Tag Archives: James Swain

SWAIN family notes

I have mentioned previously about reading some notes written by my great-uncle, David Swain, about his research into the SWAIN family. David has now e-mailed some of his text to me, so that I can post it up on this website. I think that there is more to follow, which will lead to several more posts about this family.

Regarding his sources, David has told me that; tracing the Swains and the Twites, who both hail from Somerset, I understand that many Parish records were sent for safe keeping to Bristol where unfortunately most were destroyed in the bombing of Bristol in WW2, this has made research previous to the first Census almost impossible”.

Here is David’s text;

Well lets make a start on the SWAINs as I see them and us. It would appear that it all started with an infant in Bristol with no known parents. A baby boy was born on the 29th November 1802 and left at the Ebenezer (Wesleyan) Chapel in Kings Street, Bristol.

A William and Susan Swain who attended the Chapel took the baby into their care and may even have adopted him so giving him his name James Swain. He may also have been baptised but I found no records of this. William was a Cordwainer (boot and shoe maker/ repairer).

Years pass when out of the blue, he crops up in St Martins Parish Register Birmingham on a marriage certificate, James Swain marries a Mary Bromsgrove after Banns on the 1st of November 1820, William shown as father to James and in the preference of Hannah Whimaytes and Michael Broome.

In 1837 we find:

James Swain Widower marries Isabella Johnson on the 2nd October 1837, William is shown as his father and Christopher as Isabella’s. James will be 34 and Hannah 21.

So the family of James and Isabella begins:

1841 census draws a blank.

1851 census: living at 26 Back Goal Road Stafford.

  • James ………………. 48, Head, Shoe maker
  • Isabella …………….. 35, wife
  • Isabella …………….. 8, daughter
  • James Christopher … 4, son
  • Susannah ………….. 1, daughter (twin), born 1849
  • Priscilla …………….. 1, daughter (twin), dies 1849
  • Elizabeth …………… 5, daughter, dies 1858

1861 census: living at 14 New Street Stafford.

  • James ……………….. 58, head, Cordwainer
  • Isabella ………………. 45, wife, Seamstress
  • Isabella ………………. 18, daughter, Shoe Binder
  • James Christopher … 15, son, Cordwainer
  • Susan ………………… 11, daughter, Nurse Girl
  • Thomas ………………. 9, son, Scholar
  • Emma …………………. 2, daughter, dies 01.06.1863
  • Allen ………………….. 3 months, son
  • Frances ……………….. 3 months, daughter

1871 census: living at 15 New Street Stafford.

  • James ………. 68, head, Shoemaker
  • Isabella …….. 55, wife, Seamstress
  • Susan ……….. 22, Machinist
  • Thomas …….. 20, son, Shoemaker
  • Allen …………. 11, son (twin), Scholar
  • Frances ……… 11, daughter (twin), Scholar
  • Ellen ………….. 25, daughter (in law)
  • Allen ………….. 3 months, grandson.

1881 census: living at 39 Browning Street Stafford.

  • James, 78.
  • Isabella, 65.
  • Allen, 21.

Not long after this census, Isabella dies on the 24th January 1882 age 66 at Browning Street Stafford from cancer of the breast in the presence of her daughter at Satchwell Street Leamington.

James dies on the 15th of January 1883 age 80 at Browning Street Stafford from natural decay in the presence of Isabella Goodwin, his daughter.

So after 30 years following James and Isabella and family my research now focusses on the eldest son James Christopher.

It is possible to research all the children which I might do one day though with some of the daughters this can be quite difficult, they get married and therefore their surname changes and it becomes a matter of chance in finding them, this is frustrating as their lives are still there somewhere.

James Christopher SWAIN; 1846 – 1900

James was born on the 17th of September 1846 in Penkridge, Acton Trussell, Staffordshire. As a young man he was engaged by a London firm of Royal Court Patronage in Bond Street, known as shoe makers to Royalty. After a year or two he returned home to Stafford to help his father James, a boot and shoe craftsman, in making all kinds of hand sewn shoes. At this time he fell in love with Ellen Hart, the daughter of a well known Worcestershire Coachman, Charles Hart.

James and Ellen were maried on the 6th of March 1870 in the chapel of Whittington, Pershore. They moved to Leicester when he became a sleeping partner in the old established firm of Wilkinsons & Co. Whilst there he was visited by a Mr T Wood, managing director of shoe retailers Freeman Hardy & Willis with branches in all major towns. Mr Wood and his chief buyer were so pleased with the quality of the ladies high leg soft kid boots with lace and embroidery work that they placed a very large order.

James went on to design and consult with many firms on all aspects of shoe manufacture. James died on the 24th January 1900 of tuberculosis and was buried in a family vault in the Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester. In his will, dated 1894, he leaves all of his possessions to his dear wife Ellen and the probate certificate shows the sum of £155.00 gross value of his estate, confirmed by Jackson & Flood solicitors.

Ellen HART; 1846 – 1938

Ellen was born on the 25th of August 1846 in the Parish of Silkmore- Castle Church, Staffordshire. Her Father, Charles Hart, was a well known Coachman, and her mother Ann (nee Ward). Ellen Married James Christopher Swain on the 6th March 1870. At this time she was living at Green Hill Worcester.

As my memory serves she was quite a small lady and I am sure was the strength of her family as James appeared to spend much time away on business. She had nine children over a period of 14 years from Allen in 1871 to Nellie in 1885 five boys and four girls. As you will have noticed from James Christophers details they only rented property and moved quite a few times.

In 1901 census (James died in 1900), she and her family were living at 6 Avon Street Leicester and the 1911 census shows her and six of her children were living at 315 East Park Road, Leicester.

When we visited her she lived with her son Arthur Harry in his house ‘Darvel’ 129 Letchworth Road, Western Park, Leicester. How long she had lived there I do not know.

Ellen died on the 10th march 1938 age 91 at this address and was buried in the family vault in the Welford Road cemetery on the 14th march.

So back to censuses:

1871 census: 35 Golding Road Bermondsey Southwark.

  • Alfred SLADEN …………………… 25, head, Clicker
  • James Christopher SWAIN …. 24, Lodger, Clicker

A clicker was the one who cut out the leather in shoemaking.

1881 census: 44 Filbert Street St Mary,s Leicester

  • James Christopher SWIAN …. 34 Head, Boot Manufacturer Manager
  • Ellen …………………………… 34 Wife
  • Allen …………………………… 10 Son
  • Jessie ………………………….. 8, Daughter
  • Charles ………………………… 6, Son
  • Percy …………………………… 4, Son
  • Rose ……………………………. 2, Daughter
  • Arthur …………………………. 1, Son

1891 census: 160 Albion Villas Narborough Leicester.

  • James Christopher SWAIN …. 44, Boot Factory Manager
  • Ellen ……………………………. 44, Wife
  • Jessie ………………………….. 18, daughter
  • Charles ………………………… 16, Son, Clerk in Factory
  • Percy ……………………………. 14, Son, Scholar
  • Rose …………………………….. 12 Daughter, Scholar
  • Arthur …………………………… 11 Son, Scholar
  • Ernest ……………………………. 9 Son, Scholar
  • Georgina ……………………….. 7 Daughter, Scholar
  • Nellie …………………………….. 6 Daughter.

We now know that there were nine children.

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