Select Swift Miscellany
accounts over the years:
- Early Swift Wills in Yorkshire
- Robert Swift the Rich Mercer
- The Ghost of the Swift Girl in Foulksrath Castle
- The Anglo-Irish Jonathan Swift
- Swift Surname Distribution in the 1881 British Census
- Nobel Swift and the Birth of the Swift Meat Packing
- Swifts in Hanover County, Virginia
Early Swift Wills in Yorkshire
|1461||William Swyfte||Tinsley (near Sheffield)|
|1466||John Swyfte||Easington in Holderness|
|1478||Thomas Swyft||vicar of Egglesfield|
|1504||Henry Swyft||Easington in Holderness|
|1520||Henry Swift||Tunstall in Holderness|
|1528||John Swift||Easington in Holderness|
|1529||John Swift||Easington in Holderness (son and
half of the 16th century showed the Swift will numbers mainly in
Robert Swift the Rich Mercer
Rotherham, benefitting as he did from Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the
Monasteries (securing valuable property from the Worksop priory). There
is a monument to him and his wife erected in
1561 in Rotherham parish church, with the following inscription:
buried the bodies of Robert Swift esq. and Anne his first wife, who
lived many years in this town of Rotherham in virtuous fame, great
wealth and good worship. They were pitiful to the poor and
relieved them liberally and to their friends no less than bountiful.
Truly they feared God who plentifully poured His blessings upon them.
1539 in the 67th year of her age; and the said Robert departed the 8th
of August in the year of our Lord God 1561 in the 84th year of his age.On whose souls, with all Christian souls, the omnipotent Lord have
mercy. Amen. Respice finem.”
His younger brother William made his will in 1568. In it he
directed that “every poor man and woman and child shall attend his
funeral and shall have a dinner and a penny in silver.”
The Swift family was prominent in the area and intermarried with other
local gentry, the de Wickersleys, Reresbys, and Watertons. They
later moved to Sheffield where they owned the historic Broom Hall
The Ghost of the Swift Girl in Foulksrath Castle
When Dean Swift was the owner of Foulksrath castle
near Jenkinstown in Kilkenny, the story goes that his daughter fell in
love with an Irish boy. He locked her away in the “Cuckoo Nest”
room to stop her from seeing him. The girl is believed to have
finally been killed by her father in this room. It seems that the
ghost of the girl can still be found in this “Cuckoo Nest” room.
The castle, a striking 16th century
Norman house tower, has recently beentransformed into a hostel.
It still retains iIts medieval features. These include a
magnificent dining room with enormous fireplaces and a spiral staircase
to the upper floors. The staircase appears to end up by the dorm,
but there is indeed a secret passageway out to the roof.
Another castle story tells of a Swift who had built a flying machine in
the dining room. He had to knock a wall down to convey the
machine up the staircase to the roof. He then put a manservant at
the controls of the machine and launched it, much to the hazard of the
The Anglo-Irish Jonathan Swift
The best-known example of the Anglo-Irish was Dr. Jonathan Swift, poet,
satirist, and the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
Fighting bitterly aganist the poverty and injustice which
he saw inflicted on Ireland by the self-interest of the English
government, his struggle was nonetheless largely on behalf of his
fellow Irish Protestants. He was aware that “government without
the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery” could
apply just as well to the relationship between Anglo-Irish and Gaelic
Irish, as it could to the relationship between the English government
and the Anglo-Irish.
In attacking injustice done to his own race, he was in
the peculiar and uncomfortable position of implicitly attacking
injustice done by them. In Swift’s case at least common humanity
could outweigh partisan considerations. Some of his most famous
work is universal in its implications. A Modest Proposal, written in
response to mass starvation amongst the most destitute Irish,
satirically suggested selling their young children as food for
gentlemen and even offered some helpful recipes.
Distribution in the 1881 British Census
The two main areas in Yorkshire where Swifts were to be found were
Sheffield and Rotherham.
Nobel Swift and the Birth of the Swift Meat Packing
Nobel Swift was born and grew up in West Sandwich, Massachusetts.
He was a drover in his early years. He would travel with his
father to the Brighton market, buy livestock, and drive the herds
down-country to Sagamore and Sandwich. There the cattle were
butchered and dressed and then sold to meat dealers all down the
Cape. It was from such humble beginnings that the Swift’s meat
packing business began.
It was said that when he drove his herds down from Brighton he’d keep
the poor beasts from water during the last twenty miles. When
they finally got to the brook in Sagamore they’d drink enormous
quantities of water, which would of course raise their weight.
Nobel went into business with his brothers, Gustavus and Nathan, when
they started their owned dressed meat business. Some in fact have
said that it was Nobel’s ultra-competitive spirit that drove Gustavus
and Nathan out of Sagamore to Chicago. Nobel held an interest in
their Chicago operations, but he never left his family homestead in
Nobel was also involved in cranberry growing and was one of the early
pioneers in that field. Through a keen foresight and an uncommon
business sense, he was able to accumulate a fortune of his own and
became one of the largest landowners on the Upper Cape.
He was said to be “a man of fixed ideas,” one who was “not afraid to
speak his mind whether in town meetings or anywhere else.” At one
point he was dropped from membership of the Methodist meetinghouse.
Apparently he would just sit there and roar with laughter and his
cackling and crowing would interrupt the sermons.
Swifts in Hanover County, Virginia
In 1933, Mrs. Aletha Pearl Lockhart (nee Swift)
went to Virginia from her home near Longwoods, Maryland, to search for
records of the Swift family in Hanover County. Virginia. She went
to the place where the Swifts for several generations lived and walked
over the ruins of her grandfather’s old home in which her father
(Francis Marion Swift) and all of his brothers and sisters were born.
The family burying ground was still there, only one tombstone being
left with the inscription barely visible. She also saw where the old
St. Martin’s Parish Church stood, very near the Swift property.
She visited relatives of her father and found that they had a great
deal of information in regard to the Swift family.
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