Welsh Ancestors’ Names

WELSH NAMES

Welsh Flag
If you have Welsh ancestors then the chances are that you already know that up until the 19th century in a number of the more rural areas the Welsh tended to use the ancient Patronymic naming system.

This is where the offspring from a marriage would mostly take their Father’s forename as their surname. I have added the word ‘mostly’ in the last statement as on occasions there have been cases where it was the mother’s name that had been passed on as a second name. Matronymic surnames, however, are far less common than patronymic last names.

Because of this tradition of using the Patronymic, or Matronymic for one’s child, surnames were not fixed and would change from generation to generation. For example, if Thomas JONES had three sons, Thomas, William and David.
The three sons may have gone by the names of:
Thomas ap Thomas or Thomas Thomas Jones;
William ab Thomas or William Thomas Jones;
David  ab Thomas or David Thomas Jones;

And if Thomas ap Thomas had a son, David, he could be known as David Thomas while if William ab Thomas also had a son called David, he would be known as David William.

As a general rule an ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ was added between the child’s name and the father’s name. In the example, David ab Thomas is David “son of” Thomas. For a woman’s name, the word ferch or verch (often abbreviated to vch), meaning “daughter of”, was used.

As with any rule, you may not be surprised to learn that there were many exceptions to it. Your Welsh ancestors could well have dropped the ‘ab’ or ‘ap’ altogether. In the case of a David, son of Owen Thomas, his name may well have used the simple name of David Owen. Other exceptions are where your ancestors decided to drop the ‘a’  from ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ and just attach the remaining ‘p’ or ‘b’ to the father’s name. For example, ‘David ab Owen’ could have been known as ‘David Bowen’.

Welsh People 1850s
In dealing with patronymic names, the researcher needs to bear in mind that the absence of ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ does not mean the family adopted a permanent surname. In south Wales particularly, patronymic surnames appeared without the ‘ap’ or ‘ab’.

By the later years of the Middle Ages the patronymic system was gradually being replaced by fixed surnames. Although the use of patronymic names would continue to be used by some right up until the early 19th century in some rural areas.

 

When your Welsh ancestors started to fix their surnames then all their descendants used the same surname. In our example, all of David Thomas’s descendants now took the surname THOMAS and all David WILLIAM’s descendants had the surname WILLIAM OR WILLIAMS.

This explains why, when we are researching in Wales, that we may be surprised to find that the number of Welsh surnames is comparatively small. The majority of Welsh surnames have been drawn from a limited number of forenames that were most popular among parents at the time that Welsh surnames became fixed.

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The most recent ancestor occupational records online

New Occupational Records now on TheGenealogist

TheGenealogist releases new occupational Religious records
New religious occupational records on TheGenealogist

If your ancestor held a prominent position in a religious organisation then you may find them in amongst a number of recent releases at TheGenealogist.co.uk. The new records include:

  • The Year Book of The Church of England in the Dominion of Canada 1926 & 1935 These year books contain the details of the members of clergy in Canada.

  • New Zealand Methodist Union Index 1913Listing details of Methodist Ministers and their placements in New Zealand up to 1912.

  • Catholic Directory 1867 & 1877Directories of Catholic Clergy with addresses for England, Scotland and Wales.

  • Biographical Dictionary of English Catholics 1534 to 1885This work by Joseph Gillow gives biographies of prominent Catholics which often include details of their family, education and achievements.

  • Shropshire Roman Catholic Registers 1763-1837

  • The Roman Catholics in the County of York 1604

  • Various Catholic Record Society volumesThese include a variety of interesting records including various Catholic Church registers, memoirs and letters of prominent Catholics and Recusant Rolls.

  • Jewish Year Books 1896-99, 1901-8, 1910-11, 1918-21, 1925, and 1928-39These year books list the details of prominent people within each synagogue, obituaries, Jewish officers in the Army, Navy and Auxiliary Forces, Ministers, MPs, Peers, and even Jewish ‘Celebrities’ of the time.

