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Swinton, John (1703-1777) (DNB00)

SWINTON, JOHN (1703–1777), historian and antiquary, son of John Swinton of Bexton in Cheshire, was born in that county in 1703. He entered Wadham College as a servitor, matriculating on 10 Oct. 1719, and on 30 June 1723 he was elected a scholar. He graduated B.A. on 1 Dec. 1723, and proceeded M.A. on 1 Dec. 1726. He was ordained deacon on 30 May 1725 and priest on 28 May 1727, and in February 1728 he was instituted into the rectory of St. Peter-le-Bailey, Oxford. On 16 Oct. 1728 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and on 30 June 1729 was chosen a probationer-fellow of Wadham. Not long after, however, he accepted the position of chaplain to the English factory at Leghorn. Finding the climate did not suit him, he proceeded to Florence in 1733, and returned to England after visiting Venice, Vienna, and Pressburg. He then took up his abode in Oxford, where he resided till 1743, when he was appointed a prebendary of St. Asaph on 11 Oct., resigning his fellowship at the same time. In July 1745 he migrated to Christ Church, and in 1759 proceeded B.D. He was elected keeper of the archives of the university in 1767, and, dying on 4 April 1777, was buried in the antechapel of Wadham. He was married, but left no children. His wife, who died in 1784, was also buried in Wadham chapel.

He was extremely absent-minded, and it is related by Boswell that when he was appointed to preach on repentance to several criminals to be executed on the following day, he told his audience that he would give them the remainder of his discourse on next Lord's Day.

Swinton published:

  1. ‘De Linguæ Etruriæ Regalis Vernacula Dissertatio,’ Oxford, 1738, 4to.
  2. ‘A Critical Essay concerning the Words Δαιμων and Δαιμονιον,’ London, 1739, 8vo.
  3. ‘De priscis Romanorum literis Dissertatio,’ Oxford, 1746, 4to.
  4. ‘Inscriptiones Citieæ,’ Oxford, 1750, 4to.
  5. ‘De nummis quibusdam Samaritanis et Phœniciis,’ 1750, 4to.
  6. ‘Metilia,’ Oxford, 1750, 4to.

He also contributed numerous dissertations to the ‘Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society’ (1761–74), and was the author of portions of Sale's ‘Universal History’ (Gent. Mag. 1784, p. 892).

Swinton has been frequently confused with John Swinton who matriculated from Wadham in 1713, graduating B.A. in 1717 and M.A. in 1720. As both came from Knutsford in Cheshire, they were probably relations.

[Chalmers's General Biogr. Dict. xxix. 70–4; Gardiner's Registers of Wadham, i. 451, ii. 3; Foster's Alumni Oxon. both ser.; Thomson's Hist. of the Royal Society, App. p. xxxviii; Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. Croker, pp. 89, 794; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 553–4, iii. 678, ix. 13; Nichols's Lit. Illustr. iii. 684, iv. 593; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 91; A. C. Swinton's Swintons of that Ilk, pp. 60–1; Affair between Mr. John Swinton and Mr. George Baker, London, 1739, 8vo.]

E. I. C.