One of the questions that I have long had was if ‘Swallow the magazine hulk’ had been the Royal Navy ship ‘HMS Swallow’, so I must thank greasby_lad
for providing a major clue to the probable answer with the clipping from the Hampshire Telegraph dated 23rd Aug 1882 that he provided,
especially this bit:“The owners of the Liverpool floating gunpowder magazines have applied to the Admiralty for permission to use the Lapwing or Swallow gunboats as a powder depot”
So, it would seem that Swallow the gunpowder hulk was indeed HMS Swallow the Royal Navy ship. If a choice was to be made between the Lapwing and Swallow, then the class of ship would surely have been a “Plover Class Wooden Gun vessel” as the two were sister ships at that time.
Based on the above, I found this information from the internet:Plover Class
HMS Swallow Built: Portsmouth Dockyard
Launched: 16 November 1868
Notes: Sold to A.Tobin on 18th October 1882
So, HMS Swallow was sold to an ‘A Tobin’ (in 1882 – the date fits with the newspaper cutting). Who was ‘A Tobin’?
There were no A.Tobin’s in the census records for 1882 that I could find - apart from a labourer (not likely to have afforded a ship!), so after a bit more digging, it would seem that ‘A Tobin’ was in fact James Aspinall Tobin, son of Thomas Tobin, reputed to have been a Slave Trader descended from a smuggling family.
This family were also deeply involved with Gunpowder trading – so it all fits together. I think that this is the man who bought the ‘Swallow’ from the Navy.
In the 1861 census, James is described as being a ‘Magistrate and African Merchant’, which would maybe indicate he had something to do with slaves as well?
This is an extract from the family History
on the Internet:From around 1800 Thomas Tobin had lived in Liverpool, possibly with a country home at Eastham House, Eastham which was later occupied by his son James Aspinall Tobin.
James Aspinall Tobin became Mayor of Liverpool in 1854. Further family respectability came with James's son, Sir Alfred Aspinall Tobin (1855-1939) being appointed a judge. There are four portraits of him in the National Portrait Gallery.
In 1901, he still lived with his widowed mother, the wife of James, Olivia Maria Aspinall Tobin at Eastham House, however in 2007; Eastham House is an old people's home.
And Eastham House (Eastham Village Road) is not too far from his Gunpowder stores. All quite interesting stuff…
I’ve included a side profile of the Swallow hulk for comparison with the other two photographs attached. They are of HMS Swallow’s sister ships HMS Magpie and HMS Ringdove (I can’t find one of HMS Swallow itself at the moment, but this must be what she looked like when in Navy service).
If I've been barking up the wrong tree
- please let me know, and if you've got more to add, please post!!