#4 Swansey Langley Keene

26 January 2014

When I was younger – so much younger than today (good song that!) – I was lucky enough to have several relatives on my maternal side who held family documents, photographs and other memorabilia from the past. They were also interested in tracing our history and had stories and theories to share.

As I mentioned last week in #3 James Robert Leonard Fielder, my great-aunt, Win – well, Winifred officially – daughter of Albert Henry and Elisabeth Caroline (nee Fielder) Day, was utterly convinced that we were related to Edmund Kean, an English actor (1787-1833) who was regarded in his time as the greatest actor ever. This was because James Robert Leonard Fielder’s mother was called Maria Kean.

Having been to the University of Ottawa library in the summer of 2000 and copied several books about Edmund, it soon became apparent that he did not have a line of descent. During the ‘noughties’, as is inevitable, my attention was drawn away from the Kean family line and it was not until 2007 that I returned to the quest for Maria’s ancestry.

Locating a baptism for her in St Andrew’s Church, Holborn on 19 February 1816, her parents were given as James and Hannah Maria – the surname recorded as KEEN. With Maria naming her first child, James and her first daughter, Anna Maria …. and her marriage to Leonard Fielder taking place at St Andrew’s Church, Holborn…. all the pieces fitted perfectly.

James was referred to as a clerk – or more specifically an attorney’s clerk at times – and his marriage to Hannah Maria Cawthorn took place on 28 November 1813 at Christchurch Newgate Street.

When it was built by Christopher Wren, Christchurch Newgate Street was one of his most expensive churches. It was built on the site of the Franciscan’s Greyfriars Church between 1677 and 1691. The tower and steeple, which dominate the ruins today are also Wren’s, but date to around 1703. In 1940, a bomb hit the church and it was gutted entirely. It lay in ruins until the 1960s when the remains were shored up and the tower restored.

James Keen was baptised on 19 August 1781 of Swansey Langley and Mary (nee Mould) Keene, the fourth of seven known children of the couple. Marrying in St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch in 1774, both Swansey and Mary are said to be ‘of this parish’.


However, the only two possible baptisms located for Swansey – as Swancy Langly Keene – take place in Chertsey, Surrey on 21 April 1749 and 25 March 1750 according to the Ancestry England and Wales Christening Records 1530-1906. Anyone able to check/copy the original records in Surrey for me?

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