19 Feb 2018

The Family Bible proves a link between Family 5 and Family 2

In the first Blog about the discovery of the Family Bible, which was published on 7th January 2018, it was noted that the Bible includes an entry for the birth of a John Swinfield on 22nd March 1773. That fact follows a reference to the birth of Thomas Swinfield on 27th August 1769. They must surely have been brothers. Although their parentage is not recorded, it is known that Thomas was baptised at Ashby de la Zouch church in Leicestershire on 1st January 1770 as the son of John and Jane Swinfield. That parish is located on the border between Leicestershire and Derbyshire.

John married Jane Radford in that same church on 28th November 1768. They also named a daughter as Elizabeth on 25th September 1771, although details of her birth were not recorded by the person then entering entries in the Bible. Jane was buried in that churchyard on 1st February 1809. John survived until 1820, when he died aged 81, and his body was laid to rest on 25th April 1820. Neither has an existing monumental inscription or any form of probate document.

The baptismal record of John Swinfield junior, born in 1773, is not included in the parish register of Ashby and is not included in any of the major genealogical indexes to the records of Church of England and nonconformist churches and chapels. Those include FindMyPast, which purports to have digitised and indexed all registers for Leicestershire, and Ancestry which has done the same for the Church of England registers for Derbyshire parishes. What became of John after 1773? He did not marry and was not buried from Ashby church. Did he move elsewhere to settle and raise a family of his own?

Consulting the database of over 4,000 entries in the Swinfield database, an excellent candidate was found for the marriage of John Swinfield to Catherine Lawson. Their marriage was solemnised in the church at Thurlaston on 3rd November 1800. That church is about 15 miles south-east of where his parents had lived.

Significantly, one of the witnesses was Thomas Swinfield who must surely have been his older brother who was born in 1769. Indeed the signature of Thomas at that ceremony is identical to that which he wrote at his own marriage in Kirkby Mallory church in 1803.     

John and Catherine moved to Burbage where their 12 children were born from 1800 to 1825. Ten of those were registered on 30th June 1819 at the Hinckley Presbyterian Chapel. Its register is at the National Archives at Kew (RG4/3187).

John had written his will on 14th January 1851 and it was proved by his son Job in the Archdeaconry Court of Leicester on 13th September 1856. In the inventory of his goods,  there is reference to five of his children and to his widow Esther, who, it is stated, was their step-mother. John specifically requested that his grandson Alfred should be taught the trade of blacksmith. 

John was buried in Burbage churchyard three days after his death. Catherine had died 17 years earlier when she was also buried there having died at 54. Most significantly, John's age places his year of birth at 1773/4, matching with the date recorded for John's birth in the Bible. Surely they must be the same man.

After his wife Catherine had died in 1834, John married again on 19th September 1835 at St George's church, Birmingham, to a widow called Hester Brightmoore. Her first marriage had taken place at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster in 1819 where her maiden surname was found to be Turner. Hester Swinfield died aged 78 and is buried in Cheltenham Cemetery, Gloucestershire.

John was recorded in the 1841 census of Church Street, Burbage (HO107/600/2, fol. 11, p. 19) with his wife Hester, his son Job and 5 year-old Alfred. By 1851, when John was dead, Job had become the head of the household in Burbage (HO107/2082, fol. 82, pp. 18 & 19) which now included his wife Ann (whose maiden surname had been Turner like his step-mother), his sister Mary, his nephew Alfred and his widowed step-mother, who, for some reason, was then recorded as Hannah. 

The 1861 census records that Job, a blacksmith of 48, had moved to Cheltenham in Gloucestershire (RG9/1798, fol 150, p. 48) leaving behind his father's widow Esther Swinfield, aged 59, who was then a nurse at the Workhouse at St Margaret's Leicester (RG9/2292, fol. 89, p. 1). She did not remain there, as by 1871, she was living again with her step-son Job, who was then working as a blacksmith and living at 18 Albert Street, Cheltenham (RG10/2667, fol. 32, p. 14). Job, his wife and one of his daughters were also laid to rest in Cheltenham Cemetery.

Two other sons of Joseph and Catherine Swinfield, Joseph and Thomas, as well as his grandson Alfred, the illegitimate son of their daughter Martha, also worked as blacksmiths for most of their lifetime. There are many living descendants of this couple today through Alfred, Joseph and their youngest child who was called William. Two of those attended the Swinfield Gathering in 2013. The suggestion that Family 2 may be closely related to Family 5 was mooted then. Further evidence was later added through DNA testing.  

