Denis Lane McSwiney

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Denis Lane McSwiney

Birthdate: (66)
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Death: Died in Cork City, Cork, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of Patrick McSwiney and Ellen McSwiney
Husband of Anne McSwiney and Catherine McSwiney
Father of Patrick McSwiney; Ellen McSwiney; Daniel Lawrence McSwiney; Julianna (Julia) McSwiney and Marian Josephine Ferguson
Brother of Daniel McSwiney, R.C. Priest, Scholar; Patrick McSwiney, Pres. Irish College, Paris; Mary McSwiney; Michael McSwiney; Julia Anne Sheahan and 3 others

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About Denis Lane McSwiney

1800, 11 October Birth

recorded in Registration of Births, at St. Marys and St. Annes, North Parish, Cork, Ireland

Joined the East India Company. (The "Unattached List" recorded Warrant Officers (Conductors and Sub-Conductors) and Non-commissioned Officers (mainly Sergeants) who were not attached to a regiment.) Denis was recorded on the East India Company Muster Roll of Army Records as a Staff Serjeant and then became a Sub-Conductor in the Public Works arena:

  • 1823 27 March ..... East India Company 1.
  • 1823 7 May ........... Embarked on the "Marquis of Wellington" for Madras (Chennai) 1.
  • 1823 25 Sep........... Arrived at Fort. St. George, Madras (the first English fortress in India) 1.

1825, 19 March Marriage of Denis L. McSwiney and Anne Marren

At St. Thomas (Roman Catholic) Portuguese Mission at Fort St. George, Madras 1.

  • 1826 26 February, Birth of 1st son, Patrick McSwiney - baptized at St. Thomas Portuguese Mission on 1826 17 March 1.

1828 Denis L. McSwiney and family arrived in Singapore

1829 17 June - birth of Daughter Ellen in Singapore. She dies 8 days later - buried at Christian Cemetery (Fort Canning Green) 2.

D. L. McSwiney is recorded as a "onetime Merchant and Contractor" and Clerk to George Drumgool Coleman of Drogheda, Ireland, first Superintendant of Public Works in. Singapore.

Denis Lane was his baptized name, not Denis Leslie McSwiney. However, the latter has been attributed to him in many instances, i.e. 1832-1833. "The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Singapore. Established in 1832 by missionaries from the Société des Missions étrangères de Paris, services were first held in the house of Denis Lesley McSwiney. In 1833 a modest wooden chapel was completed. 1843-1847 After the chapel became too small, the cornerstone of the present church was laid in 1843 (the 6th year of Queen. Victoria's reign). The church, designed by Architect D.L. McSwiney as less expensive and easier to keep in repair, was blessed and opened by Father Jean-Marie Beurel on 6 June 1847."

1830 28 July: Birth of son Daniel Lawrence (Laurentio), Singapore E.I. 1. 1833 5 Feb: Birth of daughter Julianna, Singapore E.I. 2a. (Shg later precedes Denis in death in Cork, Ireland)

1833 1 Nov - Death of wife Anne aged 33; she is buried with her daughter Ellen in the Christian Cemetery. The records indicate first relative is Staff Sergeant D. L. McSwiney 2.

1835 13 January Denis is on leave

1836 28 November St. Mary's Parish, Cork City, Denis marries Catherine (Kate) Mary Harnett, daughter of the late Maurice Hartnett and Mary Cronin. The Wexford Journal went on to say they were married at Sidney Place, Cork City - the home of Patrick and Honora Forde - that Denis M'Swiney Esq., was of the Madras Ordnance Department. Honora was Catherine's sister. 1.& 7.

[Cousin Relationship between Catherine Mary Harnett and sister-in-law Honoria Harnett?)

1836 4 Jan - Denis resigns from the East India Company army 1.

Returns to Singapore

1837 25 June, daughter Maryann is born in Singapore 1 1838 28 July, daughter Helen is born in Singapore - she dies and is buried on 4 August. 1.

The French Bishop celebrated Mass in McSwiney's house, opposite the "present" (at the time of writing) church along Bras Basah and the corner of Queen Street 5. Denis was involved in getting land for the church. 6.

