The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
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Swift's House [als Great Swifts]  Waterloo Road  Cranbrook Town  Cranbrook  

Books and other documents
PublishedTitle, author and references
1798The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent - Volume VII by Edward Hastedp. 106
1912Boyd Alexander's Last Journey with a Memoir by Herbert Alexander by Boyd Alexanderp. 5

Historical records

1871PurchasedLieut-Col. Boyd Francis AlexanderSwifts Place

16th Jan 1873HistorySwift's House [als Great Swifts]

Boyd Alexander was born at Swifts Place, Cranbrook, Kent on 16th January 1873. He was a twin son with Robert Alexander of Lieut-Colonel Boyd Francis Alexander and his wife Mary Wilson and descended from the Alexanders of Ballochmyle in Ayrshire. Colonel Alexander and his wife had had two daughters born in Canada before giving bith to the twin sons. Three more sons followed, the youngest being Claud born in 1878.

Boyd Alexander was educated from 1888 at St Peters College, Radley, and it was during his school holidays that Boyd developed his enthusiasm for ornithology - making a study of the birds of Kent and Sussex. He enlisted in the army, joining the Rifle Brigade in 1893 and in 1896, Boyd and his friend John Springett, a skilled taxidermist, made a comprehensive study of nesting habits and migrations at Rye, which became the basis of probably the finest and most complex collection of Kent and Sussex birds in existence. In 1897 he led a scientific expedition to the Cape Verde Islands where he made an extensive collection of native bird species and, in 1898, went on his first African journey to the Zambezi and Kafuk rivers. He was appointed to the Gold Coast constabulary in 1900, and took part in the relief of Kumasi. In 1904 he led a scientific expedition to Fernando Po where he discovered various new species of birds. The same year saw the commencement of his most important work - an expedition across Africa from the Niger to the Nile accompanied by his younger brother Captain Claud Alexander, the zoologist Captain G.B. Gosling, P. Amaury Talbot and Josť Lopes. Later that year on 13th November 1904 Claud died of fever after six weeks of illness and was buried at Maifoni in Northern Nigeria. The expedition continued for three years and during this period Boyd surveyed the shores of Lake Chad and explored a considerable part of eastern Nigeria, returning to England by way of the rivers Ubangi, Shari and Nile. For his various discoveries he received gold medals from the Royal Geographical Societies of London and Antwerp, besides honours from other learned societies. In 1908 he returned to Africa for the last time and, during a local disturbance was killed by natives at Nyeri, in Wadai, on 2nd April 2 1910. His body was later recovered by French soldiers and Boyd was buried next to his brother at Maifoni in Northern Nigeria. A memorial to Claud and Boyd Alexander was placed in St Dunstans Church in Cranbrook.

Boyd Alexander published From the Niger to the Nile (1907), besides many articles and papers in scientific and geographical periodicals. His oustanding collection of Kent and Sussex birds was offered by his brother Herbert Alexander to Cranbrook and resides today at the Cranbrook Museum and his collection of 5,500 African birds resides at the Natural History Museum at Tring, Hertfordshire, as well as five manuscript volumes relating to his travel and bird collecting in Africa between 1898 and 1909.


16th Jan 1873BirthtwinBoyd Alexander, explorer and ornithologistSwifts PlaceAlexander's Last Journey

16th Jan 1873BirthtwinCaptain Robert Alexander, 5th Rifle BrigadeSwifts PlaceAlexander's Last Journey

July to Sep 1876BirthDavid AlexanderSwifts Place1881 Census

Oct to Dec 1878BirthCaptain Claud AlexanderSwifts Place1881 Census

3rd Apr 1881CensusMary Forward, F, Head, widowed, age 81, born Biddenden, KentMary ForwardSwifts Lodge1881 Census
Cranbrook, Kent

3rd Apr 1881CensusCharles Bridgland, M, Head, married, age 48, born Cranbrook, Kent; occupation: rope and sailmakerCharles Bridgland, rope and sailmakerSwifts House, Swifts Park1881 Census
Cranbrook, Kent
3rd Apr 1881CensusSarah Bridgland, F, Wife, married, age 44, born Ticehurst, SussexSarah Bridgland
3rd Apr 1881CensusLucy Bryant, F, Servant, single, age 28, born Suffold Bury St Edmonds; occupation: laundrymaidLucy Bryant
3rd Apr 1881CensusAnn Cotrill, F, Servant, single, age 20, born Hereford, Hereford; occupation: laundrymaidAnn Cotrill

3rd Apr 1881CensusThomas Wheeler, M, Head, married, age 38, born Benenden, Kent; occupation: farm labourerThomas Wheeler, farm labourerMoat1881 Census
Cranbrook, Kent
3rd Apr 1881CensusMary Ann Wheeler, F, Wife, married, age 41, born Cranbrook, KentMary Ann Wheeler
3rd Apr 1881CensusMatilda Wheeler, F, Daughter, age 8, born Cranbrook, Kent; occupation: scholarMatilda Wheeler
3rd Apr 1881CensusAnn Smith, F, Mother-in-law, widowed, age 78, born Cranbrook, KentAnn Smith

3rd Apr 1881CensusFrederick Goodsell, M, Head, married, age 31, born Ewhurst Green, Sussex; occupation: farm labourerFrederick Goodsell, farm labourerMoat1881 Census
Cranbrook, Kent
3rd Apr 1881CensusSarah Goodsell, F, Wife, married, age 33, born Udermore, SussexSarah Goodsell
3rd Apr 1881CensusIsabelle Goodsell, F, Daughter, age 7, born Hastings, Sussex; occupation: scholarIsabelle Goodsell
3rd Apr 1881CensusJames H. Goodsell, M, Son, age 3, born Ewhurst Green, Sussex; occupation: scholarJames H. Goodsell
3rd Apr 1881CensusFlorence Goodsell, F, Daughter, age 1, born Cranbrook, KentFlorence Goodsell
Currently The Weald is at  Database version 10.5 - 1st May 2014 and contains information on 370,382 people; 9,000 places; 613 maps; 3,136 pictures, engravings and photographs; and 227 books © The Weald and its contributors
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