The Bullin and the Swaffer Families

Copyright ©John Bullin. Version 3.1  All rights reserved.

Alfred, born in 1830, was the son of Daniel Swaffer and Mary (née Clover) of Conscience Farm Mersham and grandson of Daniel Swaffer and Sarah (née Willes) of Waterbrook Farm Sevington.

Conscience Farm passed to Alfred’s brother, another Daniel, and when eventually sold in 1894 the livestock consisted of 633 pure-bred Kent sheep, 19 cattle, 30 pigs and 7 horses these being the most expensive lots, sold individually  by name, the highest price being for “Duke”, a seven year old gelding, and fetching £61-19s-0d.

All the 633 sheep fetched £874-8s-6d and, of the implements, a four-horse wheel plough made £4 and a large waggon £12.

In 1851 Alfred was still at his father’s farm of two hundred acres in Mersham. Also living there were his two older sisters and a servant called Sarah Cook (18). The farm employed nine labourers of whom four were living in the household all unmarried and between the ages of 17 and 37, Edward Bailey, George Shorter, Edward Brenchley and Stephen Finn.

By 1861 Alfred was at Stone Green, a farm of 350 acres, and as part of the household was a Jane Offen, servant, and George Parn aged fourteen with occupation described as “Shoe Black”.

Ten years later as well as Alfred and Ann the household had changed and increased to Lucy Worger, Thomas Barttett, Jane Watts and Caroline Ruck with a farm staff of seven.  

Alfred married in 1851 when he was twenty one to Ann Wacher, six years his senior, which maybe unusual for that time. Ann died in 1878 aged just fifty four. Then in 1879 at forty nine he married Dymphna Hall née Fitzpatrick, a widow born in County Cork, Ireland, aged forty seven and his address was then shown as The Den, Mersham. The story goes that he retired from farming at some time after 1871 and went to live at Cheriton, Folkestone. However he did not like living there and moved back to a property in Mersham, a short distance from Stone Green. He somehow acquired the name of “The Lion of Stone Green” while living there and the locals named his house in Flood Street as The Den, saying that The Lion had returned to his den. There are several grave stones in Mersham church yard referring to “The Den” and the name was used for that property in subsequent sale catalogues at least to 1934.

The sign at the entrance now reads “Denne” and it would be interesting to know why and when the change of name was made. Alfred’s silverware is engraved with a Lion and “S”. Other members of the Swaffer family used only their initials, DS and SS for Daniel and Samuel.   

By 1881 Alfred, described as a retired farmer, and his new wife had been living for a couple of years at The Den  with a groom and two servants, George Howland (24), Ellen Brotherstone (31) and Sarah Hobans (24) all described as single.  It is of interest to note that twenty years later in 1901 all but Sarah Hobans were still unmarried and at The Den which suggests a good employer/employee relationship existed over those years. Mahala Gower had replaced Sarah as a cook aged twenty one. Unfortunately no diaries or information about Alfred have come to light except a presentation (unsigned) picture of him on his horse in the cricket field in front of Stone Green when he retired as master of the Mersham Harriers in 1871 after 18 years and when he was only 41, strange he became both The Master of the hunt and retired so young. However a plan of the picture giving all the names of the hounds still exists. Although commissioned by the members of his hunt it has not been possible to find the name of the artist. In 1873 Alfred’s pack of harriers, then 20 couples of hounds, was taken over by John Buckland and became the Ashford Valley Hunt. After the first world war the hunting of hares was dropped owing to the increase of foxes and the hunt was renamed the Ashford Valley Foxhounds but, for obvious reasons, the “Fox” has been dropped.

The Swaffer family were great cricketers, fielding a Swaffer eleven and practising on the field in front of Stone Green.

Dymphna died at seventy and Alfred lived on until seventy seven dying in 1907. He therefore had the unenviable job of burying two wives neither of whom produced any children by him. Their graves are in Mersham church yard, Alfred together with his first wife Ann and next to them Dymph (Dymphna’s family name).

  Alfred Swaffer of Stone Green Hall and The Den, Mersham

John Swaffer 7th Gt-Gfather (9 generations back)                                                           During Reign of  

John born circa 1628, marriage date and wife’s name unknown they had                          Charles 1

Samuel born circa 1670, married 2/6/1691 to Rebecca Phelps they had                            Charles 11

John born 15/11/1696, married at 29 on 8/4/1725 to Mary Matchem who had                   William 111

John born 1735, married at 26 in 1761 to Martha Friend and produced                              George 11

Daniel born 1764, married at 25 on 18/10/1789 to Sarah Willes who had                            George 111

Daniel born 1792, married at 22 in 1814 to Mary Clover (19) and produced                        George 111

Daniel born 1832, married at 22 in 1854 to Anne Swinerd. They produced                         William 1V

Edwin born 1863, my grandfather and he had a daughter called                                          Queen Victoria

Alice Gwendolyn who was my mother. Also another daughter                                                           “

                      Nellie Elizabeth who was my aunt (remained single).                           

John circa 1628-1690 (62) Gills Farm, Mersham

Samuel 1670-1739 (69) Gills Farm. Framed inventory dated 1739 value £365

John 1696-1777 (81) Gills Farm, Mersham

John 1735-1803 (68) Gills Farm, Mersham

Daniel 1764-1827 (63) Waterbrook Farm, Sevington (Pap spoon dated 1764)

Daniel 1792-1854 (62) Conscience Farm (450 acres), Mersham

Daniel 1832-1894 (62) Conscience Farm, Mersham, Gt-Gfather**

Edwin 1863-1919 (56) married at 31 in 1894, Ashford, Grandfather##

#Alice Elizabeth Bates 1871-1956 (85), Grandmother married at 23

Alice Gwendolyn Swaffer1895-1962 (67) Mother, married at 34 on 22/8/1929 to

Thomas William Bullin 1892-1971 (79) Father, married at 37                                                   Victoria

John Bullin 12/8/1930-2021 (90), married 1956 to Joan May  Revell (1923-2012)                George V

**Brother of GtGt Uncle Alfred Swaffer 1830-1907 (77),                                                          William 1V

 of Stone Green Hall and The Den, Mersham.

# Widowed 1919, second marriage at 53 in 1924 to

Tom Waddell (then 67) died at 78 in 1935

## Nephew of Alfred

The Swaffer / Bullin Ancestry

Fishing in the East Stour River with my mother at Mersham