12 Nov 2012

Part 24: More answers, more questions

Exciting new information has now been found about the Swinfield family of Earl Shilton. This adds significantly to the story of Thomas and Sarah, who had married on 25th January 1829 at Trowell in Nottinghamshire, and their family.
In earlier parts of this Blog, I have told the story of this colourful couple and their children. One of them, William (1841-1905) was to become my great-grandfather. Their first child, Jane, was baptised at Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, which was Thomas's home parish, less than two months after the marriage, on 8th March 1829. Sarah would have been at least seven months pregnant when they were married. Only two further children were baptised. They were Mary and William in 1836 and 1838. William was to die at only 10 months. Two others, Ann and Richard, born in 1831 and 1834, have no recorded baptism. Clearly this was not a happy union as by 1839 Thomas was living in Nottinghamshire with another woman, Maria Cooper, with whom he had a daughter, Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Sarah was cohabiting with Thomas Brown and she had two illegitimate children, presumably by him, named as Joseph in 1843 and Sarah in 1845. She was still living with Thomas Brown at her death in 1862!
By June 1841, Jane Swinfield was languishing in Millbank Penitentiary, London, apparently aged 13. In Part 3 of the Blog, I reported how she had been tried by the Leicester Quarter Sessions on 4th January 1841 for larceny and sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. This week, the latest addition to FindMyPast's extensive collection of databases, a collection of British newspapers from 1750 to 1900 was put online. Of course, the first thing that interested me was, “What Swinfield articles are included?” Brief accounts of her trial and conviction were published in the Leicester Mercury on 9th January and the Leicester Chronicle on 16th January 1841. These tell us that, at the age of only 11, she had stolen some quite valuable property from her mistress, Charlotte Bugg, in August 1840. She was eventually pardoned and released in August 1841.
Leicester Mercury - 9th January 1841

In Part 16, I wrote about what appeared to be her death in the OldWindsor Union Workhouse on 23rd November 1854. She had died aged only 26 of phthisis. There is no other woman in my database who could have been this deceased and, of course, there are no surviving records of the Workhouse for that year. Imagine my surprise when I discovered (thanks to Joan Rowbottom of the Guild of One-Name Studies who completed the Market Bosworth marriage challenge) that a Jane Swinfield, aged 20, had married in Bagworth church, Leicestershire, on 26th March 1848. This is the parish where her two brothers, Richard and William, were working as coal miners in 1851, but were incorrectly given the surname of Hewit. As Jane's father was recorded as Thomas Swinfield, FWK (framework knitter), there is no doubt that she was the child christened at Earl Shilton in March 1829. Her husband was Joseph Rudens, a collier.
1848 Marriage of Jane Swinfield at Bagworth 
Neither Jane Rudens nor Jane Swinfield can be identified in the 1851 census. Her husband, Josh Rudings was a 40 year-old married coal miner in Bagworth, who with his widowed mother, Sarah, was lodging with a family called Kilnam. Where was his wife of just three years? Her death is not recorded under any variant of her husband's surname. Had this marriage broken down too and had she wandered away as far as Windsor, where she was to die as a “spinster” in 1854?

Leicester Mercury - 21st August  1847
The Newspaper Collection includes one more delight. On 21st August 1847, the Leicester Mercury reported the deliberations of the Earl Shilton Petty Sessions held four days earlier. The Overseer of the Poor presented Thomas Swinfield, currently living near Arnold, Nottinghamshire, for deserting his wife. After pleading not guilty, he claimed that she (Sarah) had lived “in a state of adultery for the last eighteen years, and had six illegitimate children”. Sarah admitted that to be true and the case against Thomas was dismissed with costs payable by his wife. There are clearly two sides to every story.
It would appear that the marriage of 1829 had broken down almost immediately and that Jane was probably their only legitimate child! Thomas has sought solace with Maria Cooper, the Chartist movement, and eventually spent the last 40 years of his life in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  

