John Swain, of Nantucket

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John Swain, of Nantucket's Geni Profile

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John Swain

Birthplace: Binfield, Berkshire, England
Death: June 05, 1708 (74)
Nantucket Island, Nantucket County, Province of Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Swain, of Nantucket; Richard Swayne and Elizabeth Swain
Husband of Mary Swain
Father of Mary Nason; John Swain; Stephen Swain; Sarah Norton; Joseph Swain and 4 others
Brother of Sgt. William Swain; Francis Swain; Nicholas Swain; Ann Swain; Robert Swain and 4 others
Half brother of Richard Swain, of Cape May

Occupation: Farmer, husbandman
Managed by: Edward Leo Neary
Last Updated:

About John Swain, of Nantucket

His home was known as the oldest house on Nantucket Island, as of the 1880's, and maintained as such, but in need of repair. Is this still what is called "the Oldest House"?

John Swain & Mary Weare Added by jbmneaz on 16 Sep 2007 Transcribed from THE MILLER - MOOK FAMILY HISTORY written by Larry & Judy Miller - 2005: " John Swain was born on October 5, 1634 in East Hamptonstead, England. His parents were Richard Swayn and Elizabeth Ann Basselle. Mary Weare became his wife on November 15, 1660 in Hampton, Rockingham County, New Hampshire. Mary's parents were Nathaniel Weare and Sarah (unknown). When John was just a baby his parents made the decision to immigrate to America. In April of 1635, Elizabeth Basselle Swain and three of the Swain children, Nicholas, Grace and John set sail on the ship PLANTER for America. Two older children, William and Francis, sailed aboard THE REBECCA in the care of friends. Richard himself arrive on THE TRUELOVE on September 17, 1635. One can only imagine what the conditions were like aboard these ships as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The privileged few had cabins which they shared with their families. Second-class passage, if even available, would afford a small cabin shared with others and steerage was a nightmare. The living conditions in steerage were crowded, dismally dark and dank and especially unsanitary. The lower portion of the ship was designated for this purpose with passengers packed tightly together, quite often with no more than a few square feet of space for each person. They basically lived in their berths and had to eat food that was spoiled and filled with insects. The rough seas would cause sea sickness making the closed quarters even worse because of the lack of ventilation. In the 1600s, passage could take from 8 to 10 weeks or longer to make the ocean crossing depending on the ship and weather. It was very common for 10% of the passengers to die during the crossing having contracted the diseases that ran rampant in the deplorable living conditions. We have no way of knowing under which class the Swains would have held accomodations but under any circumstances it would have been a very difficult passage. It can only be speculated as to the reason the Swain family chose to face the unknown in a new country by crossing the ocean in small vessels not knowing what lay ahead of them. A strong possibility would be to seek more religious freedom than what the Church of England allowed. During the period of 1633 - 1635 many Puritans fled England to go to America where they established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Then early in the history of the Colony religious persecution began again. The Puritans or Separatists found conditions worse than what they had left and many of them joined the "Society of Friends" or Quakers - John among them. Over a period of time the Quakers were persecuted and were banished from the Colony. In late 1658 and early 1659, John Swain, along with his father, Richard, and others began looking for a new area to better their circumstances. Tristram Coffin, one of the disillusioned colonists, made a trip to some of the islands offshore and met Thomas Mayhew. Mayhew had been deeded Nantucket Island sometime after 1641 by the authorities in control of all land between Cape Cod and the Hudson river. Thomas Mayhew, who was a merchant in Watertown and Martha's Vineyard, used the island mostly for grazing sheep. There was a tribe of Indians on the island called the Wampanoag Indians. Mayhew set out to "Christianize" them and the tribe became known as "the praying Indians." During the summer of 1659, John Swain, his father, Richard, Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, Thomas Barnard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleaf and William Pike joined together to purchase the Island of Nantucket from Thomas Mayhew. Mayhew's price - "30 pounds and 2 Beaver hats....1 for myself and 1 for my wife." (Source: Nantucket Island History - Nantucket Chamber of Commerce). Thomas Mayhew kept a small portion of the island for himself. The Wampanoag Indian tribe was friendly to the settlers and helped them get through the first years of trying to establish a settlement. Not all of the original purchasers of the Island made their home there. John Swain, his father, Richard, and their families moved to Nantucket about 1661. It would be many years before there were sufficient numbers to form a community. In 1700, only 300 whites and 800 Indians occupied Nantucket Island. At one time there had been about 3,000 Wampanoag on the Island. Over the years the Indians had contracted some of the diseases introduced by the whites when they first began to inhabit Nantucket. Mary Weare Swain died in 1714 and John Swain died the following year in 1715. "

Swan, Swann are variations of the Scottish surname Sean, and John. They are septs (families associated with a clan) of Clan Gunn. Clan Gunn has been without a chief for over 130 years, but a descendant of the last clan chief has been found, and will be installed in April of 2016. The Swan family came originally from Caithness Scotland.


Removed to Nantucket (Dow 986)

Removed to Nantucket (Dow 986)


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John Swain, of Nantucket's Timeline

October 5, 1633
Binfield, Berkshire, England
November 13, 1638
Age 5
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
September 11, 1661
Nantucket Island, Plymouth Colony
September 1, 1664
Nantucket Island, Dukes County, Province of New York (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)
November 21, 1666
Nantucket Island, New York
July 13, 1670
Nantucket, Nantucket Island, Province of New York
July 14, 1673
Nantucket Island, Dukes County (Present Nantucket County), Province of New York (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)
May 16, 1676
Nantucket Island, Province of New York