Notable Swinnertons

This page celebrates some notable bearers of the Swinnerton name, especially those who had an impact on national or international life. They are listed in approximate date order.

Sir John de Swynnerton

According to all the facts we can muster from ancient deeds, it is now accepted that it was Sir John de Swynnerton who rebuilt the Saxon Chapel at Swynnerton as a thanksgiving for his safe return from the Third Crusade (1189-1192), led by King Richard I of England (more popularly known as Richard the Lionheart). His tomb (see left), which can still be seen in the chancel at Swynnerton, was probably erected by the monks of Stone to whom the church had been given by his grandfather between 1155 and 1159.

Sir Roger de Swynnerton (c.1280-1338)

Constable of the Tower of London in 1321.
This was a position not only of great honour but also of considerable value, since during the Middle Ages the Constable was not only responsible for the running of the Tower of London but also received various other benefits including dues from every ship coming upstream to London. Even today the Constable - usually a senior military officer - has the right of direct access to the Sovereign.

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Sir Roger de Swynnerton was undoubtedly a man of great abilities and steered his course with consummate skill through the political difficulties by which he was surrounded. He and his family appear to have sided at first with the Earl of Lancaster in his rebellion, but when Lancaster entered into his dangerous and traitorous alliance with the Scots many of his former supporters left him, among them Sir Roger. He was evidently in great favour with Queen Isabella after the death of Edward II, for some of the grants and offices bestowed on him were made by her when acting as Regent during the minority of Edward III. It was during this time, in 1321, that Sir Roger was appointed Constable of the Tower of London, and, as such, was in command of the only permanently embodied troops in the kingdom; and as he retained the favour of Edward III after he came of age and assumed the reins of government, he was probably a party to the coup d'etat by which Isabella was deposed and her favourite Mortimer sent to the scaffold.

It is clear, from the high esteem in which he was held by Edward III, that he must have performed very important services to the young King at this juncture; and though he was a man of great military experience, and served with distinction in the King's wars, it is probable that he rendered him even greater political services. He was, undoubtedly, a shrewd politician: his actions show that he left the Earl of Lancaster at the right moment for his own interests, and he seems also to have left Isabella and Mortimer at the right moment. In 1337 he was summoned as a Baron of Parliament, but never again as he died in the following year, nor were his descendants. His active career was a longer one than was usual in those days, and he was probably nearly sixty years of age at the time of his death. His eldest son Roger, who had served in the King's Army in Aquitaine, predeceased him without issue, so that at his death in 1338 he was succeeded by his second son Robert, a priest.

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Sir Thomas de Swynnerton

Third son of Sir Roger de Swynnerton (above), who succeeded him to the title of Lord of the Manor of Swynnerton. A distinguished and able soldier, veteran of several wars including serving as Knight Banneret for the King at the famous Battle of Crecy.

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Third son of Sir Roger, the Constable, Sir Thomas succeeded his brother Robert, the priest, and became a formidable soldier. He was trained in arms from a very young age and distinguished himself early during his father's lifetime. He served in the King's wars in France and was rewarded with the lands of Thomas de Cresswell in the county of Stafford who had been outlawed. After the death of his father, Sir Roger, in 1338 he seems to have acted as the head of the family rather than his older brother the priest. On June 12th of that year the King's letters of protection were issued to Henry Picard, commanding him to join Thomas de Swynnerton who "is about to go into foreign parts in the King's retinue". On 19th May 1341 he was appointed Sheriff of the counties of Salop and Stafford, and on 19th November of the same year he was also appointed Escheator in both counties and for the Marches of Wales. On 20th April 1342 he was one of the King's assessors for Staffordshire, and in the following year he was returned, with Richard de Peshale, as Knight of the Shire for the county of Stafford, to the Parliament summoned to meet at Westminster, 28th April 1343. However, something went wrong and in 1345 the Sheriff of Staffordshire is ordered to "take into the King's hands all the lands, tenements and goods of Thomas de Swynnerton, on account of various contempts and misdeeds done by him". In the following year, however, we find him again in the King's favour, and letters of protection were issued to him and others in his retinue.

By a previous writ, Thomas de Swynnerton, Richard de Stafford, and the Sheriff of Staffordshire had been ordered to array the men-at-arms of Staffordshire and one hundred and sixty archers, so Thomas de Swynnerton will have been present at the famous battle of Crecy, in the immediate retinue of the King, where he served as a Knight Banneret (i.e. he led a company of mounted knights and men at arms), as also at the siege and capture of Calais in 1347. On his return to England he had an appointment at Court, probably that of Chamberlain of the King's Court. At the end of 1348, England was visited by the terrible scourge known as the "Black Death", which devastated the country from one end to the other, and is said to have destroyed more than half of the inhabitants. Robert de Swynnerton, the priest and head of the family, was probably carried off by this fearful plague which fell with great severity upon the clergy. In 1349 Thomas succeeded to the family inheritance.

