Saturday, 22 February 2014

52 ancestors in 52 weeks # 1 Sidney Frederick Swadling

Visiting a seminar run by the Guild of One Name Studies at the beginning of a new year always inspires me to do more family history. Unfortunately like most New Year Resolutions, yes I know it's nearly the end of February, this enthusiasm wains quite quickly as there is always something else to do besides family history research.

I have decided to join the project 52 ancestors in 52 weeks because this year I am going to do more research and record my findings more carefully so that I will be able to find them in a year's time.

For my first ancestor I am going to introduce my father Sidney Frederick Swadling. Because if it wasn't for him, and my mother Joan, I wouldn't be carrying out Swadling family history.

In 1999 I was at a cross roads in my life and decided that I wanted to know where I came from. No, not the birds and bees version but who were my great great grandparents.

My parents gave me several carefully folded certificates and from these I was able to produce my first family tree. Four A4 pieces of squared paper glued onto the sides of cereal packets, secured with masking tape. Within weeks I knew who six of my eight great grandparents were and was beginning to learn about them.

So let us now take two steps forward and talk about my father. He was born in Birmingham in 1922 and his parents were Frederick Swadling and Minnie Edwards. He had an older sister Dorothy Olive who was born in 1916 but tragically died in 1937 at the age of 19 from Tuberculosis. His younger brother was born several years later.

He explained that where he lived as a young boy he had a back and front garden and in the back garden there was a "brew house". Lovely I thought, my grandfather Frederick made his own beer. No it wasn't a place to make beer it was where my grandmother Minnie did the weekly washing!

As he got older my father went to school and Sunday school. When he was fourteen the family moved into a newly built council house several miles away and my father went to work at the same engineering works as his father. Life was good until the untimely death of his sister and the threat of a second World War in Europe. Both my father and grandfather were in reserved occupations during the war as they were involved in building heavy machinery for the war efforts. My father however didn't escape National Service and it was while on leave that he met my mother at a local dance. The rest I suppose is history. They got married after a lengthy courtship and several years later my brother and I arrived.

My father continued to work at the same engineering works until he retired and he and my mother enjoyed their retirement by buying a caravan by the river so my father could indulge his passion for fishing. They also continued to go on annual holidays somewhere in Europe, as my mother was scared of flying. My father was a good friend to his neighbours and friends and was always available to help someone with vast knowledge of DIY, car maintenance and in later life cooking. As the years went on his health deteriorated and in late 2009 he fell and broke his hip. Complications set in and on the 12th of November he passed away with my mother at his side. She herself was ill and joined him on the 26th of February 2012. On that day I became an orphan and from that day I could no longer ask for help and advice from my parents. Family history was now firmly in the past.

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