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Family names from Swannington past and present.  We are adding to the list and are very keen to include new families. Can you help us with yours?

Families featuring in our Village Archive include:

AtkinsThomas Atkins bought the Colliery Manager’s house in 1870 and it became a beer house, The Fountain Inn.

Bailey – The Coal mining family of William Willis Bailey the three mining engineers of that name did not live in Swannington but are linked to the mining history of the village.

Bakewell Adolphus Bakewell, 35 years, Licensed Victualler at the Anchor Inn in 1901.

 William Bakewell – Higgler of Peggs Green, was reputed to use donkeys, which having carried their loads, were allowed to to rest at the Aqueduct before returning to their stabling.  He was one of the last of the local higglers.

Bradley James Bradley, 56 years, Inn Keeper and Coal Miner,  at the Anchor Inn in 1891 Thringstone.

Burton – Anne Burton the founder of the Juvenile Missionary Association.

Henry Burton wrote the words for many Methodist hymns (read Dr Henry Burton Methodism’s Greatest Hymn Writer) and a Jubilee Ode performed at the Royal Albert Hall in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.  More information about Henry Burton is available on:


Challoner– Three Challoner grandsons,  Thomas, James (Jim) and Harold.  The three brothers were the grandsons of William Curtis Moon who was killed in the Whitwick Pit disaster of 19th April 1898.  Their uncle was Francis Thomas Challoner born 14th August 1873 in Narborough, Leicester.  Francis (known as Frank) was living at Colliery House, Spring Lane at the time the 120 foot high chimney was demolished, see the description on the Snibston No 3 page.

Cresswell  Harry Cresswell was the last licensee of The Bulls Head in 1939, he was also a coal miner and A.R.P. warden (air raid precautions).


Frank Challoner article.


Fewkes – Prairie Pioneers!  The Fewkes (Fukes, Fuchs, Fuks), family have been in Swannington at least as far back as 1751.

Daniel Fewkes was born in 1751, and was recorded in the 1775 Poll book as resident in Swannington.

Daniel and his wife Katherine had a son John Fewkes, born in Swannington in 1791. He married Sarah Ragg in 1828 and had 10 children. John was a Farmer in Swannington although it’s not known exactly where. He is recorded as such on the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census returns.  He died on 10 July 1870 and was described as a Yeoman on his Probate record.

Sarah Fewkes was the youngest of John’s 10 children born 4 August 1844. Her name was spelt Fukes on her birth certificate but this may have been a mistake by her mother who could not write her own name.  Aged 16, Sarah was living with her parents and 3 of her older brothers and helping at home as a housemaid. Aged 22 yrs. Sarah married Timothy Smith on 27 November 1866 at St. George’s Church, Swannington.

By 1871 there are two children, the family are living in Church Gresley with Timothy employed as a Coal Miner. But everything is about to change as the family, with new baby Alice, embark on a life changing adventure to Canada! We can’t be certain what prompted the decision to travel but the offers of “Free grants of 160 acres settlers in Manitoba” must have seemed too good to miss.   They joined fellow passengers aboard the Circassian, departing on 22 Sept 1873 for Quebec, Canada.

With her husband Timothy, Sarah was a pioneer of Rosebank, Manitoba settling in Orangeville, Ontario for 4 years.

In 1877 they travelled west and homesteaded on the farm where they raised their family and where Timothy died aged 84 yrs.

Sarah had tragically died in a prairie fire aged only 49 in 1893. Leaving 10 children with the youngest only 8 yrs old.


Sarah Fewkes 1884-1893
Timothy Smith with daughter Lydia Ross and grandson Archibald Ross. About 1905
Memorial card for Sarah Fewkes 1884-1893

Gray – The coal mining family of Thomas Henry Gray 1827-1914, the mining engineer and colliery manager who lived in Station Row during the 1860’s and 1870’s.

Griffin – Three generations of the Griffin family owned and worked Thringstone Smock Mill (now known as Hough Mill) until the 1870’s. Marriage connections include – Blastock, Draper, Gilbert, Horsley, Jesson, Kirby, Knight, Moll, Teall, Timms, Tugby

Hallam – Three generations of the Hallam family (grandfather, four sons and grandson) kept the pumping engine at the Calcutta Pumping Station in Talbot Lane, Swannington pumping out up to 54,000 gallons of water an hour.  When the family was running out of men, Maud Beatrice Hallam solved the problem by marrying James Arthur Smith who was working at Calcutta, that led to his brother David Smith also working there.

John Griffin of Thringstone, who died December 25th 1874 in his 83rd year and Susannah his widow, who died 31st August 1877 aged 78 years - St George's, Swannington

Holland – Gabriel Holland the 18th century coal mining entrepreneur who went bankrupt.  Gabriel married the daughter of Edward and Priscilla Muggleston.

