Swete, John (DNB00)


SWETE or TRIPE, JOHN (1752?–1821), antiquary, born about 1752, was the son of Nicholas Tripe of Ashburton in Devonshire. John (who afterwards assumed the surname of Swete) matriculated from University College, Oxford, on 19 Oct. 1770, graduated B.A. in 1774, and proceeded M.A. in 1777. He took holy orders, and on 27 Aug. 1781 he was made a prebendary of the diocese of Exeter (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 431, 433). In later life he resided at Oxton House, near Kenton, in the neighbourhood of Exeter. He died in 1821, leaving several children. His son, John Beaumont Swete, succeeded to his estates.

He published: 1. Three poetical pieces in Polwhele's ‘Traditions and Recollections,’ 1826, pp. 240–2. 2. Seven poetical pieces signed ‘S.,’ in ‘Poems chiefly by Gentlemen of Devonshire and Cornwall,’ ed. Polwhele, 1792, ii. 34, 205–9, 233. 3. Three antiquarian articles signed ‘N. E.’ in ‘Essays by a Society of Gentlemen at Exeter,’ 1796. These essays occasioned a quarrel between him and Polwhele, who regarded their publication as a breach of confidence and as calculated to injure his own work on Devonshire, then approaching completion. The misunderstanding was increased by some strictures on Swete's essays which appeared in the ‘European Magazine’ under the signature ‘W.,’ and which he mistakenly attributed to Polwhele.

Swete also left a manuscript description of Devonshire in the possession of his family. It forms an itinerary of the county, commencing in 1792 and terminating in 1802, and contains a full description of the places visited in his journeys, illustrated by sketches made and dated at the time. The portion relating to Torquay was published in the ‘Torquay Directory’ in 1871.

[Western Antiquary, vi. 269–70, 303; Polwhele's Hist. of Devon, pref. i. 81, ii. 162–3; Davidson's Bibliotheca Devoniensis, pp. 3, 135; Transactions of the Devonshire Association, xiv. 51–3; Gent. Mag. 1796 ii. 739, 896, 1017; Gomme's Gent. Mag. Library, English Topography, iii. 82, 161, 192, 208; Polwhele's Reminiscences, i. 46; Polwhele's Traditions and Recollections, pp. 242–4, 383–4, 445, 475–81, 710–11; Warner's Recollections, ii. 144; Polwhele's Biographical Sketches, iii. 125, 132–3; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886, iv. 1439.]

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