Tracing Your Welsh Ancestors


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Basic information for anyone who wants to trace their Welsh genealogy.

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Tracing Your Welsh Ancestors

  1. 1. Tracing Your Welsh Ancestors By Darris G. Williams, AG
  2. 2. The International Genealogical Index for Wales <ul><li>Pre 1813 extractions are based on the assumption </li></ul><ul><li>that everyone used patronymics. </li></ul><ul><li>Post 1812 extractions are based on the </li></ul><ul><li>assumption that no one used patronymics. </li></ul><ul><li>A small percentage of church and chapel records </li></ul><ul><li>have been extracted. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Analysis of Extracted Welsh Records <ul><li>180 church & chapel records have been extracted for Glamorganshire </li></ul><ul><li>29% of the extraction for Glamorgan was of Nonconformist records (53 of 180) </li></ul><ul><li>37% of the registers (66 of 180) extracted for Glamorgan have at least some records in the pre-1813 time period </li></ul>
  4. 4. Analysis of Extracted Welsh Records <ul><li>There are about 1,200 parish churches in Wales </li></ul><ul><li>There were about 5,500 nonconformist chapels in Wales </li></ul><ul><li>There should be about 6,700 registers of church/chapel records for Wales </li></ul><ul><li>About 1,408 registers have been extracted for Wales (based on findings for Glamorgan) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Analysis of Extracted Welsh Records <ul><li>The records extracted may often represent a small </li></ul><ul><li>portion of the available records. </li></ul><ul><li>Christenings for Llan-giwg were extracted for the </li></ul><ul><li>years 1813-1866 (53 years) </li></ul><ul><li>The Bishop’s transcripts run, with some gaps, from </li></ul><ul><li>1672-1866 (194 years) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Analysis of Extracted Welsh Records <ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>Less than 21% of the church and chapel records </li></ul><ul><li>for Wales have been extracted for the IGI </li></ul>
  7. 7. The International Genealogical Index for Wales <ul><li>Strategies for success </li></ul><ul><li>Search by given name for christenings before 1813 </li></ul><ul><li>Search by surname for christenings after 1812 </li></ul><ul><li>Use the IGI as a starting point but never expect it to </li></ul><ul><li>represent a high percentage of the population </li></ul><ul><li>Always examine the original record </li></ul>
  8. 8. Names <ul><li>Common names </li></ul><ul><li>In order to clearly identify which John Jones was </li></ul><ul><li>being referred to, the Welsh often included </li></ul><ul><li>another descriptive term such as the farm name </li></ul><ul><li>where the family lived or a nickname </li></ul>
  9. 9. Patronymics <ul><li>No surnames; given names only </li></ul><ul><li>Evan Thomas Prees is actually Evan the son of </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas the son of Rees </li></ul><ul><li>Matilda verch David Thomas is the daughter of </li></ul><ul><li>David who was the son of Thomas </li></ul>
  10. 10. Patronymics <ul><li>Mab means “son of’ and is often shortened to Ab or Ap. </li></ul><ul><li>Ferch means “daughter of’ and may be seen as verch, </li></ul><ul><li>vch, vz, or ach </li></ul><ul><li>Records may show a name such as William Gruffudd </li></ul><ul><li>Bowen which may actually be William map Gruffudd </li></ul><ul><li>mab Owen </li></ul><ul><li>The typical pattern was not always followed </li></ul>
  11. 11. Naming Pattern <ul><li>First son named after the paternal grandfather </li></ul><ul><li>Second son named after the maternal grandfather </li></ul><ul><li>First daughter named after the maternal </li></ul><ul><li>grandmother </li></ul><ul><li>Second daughter named after the paternal </li></ul><ul><li>grandmother </li></ul>
  12. 12. Strategies for Success <ul><li>If you can not find the marriage or christening </li></ul><ul><li>record assume that patronymics were used and </li></ul><ul><li>do the search again </li></ul><ul><li>If William Griffith can not be found look for </li></ul><ul><li>William, the son of Griffith _______ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Language <ul><li>Differences in the English and Welsh alphabets should be noted. </li></ul><ul><li>The letters j, k, q, v, and z are not used in the Welsh alphabet. English scribes recorded information about your Welsh ancestors </li></ul><ul><li>The Welsh alphabet has additional letters that appear as double letters: ch, dd, ff, 11, ng, ph, rh </li></ul><ul><li>Mutations. The first letter in a word often changes or disappears. This is called mutation. Mutated words are not found in most Welsh dictionaries </li></ul>
