Enoch Swift was born in Lancashire in 1830s but the family relocated to South Yorkshire during his childhood. Enoch began a long criminal career as a poacher in the 1860s, regularly appearing in court for ‘trespassing in the pursuit of game’ for which he was fined or sentenced to short periods of imprisonment.
In 1865 he committed a more serious offence of larceny of fowls (game cock and five hens, as well as stealing sacks and a spade) for which he was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude. He served a period of separate confinement at Wakefield prison and was then moved to the public works at Portland convict prison in January 1866. He worked in the quarry and his conduct was good, only committed one minor offence in prison, ‘wrangling with another prisoner’.
He was released on licence after serving five and a half years. He returned to Yorkshire but continued to commit poaching offences until at least the 1890s, appearing in the petty sessions courts at least 30 times.