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Help and advice for Wales

If you have found a problem on this page then please report it on the following form. We will then do our best to fix it. If you are wanting advice then the best place to ask is on the area's specific email lists. All the information that we have is in the web pages, so please do not ask us to supply something that is not there. We are not able to offer a research service.

If you wish to report a problem, or contribute information, then do use the following form to tell us about it.


"WALES, a principality, adjoining the W of England. It was formerly more extensive than now; it included, besides its present area, all of what is now Monmouthshire, and considerable portions of what are now Herefordshire, Salop, and Cheshire; and it now comprises the counties of Anglesey, Carnarvon, Merioneth, Denbigh, Flint, and Montgomery, forming North Wales, and the counties of Cardigan, Radnor, Brecon, Glamorgan, Carmarthen, and Pembroke, forming South Wales. It is bounded, on the N, by the Irish sea and the estuary of the Dee; on the E, by Cheshire, Salop, Herefordshire, and Monmouthshire; on the S, by Bristol channel; on the W, by St. George's channel. Its length from N to S, is 136 miles; its breadth varies from 37 to 92 miles; its circuit is about 540 miles,-of which 390 are coast; and its area is 2,003,297 acres in North Wales and 2,731,189 in South Wales, or altogether 4,734,486 acres. The surface, in a general view, is imposingly mountainous in the N, grandly hilly in the S; aggregately a land of soaring heights and magnificent acclivities,-of limited plains, narrow vales, and gorgy ravines,-of endlessly diversified uplands, with interesting pieces of lowland, rich in the ornature of river, lake, and wood  ...... More" [From John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72 on A Vision of Britain through Time.]

Archives and Libraries


Here is a substantial Wales related bibliography of books of General Interest for Family Historians

Welsh Books Council.


David Lloyd George's Diary for 1886. The National Library of Wales 'Treasures' series.

The Welsh Biography Online  presents the lives of eminent Welsh people who have made a significant contribution to Welsh life. It is an electronic version of the volumes published by the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, together with new articles commissioned by the Society.


Gravestone Photographic Resource - an international grave monument directory

Grave Matters - Jill Muir's site on transcribing memorial inscriptions

The Find-a-Grave (Wales) page gives details of the graves of the rich and famous together with biographical information.

Graveyard Welsh - a guide to interpreting Memorial Inscriptions.

Reading Monumental Inscriptions on the Clwyd FHS site


England and Wales - Census - links and information.

Wales - census aid - piece numbers etc to allow a TNA search (for area descriptions etc)

NHS 1939 Register Service - National Archives site. "The 1939 Register, taken on 29 September 1939, provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War. The information was to produce Identity Cards and, once rationing was introduced in January 1940, to facilitate the issuing of ration books. Information in the Register was also used to administer conscription and division of labour, and to monitor and control the movement of the population caused by military mobilisation and mass evacuation."


There is an extensive Timeline on Gareth's Help Page

Church History

Welsh Chapels & Churches This is an index ONLY to the Chapels and Churches which have photographs on Jill Muir's Welsh Chapels and Churches site

Church Plans Online - the Lambeth Palace Library holds a database of the Incorporated Church Building Society's images of the plans of various churches (use the onsite search facility)

Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru. Rees, Thomas & Thomas, John.1873 - here is a listing of the NAMES of chapels/places from each county's contents page from the CD of this 4 volume book published by Archive CD Books. There are also a complete extract of the chapel histories for 9 of the 14 Welsh counties -  in Welsh, many with translations .

Capeli - The Chapels Heritage Society. Particularly see under Publications/Local Information Leaflets

Theological Colleges attended by Welsh ministers and priests. An exercise to discover which theological colleges Welsh nonconformist ministers and Anglican church priests attended in Wales (and  England).

The Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540-1835 - "launched in 1999 and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, makes available and searchable the principal records of clerical careers from over 50 archives in England and Wales with the aim of providing coverage of as many clerical lives as possible from the Reformation to the mid-nineteenth century........."

Charles Surman's biographical card index of Congregational ministers   .........
"was given to Dr Williams's Library in 1960. The Surman Index Online makes the contents available electronically via the internet for the first time. The index includes the names of about 32,000 ministers, and, where known, their dates, details of their education, ministries or other employment, together with the sources used. It covers the period from the mid-seventeenth century to 1972, and though it focuses on England and Wales, it includes Congregational ministers serving abroad provided they trained or served as ministers in Britain. Although intended as an index of Congregational ministers, it also gives details of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Presbyterians."

