Thomas Swaby

26th Feb 1778 - 1823


  1. Thomas Swaby (26/02/1778 - 1823) was a Planter in Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica. He was the reputed natural son of the Hon. Joseph James Swaby (Custos of Saint Elizabeth Parish), by Martha Wilson Brown.

  2. Other children of Joseph James Swaby and Martha Wilson Brown are: Martha Swaby (born 12/11/1781), Eleanor Ann Swaby (born 7/4/1783) and Ann Wilson Swaby (born abt. 1785). Thomas married twice by license. During this era in Jamaica a marriage license was not required as banns could be read. A license was more costly than banns and required greater effort to obtain due to bureaucratic complexity. People living outside the Kingston/Spanish Town area were only married by license if they were well-to-do or influential.

  3. Thomas Swaby married Catherine Blake by license on 26/09/1798 in St. Elizabeth. Catherine (born 4/8/1779) was the reputed child of William Blake by Elizabeth Wright. Thomas and Catherine had one known child, Caroline Augusta Swaby (born 22/07/1800). A child named Catherine Ann Swaby (born 4/4/1803) was baptized on 4/3/1807 at the home of Edward Mullings, Thomas’ future father-in-law. It is possible this child belonged to Thomas and Catherine; however, no parents are specified. There is no burial record for Catherine Blake Swaby; it is probable that she had died by this point as Thomas was soon to remarry.

  4. Thomas Swaby’s second marriage was to Ann Mullings “near Bellvue” by license on 3/11/1807. Ann (born 10/6/1790) was the youngest child of Edward and Susanna Mullings. Thomas and Ann had seven children – Mary Ann Swaby (2/1/1808), Deborah Mullings Swaby (25/10/1809), Thomas Joseph Swaby (1/3/1811), John Ennis Mullings Swaby (8/7/1813), Edward Mullings Swaby (6/6/1815), Elizabeth Ann Swaby (20/6/1818) and William Mullings Swaby (26/8/1820).

  5. Thomas Swaby’s property holding was named “Hope Vale”, likely an adaption to the name of his father’s coffee plantation called “Hope”. The property first appears in the 1817 Jamaica almanac. The 1821 almanac lists the property as having 22 enslaved people and 11 stock.

  6. It is apparent from various indentures and slave returns signed by Thomas during his latter life that he had a formal education. As Thomas’ mother could not write, presumably his father provided for his education. One of these indentures, dated 12/5/1820, was the sale of a young enslaved girl named Juhana from Thomas and Ann to his sister Eleanor Ann Swaby.

  7. Thomas’s slave return of 28/6/1820 shows his estate consisted of 19 enslaved people, 10 of which were inherited from Edward Mullings. There were 13 males and 6 females. Thomas also completed, as guardian, slave returns for his two sons, Thomas Joseph Swaby and John Ennis Mullings Swaby. Uncharacteristically, Thomas did not leave a recorded will. The 1823 slave return for Hope Vale was filed by Ann Swaby as owner on 28/6/1823. In the return Ann mentions that a number of enslaved people were “Registered in 1820 by Thos Swaby my husband since dead”. Based on a statement regarding the transfer of an enslaved person to the couple’s son “Thomas Joseph Swaby” on 23/6/1823, it appears that Thomas Swaby died shortly prior to this date: “Inherited by Ts Js Swaby the son of the late Thos Swaby as heir to him 23rd June 1823”. There is no record to explain the cause of Thomas’ death.


We are grateful to Denny Swaby for compiling this entry.

  1. Registrar’s General Department St. Catherine/Jamaica, Church of England Parish Register.

  2. Registrar’s General Department St. Catherine/Jamaica, Church of England Parish Register.

  3. Registrar’s General Department St. Catherine/Jamaica, Church of England Parish Register.

  4. Registrar’s General Department St. Catherine/Jamaica, Church of England Parish Register.

  5. Jamaican Almanacs 1817, 1821.

  6. L.O.S Deeds: Vol 690 Folio 141.

  7. Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834/Jamaica/

Further Information

[1] Catherine Blake [2] Ann Mullings
With [1] Caroline Augusta (1800-); with [2] Mary Ann (1808-), Deborah Mullings (1809-), Thomas Joseph (1811-), John Ennis Mulllings (1813-), Edward Mullings (1815-), Elizabeth Ann (1818-), William Mullings (1820-)

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1817 [EA] - 1820 [LA] → Owner

Relationships (11)

Natural Son → Father
Uncle → Niece
Father → Daughter
Father → Son
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Niece
Half-brother → Half-sister
Husband → Wife