Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: December 18, 2017.
Webpage updated: December 18, 2017

To go to the Home Page          To go to the A-Z Contents Page



William George Swiss was born at Stepney, Middlesex, in 1841, the second son of Mr William Swiss and the former Miss Emma Cox, who had married at the Anglican Church of Saint John the Baptist, Bedminster, Bristol, Somerset, on May 15th 1836.  At the time of the census in 1861, he was a brass turner and the family were living at 1 Little George Street, Woolwich,  Kent.  His father was an engine fitter in Woolwich Dockyard and his elder brother, Henry Swiss, was an engineer in the Royal Navy.

In 1862 William George Swiss married Miss Emma Henderson at Greenwich.  Their first two children were born in England but the next three were born in Stamboul (later Istanbul), Turkey, during the 1870s.  The family's arrival in Devonport was marked by the birth of Ernest Augustus there in 1879.  At this point William George Swiss either resigned, retired or was discharged from Admiralty service, and settled in the Town, where he joined his younger brother, Alfred Henry Swiss and his local bride, formerly Miss Elizabeth Margaret Pyke.

Thus by 1881 Mr William George Swiss was a printer, stationer and bookbinder at 3 Tavistock Street and Mr Alfred Henry Swiss was a printer, stationer and bookseller at111 and 112 Fore Street.  Assisting him was his eldest son, also William George Swiss, as an apprentice, and his 14-years-old daughter, Miss Lilly Emma Swiss, as shop assistant.  Ten years later Henry Herbert Swiss, who had been born in Constantinople on July 24th 1872, had joined his older sister as a shop assistant but William R Swiss had become a tailor's apprentice.

At the time of the amalgamation of Devonport and Plymouth, when the family were living at 43 Avondale Terrace, Saltash Road, the business was split between the stationery shop at 33 Marlborough Street, the printing works at 54 Granby Street and a toys and fancy goods shop at 62 Bedford Street, Plymouth. 

When William George Swiss senior died in 1915 the business passed to Henry Herbert Swiss as his elder brother, William George Swiss junior, was no longer in England.  Henry had married Miss Emma Jane Williams at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on January 24th 1897 and in 1901 they were living at 12 Valletort Road with a young daughter, Miss Hilda Dora Swiss, born in 1899.  By 1911 they had moved over the shop at 33 Marlborough Street and they now had a son, Rodney Geoffrey Swiss, and a domestic servant.

During his ownership the business continued as Messrs Swiss and Sons, with his younger brother, Mr Ernest Augustus Swiss, running a toy dealership in Old Town Street, Plymouth.  Although the stationery shop survived the Devonport Blitz in 1941, the printing works at 54 Granby Street was totally destroyed.  Mr Swiss moved to 20 Outland Villas, Milehouse, and sometime before 1953 sold the business to a Mr P Jones, who then ran the business, known as Swiss's, as toy dealers only along with a stall in the Plymouth Pannier Market.

Mr Henry Herbert Swiss passed away at a Yelverton nursing home on Wednesday March 26th 1958.  He was 85.  The funeral took place on Tuesday April 1st at Efford Crematorium, where the curate of Saint Michael's Church, Stoke, the Reverend F Pound, conducted the service.  His sons, Mr R G Swiss, and Mr K G Swiss, attended the funeral along with Alderman Leslie F Paul and his son, Mr Louis F Paul.