Part 23: A new tree from Australia

I am pleased to have received another and very productive communication as a result of the letter which was sent out to the Australian Swinfields.
One of those who received it was Raymond Francis Swinfield of Rozelle, New South Wales. He is part of Family 3,being the great-great-grandson of the immigrant William Swinfield (1804-1876) by his first wife, Sarah Ballard, who had died in England three years before the family left. 
Marriage of Daniel Swinfield in 1869
William's son, Daniel Swinfield (1842-1877), born at Hartshill in Warwickshire, travelled to the other side of the World with his family and was to become Ray's great-grandfather through his son, also named Daniel (1877-1905). The family settled in Sydney and worked as gardeners, engineers, plumbers, carters and storemen. I have received detailed information, copies of documents and even photographs of his ancestors from Ray over the years. Once again, he took the time to send me an updated tree with the latest additions.
Daniel Swinfield (1877-1905)
His brother, John Anthony of Tennyson Point, who is now also in his late 70s, has provided me with a copy of another part of their family tree, which was sent to him some years ago. This documents a whole branch which I did not know of until now! It had been compiled by John Campbell Swinfield (1912-1995), also of NSW and records himself, his eight brothers and sisters, and their descendants. They were the children of John Swinfield (1873-1961) and his wife, Margaret Prior (1882-1961). John was a postal worker and the family lived in the areas of St Leonards, Redfern, Bankstown and Marrickville. John was another son of Daniel Swinfield, born in England in 1842.
I now have knowledge of 15 grandchildren of John and Margaret, of whom 9 were born as Swinfields. This is just the new information which I had been hoping for!Indeed it has allowed me to link Penny Swinfield, who joined the group in May, back to John and Frances Swinfield of Wolvey, who married in 1755. What a result!
There must be others who have that sort of information which I would love to have from YOU.

4 Nov 2012

Part 22: The Story of Family 5

Having used DNA tests to confirm the probability that the Swinfields of Family 3 & 4 and those of Family 5 have a common ancestry, the question now is where do they “join up”? Is the link between these two major lineages in the 17th century, the 15th century or as early as the 1300s, shortly after Swinfield was chosen by our distant ancestors to be used from then onwards as our hereditary surname?
Marriage of John Swinfield at Wolvey in 1755
In Part 7 of this Blog, which I have now been writing since the end of August 2011, you will find what is known about the origins of Family 3 & 4. Its story can currently be extended back as far as the marriage of John Swinfield and Frances Collins at Wolvey in Warwickshire on 25th August 1755. They had five children baptised in that parish church from 1756 to 1781. It was their last son, Thomas, who is the earliest known ancestor of not only all living Swinfields who were born in Australia but also many other English people with the surname whose male ancestors did not choose to travel to the other side of the World. You can read more about those parts of the Swinfield lineage in other episodes of this Blog.
Those of us whose descent is via Family 5 and its numerous branches in England can trace our ancestry back to the parish of Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, in the first decade of the 19th century. In Part 1, I outlined our descent from Thomas (1808-1893), who is “on paper” my great-great-grandfather. Thereby, as avid readers who have been paying close attention will know, hangs another story! He and his brother, William Swinfield (1813-1885), who married Elizabeth Kenny at Cosby in 1832, are the progenitors of everyone on this tree.
Kirkby Mallory church 
Ashby-de-la-Zouch church  
Their parents, Thomas Swinfield and Sarah Toon, had married at Kirkby Mallory in 1803 and were to be buried at Earl Shilton in 1833 and 1821 respectively. Thomas, who was christened on New Year's Day 1770 in the church of St Helen's in the town of Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, was the only son of John Swinfield and Jane Radford, who had married there two years previously. John's sister, Alice, also married in that church just five months earlier. John buried his wife in 1809 but he survived until the ripe old age of 81, before dying in April 1820.
Inside of Ashby church 
Smisby church 
John and Alice were both baptised in the neighbouring church of Smisby, where they had lived when they married, which lies across the county boundary into Derbyshire. He was christened on 13th August 1738 and Alice was named in 1744 by their parents, John and Mary Swinfield. John senior lived until 1788, then being laid to rest in Smisby churchyard. They had produced five known issue.
Marriage of John Swinfield at Norton in 1732
It is probable that John Swinfield married Mary Meacham some eight miles to the south in the church of Norton-juxta-Twycross, back in Leicestershire, on 30th May 1732. To date, I cannot identify a convincing candidate for the baptism of this man in the very late 17th or, more likely, the first decade of the 18th century.
So how close did the earliest known ancestors of these two major Swinfield lineages, both called John, live about 1720? They were about 15 miles apart as the crow flies across the fields of north-west Leicestershire. Did they know each other and were they near kin?