Life story retold by Deborah Oughtibridge
In researching my family history I have discovered that several of my Swain ancestors were buried in London Road Cemetery, Reading . Below is some background information on the Swain family and details of the ancestors that I have discovered, so far, buried in London Road Cemetery.
Overview of the Swain family
My Great x3 Grandfather Joseph Swain was born in Goring, Oxfordshire in 1810 then moved to live in Pangbourne and Reading. He worked as a wood sawyer, timber merchant foreman and Wharfinger. Joseph died in 1881 in Pangbourne. In Pangbourne he lived at Moorefield (or Moore’s) cottage until his death in 1881.
From about 1860 onwards members of the Swain family started to move away from the Reading area, probably to find work, to Battersea, Surrey and the East End of London.
His son James, my great x2 grandfather died in 1894 in Mile End Old Town, London. I do not know where he is buried.
My great grandfather Joseph Henry Swain was born in Reading in 1878, the son of James Swain a barge builder and his wife Catherine. James and Catherine had married at Providence Chapel, Reading three years earlier.
By the 1881 census the family were living in the East End of London; however family connections remained with Reading , Pangbourne and also with Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire. Joseph Henry Swain died in Surrey (where they moved after being bombed) but I do not know where he is buried.
Joseph Swain’s brothers
The eldest brother William, born 1805, appears to have spent his life in Goring, Oxfordshire, where he married Ann Taylor in 1831.William worked as a Brewers Servant. William and Ann had six children. William was buried in Goring in 1877.
The next brother, John Swain, was born in 1816 in Goring and lived with his wife Priscila (Goodhall) in Pangbourne and at Blakes Cottages, Reading. John was a Barge and Boat Builder.
His son Stephen Albert Swain(e) attended Bristol Baptist College in the early 1870s and became a Baptist minister.
John and Priscilla were both buried at London Road Cemetery, unconsecrated ground, (Section 14, Row H, Number 6), John in 1889 and Pricilla in 1898. Prior to her death Priscilla Swain had been living at 29 Ursula Street, Battersea with her son Frederick and his family .
One of their daughters Selina Jane Swain married William Gardiner in 1882 in Reading but they later lived in in Henley on Thames. Selina died in April 1923 in Henley on Thames but was buried in London Road Cemetery. She is buried with John and Priscilla. One side of the headstone lists the names of John and Priscilla and the other Selina’s name.
The third brother, James Timothy, was born in 1822 in Goring. He was also a boat and barge builder. He married Martha Goodchild Roberts in Surrey in 1843.They lived in Rotherhithe, Surrey and in Watlington Street, Reading. They had no children.
James died in 1868 and Martha died in 1883. Both James and Martha were buried in London Road Cemetery, in unconsecrated ground.
The Swain family appear to have had an ongoing connection with nonconformity. For example Joseph Swain had married his second wife Jane Hamblin at Providence Chapel, Reading in 1870. Two of his daughters from his first marriage were married at Zoar Chapel, Reading; Elizabeth Hunt (Swain) to George Lewis in 1881 and in 1887 Ellen Swain married William Butcher.
Joseph Swain’s son Charles, a barge builder, married his first wife in St Giles Reading in 1859. According to The Reading Mercury his second marriage to Elizabeth Beckenham took place on 17 July 1869 at the Independent Chapel, Pangbourne by the Reverend John Oldham.
Charles died in 1913 and was buried in St James The Less, Pangbourne.
Several other relatives have been discovered to have been buried at London Road Cemetery.
John & Priscilla Swain and Selina Jane Gardiner: Section 14, Row H, Number 6. The other members of the Swain family are in unmarked graves.