James Swinbourne was born on 1 February 1850 in Wellington, New Zealand, as the eldest son of John Foster and Ellenor Swinbourne. Migrating to Sydney with his family, he married the sixteen-year-old Mary Jane (Martha) Kemp, third eldest daughter of Thomas Kemp, at St Silas’ Church of England, Waterloo, on 19 March 1872. They had several children, including Maude Ellenor, James Edward, Charles Foster, Alice May and Algernon George. When their 11-year-old son William died in May 1892, the family lived at 263 King Street North, Newtown. George C Swinbourne, who had a bootmaker shop at 329a King Street from the early 1900s, was likely related. James Swinbourne died on 13 July 1922, aged 72, at his residence at 555a King Street South, Newtown. He was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery at Rookwood.
Occupation & interests
James Swinbourne was a bootmaker and boot importer. Initially located in St Peters, he had a shop at 285 King Street North by 1889 (later No. 263), located on the north side near the corner of Eliza Street. Likely as a result of the 1890s depression, he went bankrupt in 1893 and had to resign as alderman. By the 1910s, he had a shop at 555a King Street South, near Dickson Street.
James Swinbourne was member of the Loyal St John’s Lodge, No. 6, MUOOF, and was chairman in 1904, when the new Oddfellows Hall opened on Enmore Road, Newtown. He also lobbied to increase the efficiency and stability of the Newtown Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Local government service
James Swinbourne was an alderman on Newtown Council in 1890-93, representing Kingston Ward. He joined the council on 27 August 1890 and resigned on 31 October 1893.
Biographical information for this alderman was originally researched by Mark Matheson for the Newtown Project Website. Additional research was carried out by Dr Martina Muller in 2022.
‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 March 1922, 12, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15993875
‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 1892, 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13860726
‘Advertising’, The Daily Telegraph, 7 October 1893, 15, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article236141708
‘Family Notices’, The Sun, 13 July 1922, 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221507174
‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 1922, 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16013060
‘Family Notices’, The Daily Telegraph, 14 July 1922, 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245732043