15 Sep 2013

The Swinfields are coming home!

In July 2013, I wrote about what is known about the earliest members of each of the current Swinfield lineages. Since then further research has connected Family 33 to Family 5. Family 44 has been joined to Family 12. So we are down to only four or five distinct groups which can be traced back to the middle of the 18th century, whose roots lie in that small area to the west of Leicester either side of the A5 (Watling Street). Last weekend, whilst at the Exodus genealogical conference at Hinckley Island, I was in the heart of Swinfield country. More photographs could be taken of churches and graveyards where our ancestors were baptised, married and buried. It is amazing to remember that they walked through those doors and stood around those fonts more 250 years ago.
So where did the Swinfields live in the previous century during the Civil War from 1642-1660? What did they witness then and how did they live? Parish registers reveal that the name appeared frequently then at
Markfield church
Ibstock, Markfield, Hugglescote, Shackerstone and Thornton in Leicestershire. It is also to be found further in places like Weeford in Staffordshire and Old Swinford in Worcestershire. Swinfields also lived in London, where they used the churches at St Michael Crooked Lane, St Peter Cornhill, St Botolph Aldgate and St Giles, south of the Thames, in Camberwell. The Londoners had “died out” by the time of the Great Fire in 1666. How were they related?
St Magnus the Martyr, London  
Shackerstone church
Wills have survived for 14 Swinfields in the 16th and 17th centuries. Seven of those were for the family of fishmongers, the earliest dating from 1558, who lived and worked in the area of St Magnus the Martyr in the City of London very close to Fishmongers Hall. There must have been close connections with those in the Midlands as William, who died in 1593, left his cloak, his buff jerkin and a hat to his brother Richard who still lived at Odson, Leicestershire. I suspect that this would be the hamlet of Odstone
Will of William Swingfelde fishmonger of London 1593
which lies between Ibstock and Shackerstone.
Of the Leicestershire testators, we have documents for three brothers, William, John and Ralph who lived at Heather, Ibstock and Donington and died from 1633 to 1658. They left bequests to each other and may have been the grandsons of William of Sutton Cheney who died as early as 1570. All these places are less than 10 miles apart.
Will of George Swinfield of Appleby Magna 1680
In the next generation, John's sons and nephews (the children of his brother Ralph) all had land in Appleby Magna. The family would have been very familiar with the spectacular boy's school, built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1697 for Sir John Moore, Lord Mayor of London in 1681.
This is where the Swinfield Gathering will be held on Sunday, 22nd September 2013. We are coming home.
The question now is “did the Swinfields come from London or Leicestershire?"