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Henry Frederick Swan

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Henry Frederick Swan (1842-1908) of Charles Mitchell and Co, shipbuilders

1842 September. Born at Walker, Long Benton the son of William Swan (1799-1849), a farmer, and his wife Ann Sheriton (1800-1870)

1851 Living at Walker, Northumberland: Ann Swan (age 50 born Longbenton) Farmer of 80 acres with 3 labourers and a Widow. With her children William Swan (age 24 born Longbenton), Agent to the Chemical Works; Ann (age 24); Charles Swan (age 20 born Longbenton), Engineer Coal; Eliza (age 16); John G. (age 12 born Longbenton); Julia (age 10); Henry Swan (age 8 born Longbenton); Sarah F. (age 4). One servant. [1]

1861 Boarder at 17 Wellington Street, Islington (age 18 born Walker), Draughtman(?). [2]

1867 Married Mary daughter of George Routledge

1868 July 15th. Son Henry Mitchell Swan died aged 5 months.

1869 March 28th. His wife Mary Calvert Swan. [3]

1871 Lodger at the Tavistock Hotel, Covent Garden (age 28 born Walker), Ship builder, (Iron). Widower. [4]

1878 Married Kate Isabel the daughter of W. H. Dawes of The Hall, Kenilworth

1881 Living at Jesmond House (age 38 born Walker), Shipbuilder, Lieut R.N. With wife Kate I. (age 29) and children Mary C. (age 12) and Henry D. (age 1). Four servants. [5]

1891 Boarder at Lion Mansion, Brighton (age 48 born Longbenton), Col Volunteers, Shipbuilder, Engineer, Ironfounder. With Kate I. (age 39) and Kate E. (age 9). [6]

1901 Living at Beaufort Castle, Northumberland (age 58 born Walker), Shipbuilder. With wife Kate Isabel (age 49) and daughter Kate Elizabeth (age 19). 13 servants. [7]

1908 March 25th. Died. High Sheriff of Northumberland. Died at his residence at Prudhoe Hall having had a heart problem for some time. Apprenticed as a shipbuilder with Charles Mitchell and Co. Superintended the construction of war vessels in St. Petersburg. Entered a partnership with Mitchell and on that firm's amalgamation with William Armstrong, he became a director which he has continued until now. Chairman of Wallsend Slipway Co, a director of Weardale Steel, Coal and Coke Co and of Bucknall Steamship Lines [8]


1908 Obituary [9]

WE regret to have to announce the death of Colonel Henry F. Swan, the High Sheriff for Northumberland, which took place early on Wednesday morning at his home, Prudhoe Hall, Prudhoe.

Colonel Swan was born on September 10th, 1842, at West Farm, Walker. He was educated privately, and when sixteen years of age commenced his apprenticeship with the late firm of C. Mitchell and Co., shipbuilders.

In 1862 Mr. Swan went to Russia to superintend the construction of vessels for the Russian Navy, for Messrs. Mitcbell and Co., who had received the order.

On his return to this country Mr. Swan took charge of the Walker shipyard, which he had seen grow from a very small yard to one of the best equipped shipbuilding yards in the country.

In 1882 Messrs. C. Mitchell and Co. amalgamated with Sir W. G. Armstrong and Co., of Elswick under the style of Sir W. G. Armstrong Mitchell and Co., Limited, and the name of the firm was again changed in 1897, when it amalgamated with that of Sir Joseph Whitworth and Co. of Manchester.

Since that time the firm has been known as Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth and Co., Limited. Mr. Swan remained one of the managing directors, devoting most of his time to the development of the shipbuilding business at the Walker yard.

In 1884 he made a special study of the question of the carriage of petroleum in bulk, and at that time designed and built the s.s. Gluckauf, which was the first vessel specially built to cross the Atlantic with a cargo of petroleum.

He also paid great attention to the construction of ice breakers, and many of the largest and best vessels of this type are the outcome of Mr. Swan's experience and ingenuity.

He took a keen interest in public affairs, and was especially interested in the volunteers, and in recognition of his services he was created a Companion of the Bath on his retirement in 1902. He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, member of the council of the Institution of Naval Architects, past president of the North-East Coast Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders, a member of the Iron and Steel Institute, and of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. He was a justice of the peace for Newcastle and for the county of Northumberland, and was recently appointed High Sheriff of Northumberland, being sworn in so recently as the 3rd of this month.


1908 Obituary [10]

HENRY FREDERICK SWAN, C.B., the High Sheriff for Northumberland, died on March 25, 1908, at his home, Prudhoe Hall, Prudhoe. He was born on September 10, 1842, at West Farm, Walker-on-Tyne. He was educated privately, and when sixteen years of age commenced his apprenticeship with the late firm of C. Mitchell & Co., shipbuilders.

In 1862 he went to Russia to superintend the construction of vessels for the Russian Navy for Messrs. Mitchell & Co., who had received the order. On his return to this country he took charge of the Walker shipyard, which he had seen grow from a very small yard to one of the best equipped shipbuilding yards in the country.

In 1882 Messrs. C. Mitchell & Co. amalgamated with Sir W. G. Armstrong & Co. of Elswick under the style of Sir W. G. Armstrong, Mitchell & Co., Limited, and the name of the firm was again changed in 1897, when it amalgamated with that of Sir Joseph Whitworth & Co. of Manchester. Since that time the firm has been known as Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co., Limited. Mr. Swan remained one of the managing directors, devoting most of his time to the development of the shipbuilding business at the Walker yard. He was also a director of the Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Company, Limited; the Weardale Steel, Coal, and Coke Company, Limited; and the Cargo Fleet Iron Company, Limited.

In 1884 he made a special study of the question of the carriage of petroleum in bulk, and at that time designed and built the s.s. Gluckauf, which was the first vessel specially built to cross the Atlantic with a cargo of petroleum. He also paid great attention to the construction of ice breakers, and many of the largest and best vessels of this type are the outcome of his experience and ingenuity. He took a keen interest in public affairs, and was especially interested in the volunteer movement, with which he was actively connected for forty-two years, and in recognition of his services he was created a Companion of the Bath on his retirement in 1902, and enrolled as honorary colonel of his regiment. He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, member of the Council of the Institution of Naval Architects, past-president of the North-East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders, and a member of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1874.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Census
  2. 1861 Census
  3. Memorial window in Walker parish church
  4. 1871 Census
  5. 1881 Census
  6. 1891 Census
  7. 1901 Census
  8. The Times, Thursday, Mar 26, 1908
  9. The Engineer 1908/03/27
  10. 1908 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  • Motoring Annual and Motorist’s Year Book 1903