He took part in the Scotch War of 1356 during which he was captured, but it was not long before the King paid his ransom, and he was again sent to France where he acted as the King's proxy to receive the oaths of the Dauphin and others. On his return, he was appointed one of the guardians of the King's prisoners held in the Savoy including King John of France.

There is a standard in the College of Arms which is ascribed to Sir Thomas. He died in December 1361 having been Lord of Swynnerton from 1349 - a long tenure.

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Sir John Swinerton (1564-1616)

English politician; elected MP for Petersfield in 1601, for East Grinstead in 1604, and served until 1611. In 1612 he was elected Lord Mayor of London.
There is a Wikipedia article about him, and also two articles in the online History of Parliament: SWINNERTON, John (1564-1616), of St. Mary Aldermanbury, London, and SWINARTON (SWINNERTON), Sir John (1564-1616), of Aldermanbury, London and Stanway Hall, Essex.

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John Swinerton was born in London, the son of John Swinerton who had moved to London, where he had become a member of the Merchant Taylors' Company, from Oswestry in Shropshire and his wife Mary Fawnte of Lexden, Essex. He was baptised on 17th December 1564 at the church of St Mary the Virgin at Aldermanbury and was enrolled in the Merchant Taylors' School in 1576. As a young man, he was sent to Spain to learn the wine trade, which he subsequently put to good use when he secured the office "Farmer of the impost on French and Rhenish wines", and later sweet wines and silk, from which he became very wealthy. He married, on 1st August 1586, Thomasine daughter of Richard Buckfold, Girdler, of London. He was knighted on 26th July 1603. He died in 1616 and was buried at St Mary's Aldermanbury. He had six sons and four daughters. With his acquired wealth he bought the Manor of Stanway in Essex (now Colchester Zoo) and the ruins of the church he built there can still be seen.

Amongst his many appointments he was Captain of one of the London Trained Bands (and later a Colonel in the South London Militia); a freeman of the Merchant Taylors' Company (of which his father had been Master); an alderman of London in 1602, and sheriff 1602-3; a Governor of Christ's Hospital, London. He held many other appointments including being a founder of what later became the Honourable East India Company. He was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1612. He was the member of Parliament for East Grinstead in 1604 during Queen Elizabeth's last Parliament.

In the Heralds' Visitations of 1633, John's son Robert gave his arms as being a descendant from the Swynnerton and Hilton families, and John of Oswestry was probably a descendant of Roger Swynnerton, younger son of Humphrey Swynnerton of Swynnerton and Hilton; but, unfortunately, Robert gave only the names of his three sisters. It is said that Roger and his wife had 24 children in all (no doubt many dying in childbirth). It is equally unfortunate that the earliest surviving entry in the registers of Oswestry is for the marriage of Thomas Swinnerton and Sarah Jones in 1687, long after his father had left Oswestry.

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Job Swinerton

A renowned Puritan, who emigrated to Massachusetts and was admitted as a freeman of Salem on 30th July 1637. He is the ancestor of many American Swinnertons living today, including Jimmy Swinnerton, the artist and cartoonist.

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Job Swinnerton was born about 1600 in England. It has been suggested that he came from Eccleshall in Staffordshire but no record of his birth has been found there.

He sailed for America in 1628, having made his will at Taunton, perhaps influenced by the succession of Charles I and the news that the Pilgrim Fathers who had sailed in 1620 had been granted territory in Massachusetts.

He was admitted as an inhabitant of Salem, Massachusetts on the 30 July 1637, and was made a Freeman in that year.

According to various historic sources in America, Job and his wife were people of intelligence and property but were strict Puritans of active piety and took no part in the commotions of the new colony, being quiet and unobtrusive, and uninfluenced by the witchcraft delusions which so tried that early struggling community. They soon acquired considerable property, and both Job and his wife Elizabeth joined the first regularly-organised Church in Salem on admittance.

According to some accounts, old Job, the Puritan, had a brother Timothy, who sailed with him, but who perished at sea, together (it is said) with certain family records of importance. There certainly exist portraits of Timothy, who was a ship's captain, and his wife.

He had also issue, two sons: Job, who like his father was a farmer, and lived on an estate close to his father; and John, the second son, who received a medical training and was for many years the only doctor in Salem.

