Swinburns of Note

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE, Poet

  • JOSEPH SWINBURNE, Colonel 83rd Regiment of Foot which became the County of Dublin Regiment then the Royal Irish Rifles; (son of Joseph Swinbourne and Mary Sanbrook, see Nicholas Swinbourne of Warwickshire), born 1783 Solihull, Warwickshire, baptised 19 September 1783 St. Alphenge, Solihull; he ran way from home and joined the army, in 1805 he was recruited into the 83rd Regiment of Foot from which he retired, after an illustrious career lasting 48 years, on full pay in 1853; he lived at Selwood House, Armitage, Staffordshire then the City of Lichfield; died 7 February 1860 Lichfield aged 77, buried 13 February 1860 St. Alphenge, Memorial in church; Will proved 27 April 1860 at Lichfield by his widow ALICE and sons Joseph and Charles Alfred, effects under £7000

    The following is an account of his army career from 'The Trafalgar Times', published by the Trafalgar Muzzle Loaders Club:

    A SHARPE FROM SOLIHULL

    Bernard Cornwell’s character Richard Sharpe has been the subject of over a dozen novels. This fictional hero fought with Wellington in every battle of the Peninsular War, climbing the ranks to become Colonel of his regiment. But this was only fiction. There wasn’t really anyone like that, was there ?

    Well actually there was. His name was Joseph Swinburne and he is buried at St. Alphege’s Church in Solihull, Birmingham. A memorial to him is on the north wall of the chancel. The son of a Paster, Joseph Swinburne was born in Solihull in 1783. His father later moved the family to Ireland but Joseph ran away from home and joined the army. In 1805 he was recruited into the 83rd. Regiment of Foot and by 1809, when his Regiment was posted to Portugal, he had risen to the rank of Sgt. Major.

    When the 83rd. landed in the Peninsular they numbered almost 1,000 men, but by the Battle of Talavera in July that year, due to disease, they had dwindled to 535. At Talavera they lost a further 240 men. Following the battle Swinburne was promoted to 2nd. Lieutenant and acting Adjutant. The Regiment saw further action at the battles of Busaco and Fuentes de Onoro in 1810 and 1811.

    Swinburne’s finest moment was on 6th. April 1812 at the Siege of Badajoz, where the British lost over two thousand troops. Under the command of Colonel Ridge, Swinburne was among those who stormed the French defences and was one of the first four men to cross the fortress wall. Later that year the 83rd also fought at Salamanca and the following year at the Battle of Vittoria. The battles of Nivelles and Orthes followed. At Orthes, in February 1814 Swinburne was wounded but had recovered sufficiently to take his place at the Battle of Toulouse on April, 10th.

    After the fall of Napoleon Swinburne continued to serve his Regiment in Ceylon and Canada. He was promoted to Captain in 1825 and Major in 1842. In 1851 he was promoted to Colonel and served in India until his eventual retirement in 1853, after forty-eight years continuous service.

    Joseph Swinburne is believed to be the first man in the British Army to rise through the ranks from Private Soldier to Colonel, as was his fictional counterpart, Richard Sharpe.

    (by David Wilson)


  • WALTER ROBERT JOHN SWINBURN, Jockey, born 7 August 1961 in Oxford, England, (son of WALTER SWINBURN, a top Irish jockey). He was apprenticed to Frenchie Nicholson in 1977 and he rode his first winner, 'Paddy's Luck', at Kempton Park on 12 July 1978. In 1981, at the age of 19, he won the Epsom Derby on Shergar who two years later was kidnapped and killed by the IRA. He won two further Derby's in 1986 on Sharastani and in 1995 on Lammtarra. He retired from racing in 2000. His family own the Genesis Green Stud near Newmarket, Suffolk, England. He has a brother, MICHAEL who married NICOLA WINTER (issue).
    (From: Who's Who 1998)