The reference to the birth of John Swinfield in 1773 in the Bible, despite the absence of a record of his baptism, has now enabled a link to be made between Swinfield Families 5 and 2, which could not be established previously by using genealogical sources. Pedigrees showing exactly how the two families are connected can be viewed using the links at the top right-hand corner of this page.

9 Jan 2018

Further revelations from the Swinfield Bible

The genealogical information recorded in the Swinfield Concordance had enabled the pedigree of Family 5 to be extended back to the middle of the 17th century. It records that Richard Swinfield was born in 1645. Although it is not yet known when and where he married Frances Colgin, he was baptised in nearby Ibstock church on 19th April 1646, as the son of John and Mary Swinfield. That couple named five children there just prior to and into the Commonwealth Interregnum when England was embroiled in its Civil War. There is now a line which extends back into the period when the Swinfields were "will-making folk". 
Will of John Swinfeild 1649

John Swinfield's will, which was dictated in 1649, was proved in the following year in the Archdeaconry Court of Leicester (ref: 1649/72). John made bequests to his oldest son James and to his five other children, all of whom were under the age of 21. It was recorded that he owed his brother Richard £7 and his unnamed father was due £4 for a brown filly. The will was proved by his widow Mary.

Will of William Swingfeild 1633

John's brother William had also made a will in May 1633, very shortly before he died and was buried from Heather church. He left a sheep each to his brothers Richard, George and Ralph and to his sister Anne. Richard was also to receive his best jerkin and breeches. John Swinfield was left the testator's best doublet, shirt, hose and shoes. Most substantially, the residue of William's estate was to be divided between his wife Alice and his brother John with a bequest of a colt called Throstle to his cousin James.

The more wealthy family members were John and William's brothers George and Ralph Swinfield. George of Donington made his will in 1658 and he left sheep and wool to his kinsman, James Swinfield of Ibstock, and to James's brothers, John and Richard, and their three sisters. Having no surviving children of his own, he made provisions for his two nephews, Ralph and George, the sons of his deceased brother Ralph.

Will of George Swinfeild 1680

Wills were proved for these two men and Ellen, the widow of Ralph Swinfield junior, from 1671 to 1681. All were buried from the parish church of Great Appleby. The last survivor, George Swinfield, then held all the land which had been accumulated by that part of the family. His two cousins, James of Ibstock and John of Huckles Coat [now called Hugglescote] were gifted his house and land at Ticknall, Derbyshire, and Appleby in Leicestershire respectively. 
Disappointingly from Family 5's viewpoint, Richard Swinfield (1645-1701) and his family received no land from their cousins.

1595/6 baptism of Jhon Swinfilde at Shackerstone
John Swinfield was baptised at Shackerstone on 2nd March 1595/6. No parents' names were recorded in the bishop's transcripts of that church. The registers only survive from 1630. He appears to have been the oldest of a series of six children named in that church, ending with Mary in 1611. 

1609 baptism of Raph, son of Rychard Swinfilde, at Shackerstone
George was also christened there in early 1607 and Ralph in 1609. Significantly, only for the last two ceremonies was a father's name recorded. They were children of yet another Richard Swinfilde. From the will of 1649, he may still have been alive as he was then owed money for a filly. He now stands at the head of this lineage.

It could be speculated that there is now a genealogical link between Family 5 and the very extensive Family 12 which also used Markfield parish church from the beginning of the 18th century, With more work, can they be joined together into one tree?

Even more speculatively, does the frequent occurrence of the forename of Richard by both Families 5 and 12, reflect their knowledge that were related, some three centuries earlier, to Bishop Richard Swinfield of Hereford who died in 1317?

A son of Thomas and Sarah Swinfield, who was born at Earl Shilton in 1834, was named as Richard. He was one of the six issue, supposedly born to that couple from 1829 to 1841. It is now clear however from DNA testing and newspaper reports that those children were genetically the issue of Thomas Brown, with whom Sarah had a long adulterous relationship from shortly after her marriage in 1829 until her death in 1862. Indeed, Richard later changed his surname to Brown by the time that he married in 1854. By then Thomas had left his family and had gone to live with Maria Cooper at Calverton where their illegitimate daughter Elizabeth was born in 1839. It was this family that left these shores forever in the 1850s and took the treasured "Family Bible" on their journey into the unknown. It has survived, despite being damaged in a fire at some point, and will be 400 years old in 2019!  

