New Zealand Swale Family Reunion, 2006

A Note from Brian Swale.

In 2002 I exchanged e-mails with Geoffrey Boon of Yorkshire. I had come across his name in some genealogical context to do with the lineage of Swale.

Many of us who are in the New Zealand Swale family(s) have looked at a map of England, discovered the river Swale, maybe looked a little deeper and discovered a building called "Swale Hall" near Grinton, in the Swale valley. Some will also have a copy of that marvellous picture book about that famous Yorkshire vet., and looked at the very nice pictures of Swaledale. And have concluded that our forbears came from Swaledale.

That is not necessarily the case. Geoffrey Boon (see below) told me in a letter that as far as he knows there are about seven independant lines of Swale in England; and they are not related.

We do know for sure that two Swale brothers came from Exeter in Devon, to New Zealand. Any link from them back to Yorkshire has not yet been found to my knowledge. On the other hand, a Swale descendant in the USA who corresponded with me said he had an Uncle who said that the Devon Swale line came from Yorkshire in the 1700s. Unfortunately, neither of them reply to furher e-mails.

Before we go to the main letter from Geoffrey, here is one from October 2005, where he discusses the usage of the surnames "Swale" and Swales". Many of us have heard stories, fanciful or otherwise as to how this happened and whether or not there are any connections between the "two" lineages. It turns out that the reasons are simpler than any of us are likely to have thought.

How interesting; that Emma the last one in your email ,where she says; "I have no idea whether the surname SWALE could later become SWALES or if there should be any connection but it strikes me as interesting!".

If she only knew that it is more complex than that, I have letters written in the 1700's and 1800's where a "SWALE" has signed his own name as "SWALES". There is so much more to this than others might think.

To begin to explain how half the children in one family of Swale sign records as Swale, and the other half sign as Swales, even when the father is a Swales and yet the grandfather is a Swale, as is the great grandfather a Swale, only goes to show how difficult it is to explain how and what might have happened.

So, here is a very helpful letter from Geoffrey.

From: "Geoffrey Boon"
To:, (and others)
Subject: Swale's and Swale Hall
Date sent: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 19:34:11 +0000

Hi All,

I am sending a copy to Brian who is a Swale, I have added Brian to my growing list of Swale's in my address book and files. In this email I am going to refer to a pedigree, and to save me the trouble of up loading it and sending it to those who may not have it, I am going to take the liberty and ask you to look at Brian's site for the pedigree. I hope that Brian does not mind.

Brian's site is:

Before going any further, I have just read an email from Brian and I would like to tell him that, yes! There is a river Swale in Kent. The river Swale in Yorkshire has no bearing on the name Swale other than the fact that people could have taken their name from the river. The name Swale is Early English or Nordic and the name was used a long time before the Norman Conquest, and was probably pronounced "Swala".

I am now going to bore you all with a long email.

After many months of slowly going through my historical research notes I am at a point where I can give you some details about Swale Hall and the Swale family associated with it.

I would like to say at the outset that my research into this family is considerable and too great to send in emails. At a glance it would take in the region of 80 pages of A4. I have difficulty in knowing where to begin on the history of Swale Hall and the Swale family who are associated with it. For my part I am more interested in the periods prior to 1733. You may be asking why 1733? This is because from 1733 to the present date is a Minefield and throws up dubious pedigrees. I am also 99.9% certain that any Swale linked to my own family of Swale's have no connection with any so called descendants of those Swale's who claim the Baronetcy after 1733. What I mean by this is that I have not found any connection between my Swale ancestors and my present day Swale relatives after 1733 and those Swale's who claim the Baronetcy after 1733, such as Sir John Swale of Birtley, County Durham who assumed the title as 7th Baronet in 1877. I hope that I have written this in an understandable way.

Swale relatives known to me by my research and are 100% relatives because they share the Swale genes are Kathy's lines, Laurel's lines, David's lines and others known to you and unknown to you at the time of writing.

For those of you who are not familiar with the hereditary titles, I can tell you that a Baronet is or was "a commoner who holds the lowest hereditary British title". For an explanation of commoner in the English Language please look it up in a dictionary, this will give you a better understanding. A Baronet is not in the same league so to speak as an Earl, Knight or Viscount.

I have given a summary of the claimants to the title of Baronet descended from Sir Solomon Swale 1st Baronet at the end of this section.

Yesterday we visited Swale Hall as it is today and spoke to the father of the present day occupier, the father was born at Swale hall and he informed us that Swale hall had been in his family for 70 years, since 1932. After a lengthy discussion we were of the same opinion that Swale Hall may have been rebuilt or re-built in part in the 1600's as had most if not all properties in Grinton village.

