JOHN SWETT, JR. (1608-1693)

Ben H. Swett
Colonel USAF (Retired)
30 December 2002


John Swett (John1), born in England in 1608, was an inhabitant of Charlestown, Mass., in 1649, and is called on Church records "son of John of Newbury." He was a shoemaker. Constable in 1650. He married (1) Mercy, dau. of Faithful and Suretrust (Starr) Rouse of Charlestown, who died 13 Feb. 1685-6, (2) Jane (Hodges?). He died 18 May 1693, aged 84. His will, dated 22 March 1687-8 gives legacies to his brothers Joseph and Stephen and to his daughter-in-law Jane Hodges. It may be inferred that the following children had died.

[ ] Benjamin, bapt. 29 Nov. 1659, "son of John Swett of church of Newbury."
    Hannah, bapt. 13 of 8th month, 1661

1608: John Swett, Jr., son of John Swett of Newbury, was was baptised in New Buckenham, Norwich, on 10 June 1608 (source: Norfolk Baptisms). He was not born in 1603 as Stackpole has it. Stackpole says he died 18 May 1693 "aged 90", but the vital records of Charlestown, Massachusetts, have "John Sweat, shoemaker, near 80, died May 18, 1693." Based on the baptismal records, he was 84 years old.

1642 March 12: A pasture agreement at Newbury, Massachusetts, called "The Stint of the Ox and Cow Common" is the first record we have of this family in New England. [Newbury VR, Vol. 1, p. 55] John Swett, Jr., was 34 years old.

1649: John Swett, son of John Swett of Newbury, was living in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He was a shoemaker. Constable in 1650. [Thomas Bellows Wyman, "The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Mass., 1629-1818" (1879), Vol. 2, p. 926]

1650 December 11: "[---]ra Swett" died in Newbury. [Newbury VR, Vol. 2, p. 733] No relationship is given. Therefore, the assumption that Sarah was the wife of John Swett of Newbury is not supported. She may have been the first wife of John Swett, Jr., who was 42 years old in 1650.

1652 January 13: Died at Newbury, "old" John Swett. [Newbury VR, Vol. 2, p. 732. Quotation marks in the original.] He was the father of John Swett, Jr.

John Swett, Jr., married Mercy Rouse. I have not found the date or place of their marriage. The LDS International Genealogy Index has unverified dates ranging from 1638 to 1663. Mercy Rouse was born about 1619 in Ashford, Kent, England, daughter of Faithful Rouse and Suretrust Starr. [See following entries]

Suretrust Starr was baptized 3 December 1598 in Cranbrook Church, Ashford, Kent, England, daughter of Thomas [and Susan] Starr, and died 8 January 1685 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. She married Faithful Rouse on 9 December 1618 in Ashford, and had daughter Mercy or Marie Rouse who married John Sweat. [Burgis Pratt Starr,  "A History of the Starr Family in New England" (Hartford, Connecticut, 1897)]

Suretrust (Starr) Rouse was admitted to the church in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, in 1642. Her husband Faithful Rouse was admitted 1 July 1643. Their daughter Mercy Rouse was admitted 9 December 1643. Faithful Rouse became a freeman of Massachusetts Colony in 1644, and died 18 May 1664 aged 75. His will dated 9 April and probated 21 June 1664 named wife Suretrust and daughter Mercy Sweat. [James Savage, "A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England Before 1692" Vol. 3, p. 579]

1657. Hannah Sweat, daughter of John and Mersie Sweat, was baptized 24 May 1657 in St. Botolph Without Aldergate, London, England. [Parish records. LDS Batch # C006333] Normally, I would ignore this record as referring to another family, but see my next entry.

1659. Jehosaphat Starr of Christs Church, Canterbury, England, in his will dated 2 February 1659 made bequests to "sister Suretrust Rouse, the wife of Faithful Rouse now or late of Charles Towne in New England" and "Mercy Swett, wife of John Swett of London." [Hosea Starr Ballou, "Early Starrs in Kent & New England" 1944] This evidence that John and Mercy Swett were in London in 1659 supports the church record that they had a daughter Hannah baptized there in 1657.

1660. Boston city records have Benjamin son of JOSEPH and Elisabeth Sweete born 22 January 1659-60, but First Church of Boston records have Benjamin son of JOHN Swett of Church of Newbury baptized 29 January1659-60. (Stackpole has 29 November 1659 from misreading the Puritan date "29 day 11 mo 1659") [Boston VR, Vol. 9, p. 70 & 73] These two records apparently refer to the same Benjamin, baptized a week after he was born, but whose son was he? JOHN may be a clerical error for JOSEPH in the baptism record. If so, this Benjamin died before Joseph Swett and his second wife Mary Baxter named their son Benjamin in 1673. On the other hand, later records show that John Swett, Jr., had a daughter-in-law, so he must have had a son. At present, the parentage of this Benjamin is unresolved.

1661. Stackpole has Hannah Swett, daughter of John and Mercy Swett, baptized "13 of 8th month, 1661" (Puritan dating for 13 October 1661). He got this entry from Wyman's Charlestown [p. 926], but the Vital Records of Charlestown do not have this birth or baptism.

1665 May 6: "Phebe Swett, widow" died in Newbury. [Newbury VR, Vol. 2, p. 733.] She probably was the wife of John Swett of Newbury and mother of John Swett, Jr.

1677 July 29: Captain Benjamin Swett, brother of John Swett, Jr., was killed in battle with the Indians at Black Point, Scarborough, Maine.

1680 September 12: First Record-Book of the First Church in Charlestown, Massachusetts:

G. Jno Swett a membr of ye ch of Newbury wo formrly had communioon wth this ch & for ye sin of drunkenness had lately been denied it, to make way for his comunion wth us & made his confessioon of his sin publickly & had thereupon satisfaction as to yt offence testified to him by this church so far as we were offended wth him. [NEHGS Register, Vol. 25, p. 62]
1680 December 19: First Record-Book of the First Church in Charlestown, Massachusetts:
G. Jno Swett admitted full communion by dismission from Newbury ch. [Register, 1869-438]
1686 January. Widow Suretrust (Starr) Rouse died in Charlestown 8 January 1685-6. Her will dated 30 October 1670 and probated 6 April 1686 devises to her daughter Mercy Sweat, son-in-law John Sweat executor. [Wyman's Charlestown, Vol. 2. p. 824]

1686 February. Mercy (Rouse) Swett died in Charlestown 13 February 1685-6. [Charlestown VR has "Wife of Mr. Jno. Sweat d. Feb. 13, 1685/6"]

Wyman's Charleston says John Swett, Jr., married someone named Jane after his wife Mary Rouse died in 1686. Such a marriage is suggested by the fact that he left a legacy to his wife in his will dated 1688, but I have found no record of it.

1693. "John Sweat, shoemaker, near 80, died May 18, 1693." [Charlestown VR] Wyman's Charleston has "near 90" (probably a typographical error), so this is where the idea that he was born in 1603 came from. His will dated 22 March 1688 and probated 25 May 1693 gives his wife the use of a house given by W. Rouse, legacies to his brothers Joseph and Stephen, and the residue of his estate to his daughter-in-law Jane Hodges. [Wyman's Charlestown, Vol. 2, p. 926]


John Swett, Jr., was born in 1608, not 1603. The available information suggests that he may have had two or three wives in the course of his life: one before he came to America at age 34 (Sarah who died in Newbury in 1650?), Mercy Rouse, and another after she died. Although he named no children or grandchildren in his will, it is possible that he had descendants. Especially interesting is the fact that Jane Hodges is identified as his daughter-in-law.

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