I checked the 1891 census for the family but found that Clara, aged 15, had moved away from home and was working as a domestic servant at 18 George Street, Oxford for Benjamin R Bartlett, a Postal Receiver and Stationer, and his family. So was a five year old Clara at home with her parents in 1881? Yes she was. The family were living at 20 Friars Wharf in Oxford. John Charles Swadling was a 48 year old Gas Labourer and was born in Oxford. His wife Ellen was 43 and born in the village of Iffley in Oxfordshire. Clara had six siblings. John Charles, 22, an out of employ servant who was born in Oxford, Charles, 20, also a Gas Labourer who was born in Iffley, James, 13, and Elizabeth, 8, who were scholars and also born in Iffley and William, 3 and Mary Ann, 9 months, who had been born in Oxford.
So what had happened to Eleanor L. and who was Ellen? I checked records and found a marriage for John Charles Swadling to an Ellen Price in 1857.
So who was John Charles Swadling?
From checking parish registers and census returns I found that he was born in George Lane in 1832 and baptised on the 30th September at St. Mary Magdalene in Oxford. His parents were Charles Swadling, a labourer born in Hinksey in Berkshire around 1807 and Harriett Higgins, who was the daughter of John and Christian Higgins and born in the summer of 1811. Harriett was privately baptised on the 18th of August and received into the church on the 13th October. Charles and Harriett married in 1831 at Ebbe Parish Church in Oxford after attending church on three consecutive Sunday, the 6th, 13th and 20th of November to hear the banns read.
In 1841 John Charles was living in the district of St Thomas in Oxford with his parents and three younger sisters, Jane Elizabeth, Sarah and Christian. Another sister Mary Ann was born in 1842. Sadly by 1845 his mother and sisters Sarah, Christian and Mary Ann had all died.
On the 1851 census John and his father were visitors at the house of James Forward and his wife Elizabeth. His sister Jane Elizabeth was living with her aunt and uncle, John and Christian Higgins. Although I think that they were in fact her maternal grandparents. Jane Elizabeth married Henry Dean in 1854 and they raised a large family before her death in 1920 at the age of 78.
John Charles married Ellen Price on the 17th August 1857 in the Parish Church of Holy Trinity in Oxford. The witnesses on the marriage certificate were Jane Elizabeth and Henry Dean, the sister and brother-in-law of John Charles. Ellen's father was Richard Price and he was employed as a Gardener. I was able to solve the mystery of Eleanor and Ellen when I found an Eleanor Price on the 1851 census with her parents Richard and Charlotte. Eleanor Price was baptised on the 5th August 1838 in Iffley Parish Church in Oxford and her birth had been registered as Eleanor Lavina in the September quarter of 1838 In the Headington district which included the district of Iffley. Over the coming years she would sometimes be recorded on documents as Eleanor and sometimes as Ellen.
During the late summer of 1858 a son, John Charles junior, was born and baptised at St. Aldate Parish Church in Oxford on the 5th September. By the time the census was taken on the 7th April 1861, John Charles and Ellen had moved to the village of Iffley on the outskirts of Oxford. The census stated that another son, Charles was three months old. He had been baptised at Iffley parish Church a month earlier on the 10th March.
When the 1871 census was taken the family also included, Harriett aged 7, born in 1863, James aged 3, born in 1868 and Ellen aged seven months, born the previous autumn. Another son, Henry, had been born in 1865. He was baptised at Iffley parish Church on the 4th December but sadly died at the age of eight weeks and was buried in the churchyard on the 13th of December 1865. Another daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1873 and she was also baptised at Iffley parish Church on the 2nd of April. Between then and December 1874 John Charles moved his family back into Oxford.
Over the years I have searched a large variety of sources and collected a lot of information and facts about the Swadlings. A relatively new source are the articles from the British Newspapers 1710 - 1953 on Find My Past. The majority of these articles usually announced family events or reported legal issues. It was only when I began to write this blog that I realised that I had a copy of an article printed on Saturday the 2nd of January 1875 in the Oxford Journal that described the tragic death of Ellen Swadling. The daughter of John Charles and Ellen.
A Child Burnt To Death
On Tuesday a child, named Ellen Swadling of 51 Friars Wharf, set her clothes on fire during the temporary absence of her mother. She was taken to the Radcliffe Infirmary where death put an end to her sufferings on Thursday night. An inquest will be held this day (Saturday).
Poor Ellen was only four years old when she died and she was buried at Holy Trinity Parish Church in Oxford on Monday the 4th of January 1875. Just one week after setting her clothes on fire. I couldn't find any reference to the Inquest Verdict but I did find a similar account of an Inquest reported in November 1873. Two small children, one aged two and one nearly four had been left alone with an unprotected fire in the hearth while their mother went next door to a neighbour. The mother heard a scream and ran back home. Her two year old daughter's clothes were in flames. She and the neighbour extinguished the child's clothes but she was very badly burnt. Like Ellen, she was taken to the Radcliffe Infirmary where she died several days later. The Verdict was Accidental Death. She died from the injuries and shock. How awful for children to die in such a painful and distressing way.
On the 12th of March 1876 John Charles and Ellen returned to Holy Trinity Parish Church but this time it was for the baptism of their two month old daughter Clara, who had been born on the 21st January. They were now living at 20 Friars Wharf and John Charles was employed as a Labourer. John Charles was still a labourer when another son, William, was baptised on the 3rd March 1878. Ellen's child bearing days were finally over when her youngest child, Mary Ann was baptised alongside nine other babies on the 5th September 1880.
John Charles and Ellen were still living at 20 Friars Wharf in 1891 with three of their children, James 23, William 13 and Mary Ann 10. John Charles, Charles and Harriett were now married and Clara and Elizabeth were both in service in Oxford.
John Charles Swadling died at the beginning of January 1894 at the age of 61. He was buried in the graveyard of St Ebbe Parish Church on the 19th January. His abode at the time of his death was 4 Bridge Row, Pensons Gardens.