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.

12 Sep 2011

Part 4: Looking for justice

Thomas Swinfield had left his wife and young family at Earl Shilton by 1839 and had taken up residence with Maria Cooper at Calverton in Nottinghamshire, some 40 miles away. His daughter, Elizabeth Swinfield Cooper, was born there on 28th May that year, albeit illegitimately. Interestingly, this locality was less than 10 miles from where his wife, Sarah Hewitt, had originated and where they had married in 1829.

Sarah had been left behind in the parish in Leicestershire, where she had gone immediately after her wedding and where all her 8 children had been born. As my great-grandfather, William, was born as late as January 1841, his paternity was seriously in doubt! Was he really the son of Thomas Brown, the lodger, who lived with Sarah from 1841 to 1861? Why had Sarah recorded herself as a spinster at the 1851 census?

At that very time, there was a great deal of unrest throughout the country. The very depressed economic conditions lead to much social and industrial action by those employed in occupations which did not provide sufficient remuneration to feed and clothe their families. This was encouraged and fuelled by the Chartist Movement from 1838 to 1850. Members demanded that six points, outlined by the People’s Charter, be addressed by the Government. These demands for reform centred on universal franchise for adult males, a secret ballot and Members of Parliament who were more representative of the common labourer.

Buildings used for framework knitting in Calverton
The Midlands was an especially militant centre of demonstration as the framework knitters were particularly poorly paid and lived in dreadful conditions, with long hours of work for little remuneration. Thomas or George (as he often called himself) Swinfield became actively involved in the movement. The Northern Star & Leeds General Advertiser, the Chartist newspaper published from 1837 to 1852, reported its activities. This can be searched online for names of those involved.  

                                                       
George was nominated for its General Council in December 1842, being sub-secretary of the Calverton branch and was present at a meeting at Arnold in Nottinghamshire in March 1844. Thomas paid 3d into the Winding-up Fund in July 1850.











Most importantly, the Chartists attempted to increase the size of the electorate by giving land to their members thus satisfying the voting qualification. The small parcels of land were allocated by ballot. Unfortunately, Thomas Swinfield was one of the runners-up in the “Three Acres” category published on 12th December 1846. This must have added to his disillusionment with his lot in England.   

10 Sep 2011

Part 3: A Child in prison!

One person, who was missing from the family of Sarah Swinfield, which was at Earl Shilton in 1841, was Jane. She had been baptised in 1829. Where was she?
1841 census of Millbank Prison
The census taken in June that year reveals that a girl of that name was in prison in London. A 13 year-old servant was languishing in the General Penitentiary. That was MillbankPrison. It had been opened in 1816 and was where all prisoners awaiting transportation were sent pending their passage to Australia. It stood on the site where Tate Britain is today. Why was she there?

No records survive for that penal establishment until a couple of years after that date. However the Leicestershire quarter sessions records show that she had been convicted there in January that year for “felony”. She was of “bad” character and was sentenced to seven years transportation. Her arrival in prison was dated 3rd February but there is a later annotation that she was given a free pardon on 31st July less than two months after the census was compiled.

The records of pardons are held at the National Archives. A series of letters relate to Jane Swinfield and her time at Millbank. The first, dated 21st January, details her imprisonment. Written from Belvoir Castle, Charles William Packe, Chairman of the Quarter Sessions, recommended that Jane, who he stated then just 11 years of age, would be best served by “reformation in a penitentiary”. Her offence was that she had stolen a purse containing three shillings, a gold ring and a pair of scissors from her mistress.      

Jane was received into Millbank on 27th May and was to spend what must have been a frightening seven weeks, for what was such a very young child, far away from her family.  


Eventually the attention of the prison visitor focussed on her plight. A letter of 20th July highlighted that she had “symptoms of unsound lungs” and they feared that, if she stayed there for the winter, she would be in great danger. She was freed less than two weeks later.

I still don't know what became of her as she did not return home to Leicestershire. She may be the person whose death was registered at Windsor in 1854 but I haven’t yet obtained a copy and I cannot find her in the 1851 census. The mystery remains as to her fate after her spell at Her Majesty’s pleasure.   

7 Sep 2011

Swinfield Family Tree

Click on the link to the right of this post to see the Swinfield family tree as it is after Part 2! 