In 1699, three hundred acres of land were laid out on behalf of Job Swynnerton the younger; but this was part of his inheritance, having been owned by his father as early as 1650. It was, in fact, the original homestead of the family.

In his old age, Job's house was burnt down, it is suggested by Indians, and his unfortunate wife perished in the flames. He died in Salem, Massachusetts on the 11 April 1689.

He left a formidable dynasty: both his sons produced issue and many Americans today can claim a direct descent from Job.

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Rev. Thomas Swynnerton

Evangelical Lutheran preacher during the English Reformation; author of a number of papers, including "A mustre of scismatyke Bysshoppes of Rome otherwise naming themselves popes, moche necessarye to be redde of at the Kynges true subiectes printed by Wynkyn de Worde for John Bydell 21 March 1534". Publication of this tract forced him to flee to Holland after the accession of Queen Mary in 1553 and the reinstatement of Catholicism.

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Thomas Swynnerton was the son of Robert Swynnerton and grandson of Roger Swynnerton the younger son of Humphrey Swynnerton of Swynnerton & Hilton.

Born about 1490-95, he was educated partly at Oxford and partly at Cambridge; he graduated at the latter, with a B.A. in 1515 and M.A. in 1519, but under the name of John Roberts, a name which he had adopted to screen himself from persecution on account of his heretical opinions.

On graduating, he took Holy Orders embracing the new Lutheran faith and became well known under his pseudonym of John Roberts as a reforming, radical priest and author of several works which severely criticised the established church.

The most well-known of these is a rare work, "A mustre of scismatyke Bysshoppes of Rome /otherwise naming themselves popes / moche necessarye to be redde of at the Kynges true subiectes printed by Wynkyn de Worde for John Bydell 21 March1534". (British Museum). The first part consists of a prologue, which "describeth and setteth forth the maners, fassyons and usage of popes ... where in also the popes power is brevely declared, and whether the worde of God be suffycient to our salutation or not". The second part contains a life of Gregory VII, translated from the Latin of Cardinal Beno; and the third a life of Emperor Henry IV "who was cruelly imprisoned and deposed by the sayde Gregory". These parts seem to have been previously issued separately, and Wood mentions an edition of the "Life of Gregory" published in 1533, 4to. , but these editions do not seem to be extant. Bale also attributes to Swynnerton two other works, "De Perpicolarum Susurris" and "De Tropis Scripturarum".

Subsequently he preached at Ipswich and at Sandwich, but on the accession of Queen Mary in 1553 and the resurgence of the Catholic Religion, he was forced to flee the country and went to Emden in Friesland (now Holland) accompanying, it is thought, John Lasci or Lasco who became Pastor there. Unfortunately, he was not there very long before he became ill and "being over-taken by a certain distemper ... he died, and was buried there in the same year (1554), to the great reluctancy of all those exiles that were then in those parts." (Anthony Wood.)

See also Dictionary of National Biography; Bale': Script. Ill 1527, ii76; Tanner's Bibliotheca, p.701; Ames' Antiquities, ed. by Herbert pp.483 8. 489; Wood': Athenae Cantabri, i.l24; Foster's Alumini. Oxon. 1500-1714; Simms's Bibliotheca Staffordsiensis; Staffs. Historical Collections. Vol. Vll. p.667; Wright's Letter relating to suppression of the Monasteries (Camden Society) p.269).

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Revd. Charles Swynnerton

Churchman, author, and antiquary. His works include:

  • Romantic Tales from the Panjab (1908)
  • The Priory of St. Leonard of Stanley, Glos, in the light of recent discoveries documentary and structural - an article from Archaeologia: or Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Antiquity
  • A Medley of Occasional Verse, Grave and Gay (1925)
  • An Indian Night's Entertainment, or Folk Tales from Upper India (1977, reprint?)

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Charles Swinnerton was born on 27 Nov 1843 in the lsle of Man and was the second son of Charles Swinnerton, a stonemason who had moved from Liverpool to settle on the island, and Mary, the daughter of Robert Callister of Castletown, known in the family as the 'short Manx woman'. Sometime between 1873 and 1882, the Reverend Charles and one of his brothers restored the family surname to Swynnerton which had been the common spelling from circa 1100 to 1633. The other brothers did not change and continued with the rendering used by the rest of the family.

Charles was educated at St. John's School, Hurstpierpoint; University College, London (1866), and Oxford (1870) but did not graduate. He was ordained in 1868 and elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1889. With three of his brothers he was a Founder Member of the William Salt Archaeological Society, Stafford in 1879. He was Headmaster of Ramsey Grammar School, Isle of Man, and Curate of St. Olave's, Lazayre, from 1868 until 1873, when he went to Ceylon as a Government Chaplain, where he served until 1877.

