Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Sir John Swinnerton, Lord Mayor of London

Male Bef 1564 - 1616  (> 51 years)


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  • Name Sir John Swinnerton  [1
    Suffix Lord Mayor of London 
    Baptised 13 Dec 1564  St. Dionis Backchurch, Langbourn, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Born Bef 17 Dec 1564  [3
    Gender Male 
    Baptised 17 Dec 1564  St. Dionis Backchurch, Langbourn, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Died 8 Dec 1616  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 4, 5
    Buried 10 Dec 1616  St. Mary Aldermanbury, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6, 7
    Person ID I17011  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of DDB
    Last Modified 10 Sep 2018 

    Father John Swinnerton,   b. Oswestry, Shropshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 24 Oct 1608 
    Mother Mary Fawnte,   b. Lexden, Essex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1613 
    Family ID F10385  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Thomasine Buckfold,   d. 9 Aug 1650, Tottenham, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 1 Aug 1586  St. Mary Aldermanbury, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [4, 5, 8
    Notes 
    • The 1604-1629 volume of the History of Parliament says they were married 1 Aug 1586; the 1564-1616 volume gives the date 22 July 1586.
    Children 
    +1. Thomas Swinnerton,   b. Bef 26 Jan 1600,   d. Aft 28 Jun 1627  (Age > 27 years)
    Last Modified 10 Sep 2018 
    Family ID F10370  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • MP for Petersfield, 1601; for East Grinstead, 1604. Alderman of London, 1602 to his death. Sheriff of London, 1602-03. Lord Mayor of London, 1612-13. Several other offices and occupations, including commissioner of inquiry into the lands of the Main-plotters, London and Middlesex, 1603, and into the Bye-plotters, 1603. Knighted 26 Jul 1603. He was among the merchants who formed the East India Company in 1599.

      He is the subject of two separate entries in the History of Parliament: one in the 1558-1603 volume, and one (as "Sir John Swinarton") in the volume covering 1604 to 1629. He also has a 1300-word entry, by Ian W. Archer, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

      He was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, and probably apprenticed to his father for a time. By the 1590s he was a successful importer of claret; from 1593 to 1607 he farmed the customs on French and Rhenish wines. From 1604 to 1612, he headed a series of attempts, backed by the earl of Northampton, to wrest control of the farm of the great customs from the group backed by the earl of Salisbury. These wranglings were in fact side-theatres in rivalries between magnates far more elevated than Swinnerton. When Northampton used the ongoing negotiations to launch a scathing critique of Salisbury's financial administration, Salisbury was quick to make it known that he rated Swinnerton "like a dog" and that Swinnerton would never gain the farm, "let the best friends he had in court strain what they can". (Snobbery by old families toward the upcoming urban commercial class was real and pointed. In 1602, Swinnerton purchased an estate in St. Mary Aldermanbury which included a house leased by the countess of Shrewsbury. This occasioned a letter to the countess from Sir Fulke Greville, 1554-1628, warning her of "one Swinnerton, a merchant" and expressing confidence that "your ladyship would not willingly become a tenant to such a fellow.") In the end Swinnerton had to settle for the sweet-wine customs farms and the farms of the Irish customs. He died in comfort if not great wealth; it was said on his death that he was "not so great or rich a man as he was held or made show of", but his will shows that he provided handsomely for his offspring.

      Meanwhile, his career in London politics was as successful as his business dealings were tumultuous. Alderman, sheriff, twice member of Parliament (the second time probably with the patronage of the lord treasurer, Thomas Sackville, first earl of Dorset), he was clearly considered a reliable pair of hands; for instance, following the Gunpowder Plot, it was he who was given charge of Elizabeth Vaux, daughter-in-law of the noted aristocratic recusant William Vaux, during her period of interrogation. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography summarizes his term as lord mayor, 1612-13: "Among the highlights was his entertainment of the prince palatine at his inaugural feast, and on Michaelmas day 1613 the opening of the New River which brought fresh supplies of water to the City. Less well celebrated, but noteworthy for the future, was the real progress now being made in the Ulster plantation, a crown project foisted on a reluctant corporation in 1609: it was during Swinnerton's mayoralty that serious building work at Londonderry commenced, and the fledgling city received its charter."

      His ODNB entry also notes a side of Swinnerton only touched on by his entries in the History of Parliament: his several associations with Elizabethan and Jacobean poets and playwrights. "He had himself benefited from a classical education under Richard Mulcaster at the Merchant Taylors' School and was the dedicatee of about twenty published works, among them a number of mainstream protestant works, but also Thomas Ravenscroft's treatise Memorable Musick (1614) and Anthony Munday's translation of the popular chivalric romance, Palmerin of England (1602). Munday addressed Swinnerton as 'my most gentle patrone'; another playwright, William Smith, described him as 'a great cherisher of the Muses'. In July 1607 when the Merchant Taylors, under the mastership of his father, entertained James I at a fabulously expensive feast, it was Swinnerton who was asked to approach Ben Jonson to write a speech of welcome to the king. Swinnerton also knew Henry Condell and John Heminges, the editors of Shakespeare's Folio, who were fellow parishioners at St Mary Aldermanbury. Heminges collaborated with Thomas Dekker on the pageants inaugurating Swinnerton's mayoralty; one of Heminges's children was baptized Swinnerton; and in his will Swinnerton left £20 to Heminges's wife, Rebecca, whom he described as 'my cousin'."

  • Sources 
    1. [S2176] Burke's Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage, 107th edition, ed. Charles Mosley. Wilmington, Delaware: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd., 2003. Use with caution.

    2. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-ongoing).

    3. [S47] The History of Parliament. Some citations point to entries from the printed volumes not yet added to the online site.

    4. [S47] The History of Parliament. Some citations point to entries from the printed volumes not yet added to the online site., date only.

    5. [S2212] The London and Middlesex Notebook: A Garner of Local History and Antiquities edited by William Phillimore Watts Phillimore. London: Elliot Stock, 1892.

    6. [S47] The History of Parliament. Some citations point to entries from the printed volumes not yet added to the online site., place only.

    7. [S2179] E. H. Martin, "Swinnerton-Dyer Family." Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset 10:307; 10:341, 1907; 11:24, 1908., place only.

    8. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-ongoing)., date only.