  • 1843, 18 June - Construction commenced for the first permanent Catholic place of worship in Singapore - the Church of the Good Shepherd, designed by Architect Denis L. McSwiney. 2b
  • 1843 22 June - "
  • 1845 "Mr. McSwiney the Architect (who has generously given his valuable services gratuitously) requires 3,800 dollars more to complete the building." 2c
  • 1847, 6 June Four years later, the Church was completed.

Catholics from different races living in Singapore all worshipped in the Church of the Good Shepherd - elevated to the status of a Cathedral in 1897. Later other Catholic churches were built in Singapore.

7 October 1847

His work done, D.L. McSwiney left Singapore for good with his second wife Catherine (Kate) (and children?) on board the "Eleanor Russell, which arrived back in London four months later on 12 February 1848. They then returned home to Ballyvolane House, Cork, Co. Cork, Ireland, at the height of the potato crop famine in Ireland (the severity was in the west of Ireland - Cork, Kerry, Galway and Mayo, with Cork and Kerry being the hardest hit) After losing approximately 2 million people to emigration, and 1 million people to starvation, the country slowly started to recover after 1850)

1849 His surviving Son Daniel Lawrence, aged 19, emigrated to the USA, arriving at the Port of New Orleans

- leaving behind his father, stepmother, sister Julia and stepsister Maryann..

1850 26 January - Valuation of Ireland, Townland of Ballyvolane

handwritten notes list:

1850 Land Valuation For Townland of Ballyvolane.

  • #8 House of Denis Lane McSwiney, Lessee of William Copinger (Lessor)
  • Shows Length, Breadth and Height, number of Measures, Rate per Measure and totals in Pounds, Shillings and Pence.
  • Lists Category (Class) 1B for House, Kitchen, Carriage House, Privy (presumably outside), Stable, Slaughter House, Pig House, large detached Office
  • Also lists land as 17.5 Acres.
  • Note on the Land Valuation page says "greatly impressed with Mr. McSwiney"!

[Note the timeframe of this 1850 Ireland Valuation - i.e. just after the Great Famine.]

Ireland Valuation Office books

Official Transcription===

  • Denis [Lane]
  • McSwiney
  • Year 1848
  • Valuation date 26 Jan 1850
  • Townland - Ballyvolane
  • Parish - St Anne Shandon
  • Barony - Cork
  • County Cork
  • Lessor/other first name(s). Wm [William]
  • Lessor/other last name - Coppinger
[Book type:  House book. Reference code OL/5/392;  NAI microfilm reference MFGS/46/14;  National Archives of Ireland; Ireland Valuation Office books.  Census, land & surveys, Land & Estates]

1861, February 23 - His Will mentions

  • daughters Julia and Marian (no mention of Daniel Lawrence in the US)
  • property at Ballyvolane and SINGAPORE (**)

Will witnessed by William Richard Copinger, Solicitor and Thomas Sheehan, Mr. Copinger's Clerk.

1862, June 30th - Codicil to his Will

My daughter Julia has died (died in March 1862). I therefore annul the bequest made to her and I appoint my sole daughter Marian [see below Marian Ferguson, wife of Robert Ferguson, of Queenstown) sole residuary legatee of my estate [property at Ballyvolane, Cork City and SINGAPORE]

Wedding announcement

[The Hampshire Chronicle, September 17 1864]

"On Thursday (15th) , by the Rev. Wm. Canon O'Sullivan, Robert Ferguson, Esq., M.D. Royal Naval Hospital Haslar (at Gosport, Hampshire, England) To Marion Josephine, daughter of D.L. McSwiney, Esq., Ballvolane Hall, Co. Cork (Ireland)

1865, May 3 edition of the Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier mentions

"Denis L. McSwiney of Ballyvolane Hall*".

  • Situated on Ballincollig Road in the NE environs of Cork City, Ballyvolane Hall was the McSwiney family home to several generations- a large building with property rented in the 1820s under a long term lease by Denis' brother Roger McSwiney from the Coppinger family (*at the time of the lease Roman Catholics were legally restricted from 'owning' property).

