Thursday, June 04, 2009


This is the last in a series of posts about Jeremiah Swain, my 9x great grandfather:

I've yet to find any information online as to whether Jeremiah Swain saw any more military
action after 1689. Instead he returned to his practice as a physician and to his political
career, serving several terms on the Reading Board of Selectman as well as the town's
Representative to the General Court and as a Governor's Assistant. As if all that wasn't
enough to keep Jeremiah busy, he also became a Justice of the Peace for Reading in 1691
which meant he could perform marriages.

The last online record I can find of Swain speaking in public involves the Salem Witch
trials in 1692. A woman named Mary Taylor was accused of witchcraft by Jeremiah's
sister Mary Marshall, and Jeremiah was present when she testified. He made a few
comments to "Goody" Taylor and asked her a few questions. I've found nothing else
about his activities after that in the eighteen years leading up to his death in 1710.

But I count myself extremely lucky to find so much of his actual correspondence!
His letters reflect the writing style of his period but are not flowery and his personality
comes through in some of his commentary about the Maine campaign. Despite adverse
weather and supply shortages he did the best he could and was a commander who led
his men into action. Like Benjamin Church, he seems to have adopted tactics more suited
to fighting Indians rather than European foes. But unlike Church, he didn't write a book
about his military exploits, so his role in the New England Indian wars is largely unknown

This series on Jeremiah Swain started off discussing the facts behind a poem he
appeared in as "beloved of Mars." While some of the poem's facts are incorrect, other
writers describe him as a brave man and a good officer. A doctor, politician, justice of the
peace, and a military officer, he was a man of many parts.

And of course, without him I wouldn't be here!


Heather Rojo said...

Bill, I found this part of your blog when I was googling names from the Swaine family. It was really interesting to read all the parts about Jeremiah Swaine. I'm descended of Francis Smith, from his daughter Hannah Smith who married George Lillie. She was Mary (Smith) Swaine's sister.

Bill West said...

Another link between us!