He married Maud, daughter of Major Henry William Massy of Grantstown, Tipperary, on 23 November 1874 in Delhi. Only two of their children survived the rigours of the Indian sub-continent - Francis Massy (1877-1933) and Gertrude Mary Massy ('Maud') (1832-1935). Maud died on 11 November 1832 at Mussoorie, India. On the 23 October 1909 he married Edith, daughter of the Rev. T. Aiken-Sneath of Woodchester Lawn, near Stroud, Glos.

After Ceylon, the Rev. Charles joined the Indian Establishment from 1877-1901. He is recorded as being a Chaplain on the Bengal Establishment (1884) and, later, a Senior Chaplain to the Indian Government. He saw active service with the Kabul Expeditionary Force (1873-9), the Hazara Field Force (1881) and the Black Mountain Expedition (1894-5).

The Rev. Charles devoted much of his time in India to collecting from original sources a large number of folk tales from the Upper Indus, and these were published as "The Adventures of the Panjab Hero Raja Rasalu" (1884), "Indian Nights Entertainment" (1892) and "Romantic Tales from the Punjab"(1903). At that time he was a member of the Royal Asiatic and Folk-Lore Societies and of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Amongst his other publications whilst in India were "The Afghan War" and "Gough's Action at Futtehabad", both prior to 1884, and "A History of the Angelo Family" which was published in "The Ancestor" (Volume VII). He also wrote a considerable amount of verse, published under a single cover in 1925 as "A Medley of Occasional Verse, Grave and Gay". Eight of these were subsequently reproduced in the County Series of Contemporary Poetry (VII Gloucester) in 1927.

He undoubtedly started his researches into the family history at an early stage and before he went East. In May 1883, from India, he wrote the introduction to the Hon. & Rev. Canon Bridgman's "Account of the Family of Swynnerton of Swynnerton and Elsewhere in the County of Stafford". Amongst his writings on the family were "The First Two Generations of the Swynnertons of Co. Stafford 1086 - 1122", "The Earlier Swynnertons of Eccleshall", "Swynnerton of Chell, Co. Stafford", "On the Cross-legged Effigy in Swynnerton Church", "Two Ancient Petitions from the Record Office", "Notes on the Family of Swynnerton (Concerning the Presumed Wife of Roger de Swynnerton, the Baron)" and "On some Forgotten Swynnertons of the Fourteenth Century".

After leaving India in 1901, the Rev. Charles held numerous chaplaincies in Italy, Egypt and Cyprus before becoming Vicar of Leonard Stanley in Gloucestershire from 1912-1920, during which years he devoted himself to the restoration of the church. Two publications of his at that time were: "Stanley St. Leonard" and "Some Early Selwyns". He was active up to the time of his death in 1923, his 85th year, when he had in train the re-publication of his "Romantic Tales of the Punjab" in three volumes, the first of which was printed before his death, but the publication of the remaining volumes then lapsed. He died on the 16th November 1923 and was buried at Minchinhampton, Glos.

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Annie Swynnerton

Artist and first woman A.R.A.
Annie Swynnerton (ARA 1891) belonged to the pre-Raphaelite school of painters and in 1922 was the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy. Some of her work is featured in Volume 12 Nos.7 & 8 of the Swinnerton Family magazine. There are also references to her in the book The Manchester Society of Women Painters by Y. Pilkington. A list of her works is given on this website.
See also the Wikipedia article.

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The obituary of Annie Swynnerton said that 'vitality' was the word which best summed up her work. In her depictions of children, especially those painted in the open air, she could most easily express her youngness of heart, joy in life, and reckless abandonment to the appeal of light and colour.

Annie was bom in Kersal, near Manchester, one of seven daughters of Francis Robinson, a solicitor. From an early age she painted watercolours to supplement the family's reduced income, but began her serious training as an artist at Manchester School of Art, before leaving to enrol at the Académie Julian in Paris.

Her work was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1879, and the following year she exhibited a portrait of her friend Isabel Dacre (now in the Manchester City Art Gallery), who described Annie as her 'soul mate', and with whom she later formed the Manchester Society of Women Painters. Isabel Dacre was a very active suffragette as was Annie.

Annie completed her studies by travelling for two years in Italy with Isabel. During a stay in Rome she met the Manx sculptor Joseph Swynnerton, whom she married in 1883; until his death in 1910, they lived mainly in Rome. Whilst in Italy, Annie painted works such as An Italian Mother and Child in a style clearly reminiscent of Renaissance painting, and panoramic landscapes such as The Olive Gatherers (both also in the Manchester City Art Gallery).

