Frederick John SWEATMAN (1873–1936)
St Giles section: Row 15, Grave B43

Frederick Sweatmann


DIED AUG. 20. 1936. AGE 63.

Frederick John Sweatman was born in east Oxford (probably at 8 Cowley Road) in 1873, the son of the printer William Albert Sweatman and Mary Anne Dodd.
For more details about his parents and siblings, see the separate grave of his parents.

Frederick attended New College School. In 1891 he was 18 and living with his parents at 48 Wellington Square: he was working as a clerk, possibly at the Press. In about 1893 when he was 20 Frederick must have been taken on as an assistant on the Oxford English Dictionary, as his gravestone states that he had held this post for 43 years, until his death in 1936, and he would probably have worked with the editor, Sir James Murray, in the building behind 78 Banbury Road until Murray’s death in 1915.

In the third quarter of 1899 in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire (with the banns read at St Giles’s Church in July), Frederick John Sweatman (26) married Mary Harriette Metcalfe (born in Cambridge in 1870/1). They had just one child:

  • Winifred May Sweatman (born in Oxford in 1900, reg. Headington district third quarter).

At the time of the 1901 census, Frederick (28), now described as the Assistant Editor of the New English Dictionary, was visiting a family in Worcester with his wife Mary (30) and their daughter Winifred (10 months).

By the time of the 1911 census Frederick and his wife and daughter were living at 98 Southmoor Road and employed a servant girl aged 15.

Frederick’s brother William Albert Sweatman died in 1921 and his mother Mary Ann Sweatman in 1922, and they were buried at St Sepulchre’s in the grave of Frederick's sister Mary Dodd Sweatman, who had died back in 1887. His aunt Miss Sarah Dodd moved in with him following the death of Frederick's mother, who was her sister.

On 15 August 1923 Sweatman sailed alone to Canada at the age of 50 to stay with friends in Toronto for the purpose of both business and touring.

In 1928 Frederick & Mary Sweatman were still living at 98 Southmoor Road. The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was complete in that year, but Frederick must have continued to work on revisions for the rest of his life, and was described as a librarian in 1930. In The Meaning of Everything, Simon Winchester records how the recently coined word radium was missing from the first edition, and quotes a mock definition probably written by Sweatman:

Radium. [mod. L. radium (B. Balius Add. Lex. : not in DuCange). The orig. source is Preh. — Adami spadi, to dig; — Antediluv. randam (unconnected with PanArryan randan). Cognate with OH Has. mqdrq; Opj. rangtrum; MHGug. tsploshm; Mubr. dndrpq; Baby. daddums and N.Pol. rad are unconnected.] The unknown quantity. Math. Symbol x. Cf. Eureka.
Aristotle De. P.Q. LI.xx says it may be obtained by the excrement of a squint-eyed rat that has died of a broken heart buried 50 ft below the highest depths of the western ocean in a well-stopped tobacco tin, but Sir T. Browne says this is a vulgar error; he also refutes the story that it was dug in the air above Mt. Olympus by the ancients.
[Not in J., the Court Guide, or the Daily Mail Year Book before 1510.]
1669 Pepys Diary, 31 June, And so to bed. Found radium an excellent pick-me-up in the morning. 1873 Hymns A & M 2517 Thy walls are built of radium. 1600 Hakluyt’s Voy. IV.21 The kyng was attired simply in a hat of silke and radium-umbrella.

Frederick’s father William Albert Sweatman died on 12 April 1930, and his aunt Miss Sarah Dodd on 6 June 1930: they were buried in a separate grave in St Sepulchre's Cemetery.

Frederick moved with his wife into his father’s old house at 80 St Bernard’s Road, and outlived him by only six years. He died in 1936 while staying at the seaside:

† Frederick John Sweatman died at Osberton Lodge, 36 Wordsworth Road, Worthing at the age of 63 on 20 August 1936 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 24 August (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

His effects came to £5,158 19s. 4d., and probate was granted to his widow Mary Harriet Sweatman and to retired schoolmaster Sydney Edward Sweatman.

Frederick Sweatman’s widow
  • Mrs Mary Harriette Sweatman, née Dodd was living at 49 Langley Close in Headington in 1945, but in about 1952 moved to 55 Chalfont Road, the home of the Misses Sweatman. She died near the end of 1958, and it is likely that her ashes were scattered on her husband’s grave.
Frederick Sweatman’s daughter
  • Winifred May Sweatman (born 1900) never married. She was still living at 55 Chalfont Road when on 1 October 1960 she died at the age of 60 at Littlemore Hospital. Her effects came to £6,120 16s. 8d., and her executors were Mrs Eileen Mary Bruce and the market gardener Eric James Bishop.



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