A small breakthrough: Ivens of Swinbrook

We know that one Robard Eyvens emerged in Swinbrook, Oxon around 1718. We have a letter from his grandson, Joseph:

My Grandfather came to Swinbrook about the year 1718 out of Worcester Shire as a Dealer in sheep and married a daughter of Mr. Richard Elliot who lived in the Farm that the Killmasters now live in. …”

What we have always wondered was where did he come from? The letter says Worcestershire, but given that boundaries change over time, that could be anywhere.


But now that the Swinbrook parish records are available online –  they weren’t when I first looked into this many years ago  – I can see  ‘Richard, son of Robard and Mary Eyvens, baptised March 1720′.

However, nothing earlier – except an entry in 1699 – ‘Mary the daughter of Richard Elot and Elizabeth his wife was baptised December 15th 1699‘. So Mary Elliot was the daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Elliot. It explains the name of Mary’s first born.

But where did Robard and Mary marry? You would have thought Swinbrook, where her father lived, but no sign of any entry.

At last, I have found a probable entry – but in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. The entry reads ‘November 1st (1719) Robert Iein and Mary Eliot: Bedington’. Despite the very legible script on the page, the feint surname has been overwritten as Iein, and later mis-transcribed as Tien. No wonder I couldn’t find it!

Marriage of Robert Ivens and Mary Eliot Bledington 1719

Chipping Norton entry – 1719

Of course, Chipping Norton would have been a reasonably central location for the surrounding villages, so the fact that there wasn’t a strong Ivens contingent (or any other spelling) actually living in that town at that time does not ring the usual alarm bells. They lived outside the town – Robert was a sheep dealer, after all. But the additional note that the couple came from Bedington (i.e. Bledington) which is a small hamlet nearer to Kingham and 7 miles from Chipping Norton (via Churchill), makes it likely that that was Robert’s home.

Lo! and behold, there is a baptism of one Robert Iving in Bledington in 1692.

Bledington to Swinbrook is 9 miles – admittedly over a big hill. Swinbrook to Chipping Norton is 10.5 miles. So both are within a reasonable day’s travel, and therefore not inconceivable that Robert (Robard) wandered off down to Swinbrook in the course of his work, and might meet Mary. And also that their marriage might be arranged up at Chipping Norton. Furthemore, Robert’s son, also named Robert, married Elizabeth Breakespeare – a well known family name in the Stow on the Wold local district. Bledington, where Robert’s uncles had lived, to Stow is just 5 miles.

Bledington is also just 4 miles from Daylesford and in the bottom right corner of the  map above, Daylesford – for some unknown reason – was once in Worcestershire.

So, the link is plausible. But where does that lead us?

In Bledington, there was a family going by the name of Iving (spelling varies from Iving to Ivinge and Ivings depending how you interpret the squiggle at the end). The children of one William Iving and his wife Jone were:

William – baptised 1691; Robert – baptised 1692; Thomas – baptised 1694; Hanah – baptised 1696; Elizabeth – baptised 1702; John – baptised 1705; Mary – baptised 1706

All familiar names in the Swinbrook family.

There are also one or two other mentions of Iving in the Bledington Parish register which opens up research possibilities. And there’s a family of Ivings who seem to have drifted down from Charlbury to Sandford in Oxfordshire. The distance from Bledington to Charlbury is only 10 miles.

One question that emerges is how the name was pronounced. The Ivens of Swinbrook pronounce the name as ‘Eye-vens’ with the emphasis on the first syllable. That resonates with the phonetic spelling of Robard Ivens’ early entries in the Swinbrook Parish Register – Eyvens. If he did indeed come down from Bledington from the Iving family, how was their name pronounced? Eye-ving? or with the softer ‘i’ as in ‘if’?

There’s another family down at Quenington (11 miles from Swinbrook on the road towards Cirencester) where a William Iving was baptised in 1710. But in looking at all the entries in that Parish Register, it seems his father’s name was John Ivin, and while one brother, Solomon, subsequently also used the Ivin name, the other brother seems to have used Iven.

I say ‘used’, but in fact it was probably all due to the Registrar’s interpretation of the name he heard – and with a strong Gloucestershire accent combined with a varying knowledge and experience of family names, who knows what spelling might emerge. The implication is that as the name changed, so did the pronunciation, or vice versa.

In genealogy terms, it means we may have to now consider exploring likely Iving families in the district to tie this family together.

Iving to Irving Cumberland 1875

A random example of the potential problem –  Cumberland 1875

I have already put an embargo on researching the name ‘Evans’. Do I now have to consider Irving and other variations such as Ewing?

7 responses to “A small breakthrough: Ivens of Swinbrook

  1. Hi David.
    It was very interesting to find your website and the information you have uncovered over many years.
    I am also interested in the links between my G++ Grandfather John Ivin of Quenington (1687) and the Ivens of Swinbrook.
    I found some graves in the Swinbrook church graveyard last week and have contacted the church warden to hopefully provide me with some information.
    Glen Ivin of Yate Bristol.


    • … in fact YOU can help me with the Ivin’s of Quenington.
      I have many noted but probably not as thorough as your research.
      Who was John’s wife, and who were his children? My likeliest contender is the John who died in 1750. Is that right?
      David Ivens


  2. Hi to Glen or David, A few days ago I was asked to try to help in forming a family tree of Ivens, just using Ancestry.com for a bit of fun to start, assembled a tree which I now find out after finding your blog is almost word for word for my research.


    • That’s great news, Peter, and well done. I wonder which part of the tree you were starting from as some lines are a bit more confusing than others. Be careful in adopting recommended trees (which Ancestry often highlights). Most are OK and genuine, but some are misleading if they have grabbed at data. I often find the same mistakes repeated in several personal trees. If there are any bits which are still elusive – just ask. It’s possible we have all reached the same brick wall. Good hunting, David Ivens


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