William Swayne of Salisbury: Biography
The most ancient (and commonly referenced) Swayne COA was
received by William Swayne of Salisbury in 1461. I should point out that many documented references to the date of
this grant appear as 1444 (which is incorrect). William Swayne was Master of the Tailors Guild and Mayor of
Salisbury in 1444, 1455, and 1477 (and possibly other years as well). His wife's name was Christian and his
father's name was James. William of
Salisbury funded the construction of the Lady Chapel (a.k.a. Swayne Chapel) at
Saint Thomas's Church (still standing) in England around 1457. His Merchant symbol can be found in a
stained glass window at the church. In
Swayne Chapel, there is a beam in the ceiling that has the following inscriptions:
In 'The Records of the Swaynes of Wiltshire', the merchant
symbol was indicated as a hand-drawn illustration (see image below) but in
reverse from the symbol that appears in the stained glass window. This is interesting because the ornaments
and much of the stained glass was destroyed in 1548, but the mutilated remains
of the window were rearranged and also re-leaded just prior to the publication
of 'The Records of the Swaynes of Wiltshire' in 1940. Since much of the chapel and glass was destroyed and later
reconstructed, it seems possible that the glass containing William's merchant
symbol was mistakenly rearranged in reverse.
On the other hand, the author of 'The Records of the Swaynes of Wiltshire'
could have mistakenly drawn the symbol in reverse if they only looked at an
uninstalled piece of glass (without flipping the glass over on it's correct
side). If you look (below) at each
image (side-by-side) you will find that they are mirror opposites. A close-up photograph of the church beam
(containing William's merchant symbol) might reveal something about this
- The sacred emblems of the Passion
- The symbol of the Trinity
- The arms of Swayne:
'Azure, a chevron between three pheons or.'
- Swayne's merchant mark
- 'Pray for the souls of James, the father of William Swayne'
- 'Pray for the souls of William Swayne and Christian his
Here is a sample of William's Merchant Symbol (left;
arranged consistent with the symbol from the stained glass window, center; a
reproduction of the illustration from 'The Records of the Swaynes of
Wiltshire') and right; a blown up photograph of the actual merchant symbol in
the stained glass from the chapel.
Below is a photo (provided by Kay Callow) indicating the proper placement of the merchant symbol as etched into the church beam.
Here are a few other interesting notes regarding the
When a photograph of William's stained glass merchant symbol
is enlarged, there are specific details that are revealed as follows:
- The circle is actually incomplete
- The vertical line between the two X's does not appear in the
stained glass window.
- The 'X' on the right appears to be missing a portion of the
lead that would complete one of the lines making up the 'X'
- When looking at the circle (center of his merchant mark),
you will find a horizontal line going thru the center of the circle. This horizontal line ends with a cross (on
one end) and the point of a right triangle (on the other). The stained glass window has the following
version of the cross:
are some additional notes and quotes regarding William Swayne of
Salisbury extracted from 'The Records of the Swaynes of Wiltshire' for
From The Salisbury Corporation Ledger:
'The Merchant Guild of Salisbury always appears first in the
list of Guilds. Among its delegates
appears the name of William Swayne, one of the chief Aldermen, who served the
office of Mayor more than once. He was also Merchant of the Staple, and took
and important place in the government of the city. He and John Halle, who built the Halle of John Halle (Canal,
Salisbury) appear to have been bitter opponents on the Council.'
In 1461, William Swayne obtained a Charter for the Tailors
Guild from Edward IV, which gave them license to found a Guild in St. Thomas'
William built a vestry at St. Thomas' Church which is where his chantry priests
see ancient sealed documents pertaining to William of Salisbury, go
"William of Salisbury Ancient Docs" page at the following
Saint Thomas' Church
A website for Saint Thomas' Church is located at http://www.stthomassalisbury.co.uk/page6.htm.
During tours of the church, pamplets can be obtained that describe the
history of the church. In that pamphlet, William Swayne is
described as a historical figure in the reconstruction of the church
Here are some photos from The Lady Chapel (Swayne Chapel):
Note the merchant symbol of William Swayne of Salisbury
In the center of these beams, it appears to be some inscriptions.
The detail cannot be deciphered even when blown-up. If anyone has
a close-up photo and would be willing share, please contact me at email@example.com
Here are some photos of the St.Thomas' Church Alter:
Here is another photo of St. Thomas' Church from outside the church: