Old photos and their history

Post Card Photo of Royal Artillery, Posted to Clarborough, Nottinghamshire

A group photo of nine Edwardian-era soldiers in front of a line of tents. The back of the photo is a postcard, sent by George to his mother.

George Swindin

George Swindin was born in the village of Clarborough, Nottinghamshire, in 1888. He enlisted into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1908. The hat badges in the photo are faint but clearly those of the Royal Artillery. He served as a gunner and at some point was stationed in India.

The Swindin family

George came from a large family. He had four sisters and two brothers. Ellen Mary Lee (b1874), Walter Charles Lee Smith (b1878), Margaret Ann Swindin (b1887), Mary Phyllis Swindin (b1890), Thomas Swindin (b1892), and Edith Sarah Swindin (b1895).

His mother and father were Sarah Ann Swindin (b1852) and Frederick John Swindin (b1848). His father worked from home as a self-employed market gardener.

In the 1891 and 1901 censuses, their home was 46 Village Street in Clarborough.

There appears to have been a connection to Sheffield as many of George’s siblings moved there in later years. In 1911, his eldest sister Ellen, now married to Police Constable George Arthur Cobb, lived at 56 Dykes Hall Road. Round the corner was their sister Margaret, married to Brewers Drayman Herbert Staite, living at 53 Kendal Road. Their eldest brother, Walter, lived at 1 Kendal Place in 1917 (as far as I can find, Kendal Place is Kendal Road).

George’s father, Frederick, died in 1917. His mother, who he wrote this postcard to, died ten years later in 1927. And then his eldest sister Ellen another ten years later in 1937.

Military service

George’s brothers followed him into the military. A record from 1914 lists Thomas serving in the Royal Field Artillery. In 1917, Walter served in the Labour Corps and Durham Light Infantry.

Sarah Ann Swindin, further information

George’s mother was born in Walkeringham, Nottinghamshire, in 1852. Her original name was Sarah Ann Lee.

And so, her first daughter, Ellen Mary Lee, was born outside marriage.

Ellen’s first child, William John Lee, was also born outside marriage. In the 1901 census, both William and Ellen lived with Sarah and Frederick Swindin at 46 Village Street. William, like his uncles George and Thomas, served in the Royal Artillery (joining in 1914).

This explains why Ellen’s surname was not Swindin, but what about Walter Charles Lee Smith?

Sarah had married before in 1878. Her first husband was Charles Smith. Their son was born the same year.

In the 1881 census, both Sarah and Charles lived together in Clarborough. Charles worked as a boatman. Their children were not at home during the census. Ellen and Walter were instead staying with their grandparents Thomas and Ann Lee at 52 Abbey Lane, Mattersey, in Nottinghamshire.


Sarah’s first marriage was brief. In 1882, local newspapers reported what had happened in great detail. She had found her husband on the floor after taking his own life. Their children were both at home at the time (The Lincolnshire Chronicle, 1882: 8).

An earlier newspaper article mentioned that Charles had visited his brother’s house in the morning (The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 1882: 6). He was described as being anxious about going home and said that he had done something wrong.

Sarah remarried to Frederick John Swindin in 1884.


(1882) The Lincolnshire Chronicle, 07 April, p.8.

(1882) The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 04 April, p.6.


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