This supports my research where I have found that Swale hall was greatly repaired during the 1600's. In my research I have found that Swale hall was built during the reign of Henry 6th, I can't be precise here but this would have been during the 15th century, i.e. around 1450. It is possible that the building standing today could contain parts of the original building and even the foundations could be the same. There is no way that we can be sure which parts were repaired during the 1600's or which parts are the original building due to the fact that the building is pebble dashed on the outside. I am not an expert in the structure of buildings and therefore not qualified to say one way or another as to wish parts of the property was the original hall. My personal opinion for what it is worth is that the roof is not what I would have expected for a building that would have been built in the 15th century, the building could have been repaired and altered at any time after the repairs in the 1600's.

The Stainly estate passed into the family when William de Swale married Margaret the daughter and heir of Adam de Stainly.

Swale Hall is not sited in a prominent position, although it is in a Dale (Valley). I would not put this Hall in the top league of Halls, it does not and probably never had the high status and glamour of many other halls, its size is on the small side when compared to many other halls of the same period. I therefore do not believe that the Swale family was of much importance when it comes to English history even though the family may have had good family connections. One other point here, the Swale's of Swale hall were of the Catholic faith and they would have had little standing in society in the periods after 1537, however, there was one exception, you will find this later in my text.

I have never seen any pedigrees in circulation world wide that contain the parents of Alured de Swale, nephew of Gilbert de Gant. I can now give these as having been Alice, sister of Walter de Gaunt and her husband John Swale, (this is according to The English Baronetage). The fact that the parents of Alured de Swale are missing from the pedigrees of the Swale's of Swale hall does cause one to think about the individual or individuals who put the pedigrees together.

I will add that there could be a pedigree somewhere that contains the parents of Alured de Swale, but I have never seen one.

I do NOT seek any glory whatsoever in respect of my research, if I am able to help others in their family history research I will, but please don't pass any of my research to third parties. I have spent time and effort on my research and I don't want anyone taking my research, such as commercial companies, and publishing it. Please don't think that I am being awkward.

I will add at this point that from the time of the crusades the name changes from "de Swaledale" to "de Swale" and finally to "Swale".

John Swale and his brother William, both of Grinton were archers at the Battle of Agincourt. Probably unrelated but interesting are the marks on the archway to Grinton church, these are believed to have been caused by the sharpening of arrowheads.

The following are the results of some of my Swale research found in the following publications.

Concise Dictionary of National Biography:

1901-1911 Negative

1922-1930 Negative


Sir Richard Swale (1545? 1628) civilian, fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge 1571, fellow of Cains College, Cambridge 1576. Accused by other fellows of popery but nevertheless was appointed president in 1582; made master in chancery by Sir Christopher Hatton 1587; M.P Higham Ferrers 1589; Knighted 1603.

1931 1940: Negative.
1941 1950: Negative.
Grinton in Swaledale parish registers:

Swale-s (Swaile-s)
Burial Dec. 25th 1650 Ann the wife of Solomon Swale.
Baptism Feb. 23rd 1706 Hanna dau. of Richard Swaile a tinker.

Book of Crests Fairburn 1905:

Swale Baronet (extinct) of Swale, Yorkshire.

The English Baronetage 1741: Negative.

Swale of Swale- Hall Yorkshire. Solomon Esquire, created Baronet June 21st 1660.

If you look at the "Pedigree of the family of Swale" you should be able to see the section of Sir Solomon Swale and his wife Mary sole dau. of Robert Porey. Sir Solomon married a second wife by the name of Anne, daughter of Charles Tancred of Whixley.

I would also like to add a comment here, my own Swale family history has connections with the village of Whixley, and that this connection is in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Mary was buried in the church of Paddington in Middlesex, and there was a monument erected to her memory.

Sir Solomon Swale 3rd Baronet of Swale Hall, died unmarried on Dec 30th 1733, he is buried with his grandmother near the alter at Paddington church in Middlesex.

Sir Sebastian Fabian Enrique Swale succeeded his uncle; he had no son's but he had three daughters not shown on the pedigree, these were, Elizabeth Easter (called Easter because she was born on Easter Monday), Frances Theothora and Dorothy Fabiana.

Before I forget to tell you, I have the occupiers of Swale Hall from the mid 1800's to the 1900's.


During the 12th century Alured de Swale owned much of Swaledale, and was connected with many of the important families in the North of England. In the 17th century. The first Baronet, Sir Solomon, an outspoken Yorkshire man, it could be said that he risked his neck by declaring that the best thing for England would be to arrange the return of King Charles the 2nd to the throne.

