A long-standing and valued correspondent of this site, and also someone who shares the same interests as I do, sent me the following photograph. He was working in the Old Whittington area of Chesterfield when he came across the following plaque that had been set into a wall.


And asked did I know anything of it. The reply was a succinct no but being inquisitive I just had to find out why the plaque was there. The two things that struck me immediately was that R. K. Swanwick was one of the earliest casualties in a war that was to claim millions of lives, and secondly, he was a commissioned officer in the 1st Gloucestershire regiment, and almost certainly a regular Army Officer.

The first reference I checked was The Commonwealth War Graves Commission who had the following record of his death

Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Lieutenant
Regiment/Service: Gloucestershire Regiment
Unit Text: 1st Bn.
Age: 29
Date of Death: 14/09/1914
Additional information: Son of Russell and Clara Swanwick, of R. A. College Farm, Cirencester, Glos.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. K. 4.

and also gave an indication of why he was attached to the Gloucesters - his parents were living at The Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire. I then "googled his name and found a list of officers of the Gloucestershire regiment who were killed in 1914, and Russell's name was there, together with a photo, and a brief description of his death 

"Attached to 1st Battalion. Born 27th September 1884. Commissioned August 1913, 3rd Battalion. Killed in action near Troyon, on the Aisne, whilst leading his men in an attack. Aged 29. Son of Russell and Clara Swanwick, of Cirencester, Glos. Buried at Vendresse British Cemetery, Aisne."

The same Google search also revealed some archived information about Russell's family

Descendants of Philip Henry Swanwick.
(i) Bruce Swanwick, b. 1870.
(2) Eric Drayton Swanwick, b. 1871, a solicitor, Chesterfield,
(3) Hilda Hary Swanwick, b 1881. 53
(4) Russell Kenneth Swanwick, b. 1885.
(5) Frederick Bertrand Swanwick, b. 1887.

Armed with this information I put the name "Bruce Swanwick" into the 1881 Census, and found this entry - Russell was not born until 1884

Household Record 1881 British Census
Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
Russell SWANWICK Head M Male 38 Whittington, Derby, England Farmer And Scientific Agriculturist 4850 Acres Employing Farm Bailiff Clerk 
Clara SWANWICK Wife M Female 34 Hamstead, Middlesex, England
Bruce SWANWICK Son Male 10 Cirencester, Gloucester, England Scholar
Eric D. SWANWICK Son Male 9 Cirencester, Gloucester, England Scholar
Nigel SWANWICK Son Male 3 Cirencester, Gloucester, England
Hilda SWANWICK Daur Female 1 Cirencester, Gloucester, England
Alice SHANNON Governess U Female 29 Hull, York, England Governess (Private)
Emma KNOWLES Serv W Female 33 Tibshelf, Derby, England Nurse (Domestic)
Mary HICKS Serv U Female 23 Fairford, Gloucester, England Cook (Domestic)
Anne BAXTER Serv U Female 27 Calcot, Gloucester, England Housemaid (Domestic)

Source Information:
Dwelling College Farm House Census Place Cirencester, Gloucester, England Family History Library Film 1341616 Public Records Office Reference RG11 Piece / Folio 2554 / 106 Page Number 21.

It appears from the 1881 Census that Russell's father also called Russell was born in Whittington, hence the family connection with the area

This was confirmed when I found that Russell's brothers (Bruce and Eric) who survived him were for many years directors of  Shirebrook Colliery Ltd. An extract reveals the following

1923 - Company Details
Registered Office: Shirebrook, nr. Mansfield
Class of Coal: Manufacturing, Steam
Source: 1923 Colliery Year Book and Coal Trades Directory. Published by The Louis Cassier Co. Ltd., from a copy held in the Scottish Mining Museum, Newtongrange, Midlothian
Company Directors
Directors: Brunner, John, Sir, Bart., 43, Harrington Gardens, London, S.W.7
Jackson, W. B. M., Glapwell Hall, Chesterfield
Laverick, J. H. W., 32, Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield
Swanwick, Eric D., Whittington House, Chesterfield
Swanwick, Russell, Royal Agricultural College Farm, Cirencester
Commercial Manager: Thompson, Thomas
Manager: Naylor, Alfred
Secretary: Thompson, Thomas
Agent: Naylor, Alfred
Company Details Registered Office: Shirebrook, nr. Mansfield, Notts.
Seams Worked: Top Hard or Barnsley Bed

Source: 1933 Colliery Year Book and Coal Trades Directory. Published by The Louis Cassier Co. Ltd., from a copy held in the Scottish Mining Museum, Newtongrange, Midlothian
Company Directors
Directors: Brunner, Felix, Sir, Bart., 49, Wilton Crescent, London, S.W.1
Jackson, W. B. M., Glapwell Hall, Chesterfield
Laverick, J. H. W., 32, Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield
Swanwick, Bruce, The Road House, nr. Stroud, Glos.
Swanwick, Eric D., Whittington House, Chesterfield
Commercial Manager: Thompson, Thomas, F.C.I.S.
Secretary: Thompson, Thomas, F.C.I.S.
Agent: Naylor, Alfred

And so the plaque must have been commissioned and erected by the Swanwick family who it seems still had strong local connections with the Chesterfield area. I would also hazard a guess that they are had farming as well as mining interests in the area but more research is needed.

In November 2018 I found this information on Kenneth on the Lives of the First World War website but I believe that the Bedales Archive account was compiled by Jane Kirby and Ruth Whiting.

"Kenneth Swanwick (as he was usually known) was another who spent only a short time at Bedales School. He arrived in Sussex in the Summer term of 1897 and left Bedales at the end of the first term of 1898; he would have known Lionel Mundy for one term. He played cricket, not very successfully, for the Second XI in summer 1897: scores in first match 4 runs and in the second 0!
Kenneth’s father was the farm manager at the Agricultural College in Cirencester and he intended to make Land Management his career. After studying at Uppingham from the summer of 1899 to 1903 he progressed to Trinity College, Cambridge (1903 – 1906) and then went to train with Messers Fisher, Bolam & Co in Market Harborough. By 1911 he was back in Cirencester as his father’s deputy.
It was at Cambridge that, as an accomplished horseman, Kenneth joined the Cambridge University Mounted Infantry. Back home in Cirencester he joined the College’s Officer Training Corps and in June 1913 he was commissioned Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment.
Immediately following the declaration of War on 4th August his Battalion was held in reserve but Kenneth was attached to the 1st Battalion (then stationed at Bordon) and, as part of the B E F, sailed with them to Le Havre on 13th August. In the 1st Division of the B E F the Gloucesters played an active part in the Battle of Mons and the retreat, the Battle of the Marne and finally the Battle of Aisne, in which Kenneth was killed near Troyon. de Ruvigny’s Roll states he died on 14th September “while leading his platoon to the help of his hard-pressed comrades under heavy fire, and died cheering on his men”.
On 20th October his commanding officer reported to the War Office “this officer was buried in Troyon Church Yard, by south wall of the Church, marked by a stone with name cut in. The burial was performed by Rev D A Morrison Church of England Chaplain to the Forces No 1 Field Ambulance, 1st Division”. After the war his body was re-interred in Vendresse British Cemetery, III K. 4.
Swanwick Memorial Hall was built in his memory by members of his family. It was opened to the public in October 1915 as a village hall and rifle range. He is also commemorated in the Bedales Memorial Library."

This page was last updated on 06/12/18 10:03