  • Jewish Synagogue Seatholders in London for 1920, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1937

  • The Clergyman’s Almanack 1821 & 1822These Almanacks list archbishops, bishops, dignitaries, MPs and Peers.

  • Register of Missionaries 1796-1923A register of the missionaries and deputations of the London Society of Missionaries. This book includes many details about each missionary, as well as listing their wives (including their maiden name).

  • Durham Diocesan Calendar 1931

These records compliment an already wide range of religious occupational records such as Cox’s Clergy Lists and Crockford’s Clerical Directories, Jewish Seatholders, Catholic Registers, and Directories already on TheGenealogist.

Diamond subscribers can access these records by going to the Search tab on the home page – scrolling down to Occupational Records and then selecting the type of records that they are interested in.

Head over to TheGenealogist to search these records

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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Nuneaton & North Warwickshire FHS Parish Records released on TheGenealogist

 

This Press Announcement came from the team at TheGenealogist:

 

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TheGenealogist adds to its growing collection of Parish Records with the release of those for Nuneaton & North Warwickshire.

  • Released in partnership with the Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Family History Society there are over 454,000 new fully searchable records of individuals
  • Allowing the researcher to discover more than 300,000 people recorded within the baptisms from this area in the heart of England
  • Family historians can also discover the details of over 90,000 individuals from marriages and nearly 60,0000 people listed in the burials of Nuneaton & North Warwickshire

 

Nuneaton & North Warwickshire FHS worked with TheGenealogist to publish their records online for the first time, making 454,525 individuals from baptism, marriage and burial records fully searchable.

 

“The officers of Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Family History Society are delighted to be working with The Genealogist to bring their collection of baptism, marriage and burial transcriptions for north Warwickshire online…” John Parton (Chairman)

With some of the surviving records reaching back into the 1700s this is an excellent resource for family historians to use for discovering Nuneaton & North Warwickshire ancestors.

The records are also available on TheGenealogist’s Society website FHS-Online.co.uk where societies get 100% of the income.

This new initiative will provide for those researchers preferring online access, while allowing us to continue offering the data on CD.  NNWFHS members have opportunity to take out an enhanced subscription which includes access to the data.” John Parton (Chairman)

This is an ongoing project with the society working on transcribing many more records.

 

“We’re delighted to welcome NNWFHS to both TheGenealogist and FHS-Online. This release adds to the growing collection of parish records on both websites. These partnerships help societies boost their funds whilst bringing their records to a much wider audience, through online publication.” Mark Bayley (Head of Online Development)

 

If your society is interested in publishing records online, please contact Mark Bayley on 01722 717002 or see fhs-online.co.uk/about.php

 

All in one search for family history

 

Examples from Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Parish records

In these records can be found the famous novelist, poet, journalist and translator George Eliot, under her real name of Mary Anne Evans. She was born in Nuneaton and baptised at Chilvers Coton All Saints church in 1819 – she used the pen name of George Eliot in order to be taken more seriously as a writer.

 

For the settings of the stories, Mary drew on her Warwickshire childhood. Chilvers Coton became Shepperton. Shepperton Church is described in great detail in The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton, and is recognisably that of Chilvers Coton.

Nuneaton Chilvers Coton Church

Also to be found in these records are members of her family that she used as inspiration for some of her characters. For example the record for her sister Christiana Evans, baptised in 1814, contains a relevant note by the society that reveals: Sister of George Eliot. Christiana, ‘Chrissie’ as she was known to her family, was the original of: “Celia” in ‘Middlemarch’ & “Lucy Deane” in ‘The Mill on the Floss’.

 

If we search for Mary Anne’s brother, Isaac Pearson Evans who was born in 1816, there is a note which tells us that he was the brother of George Eliot and that he was the basis of Tom Tulliver in “The Mill on the Floss”.