In 1902, after a gap of sixteen years, Annie exhibited again at the Royal Academy. Always greatly admired by other painters, her work was bought by prominent figures in the art world. In 1906 Sir George Clausen purchased New-Risen Hope, depicting the figure of a naked child, and later presented it to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. John Singer Sargent bought The Oreads in 1907, a sculpturesque group of sea-nymphs, giving the painting to the Tate Gallery, London, in 1922.

In addition to her allegorical paintings, Annie exhibited many portraits at the Academy in the 1910s. In 1922, backed by Clausen and Sargent, she was the first woman to be elected an Associate of the Royal Academy. The only previous women to rank as Academicians were Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser, who were signatories to the Instrument of Foundation in 1768 and thus were made members without being elected.

The year after her election there was an exhibition of her work at Manchester City Art Gallery and another version of New-Risen Hope was purchased for the Chantrey Bequest in 1924. In 1929 and 1930 two more works were purchased for the nation this way.

Annie's sight began to deteriorate towards the end of her life, but she continued to exhibit pictures at the Academy, although they were often works she had painted years earlier. She died at the age of eighty-eight at her home on Hayling Island, near Portsmouth.

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Frank Swinnerton

English born novelist and critic (1884-1982).
Frank Swinnerton was the most prolific Swinnerton author: he wrote in excess of 30 novels over half a century, and additionally acted as an editor and critic. The Swinnerton family have copies of all of Frank Swinnerton's books in their archive. A list of his books is given on this website, and there is a Wikipedia article.

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Frank Swinnerton was born on the 12th August 1884, the second son of Charles Swinnerton, a commercial copper-plate engraver, and Rose Cottam, who before marriage was a non-commercial artist. The following account of his career was specially written for us by Frank himself.

"My Mother and I were alone in the house when I was born. I gave a shout and went to sleep. When Arnold Bennett heard of this, he said, referring I suppose to my natural independence, 'That explains a lot about you.'

"We went to live with her Father, Richard Cottam, a commercial steel engraver, who had a big house in the Clerkenwell Road; and when I was eight I caught diphtheria. This was followed by two or three years of paralysis, and then by scarlet fever. We were very poor indeed, and moved to some rooms in the Hornsey Road, Holloway. My Father met with an old friend who invited us to live in his house in East Finchley, where my Mother acted as housekeeper and looked after a semi-imbecile old man who had been left in the care of this friend, a solicitor. This arrangement did not work for long; and we moved to another house in East Finchley, where my father died on the eve of my fifteenth birthday.

"Some months before this, I had become office boy in the London branch of a firm of Glasgow periodical publishers, Hay Nisbet & Co. I earned six shillings a week, subsequently raised to eight shillings; but as we needed more money I moved on to other jobs, being uncomfortable in both. But I had made the acquaintance of a slightly older boy named Garfield Howe, who was working for J.M.Dent, the publisher. He spoke of me to Hugh Dent, by whom I was engaged, at the age of sixteen, to act as reception clerk. Another job was created for me and I became what Hugh Dent called his 'confidential clerk'. It was at this time that J.M. Dent decided to publish a new series of reprints eventually named Everyman's Library; and I had a lot of work to do in connection with this.

"Meanwhile, a young man named Philip Lee Warner had entered the firm of Dent for a while until he bought a partnership in another firm of publishers, Chatto & Windus, where I was made a proof reader. Lee Warner was a born gambler and the other partners took fright at his extravagance. He was asked to relinquish his partnership. By that time I had written my first novel (1909), and I was so well regarded in the firm that I was made their 'reader'.

"This was in 1910, and in collaboration with the subsequent founder of the Drama Society, Geoffrey Whitworth, I helped to bring Chattos up to date, my chief success being the introduction of a worldwide success known as The Young Visiters, by Daisy Ashford, who at the time the book was written was only eight years old.

"My novel writing continued, and was supplemented by reviewing for The Manchester Guardian and other papers; also by two critical studies, of George Gissing and R.L.Stevenson. The former was enthusiastically reviewed by H.G. Wells, who had known Gissing; while Arnold Bennett had highly praised my second novel in a letter to myself. The two men became my cordial friends, while I also began to meet my own contemporaries on equal terms. I therefore gave up my work for Chatto & Windus, who had some new young partners; and became, successively Literary Critic to the London Evening News (3 years), chief novel reviewer to the London Observer (6 years), and the writer of a weekly Letter to Gog and Magog in the popular literary paper called John O'London's Weekly. This job lasted for something over six years, when this paper was summarily discontinued amid what would be called a 'storm of indignation'.

