He was born in Ireland in 1738. He was the son of Richard Swords, a British army officer. He joined the army and in 1756 was in New York. Wounded at Ticonderoga, he was promoted to lieutenant. According to an obituary, he served with the 55th Regiment. Following the war, he became acquainted with Albany native Philip Schuyler, also a veteran and owner of a large tract of land at Old Saratoga.
He married young Mary Morrell. They had at least four sons - the first of whom was born in December 1762. In 1765, Swords accompanied his regiment to Ireland but soon returned to America. Perhaps, his wife and small children lived with the Morrells!
In 1766, he left the army, purchased land, and built a farm along the upper Hudson. He raised livestock and farmed the forest as well. He later purchased additional acreage above and below Albany. His Albany business contacts included Robert Henry.
Business, his wife's family, and membership in the Masonic Lodge often brought him to Albany. However, as colonists headed toward revolution he was like a number of British subjects who avoided Albany whenever possible.
This former British army officer sought to remain neutral at the outbreak of hostilities. However, the Albany revolutionaries forced him to take a stand by offering him a command. Refusing, he came under suspicion. He was arrested in May 1776 and confined at the Albany fort. He was sent to Connecticut and finally made his way to the British. Displaced by warfare, his family joined him in New York.
Ill from his past confinement, Thomas Swords died in January 1780. His family later moved to New Jersey.
Sources: The life of Thomas Swords has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. As Swords had but a faint Albany connection, this sketch relies heavily on the work of Polly Hoppin which appears online through the efforts of Heritage Hunters of Saratoga.
first posted: 3/15/04