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DR JONATHAN Swift was descended from a younger branch of an antient family of that name in Yorkshire. But the account of his family shall be as short as pofble; fince, as Lord Orrery observes), though his ancestors were persons of very decent and reputable cha racters, (and the elder branch of the family ennobled], he himself has been the herald to blazon the dignity of their coat.
Bernam Swift, Esq; otherwife called Cavaliera Swift, a gentleman of great wit and humour, who, in the reign of K. James I. poffeffed the paternal estate, was on the 20th of March 1627, by K. Charles I. created a Peer of Ireland, by the title of Lord Viscount Carling
ford, though it is said he never went into that kingdom, ; He died without male issue; and the family-inheritance
descended to his daughters ; one of whom married Robert Fielding, Esq; commonly called Handsame Fielding, and the other the Earl of Eglington. Fielding soon distipated his wife's patrimony; and that of her sister being transferred to the family of Lord Eglington, the principal estate of the Swifts was divided from the name for ever.
One of the younger branches from the same stem was Sir Edward Swift, who distinguished himself by his attachment to the royal cause in the war between King Charles I. and his parliament, from whom there is no descendent of the name.
ANOTHER of the younger branches was the Rev. Mr Thomas Swift, vicar of Goodrich, Herefordshire, with which he also held another ecclefiaftical living.
His father William Swift, rector of St Andrew's in Canterbury, married the heiress of Philpot; who contrived to keep her estate, which was very confiderable, in her own hands. She is said to have been ex. tremely capricious and ill-natured, and to have difinherited her son Thomas, an only child, merely for robbing an; orchard when he was a boy. But however this be, it is certain, that except a church or chapter lease, which was not renewed, Thomas never possessed more than 100 l. a-year. This little estate, which lay at Goodrich, in Herefordshire, he mortgaged for 300 broad pieces; and having quilted them into his
waistcoat, he set out for Ragland castle, whither King Charles I. had retired after the battle of Naseby, in 1645. The Governor, who well knew him, asked what was his errand ? " I am come,” faid Swift, " to
give his Majesty my coat ;" at the same time pulling it off, and presenting it. The Governor told him pleasantly, that his coat was worth little. “ Why then," said Swift,“ take my waistcoat." This was foon found to be an useful garment by its weight; and it is remarked by Lord Clarendon, that the King received no supply more seasonable or acceptable than thefe 300 broad pieces during the whole war, his distress being then very great, and his resources cut off. The zeal and activity of this gentleman for the royal cause expo-( fed him to much danger, and many fufferings. plundered more than thirty times by the parliament's army, was ejected from his church-livings, his estate was sequeftered, and he was himself thrown into prison. His estate however was afterwards recovered, and part of it fold to pay the money due on the mortgage, and fome other debts ; the remainder, being about one half, descended to his heir, and is now pofleffed by his greatgrandson, Deane Swift, Esq; *
This Mr Thomas Swift married Mrs Elisabeth Dryden, of an antient family in Huntingdonshire, fifter to the father of the famous John Dryden the poet; by whom he had ten fons and four daughters. He died in 1658 ; and of his fons, fax survived him, Godwin, Thomas, Dryden, William, Jonathan, and Adam.
THOMAS was bred at Oxford, and took orders. He married the eldest daughter of Sir William D'Avenant ; but dying young, he left only one son, whose name ala fo was Thomas, and who died in May 1752, in the 87th year of his age, rector of Puttenham, in Surrey, a benefice which he had poftefled fixty years.
• The grandmother of this gentleman, one of the wives of Godwin Swift, was heiress to Adm. Deane, one of the Regicides; whence Deane became a Christian name in the family.
GODWIN was a barrister of Gray's inn; and William, Dryden, Jonathan, and Adam, were attorneys.
Godwin having married a relation of the old Marchioness of Ormond, the old Duke of Ormond made him his attorney-general in the palatinate of Tipperary in Ireland. Ireland was at this time almost without lawyers, the rebellion having made almost every man, of whatever condition, foldier. Godwin therefore determined to attempt the acquisition of a fortune in that kingdom; and the fame motives induced his four brothers to go with him. Godwin soon became wealthy; and the rest obtained something more than a genteel competence; though Dryden and Jonathan, who died foon after their arrival, had little to bequeath.
JONATHAN at the age of about three and twenty, and before he went to Ireland, married Mrs Abigail Erick, of Leicestershire t. The family of this lady was defcenden ed from Erick the Forester, who raised an army to oppofe William the Conqueror; by whom he was vanquilhed, and afterwards made commander of his forces. But whatever was the honour of her lineage, her fortune was small; and about two years after her marriage, she was teft a widow with one child, a daughter, and pregnant with another; having no means of subfiftende but an annuity of 20 l. which her husband had purchased for her in England, immediately after his marriage.