Sir Solomon was M.P for Aldburgh when he first made his declaration on 7th May 1660. On the 21st June 1660 Sir Solomon was created Baronet and became a Sir, up to this time he was just Solomon Swale Esq.

In 1668 the King lent him 2000 to be repaid in 20 years at the rate of 100 a year but without interest.

The King also granted Sir Solomon estates in Yorkshire in addition to those already held.

The Swale family may have been good farmers but they were poor business people, all their lands were held by license from the Crown and it was necessary that from time to time the leases should be renewed. Unfortunately the second Solomon failed to renew the leases, a clerk discovered this fact and actually petitioned the Crown for a reversal of the leases to himself.

It would appear that Sir Solomon spent all the money that he had in order to regain his lands; but he failed and ended his life a debtor in Fleet Prison.

Things must have appeared so dreadful that it was said that the next Baronet committed suicide after discovering that he had no money.

In later years a John Swale, Catholic priest of St. Benedict, County Durham, considered he to be the heir and claimed the title as Sir John. This John is on the pedigree as Sir John of Birtley. He died within three years and the title passed to a Knaresborough Innkeeper and then to a Mr. James Swale, farmer, of Rudfarlington. Following the death of this James, the title seems impossible to trace. I could go on and on with many more details both before and after 1733 but this email is long as it stands and I don't have the time to enter all my Swale research notes onto computer, not with standing the fact that the number of pages is considerable. The following note is very important as regards the pedigree.


The Catholic record society has said that they know only of two Swale priests and one Swall, which they believe to be a corruption of Swale. I won't give full details that were given by the society as this consists of two pages. The bare bones are that the first Swale was 1670 who was a Benedictine; the second was Henry Swale who was NOT a Benedictine and died 12th July 1894. The last or should I say first, was John Swall for which they only have a death date of 28th January 1583 at York Castle. None of these priests fit the Sir John given in the pedigree.

Finally, I want to get back to why I suggested some days ago that my Swale line and those associated with it could be related to the Swale's of Swale Hall. I say this because I have recently discovered that there is a Catholic burial ground close to Harewood that is supposed to contain descendants of the Swale's of Swale Hall. I am at present waiting for a telephone call from a Catholic priest that will pinpoint the actual burial ground. I have not found any connection between my own Swale lines

and that of the Swale's of Swale Hall.

I have researched my own Swale ancestry in depth and continue to do so; I have many hundreds of photographs of graves and copies of several documents that are not in the public domain. As for photographs of graves, some of these only muddy the waters even more and only prove that we will never know everything about our ancestors no matter how long we search for them. Some of the dates on some of the graves are incorrect, this goes to show that even the inscriptions on some graves are wrong and this then requires a more in depth look at our ancestral lines.

There is one Swale in the 15th century who could hold the key and prove one way or another as to whether my own Swale family line is connected to Swale Hall, but to prove an ancestral line requires unbroken documentation, and going back to the 15th century or before is very difficult. Should I be able one day to find the documents required linking my line to this Swale in the 15th century, and then I would have a family line that is connected to some of the most powerful families of England in medieval times, I live in hope.

There is also always the possibility that other Swale lines could be connected to this Swale, or even my own, but again without the documentation it is a non-starter.

When we go back before 1538 we are in difficult waters, but even to get back to 1538 can, in a large number of cases, prove to be difficult if not impossible, the reason for this is that we, in the main, have to rely of parish registers, and in many cases these have not survived back to that date, I won't go into all the reasons for this.

North Yorkshire for example, has more than 200 parishes and yet only one parish record going back to 1538 survives, which is when parish records began. My own Swale family line in respect of parish registers peters out in 1614, and we have no knowledge as to what happened to those registers.

Over the years I have seen and been sent dozens of family histories with Swale connections, and I have had to reluctantly point out that their grandparents got their facts wrong, I don't like to have to tell people that their own family members got things wrong, but at the same time I can't let people go on tracking the wrong lines, I would rather help than hinder. One interesting point about a few of these family histories is that some people actually lied to their descendants, I know this because I have letters of what was said, and I know that lies were told.

As for "living over the brush" back in the bygone age, oh yes! It happened, and worse, believe me. I have details on suicides, and other unexplained reasons for deaths, and much more, including one case of incest, all very interesting reading. Unfortunately when I followed up my research by discussing certain matters with certain individuals, I had to promise that I would not mention any names that would link any individuals to the living.

After having bored you all to tears I will close.

Warm regards


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