"In 1917 the short novel NOCTURNE was published. Owing to a preface which H.G. Wells secretly wrote for the American edition of that book, it was a considerable success in the United States, went on selling in England and was included in the Oxford Press series of the World's Classics. And in 1935 I wrote a continuingly successful study of modern writers called THE GEORGIAN LITERARY SCENE. This book was afterwards included in Everyman's Library and both it and NOCTURNE have been the subject of favourable comment ever since. Both, unfortunately, in the present year have been 'remaindered' by their respective publishers, owing to the hard times, when sales of older books have been small and the need of ready money has made publishers clear their shelves for cash.

"I have had a very long, happy life; happy domestically and rich in friendships, not only with fellow writers but with uncelebrated people. My wife and I have had two daughters, Jane Christine, who died nine days after birth owing to injury, and Olivia Mary, who is still alive in spite of an immense amount of air travel (she was a hostess for B.E.A., worked for a time with Pan-Am, and is now with Air Canada - on the ground, but with frequent flights all over the world). My wife, Mary Dorothy Bennett (before marriage), the daughter of George Bennett (no relation to Arnold) and Mary Blake, has just had her 79th birthday; while I shall be 92 almost before you receive this history.

"I ought to say that in 1914-15 I was seriously ill with haematuria and albumenuria, and was laid up for six months. Afterwards the doctor said 'You got better because you meant to: I could do no more for you.' If you link this with the moment and circumstances of my birth, you will see why one of my mottoes is 'It is better to be a live dog than a dead lion.'"

Frank Swinnerton wrote 56 books in total, and was rightly regarded as the Grand Old Man of English literature. He was President of the Royal Literary Fund 1962-66, and was a founder Vice-President of the Swinnerton Society, remaining a loyal supporter until his death. One unique distinction he possessed: he was asked to be the castaway on "Desert Island Discs" TWICE - the second time on his 90th birthday.

He died on 6th November 1982.

See also Who's Who, International Who's Who, Webster's Biographical Dictionary, Contemporary Novelists - 1973, New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (Vol.4), Twentieth Century Authors, The Writers' Directory, etc.

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Sir Roger John Massy Swynnerton

In 1954, as an official in the Department of Agriculture, Sir Roger Swynnerton produced The Swynnerton Plan, Kenya's Agricultural Policy. See Wikipedia article.

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Roger John Massy Swynnerton was born on the 16th January 1911 at Mount Selina, Southern Rhodesia, the eldest of the three sons of Charles Francis Massy Swynnerton of the Betley Branch of the family and Norah Aimee Geraldine neé Smyth.

His father at the time was a farmer, naturalist and Tsetse Fly researcher on Gungunya Farm on the Eastern Border. He grew up on the borders of "Swynnerton's Forest" (see March 1999 Journal) until, in his own words, he was banished to school in England when he was nine years old. From Lancing he went up to Cambridge in 1932 as a Colonial Agricultural Scholar and at the same time joined the University Officers' Training Corps.

After university he joined the British Overseas Agricultural Service with whom he served for the next 28 years, interrupted only by war service. He was posted first to Tanganyika as an Agricultural Officer and was later Senior Agricultural Officer, Tanganyika Territory.

On the outbreak of war in 1939 he joined the King's African Rifles, having been on the Territorial Army Reserve of Officers since 1932. He became a Captain in the 1/6th Battalion and was awarded a Military Cross in the East African Campaign. In 1942 he was posted to Malta where he used his special skills to assist the Government of Malta with the production of food during the siege.

After the war he returned to East Africa and from 1951 to 1963 was in Kenya. Starting as Assistant Director (Field Services), he progressed to Deputy Director (1954), Director (1956), Permanent Secretary for Agriculture (1960), Acting Minister (1961) and was a Member of the Legislative Council from 1956-1961. His "Plan to intensify African Agricultural Development" in Kenya was popularly known as the "Swynnerton Plan".

From 1961-1962 he was also a member of the Advisory Committee on Agriculture for Southern Rhodesia. From 1962-1976 he was Agricultural Adviser, Colonial (later Commonwealth) Development Corporation, London.

On the 5th August 1943, he married Grizel Beryl Miller at Dar-es-Salaam and they had two sons, John Ralph born in 1944 and Charles Iain born in 1946, both in Tanganyika.

