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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
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    Default Researching in Wales

    For the beginner embarking on researching their family in Wales, there is effectively no difference between researching in Wales and researching in England.

    Birth, marriage and death certificates are obtained in exactly the same way; first you need to consult the GRO index on a site such as FreeBMD, then you order the certificates here. The only difference is that in Wales, where so many people share the same names, it is even more important not to cut corners, and to obtain the actual certificates to ensure that you have the correct family.

    Note that census returns for Wales on Ancestry are listed and indexed separately to those in England.

    When searching all sites on the Internet, especially sites such as Ancestry which use OCR software, be aware that the potential for mis-transcription of surnames and place names is extremely high, and even where the transcription is accurate the parish clerk or census enumerator may not have been a Welsh speaker and would therefore have been likely to make errors with Welsh names. Searchers should therefore be prepared to use wildcards and lateral thinking in their searches. Also all notions of the ‘correct’ spelling of the family name should be treated with caution; for example, common names such as Davies should also be searched as Davis.
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
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    Default Welsh Counties

    Theses are the traditional counties of Wales with their Chapman Codes. You will find a forum for each of them here on B-G, where you can post specific queries, and you will find useful pages of information about each county on the GENUKI site. The Welsh name for the county is listed on the right.

    Anglesey AGY GENUKI page Ynys Môn

    Brecknockshire (Breconshire) BRE GENUKI page Brycheiniog

    Caernarvonshire CAE GENUKI page Caernarfon

    Cardiganshire (Ceredigion) CGN GENUKI page Aberteifi

    Carmarthenshire CMN GENUKI page Caerfyrddin

    Denbighshire DEN GENUKI page Dinbych

    Flintshire FLN GENUKI page Fflint

    Glamorgan GLA GENUKI page Morgannwg

    Merionethshire MER GENUKI page Meirionnydd

    Monmouthshire MON GENUKI page Mynwy

    Montgomeryshire MGY GENUKI page Trefaldwyn

    Pembrokeshire PEM GENUKI page Penfro

    Radnorshire RAD GENUKI page Maesyfed

    In 1974 there was a local government re-organisation in Wales. In South Wales Glamorgan remained (though it was sub divided into South, Mid and West Glamorgan) and Monmouthshire took on the old Welsh name of Gwent. In West Wales the counties of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire merged to become Dyfed. In Mid Wales Brecknockshire, Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire merged to become Powys. In North Wales Anglesey, Caernarvonshire and Merionethshire merged to become Gwynedd, and Flintshire and Denbighshire merged to become Clwyd.

    In 1996 local government was again re-organised and Wales was divided into much smaller unitary authorities, but for the purposes of family history research the older county names tend to be used.

    Family History Societies in Wales largely follow the 1974 county groupings, reflecting when they were founded, although some newer groups have recently been formed. Most are listed on the website of the Association of Family History Societies in Wales and membership of these societies is of great benefit to those with ancestors from the area.
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
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    Default Welsh Surnames and Patronymics

    So why is it that there are so few surnames in Wales and everyone seems to be called Jones, Thomas, Williams or Davies?

    The answer is that surnames developed relatively recently in Wales, and that once you get back past the 19th century a patronymic system was in use. Thus if a man called Rhys had a son called Evan, then the son would be known as Evan ap Rhys, or Evan son of Rhys. As surnames developed then 'ap Rhys' would gradually become Price.

    A very good article on patronymics and the origin of surnames in Wales can be read here (site currently down for a major overhaul)

    A good site for Welsh surnames and patronymics can also be found here.
    Last edited by Sue Mackay; 28-02-2014 at 10:57 AM. Reason: Update
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
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    Default Welsh Place Names

    It is useful to know certain basic Welsh words in order to interpret Welsh place names, such as

    Aber = river mouth, estuary or confluence of two rivers
    Bryn = hill
    Llan = church, parish (words beginning Llanfair mean St.Mary's Church)
    Pont = bridge
    Tre(f) = town, hamlet
    Ystrad = valley

    This Glossary gives the meaning of nearly all Welsh place names and notes on their origins.
    Last edited by Sue Mackay; 15-02-2010 at 3:56 PM.
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
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    Default Record Repositories

    The main record repository is the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and it is worth making a search of their catalogue

    County Record Offices will have parish registers, estate records, directories, maps and other documents relating to their area. They also usually hold GRO indexes to births, marriages and deaths as well as census returns and free on-line access to many genealogical records.

    Family history societies also often sell CDs of parish registers and other local records.
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
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    Default Graveyard Welsh

    Many older tombstones in Wales are written in Welsh. The following may help to extract the relevant genealogical information quickly.

    Er cof am = in memory of
    Bu farw = died
    Ionawr = January
    Chwefror = February
    Mawrth = March
    Ebrill = April
    Mai = May
    Mehefin =June
    Gorffenaf = July
    Awst = August
    Medi = September
    Hydref = October
    Tachwedd = November
    Rhagfyr = December
    Blwyddyn = year
    Mis = month
    Oed = age
    Mab = son
    Merch = daughter
    Tad = father
    Gwr = husband
    Gwraig = wife
    Priod = spouse
    Nai = nephew
    Nith = niece
    Plentyn = child
    Plant = children
    O = from
    Plwyf = parish
    Sir = county
    Lle = place
    Hefyd = also

    A more complete list can be found here
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
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    Default Non Conformist Records

    Be aware that non conformity was very prevalent in Wales and most communities had numerous chapels as well as the parish church. From the 18th century onwards there was a growth in Baptist and Independent Chapels, especially in South Wales

    See this guide to tracing non conformist ancestors. (You may need to scroll down and click on #6) Many family history societies in Wales have also transcribed registers and monumental inscriptions from non conformist chapels.
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
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    Default Welsh Newspapers

    Many Welsh newspapers can be searched at https://welshnewspapers.llgc.org.uk/en/home
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

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