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!  

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