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.

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