Henson – Swannington Policeman Leonard Henson, son of the late Frank and Ann Henson,  of The Coldstream Guards died 25 September 1915 aged 25yrs.

‘He was the son of the late Frank Henson a labour of Loughborough Leicestershire and his wife Ann.  Leonard was educated at Emmanuel boys school Loughborough Leicestershire, enlisting in the Coldstream Guards on the 11th of June 1907 and he served for seven years before joining the Leicestershire Constabulary being stationed at New Swannington Leicestershire.  On the outbreak of war he re-joined his old regiment and was wounded on the 23rd of September 1914 by a shell during the Battle of the Aisne, subsequently dying from his wounds two days later in Claridge’s hotel in Paris.  The doctor wrote that he was brought in on the night of the 23rd of September and then after being very brave and patient he passed away quietly at 4:30 on Friday the 25th he was buried in the Pantin Cemetery and a company of French soldiers followed and fired the last shots.  Leonard was unmarried.  Other sources show his place of birth is All Saints Leicester.
He is remembered on the Carillon Tower Memorial Loughborough, Leicestershire.  Pte.7290. 2nd Bn.  Coldstream Guards.’

Horrobin – Swannington Rail Tragedy May 1938. Elsie May Horrobin (wife of Horace Horrobin, a miner employed at the South Leicestershire Colliery and residing in Main Street, Swannington) and her baby were killed.  She was 34 years of age and the mother of nine children, whose ages range from 7 months to 14 years. Read more at https://swannington-heritage.co.uk/coal-rail/incline/#Incline-Death-1938

Hough – The family of John Hough the land steward of the Beaumonts of Coleorton Hall, who bought Thringstone Smock Mill (now Hough Mill) in 1878.  Marriage connections include – Chester, Griffiths, Lakin, Taylor.

Jeffcoat – Including Samuel Jeffcoat born in Swannington on May 2nd 1782, son of William and Elizabeth Jeffcoat who fought in the Peninsular War (Spain and Portugal) against Napoleon’s army.

Jesson – Including Susannah Jesson the wife of John Griffin (father), the miller at Thringstone Smock Mill (now Hough Mill).

Kirby (Kerby) – The milling family who leased Hough Mill from the Griffin and Hough families plus operated other windmills in Swannington and Thringstone.  Marriage connections include – Burton, Cartwright, Clayton, Farmer, Gamble, Griffin, King, Lakin, Pegg, Sketchley, Smith, Wilson

Lewis – The coal mining family of Richard George Bailey Lewis the mining engineer of the Coleorton Colliery Company, whose number 2 colliery (Califat Colliery) is owned by the Trust.

Lidwell – John George Lidwell was born 10 March 1909 in Swannington.  The eldest son of John George Lidwell, Builder and Clara Elizabeth Fewkes.

1915 – The family were living at The Robin Hood Inn, Swannington.  The Army records of John senior shows him as both a Builder and Publican.

1933 – April 15th John married Florence Charlotte Beniston

1939 –  John and Charlotte were living at Deepdale, Swannington,  John was a Builders Foreman.

1961- 21 December John died.  His last address was still Deepdale, Swannington.

MugglestonEdward and Priscilla Mugglestone were a Quaker family who farmed on the corner of Main Street and Church Lane.

Newarke – The 1749 inventory of William Newarke’s property provides a fascinating insight into the life and possessions of a prosperous farmer.  William also operated a coal mine that was subsequently worked by Gabriel Holland.

Orton – The life of Edward Orton 1665-1746, a tanner.

Stacey – The family lived in Centre Cottages (next to the school playing field) before moving to Centre Farm in 1939.  Read an account by Peggy Shipman (nee Stacey) of family life in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s.


J D Lidwell at the Robin Hood Inn

Walker – The coal mining family of Benjamin Walker the co-owner of the Coleorton Colliery Company, whose number 2 colliery (Califat Colliery) is owned by the Trust.

Wileman – The Wilemans were a well known and respected Swannington family who lived at the very bottom of Station Hill close to the Robin Hood at what may then have been known as Wileman’s Corner. However in 1866…


At Ashby Petty Sessions, in February 1866, John Wileman was charged with being “in a state of nudity at Swannington”; he was sentenced to one month’s hard labour. For the prosecution, Inspector Ward stated that “it was becoming quite a common practice by the lower class of colliers in and around Swannington to strip themselves almost entirely of their clothes, and run certain distances down the street, which was a great nuisance to the public. we wished the Bench to put a stop to it”.  Read the full article from our members’ magazine.

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