In this distress she was taken with her daughter into the family of Godwin, her husband's eldest brother'; and, on the zoth of November 1667, about seven months after her husband's death, she was in Hoy's alley, in
+ This lady was greatly beloved and esteemed by all the family of the Swifts. Her conversation was extremely polite, chcarful, and agreeable. She was of a generous and hospitable nature, very exact in all the duties of religion, attended the public worship generally twice a day, was a very early riser, and was always dressed for the whole day at about six o'clock in the morning. Her chief amusements were needle-work and reading. She was equally fond of both her children, notwithftanding some difagreements that fublisted betweco them.'. D. S. p. 22. 23.
the parish of St Warburgh, Dublin, delivered of a fon, whom she called Jonathan in remembrance of his father, and who was afterwards the celebrated Dean of St Patrick's. [D. S. p. 22.]
Of all the brothers of Mrs Swift's husband, Thomas excepted, Godwin only had fons; and by these fons she was fubfifted in her old age, as she had been be.fore by their father and their uncles, with such liberality, that the declared herfelf not only happy, but rich. [D. S. p. 23.]
It happened, by whatever accident, that Jonathan was not suckled by his mother, but by a nurse, who was a native of Whitehaven : and when he was about a year old, her affection for him was become fo: strong, that finding it necessary to visit a relation who was dangerously sick, and from whom, The expected a legacy, The found means to convey the child on fhipboard, without the knowledge of his mother or his uncle, and carried him with her to Whitehaven. At this place he continued near three years ; for when the maiter was disco-vered, his mother sent orders not; to hazard :a, second voyage till be should be better able to bear it. The nurse however gave other testimonies of her affection to Jonathan : for, during his stay at Whitehaven, she had taught 'him to fpell, and when he was five years old, he was able to read any chapter in the Biblei [0. let. 1.]
Mrs Swift, about two years after her husband's death, quitted the family of Mr Godwin Swift, in Ireland, and retired to Leicester, the place of her nativity :: but her fon was again carried to Ireland bychis nurse, and replaced under the protection of his uncle Godwin. [O. let. 1.]
It has been generally believed, that Swift was born in England: a mistake to which many incidents besides this have contributed. He had been frequently heard to say, when the people of Ireland displeased him, “I
am not of this vile country, I am an Englishman ;" and would infift, that he was stolen from England when a child, and brought over to Ireland in a band-box. Mr Pope also, in one of his letters to him (in vol, 4. p. 189.] mentions England as his native country. But
whatever the motives were that prevailed on Dr Swift to speak in this manner, they were not borrowed from any sort of contempt which he had secretly entertained. against Ireland considered merely as a nation, but ra. ther proceeded from several other sources, which will appear afterward. [D. S. f. 26.] This account of his birth is taken from that which he left behind him in his own hand writing; and while he lived, he was so far from seriously denying or concealing his being a native of Ireland, that he often mentioned, and even pointed out the house in which he was born.
He has also been thought by fome to have been a natural son of Sir William Temple: a mistake which was i probably founded upon another; for till the publica
tion of his letter to Lord Visc. Palmerston, among his posthumous works, (in vol. 4. p. 238.] he was thought to have received such favours from Sir William as he could not be supposed to bestow upon a person to whom he was not related, and but distantly related to his wife t. However, such a relation between Sir William and the Dean appears beyond contradiction to have been impossible ; for Sir William Temple was resident abroad in a public character from the year 1665 to 1670, first at Brufiels, and afterwards at the Hague ; as may be proved by his letters to the Earl of Arlington, and the rest of the ministry : so that Dr Swift's mother, who never
+ In the year of the revolution, his uncle Godwin Swift had fallen into a kind of lethargy, or dotage, which deprived him by degrees of his speech and memory, and rendered him totally incapable of being of the least service to his family and friends. But, in the midit of this distressful situation, as if it was ordained that no incident Tould bereave mankind of such a genius, Sir William Temple (whose lady was related to Dr Swift's mother) most generoudly stept in to his affistance, and avowedly supported his education at the university of Oxford. Acts of generosity feldom meet with their juft applause. Sir William Temple's friendship was immediately construed to proceed from a consciousness, that he was the real father of Mr Swift; otherwise it was thought impossible, that he could be so uncommonly munificent to a young man, no wife related to bim, and but distantly related to his wife. I am not quite certain, that Swift himself did not acquiesce in the calumnny. Perhaps, like Alexander, he thought the natural fon of Jupiter would appear greater than the legitimate fon of Philip. O.li.2.