5 Sep 2011

Part 2: A tale of two families

We left the family of Sarah Swinfield and her four children living in Earl Shilton at the time of the 1841 census. The children included William Swinfield, my great-grandfather, then aged just 5 months. His birth certificate shows that he was born there on 11th January 1841. His mother recorded the event and gave the father as Thomas Swinfield, a framework knitter. Where was he living just five months later?

Strangely, in 1843 and 1845, Sarah Swinfield gave birth to two further children in Earl Shilton whom she named as Joseph and Sarah. Neither had a father named at their registration. Who were the parents?

1851 census of High Street, Earl Shilton
On 30th March 1851, when the next census was compiled, the Swinfield family was found living at an address on the High Street there. Sarah Swinfield was the housekeeper to Thomas Brown, an unmarried framework knitter. Although Sarah was recorded as an unmarried woman of 44, there can be no doubt that she was the wife of Thomas Swinfield as she recorded her birthplace as Trowell Moor, Nottinghamshire. Three of her children, Mary who was 15, Joseph 8 and Sarah aged just 5 were with them. Ten years earlier, the same Thomas Brown had been lurking at the end of Sarah’s household, possibly as her lodger. He had now elevated himself to its head.  Had he taken Thomas Swinfield’s place in her bed too? Missing from the group were William, then only 10, his older brother Richard, and, of course, their dad, Thomas. Were they all together somewhere?

1851 census of Bagworth
Eventually, after much searching in census indexes, Richard and William were identified living 5 miles away at Bagworth. Young coal miners of just 16 and 9 respectively, they had been enumerated with the surname of Hewit but their birthplace was “Shilton”. They were lodging with Thomas Hewit, a native of “Trowel Moor” and his family. Surely the two young Swinfield boys were living with relatives of their mother, whose maiden name has been Hewitt. Still no sign of Thomas Swinfield though!

Even more delving in census indexes, finally revealed George Swinfield, a 30 year-old “FWK” at Calverton in Nottinghamshire in 1841. With him were a woman called Maria Cooper and a two year old, Elizabeth Cooper.
                                   Calverton 2011





1851 census of Town Street, Calverton 

They were all still there in 1851 in a house on Town Street. The 42 year-old framework knitter, now listed as Thomas Swnfield (sic) gave his place of birth as “Earl Shelton”. He had a “wife” named Maria and an 11 year-old daughter called Elizabeth. Did Sarah, his real wife, know where he had gone and that he had started a new family? Who had left who?

3 Sep 2011

Part 1: The Story begins .........

Kirkby Mallory church
Thomas Swinfield, my great-great-grandfather, was baptised at Earl Shilton on 21st August 1808 as the third child of what would eventually be eight issue of Thomas Swinfield senior by his wife, Sarah Toon. They had married in the church of the adjacent parish of Kirkby Mallory in 1803. By then, his father was 33 but his mother was about seven years younger. The penultimate child, George, had, according to the parish records, been “burnt to death” aged just over 2 in 1820! What effect must that have had on his mother? Sarah lasted less than two more years, being buried on 1st October 1821 when her last child was just 18 months old. Her husband was left with seven surviving offspring to care for. By the time that he passed away 12 years later in 1833, two more of the brood had died before their 21st birthdays. However, Thomas senior had lived long enough to see three of his children married and to celebrate the births of three grandchildren.
Trowell Church 
Thomas Swinfield junior had produced two of those children from his marriage to Sarah Hewitt. That wedding took place on 25th January 1829 nearly thirty miles to the north in the church of Trowell in Nottinghamshire (a place probably only notable today to most people for its motorway service station). Thomas was “of Earl Shilton”. He could sign his own name, unlike his bride who was two years his senior and heavily pregnant. No wonder that they married by licence, there being no time for the banns to be called.
Marriage in 1829

Thomas and Sarah settled in Earl Shilton and the parish registers record the baptisms of three of their children. They were Jane on 8th March 1829(!)  followed by Mary in 1836 and William in 1838.


1841 census of Keet Lane, Earl Shilton







By 1841, the census shows Sarah and what would appear to be her four children living at Keet Lane in the parish. Working as a seamstress, her two older issue were Ann and Richard, who were 9 and 7. They had not been baptised in Earl Shilton church. Where, I hear you ask, was Jane, who was then aged 12? More of her in another episode of the saga! William, the youngest child, was just 5 months old. He was to become my great-grandfather. His older brother, also named William, had died, aged just 10 months. Another tragedy for the Swinfield family.

Where was Thomas, the father, in 1841? Find out in the next instalment!