Friday, July 1, 2011

There Once was a Man from Nantucket...

No, not the dirty limerick guy.

My man from Nantucket is sixth-great-grandfather John Swaine, a weaver by trade.

He was also known as John England (and England Swaine) to distinguish him from the other Swaines of Nantucket who'd been there longer (I'm also descended from them). John was considered "a stranger" among the people of Nantucket.

Early Swaine researchers often pondered the possibility that the two Swaine families were somehow related, but recent DNA results firmly disproved the notion. According to fellow researcher Brian Smith, "Richard was from a group associated with European males but ... England John followed a line associated with Norwegians and Swedes."

No one knows where John was born, but I've got my eye on Lewes, Sussex, England. A man named John Swaine was born there on 26 April 1679, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Swaine.

The surname has been spelled many ways through the generations, including Swaine, Swain, Swayne, Swane, etc., but we'll stick with Swaine for consistency.

John Swaine, born Abt. 1680 in England; died 5 Oct 1749 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. He married Patience Skiff 3 Oct 1706 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Patience Skiff, born 1681 in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; died 17 Feb 1721/22 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of James Skiff and Sarah Barnard.

Children of John Swaine and Patience Skiff: 

i.                      Dinah Swaine, born 5 Sep 1707 in Nantucket, Massachusetts; died 1 Jun 1790 in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts; married Hugh Cathcart 12 Aug 1730 in Nantucket, Massachusetts; born 1703 in Tisbury, Dukes County, Massachusetts; died in Nantucket, Massachusetts. They had seven children: Abigail, Susanna, Ann, Phebe, Gershom, Joseph, and John.

ii.                    Chapman Swaine, born 13 Jul 1708 in Nantucket, Massachusetts; died 30 Jun 1784 in Barrington, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia; married Sarah Meader 19 Jul 1739 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. They had 12 children: Patience, Joseph, John, Zephaniah I, Zephaniah II, Judith, Ephraim, Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, Chapman, and Daniel (the latter two being twins).

iii.                   Deborah Swaine, born 15 Sep 1710 in Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Richard Chadwick 7 May 1731 in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

iv.                  Hannah Swaine, born 4 Sep 1713 in Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Timothy Wyer 23 Jun 1748 in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

v.                    Anna Swaine, born 29 Jun 1716 in Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Samuel Cartwright 9 Nov 1742 in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

vi.                   Oliver Swaine, born 9 Jun 1720 in Nantucket, Massachusetts; died 1778.

In closing, I can't resist sharing my own little "man from Nantucket" limerick, "Like Any Good Swain" (not high art, just a bit of fun):

There was a young man from Nantucket
Went after a whale with a bucket
Like any good Swain
He couldn't refrain
His harpoon was broken, so "#&@! it!"


  1. Betty, re John England. Did you ever get any further on identifying his parents? I'm going to visit Nantucket in May but doubt I'll find any new info there. Btw, he is also my 6th GG. Herb Swain

  2. Hi Betty and Herb

    Been doing some digging around this morning on Swaine's with another Swain from the states, she found this in the book History of Nantucket by Robert Swain, it might be of some help i've done a little bit more searching and found his father could of been a Richard Swaine or Swayne wife elizabeth no last name for her

    .(Francis) If I am reading Robert Swain's genealogy correctly, your John Swain b1690 was John "England" Swain - different family. His wife was Patience Skiffe - it is their son Chapman Swain who married Sarah Meader. It is Sarah who is your link to Nantucket Swain's - parents Charity Nason and Joseph Meader, Charity's parents were Mary Swain and Joseph Meader. Mary was daughter of founding John
    And Mary Weare. If you look at page 43 in book child #
    7 is Chapman Swain Jr. Married to Susan Nickerson. Somewhere I read about John England Swain, but I don't remember the source. He was given the name to distinguish him from the Nantucket Swain's.