For his services to Agriculture he was first made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and then, like his father before him, a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG). He was knighted in 1976. Amongst his many other distinctions, he was elected President of the Tropical Agriculture Association in 1983.

He died on 30th December 2000, after a truly distinguished career of which the whole family can be justly proud.

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Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer © Oberwolfach Photo Collection [CC BY-SA 2.0]

English mathematician - see Wikipedia article.

Roy Swinnerton

"Patriarch of the potteries cycling dynasty" (Obituary in The Sentinel (Stoke on Trent), March 06, 2013) and proprietor of Swinnerton's Cycles Shop. Roy Swinnerton was the father of cyclists Bernadette, Catherine and Paul (see the "Sports" page of this website). He was heavily involved in the early days of competitive cycling, and was the manager of the England Olympic Team pre-WW2.

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Roy Patrick Swinnerton was born on the 3rd of May 1925 at Stoke on Trent, the son of Edwin Swinnerton and Bertha née Currie.

He started his club cycling career with the St Christopher's Club in 1939. Doris Salt joined the club in 1944 and they married on the 21st October 1950 at Burslem, the same year Doris was elected President of the Club. Doris also participated in the formation of the Lyme RC and was elected President in 1956.

Roy had a great passion for cycling from an early age, taking over the family business in 1952 from his father Ted. In 1915, Edwin (Ted) Swinnerton had opened a small bicycle shop in Victoria Road, Fenton, one of the six towns comprising the modern city of Stoke on Trent. He lived behind the shop - money was tight in those days, particularly between the wars, and his business was mainly dealing in second-hand machines and running a thriving repair service. From these beginnings, he developed a successful bicycle hire service keeping a fleet of all sizes of machines on the road and at weekends in the summer all of them would be in use.

Ted kept his 'day job', which was head slipmaker, responsible for the various clay mixings used to produce the ware, at an old-established pottery which was later taken over by the Doulton Group, while his wife Bertha ran the shop during his working days. During and after the Second World War, the shop just ticked over, and in 1954 Ted and Bertha decided to retire and hand the business over to their youngest son Roy and his wife Doris.

Roy only worked part time at the shop at first. Doris, however, worked full-time until Roy gave up his full-time job as general manager for a local engineering company in 1970. Roy and Doris, of course, were both keen cyclists and lost no time in improving the business, acquiring and expanding into properties on either side of the original shop. Competition was keen in those days and it took a lot of very hard work to survive, shop hours often extending until 9.00 or 10.00pm!

Roy and his wife Doris went on to create a legacy in cycling in Stoke on Trent and the UK. Roy, as well as being an excellent grass track racer, also went on to become National Team Mechanic at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and Track Team Manager at the Commonwealth Games in 1974 in New Zealand, as well as attending various World Championships as Team Mechanic.

In the 1960s both Roy and Doris helped with the formation of the Newcastle Track Association. They helped Nolen Burgess in forming the North Staffordshire Cycling Association which brought all the clubs together under one umbrella. Roy and Doris also attended and helped to organize every local cycling event all across North Staffordshire throughout the 50's, 60's & 70's.

In 1970 Roy and Doris were asked if they would be prepared to run a cycling section for the City of Stoke Athletic Club. Stoke ACCS was formed and was to become one of the most successful clubs in the country. Stoke AC can boast members competing in the Tour de France, the Ladies Tour de France, World Championships, National Championships both Road and Track and many Divisional Championships, competing in many countries of the world: Germany (both East and West), Holland, France, Czechoslovakia, Canada, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Norway and even Palestine, to name but a few.

Roy himself was certainly no slouch when it came to cycling, being a prolific winner and almost unbeatable on the track, as anyone will know who has seen the beautiful trophies won by him on display at the shop. Among them are the Michelin Perpetual Trophy, the Brooks Bowl, the BSA Trophy, and the Granta Trophy. He also led the way in the long tally of national championship gold medals, being the first to collect the National Half-Mile grass championship at the Michelin sports in the l95O's.

Roy also had a deep family life, with his wife Doris and their seven children, who all went on to compete at both National and International level both on the road and track, cementing the Swinnerton family name in UK cycling history. The photograph, right, taken in 1964, shows (from top to bottom): Roy, Doris, Bernadette, Mark, Catherine, Paul, Margaret, Frances (Bernard was in a pram at this time!).

  • Bernadette Swinnerton won silver in the 1969 World Championship Road Race in Brno Czechoslovakia and a selection of Golds in the British National Championships, both on the road and track.

  • Margaret Swinnerton won many track and road events, including the Ladies Star Trophy series twice and qualified for the 1984 Olympics but sadly, for some unknown reason, was never selected. She represented Great Britain in three world road race championships between 1979 and 1983.

