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Swifts of Lancashire

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Lancashire, Englandmap
Surname/tag: Swift
Profile manager: Michael Swift private message [send private message]
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This profile is part of the Swift Name Study.

Lancashire is one of England's most populated counties, yet possesses only about 75 'ancient' parishes- far fewer than most other counties. To handle the dramatic population explosion within its county boundries, the Church of England created about 400 of chapels of ease (or chapelries) and district churches. In Lancashire most ancient parishes were divided into chapelries, though a few had no chapelries and Manchester had over 150. The average number of chapelries per ancient parish was about eight. For a thorough list of all chapelries attached to each of Lancashire's ancient parishes see [1]

The paternal side of my family tree have Swift's married in the Ormskirk Parish with parish church dedicated to St Peter and St Paul, but also includes Bickerstaffe, Skelmersdale, Burscough and Lathom St James Chapelries. Ormskirk parish includes the market town of Ormskirk as well as the settlements of Bickerstaffe, Burscough, Lathom, Skelmersdale and Scarisbrick.

I would like to explore other Swifts in the Lancashire region by building their family trees. At the moment, I am using parish records of baptisms, marriages and burials; all located under a single website: Lancashire Online Parish Clerk. http://www.lan-opc.org.uk. The project involves 2,729 marriages among a Swift partner (or variations e.g. Swifte, Swyft). See attached graphs: Evolution of Swift Surname and Number of Swift Marriages by Time Period.

I will sometimes have to estimate the birthdate, since many of the spouses do not have birth/baptismal records. Estimates were downloaded in an Excel worksheet provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on median age of marriages from 1846 to 2011. [2] Also see attached graph [3].

Average female age of marriages in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras: [4] provided:

1566 - 1619 27.0 years
1647 - 1719 29.6 years
1720 - 1779 26.8 years
1770 - 1837 25.1 years

I will linearly interpolate age of marriage by year for 1566 - 1837, by assigning the average ages given to the middle of each time period. The age gap of marriages between males and females has dropped from 2 years during the 2000's to 1 year at 1846. I will assume a gap of 1.5 years between 1566-1837. If the marriage contract notes that parental consent was given then I assume that the groom was 18 and bride was 16 years old.

Most marriages have the male spouse being born 1-2 years before their female partner. If one partner does have a registered birth/baptism but the other does not, then I apply the +/- 2 year rule.

The parish name given in the marriage record is used to approximate the place of birth/death if they are not given in these records. A vision of Britain from 1801 to now, including maps, statistical trends and historical description provides additional information if a residence (abode) is provided in the vital records. [5]

Helen Ford provided me with an interesting paper on birth-baptism intervals in Lancashire 1646-1917.[6]

Please fell free to make suggestions or join the project.


  1. Lancashire Parishes. https://www.FamilySearch.org/wiki/en/Lancashire_Parishes
  2. Table 5: Median age at marriage: sex and previous marital statuses of bride and bridegroom 1846 - 2011 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/marriagecohabitationandcivilpartnerships/datasets/
  3. Office for National Statistics: Marriages in England and Wales, 2017 http://www.ons.gov.uk
  4. Best, Michael. The age of marriage. Shakespeare's Life and Times. Internet Shakespeare Editions. University of Victoria, NaN undefined NaN. Web. 8 Nov. 2020. https://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/society/family/marriage.html.
  5. A Vision of Britian through Time. https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/
  6. John Perkins. "Birth-baptismal intervals in 68 Lancashire parishes, 1646 - 1971", Local Population Studies. Autumn 2010;(85):11-27. http://www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/PDF/LPS85/LPS%2085%20Perkins.pdf

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Categories: Swift Name Study