    ROBERT WALTER SWINBURNE, (see Swinburn of Houghton le Spring, Durham) Glass Manufacturer, born 15 January 1804 Charleshaugh, Durham, baptised 14 February 1804 Chester le Street. He served his apprenticeship as a chemist then joined the Glass making firm of Cookson and Cuthbert in South Shields as a 'metal mixer'. This was a most important and responsible post, since upon the efficiency of the mixer in combining in proper quantities the various ingredients required in glass-making, depended almost entirely the quality of the produce. He had risen to the position of Manager by the 1830's. In 1836 he took out a patent for plate glass. He was eventually taken into partnership, and upon the retirement, about 1845, of Messrs. Cookson and Cuthbert he formed a new company, which included George Stephenson, the father of railways; George Hudson, the railway king, and others. R. W. Swinburne and Co. commenced business in 1845. The South Shields works occupied the quadrangular space now enclosed by Ferry Street, Station Road, Coronation Street, the Mill Dam and the Tyne river. The firm was successful in dividing with Messrs. Chance of Birmingham, the enormous order for the rolled plate-glass required in the erection of the Crystal Palace in 1850. In 1855 he took out another patent for plate glass. Early in 1858 a great combination of plate glass-makers, controlling practically the whole output of the works in England, was formed. Mr. R. W. Swinburne was appointed Managing Director of the Syndicate. In 1861 he took out a further patent for the apparatus which made significant economies to the casting process. He rendered valuable assistance to the trade, especially in giving evidence before several Parliamentary Committees, and in recognition of his services was, on 18 June 1862, presented with a testimonial of the value of 300 guineas by the Association of English Plate Glass-makers. The Syndicate was eventually dissolved, and Mr. Swinburne, after carrying on the South Shields Works for some time in conjunction with his family, transferred them, in 1868, to a private firm, the Tyne Plate Glass Company, the partners in which included Sir Charles Mark Palmer, Mr. Pascoe of London, Robert himself and his brothers, William Alfred Swinburne and Thomas James Swinburne. He continued as Manager until 1872 when he sold his share in the company for £2,500 and retired to Sunderland. His departure accelerated the decline of the Tyne Plate Glass Company which was unable to produce plate glass at the low cost that the market demanded, cheap plate glass now being imported from Belgium and Germany and it finally closed in 1891. Swinburne returned briefly to the plate glass industry in January 1874 as a director of the Thames Plate Glass Company (1874) Limited which was formed to take over the dormant Thames Plate Glass Works at Blackwall, however this was wound up in August 1876. He finally retired to Parkstone in Dorset and died at Hawkhurst in Kent on 9 April 1886 aged 82 leaving a personal estate of £1,180 (From: 'The Borough of South Shields' by G. B. Hodgson and 'A Business Who's Who')
    NORA SWINBURNE, Stage and film actress, born 24 July 1902 in Bath, Avon, England. She was the daughter of H. SWINBURNE JOHNSON. She married 1stly FRANCIS LISTER and they had one son. The marriage was dissolved and she married 2ndly EDWARD ASHLEY-COOPER. This marriage was also dissolved and she married 3rdly in 1946 ESMOND KNIGHT (he died 1987).She was educated at Rossholme College, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Her first West End appearance was in 1916 at the age of 14. She went to America in 1923 and returned to the London stage in 1924. She was in New York again in 1930 then had continuous successes in London from 1931. She went into management in 1938 in addition to acting. She played as Diana Wentworth in 'The Years Between' at Wyndhams Theatre in 1945; in 'Red Letter Day' at the Garrick Theatre; 'A Woman of No Importance' at the Savoy in 1953, 'The Lost Generation' at the Garrick in 1955, and many more stage shows. Her films include Jassy, Good Time Girl, The Blind Goddess, Fanny by Gaslight, Quo Vadis..... She has appeared on television in 'Forstye Saga', 'Post Mortem' etc. She is now retired and lives in Cranmer Court, London.
    (From: Who's Who 1998)

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    Last updated 10 January 2003

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