I am very sad to announce the death of Ray Swinfield on 5th August at his home in Sydney, Australia. I first heard from him at the end of 2003 when, out of the blue, I received a letter from him informing me that he and his brother John were "working on their family tree". His large family tree recorded that they had traced their ancestry back to England in the mid 18th century and asked if I could provide any additional information.
I was aware of the emigration of two brothers, William and John Swinfield, to Australia in the middle of the 19th century and could extend their family tree back through the records of Nuneaton and other parishes which lie alongside the A5 road in Warwickshire, to a marriage of John Swinfield to Frances Collins at Wolvey on 25th August 1755. That was the point that Ray and John had reached and indeed, 15 years later, we cannot yet extend that line any further. They were, of course, able to provide me with the new documentation which recorded their descent from the emigrant ancestor, William Swinfield (1804-1876), a tailor, who made the very long journey to Australia with his second wife Sarah (Williamson) and his four children by his previous wife (Sarah Ballard) aboard The Walmer Castle in 1848. Their part of the Swinfield family stems from their great-grandfather, being Daniel (1842-1877), who was only seven when he arrived, and his wife Eliza (Hayes).
Since 2003, Ray and I have communicated intermittently by mail and later e-mail about further discoveries that were made about the wider Swinfield genealogy, Over the years, he has provided me with news and the additions to his part of Family 3B, as it became known.
|John, James and Ray Swinfield in 2013|
Afflicted by Parkinson's Disease in later life, he moved into the Calvary Ryde Retirement Community in August 2013. That September,
he was reunited with his other brother James and met some of his great-nephews and great-nieces for the first time.
|Ray in the centre of his new-found Swinfield cousins|
When seeking a venue for the Swinfield Family Gathering in May 2014, Ray arranged for the use of its community hall and John and his wife Annette and their family arranged the refreshments.
That gave Ray the chance to meet many of his distant cousins for the first time when representatives of all of the branches of the Australian Swinfield family met at Ryde. He was so supportive of the research and even took a DNA test on the day to add to our knowledge of its genetic relationships.
|Ray giving his DNA sample|
|Ray (right) at the |
Swinfield Gathering in May 2014