Thomas Swyre was born in Salisbury c.1805. He came to Southampton and by c.1837 was landlord of the Crown Inn in the High Street, succeeding the late Mr Fowler. In June 1849 he took possession of the Star Hotel, after it had "undergone most extensive improvements in every department", further down the High Street. The Star continued in the Swyre family's occupancy for nearly half a century, initially under Thomas Swyre until, in September 1873, passing to his widow Harriet Emma Swyre and, on her death in May 1883, to their eldest daughter, Mary Frances Swyre until the mid 1890s.

Thomas's obituary in the Hampshire Advertiser 9, July 1873) speaks of his position in the town: "No one, perhaps, was better known in commercial circles and among commercial men. He enjoyed a large share of their patronage, and also their friendship, while as a public caterer his reputation was widespread, as those who attended the Caledonian dinner, the annual Easter dinner of the Poor-Law Guardians, and other gatherings of a like kind so regularly held at his house can readily testify."
Thomas Swyre was active in vestry politics in his adopted parish of St Lawrence. He was elected a ward assessor for the parish in March 1843. He was a representative of the parish on the Southampton Board of Guardians almost continuousy between 1854 and 1870. He was minister's churchwarden (appointed by the Reverend Gibson Lucas) for the parish of St Lawrence and St John from April 1871 until his death. His appointment in April 1873, three months before his death and incapable of performing the duties of the office, was highly controversial. On the wider borough level, he was a regular member of the Grand Jury at the Borough of Southampton quarter sessions.

In politics he was a consistent Whig/Liberal, voting for the party in the borough elections of 1841, 1842 and 1852 and 1865. He was an active advocate of various local railway schemes, including the Southampton, Petersfield and London Direct Railway in October 1845, the Manchester and Southampton Railway in July 1846 and the extension of the Andover and Redbridge Railway in December 1859. All were believed to be vital to the continued prosperity of the High Street hotels. Similarly in support of his trade interests, Thomas was a memorialist in August 1851 against the granting of further alcoholic licences in a town already, it was alleged, containing one inn or beer shop for every 24 houses and for every 122 inhabitants.
Thomas and his wife Harriet Emma (also born in Salisbury and approximately the same age as her husband) had four children, all born in Southampton:

1) Mary Frances. Born 27 September 1835. In the 1871 census she is in Great Coram Street, Bloomsbury as proprietor of a boarding house. She later took over the running of the Star Hotel. She never married.

2) Harriet Emma. Born 15 March 1837. She helped her parents in the innkeeping trade until her marriage to James Ballantyne of Dumfriesshire on 21 September 1880.

3) George Tom. Born 19 March 1840. In the 1861 census he is living at home, described as a commercial bookseller. He died in Norwood Road, London, on 24 November 1885.

4) Louisa Jane. Born 10 June 1841. Died, aged 18 months, on 16 December 1842. She was buried in St Lawrence's catacombs.
Thomas Swyre died in Southampton on 5 July 1873, aged 68 years. He was buried in St Lawrence's. His widow, Harriet Emma, died on 13 May 1883, aged 78 years, with a personal estate valued for probate at £1,543.8s.9d.


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