In Search of William Sweeny's Father

As many genealogists very well know, once one hits the period of no named census records and immigration records, genealogy research can get rather tough. The time periods this usually happens are from the late 1700's through the 1840's. Williams Sweeny's grandaughter Agnes Parks Sweeny wrote that William's mother was Elizabeth Derrickson. William was said to be born in Milford, Kent, DE in 1819 (something I question). I have seen a civil war car stating he was 45 at the time he enlisted. This puts him born around 1816-1817. William Blizzard Sweeny, Sr. stated that William's father came over during the Irish Rebellion in 1798. He also said he married a protestant wife (Catharine Roe, a Methodist) on April 29, 1840 and she rasied the children as protestants. Unknown Sweeny (William's father) was Catholic. W. B. also said William Sweeny drowned in Lewes, DE in 1873. He was a Pilot on a sailing vessel and must have drowned via accident while performing his duties. He was listed as a coachmaker in a directory I have found, so he must have left that profession or there has to be some other explanation as to why William was a Pilot and not still making coaches. The problem with this is that in a Chester, PA directory, William Sweeny is listed as a coachmaker close to the time of his death. 

I went to try to find how many Sweeny's in Philadelphia had a wife with the first name Elizabeth. I have found that there is a Daniel, Edward, and John that have records of being married to an Elizabeth (specifically, census' and a Catholic marriage record book). William's children were named Charles, John, Samuel, Daniel, and Harry. Charles Roe Sweeny (William's first son) named one of his sons John also. Usually, back then, men would name their first son after their dad, so many think his name was Charles.

Additionally, Charles Roe's son William Blizzard also had a son named John. In the list of immigration records on the surname Sweeny, I found only one of the names came to Philadelphia before William was born in 1818-1820. John Sweeny is recorded as coming to Philadelphia in 1798. Is this Williams father? There is also a Doyle Sweeny that came to Philadelphia in 1798, but no one in our line is named Doyle. I don't know for sure, but it is as good as I can do with the information we have.

I have been in contact with Thomas Sweeny (my cousin). He has found a record of a Joseph Derrickson who was a coachmaker in South Mulberry Ward, Philedelphia, PA. If this was Elizabeth Derricksons father, then Joseph Derrickson could have been the one to teach William Sweeny the trade of coachmaking. In the same ward, there lived a John Sweney (blocks away from Joseph). The numbers listed in Jospehs household does make it possible for him to have a daughter of age to marry John Sweney. Only the head of household was listed in these 1810 census', so this is just another clue to add to the mystery. But, it does furthur the thought that John was William Sweeny's father. This John Sweney died in 1819, so William must have been born before 1819. He also had another wife that died before William was born. He could have remarried Elizabeth, who bore William, then John could have died shortly after. 

Possible Scenario:

1785ish - John Sweney born County Sligo, Ireland
1804 - John Sweney marries Sophia Fromberger
1810 - Had two daughters (Sophia, Alicia Anna)
1815 - Sophia and John have third child Anna Maria
1816 - Sophia Fromberger has died
1817 - John Sweney married Elizabeth Derrickson
1818 - William Sweeny is born to John and Elizabeth Sweney
1819 - John Sweney dies

If you have information on William's father, please contact me.


I lived near Lewes,Del and visited the grave of John Sweeny, The church did not have much info on him .Wm Sweeny was born in Milford,Del 1818 died 1873(I have a record book signed by my grandmother who was married to William Blizzard 1st,born 1890 died 1939) My mother Alice May was his daughter.I am so grateful for this info, as I have been trying to connect this John Sweeny to our clan for over 5 yrs.Thanks so much.

Is this Alice Jane? I am friends with Alice Elliot on Facebook and have talked with her a few times. I have pics of your grandparents that she gave me copies of. Good to hear from you. Send me an email if you would like.

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