Two pedigrees for Family 5, one showing the 16th and 18th century (early) and the other the 18th to 20th century (late), can be viewed by using the appropriate link in the top right corner of this page. They record the results and illustrate the relationships which can be derived from the "Swinfield Bible".  

7 Jan 2018

The Swinfield "Family Bible" discovered!

In genealogy, you never know when a significant breakthrough will happen in your research. The end of 2017 presented a wonderful surprise which will be of great significance to all Swinfields, especially those who are part of Family 5. Whilst away on holiday in December, I was contacted from America by Chantelle Russell. She had found me through reading the Swinfield Blog. It just shows that advertising your research interests is a great way of finding new contacts and relatives who may have that important fact, memory or, in this case, a family artifact.

Naturalisation application of 1864
Having recently embarked on research into her family's history, she was able to extend the line back to her immigrant ancestor, her great-great-great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Swinfield Cooper (1839-1925) who married John Warburton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1859. Elizabeth's father was Thomas (George) Swinfield (1808-1893) who had left his family behind in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, to live with Maria Cooper at Calverton, Nottinghamshire, where he advocated Chartism. It is not known when Maria and her daughter travelled to America but Thomas sailed from Liverpool to New Orleans aboard The Germanicus, arriving on 13th June 1854. He became a naturalised American in March 1867 having settled at Portsmouth, NH. Thomas, his daughter and grandchildren are recorded on a memorial stone in Proprietor's Cemetery there.
Thomas Swinfield arrives at New Orleans in 1854 on The Gemanicus

Most significantly, Chantelle mentioned that her father Robert is the custodian of the Swinfield Family Bible which was carried to Portsmouth by their ancestor. She believed that it contained genealogical information from the 17th century. Amazingly that proved to be true! The entries are actually recorded in a Concordance which was printed in London in 1619.

One page records the dates of birth (and some deaths) for Thomas Swinfield and his seven siblings, who were born from 1804 to 1820 at Earl Shilton. These could not be ascertained from the parish register of baptism and burial. Thomas was born on 2nd April 1808, the same date which he recorded when he started the process of becoming an American citizen in 1864. Elsewhere, it records that he first went to school on 24th August 1817, when he was 9. 

This book had belonged to his father, also Thomas (1769-1833), from 1788. It had passed down through the family from his great-grandfather, John Swinfield, who died at Smisby in Derbyshire in that year and his grandfather, also John (1738-1820). We even learn that John Swinfield junior, who I recently discovered had served in the 4th Regiment of Foot in the mid 18th century, had a hitherto unknown son, also John, who was born on 22nd March 1773. What became of him and does he had descendants? Another avenue of research to pursue.

The most significant records relate to the earlier period. Neither Derrick Swinfield nor myself, in our many years of research into the history of what became known as Family 5, had been able to positively identify the baptism of John Swinfield senior who appeared to have married Mary Meachem in the church of Norton-juxta-Twycross in 1732. Their children were baptised at Smisby church from 1738 to 1747, the two youngest daughters being recorded in our "Family Concordance". Disappointingly, John's date of birth was not written down there and neither is anything about his wife or their dates of death. He would have been born at the turn of the 17th/18th century.

However, the "Bible" tells us that an even earlier John Swinfield was born on 15th February 1679 (presumed to be 1680 in the modern calendar) as the son of Richard Swinfield and Frances Colgin, who were born in 1645 and 1643 respectively. From our database of Swinfield and variant entries, that John, who must surely be the father of John of Smisby, was baptised at Markfield church in Leicestershire on 29th February 1679/80 as the son of Richard and Frances Somerfield. His older sister, Mary, whose birth is also in the newly-found book, was christened there in 1675, according to the parish register. 

"Parish register" of Markfield for 1679/80
The writing in that register does not appear to be from the late 17th century and contemporary with the events recorded. Indeed there is a statement that the original register may have been lost and the version which exists today is a copy made in the 18th century. Some bishop's transcripts of the 1670s, annual copies of the parish registers sent to the bishop of  the diocese, have survive. These are in a late 17th century hand. 

Bishop's transcript for Markfield for 1679/80  
As can be seen, the baptismal entry for John, son of Richard and Frances Swinfeild (not Somerfield), records the date as 20th February (and not the 29th February). It also informs us that Richard was a weaver. The transcriber of the lost register clearly made several errors in copying just the seven entries of baptism recorded in 1679/80. The name of the next child, baptised on 7th March, is recorded as Sampson Rede in the bishop's transcript and William Read in the "parish register"! 

Richard and Frances were laid to rest from Markfield church in 1701 and 1717. Their marriage is yet to be found.