John Sweeny of Lewes, Sussex, Delaware



When searching for ancestors, one of the hardest things to do is find the ancestor that began your families history in America. My family and I have been searching for William Sweeny's father for quite some time. My cousin Tom Sweeny has been such a great help in this search and seems to be more educated in the history of John Sweeny than most. The document that has been a great guide to this search is the William Blizzard Sweeny, Descendant Information File (40 pages, Handwritten 1941) found on the files page of this website. 

One thought that comes to mind is the fact that William B. Sweeny had direct communication with Charles R. Sweeny, the son of William Sweeny. The document states that William Sweeny was born in Milford, Delaware and was a pilot on a sailing vessel. He died by reason of drowning. Earlier in his life William was a coach maker in Phila, Penna. John Sweeny of Lewes, Delaware had an occupation of carpenter and also had a son that was a carpenter (Arthur West Sweeny). My cousin Tom Sweeny made a statement, "In the cases of the Conwells, Wests, Burtons & Blizzards (Captain William Henry Blizzard is buried about 20 feet away from John) all of these families produced a number of sea captains and river pilots." In the 1941 document with information on William, it states he was a pilot on a sailing vessel after being a coach maker in Chester, PA.  William died in a drowning accident in Lewes, DE. A dad who was a carpenter (William's coach making skills) and friends that were captains and sailing pilots (William drowning as a pilot) shows that likelyhood that John is Williams father. 

John is listed as 56 years old at his death in 1853. That puts his birth at about 1797. The 1941 document states Williams father came over during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 as a "very young man."

William Sweeny married Catharine Roe (b. 1822) in 1840. After examining the 1830, 1840, 1850 census records, I found that it their is slight fluctuation in the number of children in John's family. Some of the children shown in the 1850 census (first year names are listed) match up with the numbers show on the 1830/40 census, but some don't. William most likely would not show on the 1840 census because he moved to Darby, Penna. He would show in the 1830 as about a 10 year old male. Their is one on the 1830 that disappears on the 1840. Could this be William who had moved and married in 1840? It is very possible. 

The only thing holding back my declaration is the fact that many of my family believe Williams father was married to an Elizabeth Derrickson. She is listed as possibly his mother with question marks at the Chester Rural Cemetery where William is buried and Elizabeth is listed as his grandmother by Agnes Sweeny (daughter of Harry Sweeny, the son of William)...

Yet another problem added to the mix is what my fourth cousin stated, "What is interesting is that Charles Roe Sweeny's father-in-law William Henry Blizzard was born in Delaware and was a River Pilot. Maybe there was confusion over whose father was born in Delaware and what his occupation was." Also on many of the census' that mention William Sweeny, it states he was born in PA, not DE. Charles Roe Sweeny, Sr. (William's eldest) is on several census' that say his father was born in PA. I know census' are not always 100% proof, but how could William Blizzard Sweeny and Katie May write a document in 1941 (and they had direct contact with reliable sources) and confuse Charles' father-in-law and Charles' father? I think this is highly unlikely, but not completely unlikely. The search goes on...


2 comments:

Is this the same Sweeney family that Anna Sample Lee married into? I am a direct desendant of Anna (Annie) Lee. She married a Sweeney, first name unknown, and they had John Sweeney b:?- d:1853/54, who married Catherine Wheaton 1829-1895. John and catherine had Caroline Regina Sweeney who married Charles R. Glackin. If so, I'm related.

Thank you,
Donna (dtempleton48131@roadrunner.com)

Donna,
I am not sure... John's will does not list a William Sweeny as one of his sons. We just know that William had connections in Lewes, DE and there are not many other options than John and Catherine as his parents. John was a carpenter, so we thought maybe John taught William his coach making skills. William spent most of his life in Chester, PA. This is a big theory. There is not enough supporting info...

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