Daniel McSwiney

Daniel McSwiney (1790–1834)

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 1, 300–301.

This teacher and Moulton-Barrett family friend came from Ireland, but his birth and death dates are not known. He was engaged as a tutor in 1817 to instruct Bro in Latin and other subjects necessary for entry into Charterhouse school. It is thought he spent eight months with the family at Ramsgate and then went to Hope End. EBB eagerly joined with Bro in studies of Latin and Greek. When Bro went to London in 1820, McSwiney left Hope End, but correspondence dating through the 1820’s shows that he frequently visited Bro and other family members in London. Existing contemporary documents carry many interesting comments on McSwiney’s characteristics. In a letter to Henrietta dated 1 July 1820 (SD346) EBB’s father wrote: “Mr. McSwiney has had an application to go to a gentleman in Somersetshire as a Tutor and among the many Queries put to him is asked whether he is of an uniformly mild Temper which I have advised him to answer in the Affirmative with the remark, that he is peculiarly so, except when made angry, and then he will not answer for the consequences.” EBB in 1819 wrote a poem entitled “Visions” (Reconstruction, D1096), which surfaced despite her intention to keep it hidden, in which she referred to him as “Paddy.” Among other things, she said that he “does not, quite detest a glass of wine” (see letter 91, including notes 1 and 2). See also letter 198, dated August 1824, in which Bro mentions McSwiney’s appearing on the scene at Charterhouse “as great a dandy as ever.” The same letter tells of his being comfortably settled at Brighton. A letter from Samuel Moulton-Barrett to his sister Henrietta dated 17 June 1830 (SD727) mentions McSwiney’s still being at Brighton teaching seventeen scholars. This is the latest available reference concerning him. McSwiney made literary efforts, which included a novel, although its fate is not known. EBB was apparently less than complimentary about some of his writing, and in letter 125 he called her “Miss Sauce-box.” For an example of his poetical work see SD353.

[Editors’ note: Daniel McSwiney was born on 12 April 1790 into a large family, probably in the area of Dromboy or Cork City, Ireland, the son of Morgan McSwiney. At some point, McSwiney earned an M.A. in classics, but from which institution is unknown. As indicated above, after leaving the Moulton-Barretts’ employ, McSwiney settled at Brighton. On 6 January 1826 he married, at Herstmonceux, Sussex, Sarah (1794–1842), daughter of Edward Allfree, whose family owned various schools in Herstmonceux, Brighton, and Tunbridge Wells. Evidently, McSwiney taught at the school in Brighton. He and his wife had one son (John Henry, 1827–99) and one daughter (Emily Sophia (1829–1909). On 23 June 1834, McSwiney died at 7 Sussex Square, Brighton, aged 44, and was buried in his wife’s family vault in Herstmonceux.]

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