Update about blog

Come on over to my other blog, Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, where the scenery and my ceramic arts life are combined. I've moved some personal blog posts, (as well as those that are about my ancestors) back here.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Swasey name

I found this post on a face book page, strangely enough in the name of HRH Prince Rob Justice.
I have corrected simple spelling mistakes, but none in any names of people or places.  And I've avoided trying to straighten out the weird punctuation that was used.  I did add a bunch of paragraph breaks so it's not one long unbroken tract.  I wonder if this is as good as it sounds!


One of my most interesting pieces of research has been on the origin of the very unusual name of Swezey or Swasey, to give just 2 of the various spellings.; I shall use the form Swasey as the general form, since it most nearly follows the pronunciation of the name of the John who came over 1629-30. I shall also designate the generations by numbers from the immigrant, i.e; call the first John, John 1, his son John 2, & John's son; Joseph#3; In the Swasey Genealogy by Benjamin F. Swasey there is an item stating that "de Suavesey"; is mentioned in the Dooms Day Book; also the Priory of Swavesey as being given to the Abbey of St. Sergius St. Boeschius. 

Starting with this, I first located the modern village of Swavesey about 10 miles from Cambridge in Cambridgeshire, and in the Victorian History of Cambridgeshire, I found my village with the story that it had been given by William the Conqueror to a Count Allen who had given the church to the Abbey of St. Sergius & St. Bacchus at Angers in France.; An exciting find was in an article on Tokens; in Vol. l of the publications of the Cambridgeshire Antiquarian Society when, in the 15th century, the Village was called Swasey.

 It seems that for over a hundred years in the fifteenth and part of the sixteenth centuries the village name was Swasey.& In fact, when I was there in 1959, the rector of the old church showed me the large communion cup which was engraved Swasey. Next, I began to search early English records for items on the village its inhabitants: I found a great variety of spellings, in 940 Swaefesheale, 1066 Swauesham, 1080 Swausey ; Swausheda, Swaueseia in 1155, Swaveshide in 1203, Swaveseye in 1265 etc, At this point, I realized that I needed to consult a philologist to explain all these different names of the Village. 

I was fortunate in being referred to a Mr. Mathews, an Englishman teaching a year at U.C.L.A.; He took my list in a few moments explained that the names all meant the same thing. Ham meant farm; hede, hidi, hith etc. all referred to a landing place, as in a Marsh of fen, which this area was at the time. All the endings were Anglo-Saxon ; the original form was Swaefes landing, meaning the place where the Swaefes or Swabians landed, Undoubtedly, the Anglo-Saxon form was normanized to Swaveseye, as it appears in the time of William the Conqueror. I have had considerable Correspondence with Mr. P.H. Reaney who is the authority on British names, he tells me that Swavesey is the only parish in England where our name could have originated.; 

 Having settled this, the next problem was to trace the name of the John Swasie, who came to New England 1629/30. I found no Swaseys in Cambrideshire as late as the 16th century.; There were a few references to the name in neighboring counties earlier, but none as late as 1629/30. A search of the records in practically all of the counties of England finally led to a real find in Bridport, Dorsetshire, St. Mary's Parish Registers mentioned the Swasey name with various spellings 24 times between 1605 1638; The Country Archivist at Dorchester furnished 7 more items from 1576 to 1744, Also, in a Parliamentary Return of 1786, there was listed as part of a charity granted earlier to the Netherby Parish (near Bridgeport), an Estate called Swayses.; By 1790, apparently there were no Swaseys left in Bridport, as none are recorded in the Land Tax list of that year.

 A check of London records produced eleven Swasey items from 1677 to 1839, all of these later than the date our John left England. The London telephone directory in 1959 listed 3 Swaseys. I called one of them; the others were a sister and a son.; He was interested, but had no information on the family, except that he believed that they came from Swavesey. Going through old directories, I found a William Sweasey, Stationer, in Postsmouth, Hampshire.  I wrote to him & received an answer from his grandson, saying his grandfather was not living, that they were very much interested in the line, and believed that Swavesey was the place where the family began. More of these Portsmouth Sweaseys later. 

My conclusion as to where John Swasi & his 2 sons, Joseph & John, lived is that it was Bridport. A Christopher Swasi was there in 1576, for 2 hundred years, there were Swaseys in Bridport. Some of them were Quakers, as was our immigrant ancestor. The Rev. John White of Holy Trinity Church in Dorchester was a leader in supporting the movement to the New World & was responsible for sending several ship loads of Puritans from Dorsetshire & neighboring counties. The King Family, whose, daughter Katherine married John 2, sailed from Weymouth, Dorsetshire. That the baptism records of Joseph & John do not appear in the St. Mary's Register might well be explained by the fact that this was a Quaker Family.; 

We still need to connect the Bridport Swaseys with Swavesey. This brings us to the question of when did the name become established as a surname.; For instance in early records John de Swaveseye would mean a man named John, ;who lived in Swaveseye. Mr. Reaney told me that many surnames became fixed in the 13th century, but until you found 2 or 3 generations with the name, you could not be sure you had a surname. In records concerning the Manor of Brokdyschall in Norfolk from 1474 to 1494, I found John Swansey (Swausey) & Richard Swausey, evidently a father & son. This Richard was living in Hertfordshire in 1489 & 1490. Hertfordshire is just north of London & County Norfolk adjoins Cambridgeshire on the northeast. So, by 1494, we have the surname established & on its way to London & to Dorsetshire, where we find Christopher in 1576. 