1867, 19 July - Death was imminent and a Codicil was made to his 1962 Will to include his son who had emigrated to the USA

"I bequeath to my son Daniel McSwiney the sum of One Thousand Pounds"

1867 22 August Death

  • Name Denis Lane M'Swiney
  • Event Place Cork, Ireland
  • Registration Year and District 1867 - Cork
  • Age 67
  • Birth Year (Estimated) 1800

[Source: Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958

  • Volume Number 15
  • Page Number 59
  • GS Film number 101583
  • Digital Folder Number 004200215]

Denis Lane M'Swiney, Ireland Probate Records 27 August 1867

  • Event Type Grant of Probate

Effects under 7000 Irish Pounds

  • Death Date 22 Aug 1867
  • Event Place Adelaide Terrace, Cork
  • Beneficiary's Name Marion Furguson
  • Beneficiary 2 Name Robert Ferguson of Queeenstown (now Cobh - Cork City harbor area)

[Source Family Search - GS Film number 100973, Digital Folder Number 005014887]

1868 Son Daniel Lawrence, living in the USA and a US citizen, applied for a US Passport with the purpose of visiting Ireland (perhaps to receive his portion left to him by Will, although an unsubstantiated family story was to settle a dispute over / challenge the terms of Denis' estate). [source: descendant Rebecca Davis]

1869 15 December - Denis' wife Catherine, formerly of Adelaide Terrace, Cork City, died at Queenstown, aged 72 [123 GS Film, # 101584, Dig Folder # 00433, Ireland Civil Registration Indices, 1845-1958 database FamilySearch]

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gout and rheumatism were a 'family failing' - recounted Denis McSwiney, Dean of Cork. Here he refers to his father and uncles, including his Uncle Denis:

"my Uncle Patrick, rector of the Irish College, suffered from them from his youth, but left them after him at Vichy, many years before his death in 1865: Daniel, Parish Priest of Bandon, Cork, who died of fever, in 1845 (time of the Famine), suffered from them, as did John and DENIS: my father, Roger, very little."

(Source: Letter from nephew Denis (Dean of Cork) a family letter to his cousin Rev. Herbert McSwiney)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Source: descendant Rebecca Davis, Denis Lane McSwiney's great grand-daughter.

2. Cemetery Record Book, Singapore p.13 and 14. 76, 77

2a FHL 1357986, p.1 Records Church of Good Shepherd 1832-1866

2b "Madras. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 22 June 1843, p.2."

2c "The Bengal Catholic Herald, P.2014, Vol IX (Printed Calcutta 1845 by P.S. D'Rozario and Co.)

3. Find-A-Grave #60516514

4. Reference: Jane Beamish; Jane Ferguson (1 December 1985) "A History of Singapore Architecture: The Making of a City"/ Graham Brash (Pte.) Ltd., p. 47:

5. Buckley. (1902) An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, Vol 1, p. 243 6. Buckley. (1902) An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, Vol 1, p. 248

7. Microfilm 04785/02, page 107 St. Mary's Parish Cork City, Diocese of Cork&Ross. Also Wexford Conservative newspaper in early Dec 1835.


Advantages of joining an EIC Army compared with the British Army - For a soldier

The army took responsibility for many civil and social activities in the country, particularly in the vicinity of the cantonments. These responsibilities were undertaken by Warrant Officers generally acting through Sergeants of differing titles. These were positions of significant importance and standing and the chance to attain them was one of the attractions of joining the Company's army rather than the King's/Queen's army. [6]

Many NCOs were able to take on other work and attract an extra income. By doing so, they could frequently buy themselves out of their units, could earn more money and qualify for a pension much sooner. [7]


6. Bailey, Peter "Bazaar Sergeant.", Rootsweb India Mailing List, 2 Apr 2000.

7. Fuller, Tony. "Prisons", Rootsweb India Mailing

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Denis Lane McSwiney's Timeline

October 11, 1800
Cork, Ireland
February 26, 1826
Age 25
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
June 17, 1828
Age 27
July 28, 1830
Age 29
February 5, 1833
Age 32
Singapore, E.I.
August 22, 1867
Age 66
Cork City, Cork, Ireland