in Thomas Brown’s court! 
Paul's 37 marker haplotype
We have also tested two other Swinfields, one of whom was “on paper” my 4th cousin, Derrick George Joseph, the man I had met on my first day in a record office (see “My First Step in Genealogy” below).  He has a completely different haplotype which is almost identical to that of Paul Frederick Swinfield (of Family 3 & 4). They only differ at one marker out of the 32 for which they have both been tested.  This is a type of Y-chromosome which would be found frequently amongst over 70% of English men. They must have a common male ancestor and it proves that Families 3 & 4 and 5 must be related if only we can find the document that proves it!   

After nearly 40 years of collecting any information, that I could lay my hands on, relating to the surname of Swinfield, I had proved conclusively that I am not one. I should have been researching Brown instead!   

17 Sep 2011

Part 5: A family divided

Thomas Swinfield, the errant Chartist, had left his family and moved to Calverton by 1839. What became of his three “sons”, Richard, William and Joseph, who had survived their childhood, and his wife, Sarah?

1861 census of High Street, Earl Shilton 

In 1861, Sarah Swinfield was still living in the High Street, Earl Shilton. Her partner of the last twenty years, Thomas Brown, was the head of the household. Was he the real father of my great-grandfather, William, and of his illegitimate brother, Joseph, born in 1841 and 1843 respectively? He was then a 52 year-old unmarried framework knitter, who would also have struggled to “make ends meet” in that arduous and depressed trade during the 1840s and 1850s. Sarah, unlike in 1851, was recorded as a married woman of 56. Did she know where her husband lived? With them were Thomas’s daughter and grandson, who both had the surname of Swinfield. Sarah’s son, Joseph, then aged 19, a carter and servant, was living nearby in Church Street. My great-grandfather, William, who had joined the army in 1859, was a private in Winchester Barracks, Hampshire, by 1861.
Where was Richard at that time? He had been a coal miner at the time of the 1851 census. He was nowhere to be found, indexed as Swinfield, and did not seem to have married or died by the age of 27! Perhaps he had given up on his family and fled these shores. I had certainly given up hope of finding him.
1861 census of Ecclesfield, Yorkshire  
Imagine my delight when just two months ago I was contacted through Genes Reunited by Helen Warburton. She had been seeking the origins of her great-great-grandfather, who had been born in Earl Shilton about 1834 and was working as a coal miner in Ecclesfield, Sheffield, in 1861. She had searched unsuccessfully for his origins in the records of that parish and had then come across a Richard Swinfield on my online tree. Her ancestor was calling himself Richard Brown! Indeed, at his marriage in Norton Canes, Staffordshire, in 1854, he recorded his father as Thomas Brown, miner. Did he know something that I didn’t about his paternity? Had his parents separated even earlier than the parish registers suggested? Richard Brown died in 1869 at Darfield, Yorkshire, of typhoid, aged only 35. It seemed that the fate of my great-great-uncle had been determined at last. 


Sarah Swinfield died on 25th February 1862 at Earl Shilton and was registered, according to the handwritten copy which was issued in 1980, by Elizabeth “Bown”. She recorded the deceased as “wife of Thomas Swinfield a stocking maker”. Was he still alive and where was he? 
1881 census of Wood Street, Earl Shilton





Thomas Brown continued to live with his Swinfield “children” and “grandchildren” at Earl Shilton until his death in 1893, when he aged 84.