This leaves a gap of less than a hundred years between Richard in 1494 & Christopher in 1576. We may never find the connecting names, but we have established the place where the name originated & the place from which our immigrant ancestors came. Let us hope that more research will bridge this gap someday. 

Now going back to the Portsmouth Sweaseys. The family was a wholesale stationary business, now in the hands of Charles Sweasey, who is the 3rd generation. Daughter Madeline son James both work in the business. I spent a delightful weekend in their home last summer & loved them all, the mother Stella, and a dear old gentleman, the grandfather, Arthur Sweasey, nearly 90. Madeline is doing some careful work on on their ancestors & has carried the line back to an ancestor married in London in 1746. She will continue with this work, and has already tied in the London Sweaseys as well as a few other cousins. I am hoping she will some day be able to connect the London & Bridport Sweaseys. 

She went with me to see Mr. Reaney in Kent, where we talked over some of the name problems of the early Swaveseys, & she is competent to carry on this research too. I must tell you an interesting bit, Jim wrote me recently of a Warner, Swasey & Asquith firm in Hull, England, a subsidiary of our Cleveland firm, Warner & Swasey. Enough for the Swasey line. 

A Report on the Ancestry of the Swasey,& Swezey Wives:; The Swasey Genealogy gives us Katherine King, wife of John 2 and we have the list of her family from a ship record. I have succeeded in locating them in Somersetshire, a county adjoining Dorsetshire. We have the wife of Joseph 3, Mary Betts, with the names of her parents, Richard & Joanna. The Genealogy says they are from Hemel, Hempstead in Hertfordshire. Another record I have seen gives Richard as coming from Suffolk County. Here is another job for the genealogist. Then comes the wife of Stephen #4, Elizabeth Young. She was the daughter of Benjamin, granddaughter of the Rev. Christopher Young, minister of St. Edmunds in Southwold, Suffolk, England. John was the minister at St. Margarets in nearby Reyden. Both of these churches were of great antiquity & belonged to the same living. In 1956, I visited them both. I believe the family was originally from Suffolk, I noted on the family sheet that Joanna was a family name.

Christopher's grave is just outside the church wall at St. Edmunds & inside is a tablet that tells that John went to America. This was in 1637-1640, he founded the Church at Southhold on Long Island. The Southold church has always considered itself an offspring of the Southold church & there has been an interesting relationship between the 2 churches. There is a Younge family history by Selah Younge, who gives the family an interesting Welsh desscent, which he carries back to the time of William the Conqueror, I have not checked the sources, so cannot vouch for the line. Then comes Christopher Swezey#5 whose wife is not given in the Genealogy, however, I have found the marriage record of Christopher & Juleana Davis, but have not been able to locate her parents.

Now we come to Daniel Swezey #6, (ancestor of all of us here). His wife, Sarah Beal is given in the Genealogy as the daughter of a celebrated music teacher from the state of Connecticut. I have found her Beal line, Mathew #3, her father George 2 & George l. This George came ca. 1726, probably from Kent, England. In the state library at Hartford, Conn., I found the will of George 1, & many records that placed all his descendants. Then in Stiles History of Ancient Windsor, I found several church items, one in 1727 about the rule of singing taught by Mr. Beall, another where a church voted to hire Mr. Beal or Mr. Wilson to teach us to sing, an item in 1767, where George Beal & his son Mathew are teaching the congregation to sing, another item in 1771 to introduce singing by rule, from these items & others, it is apparent that Mathew, the father of our Sarah Beal, and his Father George both taught congregational singing in several Connecticut churches. I have not been able to find names of their wives, George l came with grown sons & probably George 2 was married in England. 

There is a 1742 record of a second marriage for George l. More research is needed to find Mathew's wife, the mother of our Sarah, also a search in Kent, England, where there are many Beals, may some day locate George 1 & his sons. My discovery of the ancestral lines of Susannah Staples, first wife of the Rev. Samuel 7 Swezey, fourth son of Daniel, was perhaps the most exciting breakthrough I ever had. I won't take your time to tell you of this except to say that I have been able to trace all her lines back to colonial times. At present I am working on the ancestry of Rachel Cook, wife of my grandfather Lewis Swezey, who went to Illinois in 1839. Her fathers name was John Cook & my problem there is to trace the right John Cook. When you are tracing ancestors you can be thankful for an unusual name like Swezey.

Minnie Swezey Elmendorf---July 1966

 posted on FB in 2012 at Hrh Prince Rob Justice page.

No comments: