Emily Sarah McSwiney

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Emily Sarah McSwiney (Hills)

Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Colchester, Essex, England
Death: December 26, 1897 (72-80)
The Rectory, Barnoldby-le-Beck, Humberside, England
Place of Burial: Sudbury, Suffolk, UK
Immediate Family:

Daughter of George Hills, Rear-Admiral R.N. and Diana Hills
Wife of John Henry Herbert McSwiney, Rev., M.A.
Mother of George H.B. McSwiney; John William Augustus McSwiney; Edith Mabel McSwiney; E. Frederick H. McSwiney; Arthur Cattley McSwiney and 2 others
Sister of Dianna Hills; Lydia Hills; George Hills, DD, 1st Bishop of British Columbia; Charles Robert Hills, Professor; Caroline Hills and 4 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Emily Sarah McSwiney

1821 Emily was born in Colchester, hometown of her mother's sister - Aunt Ann, the wife of Bishop William Ward. At that time (Dec. 1820 to Nov. 1825) her father, R.N. Captain George Hills, was employed as one of the original Inspecting Commanders of the Preventive Water Guard (precursor to the Coast Guard) for England. Her mother Diana Hammersley was the daughter of Thomas and Ann Hammersley - Hammersley & Co. were the Royal bankers - and Diana had brought a considerable dowry to her marriage.

After her father retired, Emily grew up at Ashen Hall, Ashen near Clare in Essex, England. Around 16 years old, Emily went with her older sister to spent holidays with her Ward cousins in Colchester.... half a day's carriage ride away. There are a few surviving letters from Emily describing their visit.

1850 After her father's death, the family moved from Ashen Hall, Essex, to her brother' George's residence in Great Yarmouth, where he was appointed to St. Nicholas - at the time the largest parish in England. (George later was the first appointed Bishop of Western Canada)

Around that time, Emily met her future husband, the Rev. Herbert McSwiney while he was serving as curate with her brother at St. Nicholas, Great Yarmouth, the largest parish in England..

1851 UK CENSUS for Great Yarmouth, (Co. of) Norfolk, England:

  • George M.A. Hills (34) - Head of Household - Incumbant of Gt Yarmouth - born Eyethorn, Kent.
  • Diana Hills (68) - Mother - Fundholder, Annuitant - born St. James, Westminster, Middlesex.
  • Diana Hills (37) - Sister - born St. James, Westminster, Middlesex.
  • Lydia Hills (35) - Sister - born Tunbridge Wells, Kent
  • Emily T*. Hills (29) - Sister - born Colchester, Essex (*should be S)
  • Thomas Hills (24) - Brother - Army late Ensign EJCS - born Lexten, Essex

[Source: 10 May 1851 - Cambridge Independent Press - Cambridge, Cambridgeshire]

  • 1851, April 29 Marriage of Emily Sarah Hills (aged 29, d. of George Hills, Rear-Admiral) to John Henry 'Herbert' McSwiney (s. of Daniel McSwiney) in St. Nicholas Church (Religion - Church of England) Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England.
  • Mentions Emily's father as the late George Hills, Esq., Rear-Admiral of the Blue.
  • Her sister Lydia also married in St. Nicholas' Church six years later in 1857.

[Ancestry.com England and Wales Marriages, 1538-1940, Film 1526457 Yarmouth, Norfolk, England - also England, Norfolk Parish Registers, 1538-1900]

[Another source - familysearch.org - lists the marriage four days earlier 1851 April 25 and has listed the name McSwiney to read Mclariny]

Nine months later: 1. * 17 January 1852 Their first child, a son - George Herbert Dennis McSwiney - was born in Great Yarmouth, England.

One month later in February 1852 her husband took up the post of Anglican Chaplain in Cronstadt, the port of St. Petersburg, Russia. They lived there on and off for the next 26 years, until November 1878.

1854 February - Emily's mother - Diana Hills, nee Hammersley, died

at The Parsonage, Great Yarmouth home of Emily's brother, Rev. George Hills (later first Bishop of Western Canada).

On return visits to England, her husband gave many lectures, including:

1854, October - Norfolk Chronicle - announcement of future LECTURES

  • November 14th 1854 (husband) Rev. H. McSwiney (Herbert) in Great Yarmouth entitled : "Two years In Russia."
  • April 17th 1855: (brother) Rev G. Hills entitled: "Church of England in Yarmouth from the Conquest to the Reformation."

Emily Sarah and John 'Herbert' McSwiney had the following children in Cronstadt:

2. John William Augustus Mc Swiney - Gender: Male Christening: 01 MAR 1853 - Died aged 6 1/2, Burial 16 Nov 1859 Kronstadt, , Russia, Ussr

3. Edward Frederick Henry Mc Swiney - Gender: Male Christening: 13 MAR 1858 Kronstadt, Russia, Ussr - Survived to Adulthood

       4.  Arthur Cattley Mc Swiney - Gender: Male Christening: 20 OCT 1859 - Died aged 10 months, Burial 15 August 1860 Kronstadt, , Russia, Ussr

5. William (Billy) Daniel Mc Swiney - Gender: Male Christening: 20 MAY 1861 Kronstadt, Russia, Ussr. Survived to Adulthood.

6. Adele Isabella Mc Swiney - Gender: Female Christening: 24 SEP 1862 Died aged 3 1/2, Burial 16 April 1866 Cronstadt, , Russia, Ussr


1878, 28 October was the last entrance by her husband into the book of baptisms, marriages and burials. They then left Cronstadt with their three surviving children to live in England.

1881 England Census: Emily, 59 years, is living in Penn Vicarage, Upper Penn, Staffordshire with her husband, Curate-in-charge, Herbert McSwiney 54 years, and one servant .

1885_June Herbert and wife Emily (with son WIlliam D. McSwiney and Miss Knaggs (fiancee of Fred) and the Balfour Family) were vacationing at No.5 Westbourne Terrace, Southsea, Sussex. (Source: Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle June 9 1885)

1892 Emily advertised for a cook in the Hull Daily Mail (edition: May 17 1892/

"Good Plain Cook Wanted for Barnoldby rectory by 2nd of May; Churchwoman: 20 pounds (sterling); no bear (probably meant "beer" - i.e. no alcohol); good bread maker; early riser. – Mrs. McSwiney, Rectory, Barnoldby-le-Beck."

25 May of 1897, Emily's son Fred wrote to her from Simla India - just before he left for Bombay and a voyage home on the "India" to England on 25th June 1897. He acknowledges his parents' letters of 6th May and says he is glad they both wrote in 'better' spirits. His wife Ida was at that time in England with their children, but had 'problems' and he discloses his anxiety about her (she was pregnant). He mentions his brother 'Billy' (William Daniel) is now senior subaltern and he (Fred) has not a doubt that he will get his troop all right and to tell father not to be anxious and anticipate evil (on the part of others not promoting Billy). He is glad that his oldest brother George and wife Lena have decided to live 'in town' (London) and hopes that he and Ida shall be able to get a house near them. He further wishes that his mother would bury the past and have his aunt (Annie) - who is lonely and solitary - live with her at Barnoldby le Beck. Emily would have been 76 and Annie 72 at this time.

In October 1897 Fred is back in India and writes to his mother, Emily, that he has been appointed to the War Office - a distinction.  He offers advice to his brother Billy not to come out to India but to marry Ethel (Trower) - a girl with money who can provide him with a luxurious home.  "Why should he go out at this time of life?  Fates (illnesses) have been dead against him in his military career so let him now make a convenience of the service and take life easy.  I have had a hard struggle and so far have been lucky."  He enclosed with that letter a letter from Ida to "shew you what a plucky little woman she has been through all her troubles".

26 December 1897. Death of Emily reported in The London Standard and Bury and Norwich Post Funeral at Walter Belchamp, Sudbury. Died 1897, aged 76 at Barnoldby-le-Beck

[Cemetery notes : "Belchamp Walter is a village and civil parish in Essex, England", not far from Ashen where Emily grew up. Belchamp Walter Cemetery is an extension of St. Mary's churchyard]

Registered in the District of Grimsby, Co. of Humberside, Lincolnshire, England 

[Vol 7a, page 387, England and Wales, Free BMD Death Index 1837-1983]

Emily's husband, Herbert, survived her.

Emily was the 'family historian' passing down many family letters, records from her father's naval career, and her research into family history and connections with Sudbury - i.e. at Clare Priory in Sudbury, Suffolk.

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Emily Sarah McSwiney's Timeline

Colchester, Essex, England
January 17, 1852
Age 31
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK
February 1853
Age 32
Kronstadt, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
February 15, 1856
Age 35
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK
March 1, 1858
Age 37
Kronstadt, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
October 8, 1859
Age 38
Kronstadt, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
March 20, 1861
Age 40
Kronstadt, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
September 1862
Age 41
Kronstadt, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
December 26, 1897
Age 76
Barnoldby-le-Beck, Humberside, England