I’ve been lost in the north of Wales this week doing a bit of family history. Well not physically…I’ve been seeing how much I could do remotely, with only the resources that are at my disposal online.
I started with the 1911 census collections on TheGenealogist.co.uk, ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk. As I have written before in this blog, I often use more than one subscription site to look up ancestors because the search engines on theses sites rely on their own transcriptions, created by volunteer transcribers and very often a mistake in the transcription can mean that your search misses the entry for your ancestor. By using more than one look-up site I can often find the missing census entry from one by looking on another. This strategy paid dividends this week with the Welsh research as Welsh names of parishes very often seem to have variations in spelling and I assume that some of the transcribers were not local and so were mystified by what they were reading from the images.
I used the old trick of putting the parish name into Google, which I had open in another browser window while my subscription sites occupied their own windows. Often I was able to find a handy article that revealed the different ways of spelling a parish, along with the name of the old county that it was part of. To deal with the mis-transcriptions I had to use my common sense to match the spelling offered with the most likely parish that I could find in the county in question.
One of the brick walls that I ran up against, with this welsh family, was that they had a very common set of names for their children, in the particular counties that I was searching within. So as not to waste time I had to tackle the problem by approaching from a different angle and using a different data set.
On TheGenealogist.co.uk site I was also able to search their nonconformist records, also available at www.bmdregister.co.uk and was thus able to download an image that pertained to a baptism in the parish of Myfod, Montgomeryshire. Further research revealed that it was also known as Miefod and soon I found the correct entry in the census collection for the character that I was following.
I was also able to make use of the Hugh Wallis site that allows a researcher to search within the batch numbers on the familysearch.org website. With the aid of his useful tool, that is once more functioning after a period of not following the revamp of the LDS’ familysearch site, I was able to look for those with a particular first and surname baptised in a particular Methodist Chapel.
One last brick wall, that I discovered while doing this research in Wales, is that the further back in time that I went I came up against the custom of parent’s giving their offspring Patronymic surnames. This is where a child took the father’s first name as a surname. I found out that this practice, while no longer being held to in the towns and among the wealthier, still continued up until the early 19th century in some of the rural areas of Wales.
By the end of my time on this quest I had put a reasonable amount of branches on to this particular Welsh Family Tree but the conclusion that I reached is that it really would benefit from a visit to the County Record Offices in question in order to see the physical records for the various churches and chapels in the area. Not everything is online but it is a jolly good place to start!
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Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk or The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.