The mysterious John Swadling

For as long as I have been researching my family history, I have been keen to discover more about my Great Great Grandfather John Swadling. Well after six years of on and off searching, I finally had a breakthrough yesterday after stumbling across another researcher’s tree on Before yesterday I simply had a name and no other information, although I had quite a lot of information about his wife Elizabeth Ireland and their five children – Euphemia (my great grandmother), James, Margaret, Kathleen and Robert.

This is a great example of how just one small piece of information can open up a whole family tree. What I discovered is that the mysterious John Swadling was born in Sydney around 1842, the son of two English convicts – John Swadling (1818-1858) and Mary Ann Baker (1819-1890). When John Snr died, John Jnr took over his father’s successful Farriers business located in Castlereagh Street in the Sydney CBD. According to his funeral notice, John was also heavily involved in the Loyal Rose of Australia Lodge and at some point even served as the lodge’s Provincial Grand Master. He lived in Manly and died there on the 26th December 1897. He is buried in Manly Cemetery.

What is most curious though, are two pieces of information I found yesterday.

Firstly, the following was from the Sydney Morning Herald on 31st May 1873… “In the affiliation case, Elizabeth Ireland v. John Swadling, defendant was ordered to pay the sum of 5s. per week for 12 months, together with 6s. 6d. costs of Court, and 2 pounds 2s. professional costs to Mr J Lowe, who conducted the case for the complainant”. According to some quick research I did today, an affiliation case is conducted to determine the paternity of a child and the father’s financial obligations. Curious, as I have no idea who the child in question might be.

Secondly, I discovered that when John died he left his estate to be divided between his two sisters and left nothing for Elizabeth or any of his five children with her.

I can see that I will need to do a lot more digging.



Filed under Australian history

5 responses to “The mysterious John Swadling

  1. Lindsay Swadling

    Probably my tree you found on ancestry. Contact me directly to swap info, although I have never found a connection between my Swadling family and John’s.

  2. Lindsay Swadling

    PS – the child in question was John, b.1873

  3. James Sonter wife Susannah (nee) Midson 1930.

    Hi I,am researching the family Sonter/Midson I belive that James Sonter and wife Susannah Sonter (nee Midson) 1830 that they are buried in the St Pauls cemetery. Could you help me out please as I live in Qld, Daphne

    • Hi Daphne,

      There are a number of Sonter Family members buried at St Pauls at Carlingford. You can now actually access this information online via the very useful Australian Cemeteries Index website. Here is a link for the list of inscriptions at St Paul’s –

      There doesn’t appear to be any listing for James or Susannah but it is worth noting that a number of the graves are now illegible due to erosion and a number have been damaged. It is of course possible that James and Susannah’s graves are not legible or there may not be a headstone.

      Good luck with your search!


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