Some Genealogy of the Swale and Cooper families in New Zealand.

Brown, Fincham and Gunn families are mentioned too.

This page is under development.

In the 1850's as the settlement of southern parts of the South Island of New Zealand began to accelerate, the two strands of my ancesters also arrived.

From London in England and adjacent came Coopers, Browns and Finchams, and the Scots clan Gunn married with the Coopers. This is my Mother's side of the family. They settled in Canterbury; Ellesmere, Oxford, Waimate, Timaru. We still have relatives in England from the Brown side; the Clarke and Camp families living in Warlingham, Surrey.

For my Father's side, from Exeter in Devon/Cornwall came at least two Swale brothers, one of whom is my forebear; great-grandfather with his wife Mary Ann Curtis, and also the Petersen family (the 3/7ths that survived the trip; the mother and three children dying on the way) on the sailing ship "Punjab". My paternal grandmother was one of those three survivors, along with her father and a brother. The Swale family, however, came originally from Yorkshire, where there is the river Swale, and a breed of sheep called (what else could it be?) the "Swaledale"; almost the archetypal Yorkshire moors sheep, tough as nails.

The first part of this story is about the Swale family.

The story begins after the battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the Conqueror gave vast estates in the counties of Lincoln and York to Gilbert de Gant (Baron) his nephew (and a General in the Norman army) in return for service rendered. Folkingham in Lincoln was the seat of his estate. His son Walter married Maud, daughter of Stephen, Earl of Richmond (see the map) and Stephen gave him the whole of Swaledale County, York. (3rd year of the reign of King Stephen). The surname 'de Swaledale' was used for the next four generations (until the 30th year of the reign of Edward 1st), the next six generations used the surname 'de Swale' (4th year of the reign of Richard 2nd), thereafter the surname 'Swale' was used. There seems to have been much of the land around Grinton under the control of a Swale family for many score years. Sir Solomon Swale (later Baronet by letters patent from King Charles I, 21 June 1660) in 1647 bought from his father Swale Hall and a lot of the land at West Grinton. Much later, good ore deposits of the metal lead were discovered, and for a time there was wealth to be made from mining the lead ore and smelting it to produce the metal.

Family records available to me from that early time to about the time that Great-grandfather came to New Zealand were found in an old English book and had been collated mainly from those most durable of records; court and prison records, births and deaths, and cemetery records. The image below is the top part of a 'scroll' copied from a book seen at Swale Hall [near Grinton) by relatives and allowed to be copied by the lessee. The red x on the map above is approximately where Swale Hall is, and the green patch shows approximately the extent of the mid-to-lower valley west of the attractive walled city of Richmond. Incidentally, Boy Scouts had their beginnings in the Castle in Richmond.

If you wish to download the full copy of this scroll, which is about A3 in size and 1.8Mb, please email me here .

If you would like to see what Swaledale country and life looks like now - in fact what some Northern Yorkshire Dale life is like, click here. You can also find out about accomodation in all price ranges; where it is and what you get for your money while you visit one of the most interesting and beautiful parts of England. Remember to visit the Tan Hill pub at the head of Swaledale, the highest pub in the UK.

The New Zealand record begins about where the English one stops, but so far I have not been able to link the two together with the same people in both.

The first two brothers who came to Southland in the 1850's settled first at Green Island, then later at Longbush, in Southland.

I am gradually placing the records on computer using the Family Tree Maker program which is available on CD in many shops.
The Cooper Family tree in Family Tree Maker program format for my immediate family can be downloaded from here.(432,640 bytes)

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