Biography for Edith Rachel (Sherwood) Swindells

In 1910 Edith Rachel was 31 years old and living with her elderly parents. Her mother died in about Sept. 1910 and her father (WG Sherwood) a year later (of a broken heart, it is often said). Around then, Rachel's cousin Gilbert Manttan was visiting England from New Zealand; Gilbert had fallen ill unexpectedly and was convalescing with the Sherwoods.

Rachel's papers include letters from Gilbert's mother, her Auntie Rachel, asking if Rachel and family could look out for Gilbert initially, then thanking the Sherwoods for taking him in and of course offering condolences on the occasion of WG's death. At this point Auntie Rachel asks E.-Rachel if she could accompany Gilbert back to New Zealand, as due to his health problems it is obvious that he won't be able to take up his dream of becoming a missionary, and neither is he well enough to work his passage back to NZ (he apparently worked his passage from NZ to the UK). Rachel travelled back in style on big luxury steam ships and visited many of the famous sights of the era, including the Suez Canal, Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), Australia and many parts of New Zealand.

I will transcribe the key letter from Auntie Rachel giving all this info soon (I hope!).

In late 1911 (I think!) Edith takes Gilbert back to NZ and then bums around NZ (later Aus too) sight-seeing, writing letters, and meeting relatives. Auntie Rachel a sister to Edith's mother Anne Thompson. Auntie Rachel's husband was John Manttan, and their many children who included Gilbert, Annie (who wrote several letters to Edith), William and Frank. Husband John dies suddenly during the visit, after drinking poison that he had mistaken for lime juice. Frank is the notorious Manttan child, he left first wife and large family to run off with another wife and have another large brood of children. This is part of why modern Manttans are found in both NZ and Australia, and for obvious reasons different branches of the family sometimes find it hard to communicate. E.-Rachel returns to the UK in mid or late 1914; she met George Swindells on a Wolverhampton bus that year, perhaps June, and married him in April 1915; their first child (Bessie) was born Sep 1916. Their 4th son, Norman, born 1921, was John's grandfather.


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