Swanseys – a family of innkeepers

On the 1682 guild roll there are three Swansey brothers: Alex, Hugh and William, together with Alex’s son, Henry, and William’s son, also Henry. The three brothers had been enrolled as burgesses sometime after the preceding 1662 guild; their father was not a burgess. [1] In the 1685 survey of Preston Alex is listed as the innkeeper at the White Horse in Fishergate and William had the establishment known as Swansey’s in Main Sprit Weind.

Both hostelries feature frequently in the Preston diaries of Thomas Bellingham and Lawrence Rawstorne. Rawstorne, in his diary entry for 29 July 1686, records that the White Horse had a bowling green. The diarists also visited a third Swansey establishment, Swansey’s on the Marsh, in Ashton, and that, too, seems to have had a bowling green to judge by the diary entries for 5 September 1688.

The parish registers for St John, Preston, [2] record the burial on 20 November 1663 of Henry Swansey, gent, of the Marsh in Ashton. His occupation is given as ‘Innkeep’. He had been established at Ashton since before 1645 for in that year the registers record the burial of an infant, the child of Henry Sawnsey of Ashton. In a further burial entry, for 19 Sep 1655, Henry is described as a yeoman.

The registers record that Alex Swansey was buried on 30 April 1686 and his brother William on 11 March 1685. It is probable that the family were Catholics for An Swansy, daughter of William Swansy, deceased, who was buried on 15 April 1688, was listed as a papist. It is possible that a Peg Swansey took over the running of the Main Sprit Weind hostelry after William’s death, for in diary entries starting on 17 December 1687 Rawstorne refers frequently to visits to an establishment named Peg Swansey’s.

The Swanseys have left their mark on the Preston landscape. The 1845 OS 6in has a Swansea Gutter running into the Ribble in Ashton, there is a Swansea Terrace on Watery Lane and near by a Swansea Street. The earlier style of Swansey rather than Swansea Gutter appears in the Preston Court Leet records for October 1693 and there is a Swansey Bridge recorded in the same records in April 1656. [3] There were few properties at this end of Preston Marsh at this period. The only one that has left a trace is Holehouse, for which the first record discovered comes in January 1654 when it was in the possession of the Walmsley family. [4] There is still a building on the site in Pechel Street.

[1] W. A. Abram, The Rolls of Burgesses at the Guilds Merchant of the Borough of Preston, Co. of Lancaster, 1397-1682 (Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1884), 176, 201, https://archive.org/details/rollsburgessesa00langoog.
[2] ‘Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project – District of Preston’, accessed 9 February 2017, http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Preston/Preston/stjohn/index.html.
[3] ‘Preston Court Leet Records’, accessed 29 January 2017, http://c5110394.myzen.co.uk/mw/index.php?title=Main_Page.
[4] Ibid.