  14. 14. Place-names <ul><li>Many Welsh place-names found in genealogies and histories are spelled in a variety of ways. The Family History Library Catalog uses Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units as the standard for how a place-name should be spelled </li></ul>
  15. 15. Place-names <ul><li>Unfortunately this is not a comprehensive list of Welsh place-names. There is no such thing as a comprehensive gazetteer for Wales. An excellent online list is The National Gazetteer of Wales which can be found at: http:// </li></ul>
  16. 16. Place-name Help <ul><li>The six inch to one mile scale Ordnance Survey maps will enable you to locate many place-names not found in a gazetteer. / </li></ul>
  17. 17. Records in Welsh <ul><li>LDS Branch Records </li></ul><ul><li>Monumental Inscriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Periodicals </li></ul><ul><li>Histories </li></ul>
  18. 18. Language Helps <ul><li>The computer program “CysGair” is a Welsh language dictionary that will help find definitions, even with many mutated words and conjugated verbs. </li></ul><ul><li>http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Cymdeithas Madog, The Welsh Studies Institute in North America is dedicated to helping you learn and enjoy the Welsh language. </li></ul><ul><li>http:// / </li></ul>
  19. 19. Nonconformists
  20. 20. Nonconformity <ul><li>Nonconformity had the greatest influence on the spiritual and social life of Wales </li></ul><ul><li>By the mid nineteenth century 80% of the population were nonconformists </li></ul><ul><li>Before 1689 and the Toleration Act nonconformity was illegal so few records were kept </li></ul><ul><li>The church was unable to cater to the spiritual needs and growth of the population </li></ul><ul><li>Nonconformity offered religion in the Welsh language </li></ul>
  21. 21. Growth of Nonconformity 2927 993 171 105 110 Chapels 1861 1816 1775 1742 1716 Year
  22. 22. Nonconformity <ul><li>High incidence of nonconformity </li></ul><ul><li>Many records have not been deposited. About 5,500 </li></ul><ul><li>chapels existed in Wales but less than thirty per cent </li></ul><ul><li>of the registers have been deposited at a record office </li></ul><ul><li>The records may still be with the chapel </li></ul>
  23. 23. Nonconformity <ul><li>No record made </li></ul><ul><li>Records may have been lost </li></ul><ul><li>Families may have traveled a considerable </li></ul><ul><li>distance to worship </li></ul>
  24. 24. Nonconformity <ul><li>Types of chapel records </li></ul><ul><li>Birth/baptismal register </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage register </li></ul><ul><li>Burial register </li></ul><ul><li>Membership lists </li></ul><ul><li>Accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Minute books </li></ul>
  25. 25. Nonconformity <ul><li>More chapel records </li></ul><ul><li>Transfer registers </li></ul><ul><li>Pew rent books </li></ul><ul><li>Sunday school records </li></ul><ul><li>Lists of society members, Band of Hope & Temperance League </li></ul><ul><li>Monumental inscriptions </li></ul>
  26. 26. Nonconformity <ul><li>More chapel records </li></ul><ul><li>Chapel histories </li></ul><ul><li>Personal accounts of the chapel’s early history </li></ul>
  27. 27. Strategies for Success <ul><li>Identify the chapels in the area where your ancestors lived using the 1851 </li></ul><ul><li>religious census and the six inch to one mile scale Ordnance Survey maps </li></ul><ul><li> / </li></ul><ul><li>Utilize chapel records other than the registers of birth, marriage, and </li></ul><ul><li>death/burial </li></ul><ul><li>Request a search in Capeli Cymru for other chapel records when registers </li></ul><ul><li>of birth marriage and death/burial are not available. National Library of Wales </li></ul><ul><li>enquiries: [email_address] </li></ul>
  28. 28. Strategies for Success <ul><li>Search the National Burial Index compact disc. This database </li></ul><ul><li>includes 265 thousand entries for Wales (Glamorganshire, </li></ul><ul><li>Cardiganshire, Radnorshire, Monmouthshire, and </li></ul><ul><li>Montgomeryshire only) </li></ul><ul><li>Search for burials at the parish church. Nonconformist chapels </li></ul><ul><li>seldom had their own burial ground before 1800 </li></ul><ul><li>Search monumental inscriptions. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Strategies for Success <ul><li>Search records within a fifteen mile radius of where your </li></ul><ul><li>ancestors lived. </li></ul><ul><li>Examine chapel and local histories. </li></ul><ul><li>Search the Historical Manuscripts Commission National Register </li></ul><ul><li>of Archives web site for information on recently deposited </li></ul><ul><li>records. Do a “Place Name”search </li></ul><ul><li>http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Utilize histories about the chapel, area, and denomination. </li></ul>