Monday, April 06, 2009


Jeremiah Swain was born 1Mar 1643 in Reading, Massachusetts. His father, Jeremiah
Swain Sr. was born in England and emigrated to Massachusetts sometime before 1638
when his name appears on documents as a resident of Charlestown, Ma. In 1640 he
became one of the first settlers of Reading Ma with his wife Mary (maiden name unknown)
and fathered five children, of whom Jeremiah Jr. was the oldest.

I've found very little about Jeremiah Jr.'s early life so far. He was 15 when his father died
on 1658, and his civilian occupation was a physician, for which he would have had to have
studied for and become before the outbreak of King Philip's War. When troops were raised
from the town he became a lieutenant in the First Company in the Massachusetts Regiment
commanded by Major Samuel Appleton. At the time of the Battle of Fort Narragansett,
also known as the Great Swamp Fight, in 1675 Jeremiah Swain would have been 32 years

So as I noted in the first post in this series, the poet Lilley Eaton had a few details wrong in
his poem. Jeremiah was not in command of the militia forces at the time of the battle but
was instead a lieutenant, and still a young man. In fact, the overall commander was Josiah
Winslow of Plymouth Colony. And as the name "Great Swamp Fight" suggests, the terrain
hardly lent itself to a charge on horseback. The colonial forces were only able to get close
enough to the island the Indian "fort" was on because bitterly cold weather had frozen the
swamp over, and such a slippery and fragile surface would not support, I think, a man on

At any rate, despite the discrepancies of the poem, Lt. Jeremiah Swain did see action in the
battle and is listed among the wounded. What the nature of the wound was or how he
received it is not known. In fact, there is only one other thing I've found about Jeremiah's
service in this period, a reference to a letter he sent in regards to items lost in a fire that destroyed Major Appleton's tent.

But Jeremiah's military career was only just beginning, and it when advancement came it
would come with controversy, as we shall see.


Anonymous said...

According to my geoeology records, Jeremiah Swain was married to Mary smith.

Bill West said...

Hi there!
Yes, the subject of theses posts, the second Jeremiah Swain indeed was
married to Mary Smith, But his father,also Jeremiah Swain was married to a woman also named Mary.

There seems to be no hard proof as
to what her last name was so she's
usually listed as "Nary Unknown"
in the records I've seen.

I'll be discussing Mary Smith and
Jeremiah in a future post.

Are you a descendant of Jeremiah Swain as well?

Anonymous said...

Hello I am just now getting interested in family history, I'm younger than most people I see doing this stuff as I'm still in my 20's. I've traced my family back to Jeremiah swain jr. But do not have any solid proof of anything to do with his father Jeremiah swain sr. If you could email me with information on him I would greatly appreciate it. Thank cute_amos @ hotmail . Com

Justinus Rex said...

I am currently working on revising the book "Swain and Allied Families" to update it, include sources and list the actual places where events occurred. My 5th great grandmother was Jerusha Rebecca Swain who married Dr. Charles Kilby Adams. She was the daughter of William Barrett Swain who was the son of Joseph Swain and Millicent Barrett Swain (the granddaughter of Col. James Barrett). I believe that Jeremiah/Jeremy Swaine, the original immigrant, may have been the son of one Nathaniel Swaine of Barrington, Cambridgeshire, England. This Jeremy was baptized there on 17 Oct 1613.

Anonymous said...

Is there proof he was related to William Swaine (b1585)?