The Origins of the Swindle surname in northern England

The family can be traced back to the area around Hexham in Northumberland in the 17th century. At that time the spelling in the parish registers was commonly Swindle, Swindel or Swindall. All the Swindles in northern England in the 17th and 18th appear to descend from John Swindel and Richard Swindel. The occurrence of the name in Northumberland may well have resulted from migration from Derbyshire.

Around 1000 descendants of John / Richard Swindell bearing the Swindle (Swindell, Swindale &tc) surname have been traced and are listed on this site.

In 1687 Richard Swindel is termed a 'piper', as is his son Richard ('Pyper') in 1705. The meaning of this term has not been established; could it be a dialect version of 'pauper'? Several dialect dictionaries have not listed this meaning (nor the full OED). From May 1686 the register is including occupations such as Blacksmith, Labor, Taylor, Joyner. These are Capitalised, piper is not, generally. 'piper' is used elsewhere, for example John Bailey on 30th May. In 1692 Mark Hoggard is described as paup and in 1708 the term poor is used.

The word 'piper' may be used in its old meaning of a plumber (or lead worker?) though Richard is described elsewhere as yeoman. However it could be significant that Blackhall lead smelt mill was just a quarter of a mile east of Mollersteads and had been established since at least 1653. Dukesfield smelt mill was also very close. It is possible that the Swindalls were craftsmen making lead sheet (for roofing) and pipes at the smelt mill or were smelters. This would explain Christopher moving west to the smelt mill at Whitfield.

Taking into consideration the prevalence of the Swindell surname in Derbyshire, one hypothesis is that the family moved north (or were brought north) on account of familiarity with the new ore-hearth smelting technology that was being introduced at this time. Efficient smelting was particularly dependant upon the judgment and experience of the smelter. However the technology would probably have reached Allendale at least half a century  before the earliest recorded Swindales.

"The ore-hearth appears to have evolved on the Mendip, in Somerset, from a new type of smelting hearth, blown by a foot-blast, which was developed around 1540. The latter had evolved into the ore-hearth, with its characteristic work-stone, by the time the first of these hearths reached Derbyshire in 1571 or 1572. That hearth was built by smelters from Somerset who were employed by [William] Humfrey to re-equip his mill at Beauchief*."
(TheYorkshire Smelting Mills - Michael C. Gill - British Mining Vol 45 p133 1992. Beauchief is 6km SW of Sheffield)
(More information in "The Derbyshire Lead Industry in the 16th Century, Chapter 4 - David Kiernan 1989) 

"The first ore-hearth smelter in Swaledale was built by John Sayer, on the side of Dales Beck at Marrick, in 1574/5."
(Swaledale: its Mines and Smelt Mills - Michael Gill - Landmark Collector's Library 142 2004)

"The native population [of Allendale] in the seventeenth century was increased by an immigration of lead-miners from Derbyshire. Under the date of 7th February 1664/5, the following entry occurs in the parish register : 'Hercules Hill, a smelter, and Elizabeth Blande, ye daughter of Thomas Blande, who all of them came out of Darbyshire, was married.'" (A History of Northumberland Volume IV by John Crawford Hodgson 1897 - p75')

George Bacon of Clay Linne (in Derbyshire) moved to the Hexhamshire region in the mid-17th century - he was buried at Allendale in 1670. Clay Lane (now Clay Cross) is perhaps 13 miles south of Beauchief. (Wirksworth - where there are records of a number of Swindells - is perhaps 18 miles south of Beauchief but itself was a lead smelting centre).  The Bacon family were significant players in the lead industry.  "Here lyeth interred the body of George Bacon of Broadwood-hall, who was born at Clay Lorinne, in Derbyshire: husband of Cessilly Bacon. He departed this life at Grasse Grooves, the 21st of September, and was buried here the 23rd of the same September, anno domini 1670."( Ditto p 86)
In July, 1664, Sir Francis (Radclyffe), then of Spindlestone, let to George Bacon, gent., of East Allendale, all the lead ore in the manor of Aldstone Moore for three years, at the sum of 37s. " for every bing load of lead oare that is or shall he gotten within the said liberties dureing the said terme, being fifths or otherwise due to the said Sir Francis." (Mr. FenwicVs Coll.) (Archeologica Aeliana New Series Vol 1 p99 note 10)

 R.F. Tylecote in 1962 appears to believe the development in smelting technologies was introduced from Derbyshire to the Mendips relying upon  T. Morgans 'Notes upon the the lead industry of the Mendip Hills' Trans. Inst. of Mining Engineers, 1902, 20, 478-494 but I have not yet managed to read this source and at present prefer the later view.

Alan Swindale