Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: December 17, 2017.
Webpage updated: December 18, 2017

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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 (1872-1958) had joined his older sister as a shop assistant but William R Swiss had become a tailor's apprentice.  The 1891 census also lists Rosa F Swiss, 14; Ernest A Swiss, 11; Ada E Swiss, 9; Percy H Swiss, 7; and Frank C Swiss, 3.  His brother Alfred's family was equally as large.

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. 

William George Swiss died at 10 Salisbury Terrace, Stoke, on May 12th 1915 and was buried at Weston Mill Cemetery on May 17th 1915.  Mourners included his brother, Mr S E Swiss, of Worksop, Nottinghamshire; his sons, Messrs Harry, Walter, Ernest, Percy, and Frank Swiss; and the President of the Master Printers' Association, Mr F Underhill.  Four members of his staff also attended, Messrs Beer, Gibson, Rambridge and Shepherd.  His younger brother, Alfred Henry Swiss, sent a wreath from Putney.

The name of the business now became Messrs Swiss and Sons, dropping WG's initials, and it was carried on by Mr Henry Herbert Swiss (1872-1958).