Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History


Parish Church of Holy Trinity, Swyre, Dorset

Church of Holy Trinity, Swyre

The parish church of Swyre is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and stands at the southern end of the parish. John Hutchins, author of the foremost account of the history of Dorset, the History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset, was rector of this church from 1729 until his death in 1778. During Hutchins time as rector he paid out almost forty pounds for repairs to the chancel.

The church was almost totally rebuilt in 1843 with just the chancel arch and the tower untouched. The church contains many monuments to the eminent local families, that of Napier, Squibb, Gollop and Russell.

Long since disappeared was a brass plate that was placed on a stone in the aisle with this inscription:

James Raulens of Swire, the 4th day of April, A.D.1606, deceased, gave 10l. to be employed to the use of the poor of Swire, and paid by John Raulens, sen. His executor, the 10th day of May, 1607, to Morgan Holman and Walter Blackwood, churchwardens, and Walter James and Richard Croome, overseers. This is engraven in remembrance of this deed of charity, to the good example of others. Ergo bignus laudari gratia debetur cuncta per aeba illi.

The uncertainty of life is recorded in the parish registers in the case of the Wallbridge family when on January 14th 1731 is recorded the baptisms of John, Henry and Isabel the children of George and Martha Wallbridge. All three children were buried a few weeks later on the 3rd February 1731. Uncertainty of life arose again five years later with the recording of the baptisms of three more of the Wallbridge children, John, Henry and Lucia on November 5th 1736 and sadly there follows just over two weeks later the burials of John and Lucia.

Despite the high mortality rate of children at the time there are some citizens recorded as having attained a great age. If they are to be believed they are truly remarkable. Matilda Panchard is recorded as having been buried in 1618 at the age of 126! Robert Fryar buried in 1672 was said to be aged 105, Henry Cribb aged 99 in 1707, John Fryar aged 87 in 1712 (perhaps it's in the genes?) and Jacob Cole, M.A. Rector and vicar of Toller Porcorum died in 1729 aged 90.

Dorothy Squibb recorded in the burial register as a widow in 1707 has recorded on a stone in the church that she was in the 85th year of her age. She was the wife of Julian Squibb of Berwick (he died in 1676), the daughter of John Matthews of Watchford, Devon, and the mother of Mary Squibb who married George Gollop.


Berwick House, Berwick in the parish of Swyre, Dorset.  The seat of the Russell, Duke of Bedford family

Berwick House, Swyre

Berwick situated in the parish of Swyre lies to the north of the village. It was once a manor where part of the farm lay in the chapelry of Stirthill or St. Luke's in Burton Bradstock. As a manor it was anciently held by the de la Tour family and by the marriage of Eleanor the daughter of John de la Tour to Theobald Russell it succeeded in line through to the Dukes of Bedford. The first Duke of Bedford, John Russell was born in the house.

In 1506 when the Archduke Philip of Austria and his wife Joanna from Spain sought shelter in Weymouth harbour, Sir Thomas Trenchard brought them to his house of Wolfeton in Charminster, Dorset. His nephew, John Russell who was born of the Berwick stock in Swyre, was called upon to help with translation of Spanish. On a subsequent visit to the King of England, the Archduke Philip told his Majesty of John's help, and the King being impressed with his service to them, made him a member of his Privy chamber. John Russell later became the Ambassador to the Pope and held many other offices of the King. He was granted the monastery of Woburn Abbey in 1547, the same year that Edward VI acceded the throne, where he attended the coronation in the capacity of Lord High Steward of England. Two years later he was created Earl of Bedford. He died on 14th March 1554 and was buried at Cheneys in Buckinghamshire. Since then all the Russells of this line were buried there too and thereafter none of them resided in Dorset again.

The farm was leased to tenants from about 1600 and the Holman and Squibb families held it as such. The Napier (sometimes recorded as Napper) family who held large amounts of land at Swyre, Bexington and Puncknowle, also had an interest at Berwick. John and Robert Napier are mentioned between 1602 and 1641. Some time around 1687 it was inherited by Mary the wife of George Gollop, esq., and daughter of Julius Squibb.

The Gollop family were of the same of Strode in the parish of Netherbury. George and Mary Gollop had several eminent children, viz. George who was Sheriff of Dorset 1745; Thomas (1694-1761) who was Captain of Portland Castle and James, Sheriff of Dorset 1768.

There was formerly a meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers) at Berwick, which was founded in 1668 and came under the Bridport Monthly Meeting.


Historical Parish Information


Parish Registers begin:


Hundred or Liberty:


Poor Law Union & Registration District:


Online Parish Clerk Project (external link):

Swyre OPC


Pedigree of Herring

Pedigree of Russell


Nearby Parishes and Places:


Bexington (East and West)

Kingston Russell

Langton Herring

Little Bredy or Littlebredy

Portesham and Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy



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