 

Another person to be found in these records is a Henry Harper, born 1830, whose mother Anne has the note: Anne Harper – daughter of Rev. Bernard Gilpin and Mrs Ebdell (“Mr Gilfil” and “Caterina”) and was the son of “Mr Farquhar – the secondary squire of the parish” in “Scenes of Clerical Life” by George Eliot.

 

Additionally there is Isabell Adolphine Gwyther born in 1834 and Edward James Wilson Gwyther born in 1837, who share a mention that reveals: The Rev J Gwyther was Curate of Coton. He and his wife were the originals of “Amos & Milly Barton” in ‘Scenes of Clerical Life’ by George Eliot, “Milly Barton” was the mother of six young children.

 

Using these records you would also be able to find the death in 1836 of Christiana Evans, the writer’s mother.

Check out the parish records on TheGenealogist

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Building Great Wharton | The National Archives blog

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I found this very interesting after having spent a week with my parents who could remember stories that their own parents told about the time.

 

Exploring how TNA designed and built a resource uncovering experiences of British life on the Home Front during the First World War…

Source: Building Great Wharton | The National Archives blog

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Don’t just use the major records – ancestors may be found in smaller collections as well

 

Visit to Wolverhampton City Archives
Visit to Wolverhampton City Archives

 

I’ve been looking into a collateral line ancestor this week and that took me up to Wolverhampton City Archives.

In initial research, that I had carried out previously, I had found my great-grand uncle had left the army and moved to Wolverhampton to take up the position of Chief Constable in the Borough Police.

Making a return trip to the archive, in order to do some research for another tutorial that will eventually go in my English/Welsh family history course, I decided to take a further look into Major R D D Hay.

If you are new to family history then you may be a little unsure of using the facilities of an archive. Perhaps you worry about what sort of reception you may get. From my experience, of visiting these establishments over the years, I always get wonderful help and service from the staff on the desks up and down the country.

Ah but you are somewhat experienced at doing research, you may say.

I really don’t think that that is really a factor to consider. When I am looking to find someone, in the many small collections that the local archive or county record office has, I am in the same position as a newbie may be. I approach them and ask for their advice as to where they think I should look in their collections.

 

So it was this week when in the reading room at Wolverhampton. I gave them the name of the person I hoped to trace and the dates I was interested in. The staff looked on their computerised catalogue and were able to offer me the Watch Committee reports that covered both the start and the finish of Robert Hay’s tenure.

From my point of view this was fascinating as I could read the names and some details about the 106 candidates for the Chief Constable’s job. I could also see the selection process and even read who it was, on the Borough Council, who voted for my ancestor to be given the job. As it was Robert David Dewar Hay had a landslide victory over other short-listed candidate.

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For other researchers, with Wolverhampton ancestors from around this time, the records may reveal your ancestor if they had any dealing with the Police, Fire brigade, or even the Weights and Measures in the borough – as all of these activities fell under the jurisdiction of the Police and the Watch Committee.

If you have a policeman ancestor he may well be mentioned if he did well or needed reprimanding. Alternatively if he was to fall ill and so required to resign, or if he died and the committee felt an obligation to his widow, again he may be mentioned by name.

I saw names of those suppliers of goods and products, such as uniforms for the police officers and firemen contained in the records. As you would expect names of local criminals appeared in the lists of warrants executed on felons, which gave a description of what they had done to deserve a visit from the boys in blue and even the report on the lady owner of a brothel that the police were trying to close down.

 

I do commend these types of interesting small record collections to you. As I say in my English/Welsh family history course: don’t just collect names and dates from the vital records and the census sets – try to flesh out your family tree research with some colour to add to your family history story.

Wolverhampton City Archives reading room

The reading room at Wolverhampton City Archives

 

 

 

 

If you would like to learn more about English and Welsh ancestor research then take a look at my family history course. Or to pay in US dollars check this page out for more information: http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/specialoffer/aindex.html

English/Welsh family history course on tablet computer

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