  • Catherine Swinnerton rode in seven British National road race championships, winning in 1977 and 1984 and was never below 3rd. Her total of national championship medals, both on the road and track, must be a record. She rode the first Ladies Tour de France almost winning the final stage in Paris being pipped into second place on the line. She competed in many world championships on both the road and track. She rode the 1989 Olympic Road Race in America.

  • Mark Swinnerton was the highest placed British rider in the 1980 Milk Race. He won the 1980 Pernod Star Trophy and the Essex Grand Prix. He represented Britain on many occasions around the world - Germany, Holland, France and Palestine. He was pipped out of third place in the national cycle cross championship. He and his brother Paul dominated at the Newcastle Track League.

  • Bernard Swinnerton raced from 1975-88. During this time Bernard was the divisional Schoolboy Sprint and Pursuit Champion, Junior Sprint Champion, a member of the winning Senior Pursuit Team and 12th in the National Junior Points Race. On the road he was 14th in the National Road Race Championship and competed in star trophy events also representing Great Britain in Germany.

  • Frances Swinnerton competed on the track, road and time trial. She decided to pursue a career in catering and now successfully runs her own business "The Secret Kitchen".

  • Paul Swinnerton dominated the Newcastle track league; many said he was unbeatable on that track. One of Paul's biggest disappointments was contracting glandular fever just prior to the 1980 Olympic Games having qualified for the Sprint, Kilo and Team Pursuit. That said, his list of successes is impressive:

    • 1978 won over 300 track and road events in one year and was British Best All-rounder on the track;
    • 1979 National Kilo Champion;
    • 1980 Entered the Guinness Book of Records having gained the World Speed Record, riding at 109 mph unassisted on Rollers;
    • 1981 National Sprint Champion;
    • 1983 National Tandem Sprint Champion partnered by Nigel Bolton.
    He competed in the world championships on many occasions. From 1977 to 1983, he was the National Half-Mile and National Five-Mile Grass Track Champion. This in itself is a record - winning the National Championship four times has never been surpassed. Unsurprisingly Paul was now following in the footsteps of his father 40 years earlier. He retired from competitive cycling in 1984.

  • Barney Swinnerton, Paul's son, started cycling in May 2009, his first season on the track was in 2010 and he is now riding with the Science in Sport Olympic Sprint Team with whom he won the gold medal in the 2010 Welsh Open Championship.

In 1990 Roy retired from the family business, but was regularly seen on club rides and out on his bike, and he enjoyed spending time with his 22 grandchildren, who have also started to follow in Roy's wheel tracks, with two national achievements. The photograph at left, taken in 2011, shows the family gathered for Roy and Doris's Golden Wedding in 2011. Back row: Paul, Frances, Bernard, and Margaret. Front row: Catherine, Bernadette, Roy, Doris, and Mark.

Roy Patrick Swinnerton died on the 4th March 2013 aged 87.

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Lord Thomas of Swynnerton (Hugh Swynnerton Thomas)

Historian and Author - Leading authority on the Spanish Civil War and Cuba.
See Wikipedia article, and also the list of his books on this website.

Iain Spencer Swinnerton

Military Historian, Genealogist and Writer.
Col. Swinnerton is well known as an expert and entertaining speaker on a number of topics in the fields of genealogy and military history. He was the founder Chairman of the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS), and its President for some 19 years, during which time he visited nearly every society in the country and spoke to most of them. In addition, he made four tours of Australia (East and West), two of Tasmania, three of New Zealand, and attended Conferences and spoke in Canada and America twice, including meeting "The Prophet" at Salt Lake City and touring the underground archives. He has also written many articles over the years for Family Tree Magazine, Practical Family History, and various overseas Journals.
He is an active and popular member of the Somerset & District Family History Society, where he is the Society's Military Advisor and gives frequent well-attended talks on aspects of military and family history.
His books include:

  • The 267th Field Regiment RA (TA) - A History of the Worcestershire Artillery 1864-1964 (1964)
  • Heraldry Can Be Fun (1986)
  • Basic Facts about Heraldry for Family Historians (1995)
  • Basic Facts about Keeping Your Family Records (1995)
  • Basic Facts about Sources for Family History in the Home (1996)
  • An Introduction to the British Army : Its History, Traditions and Records (1996)
  • Identifying Your World War I Soldier from Badges and Photographs (2001)
  • Update (1999) to The Location of British Army Records 1914-18 by Norman Holding
  • Update (2004) to World War I Army Ancestry by Norman Holding