Unitarian Obituaries 1798 to date  - The obituaries were published in journals which are held in the library at Harris Manchester College.

A listing of JONES entries from the clergymen's database on Crockford's Clerical Directory of 1885. Compiled by Gareth Hicks from the CD published by Archive CD Books.

The Church in Wales - structure

Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: volume 9 - The Welsh cathedrals (Bangor, Llandaff, St Asaph, St Davids). On the British History Online site

Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300-1541: volume 11 - The Welsh dioceses (Bangor, Llandaff, St Asaph, St Davids). On the British History Online site

Welsh Abbeys and other Religious Sites - information and photographs provided by Jeffrey L. Thomas.

Llanvaches, the oldest nonconformist chapel in Wales "The original was built in 1639 as a Congregationalist  chapel....}

Independent Chapels of Wales: History Books and Pamphlets        On the NLW's site

The Baptist Union of Great Britain site

Quakers in Britain (then search on Wales) - also see Quakers in Wales

Coleg Trefeca - A centre for lay training, conferences and retreats owned by the Presbyterian Church of Wales.  Also Coleg y Bala, the children and youth centre

National Synod of Wales The National Synod of Wales of the United Reformed Church, is one of thirteen Synods that cover England, Wales and Scotland.

The UK Church Directory Information on 35,000 Christian churches and chapels

See also under Religion and Religious Life below

Church Records

National Library of Wales  

  • An online searchable index of Marriage Bonds and Allegations. It contains details of some 90,000 marriages by licence which took place in Wales between 1616 and 1837.
    In early 2016 the NLW made changes in its online catalogue and now the only apparent method of finding these bonds is to search the main catalogue
  • Search here for wills proved in the Welsh Ecclesiastical Courts before 1858.

Parish registers  in the library of the Society of Genealogists.
"Members can gain access to the exclusive Society of Genealogists facilities on the website. Online Data will provide access to all of the SoG Data published on line through findmypast.co.uk plus more specialised data from the Library in the form of transcripts, indexes, PDFs of books and images. Also available are electronic versions of the Genealogy Magazine.  Check out what is currently available online before joining

Quaker Records  An introduction to the type of records that are available by the Quaker FHS

Family Search UK/Ireland - Historical Record Collections 
IGI Batch Numbers - Hugh Wallis's site  and Archer Software's site  

The A2A database of pre 1858 probate entries for the Welsh dioceses is at the National Archives site.

Civil Registration

Court Records

The Crime and Punishment database  on the NLW site comprises data about crimes, criminals and punishments included in the gaol files of the Court of Great Sessions in Wales from 1730 until its abolition in 1830. The Court could try all types of crimes, from petty thefts to high treason. In practice, most of the petty crimes were heard at the Courts of Quarter Sessions, whose records are held by the Welsh county record offices. Details about these records can be searched at Archives Wales. The records of the Court of Great Sessions do not include cases tried in Monmouthshire since that county formed part of the Oxford Assize circuit, whose records are held by the National Archives. There are, however, a number of cases of Monmouthshire interest on this database.

There is a Wales related Crime and Punishment section on Gareth's Help Page

Description and Travel


Held at Ceredigion Archives;

  • Slater's Trade Directory 1858-9 for Monmouthshire, Gloucestershire, North and South Wales. And some other directories for the period 1830 - 1926.

Digital Library of Historical Directories A Project by the University of Leicester -  there are  54 entries for Wales on there

Throughout the Wales county pages are transcriptions from the CD of Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary 1833  by Archive CD Books

Kelly's Directory South Wales 1910. Sections from this CD by Archive CD Books are extracted as follows;

Emigration and Immigration

The Mimosa - on Clwyd FHS. "The Mimosa was a clipper ship best known for its voyage to Patagonia in Argentina in 1865, carrying the first Welsh emigrants. Their aim was to establish a Welsh colony which would preserve the Welsh language and culture, which they felt were under threat in Wales................."

Welsh in Australia - on the NLW site

History of the Welsh in Minnisota - A list of short biographies from "The History of the Welsh in Minnesota, Foreston and Lime Springs, Ia. Gathered by the Old Settlers". Editors: Rev. Thomas E. Hughes, Rev. David Edwards, Hugh G. Roberts, Thomas Hughes. Published in 1895

On Caryl Williams's site - Passenger list of the Barque "Gwen Evans" of Wales 1842 entering the Port of Boston, 15th August 1842

Welsh-American Genealogical Society

The British Presence in Southern Patagonia (Argentina & Chile). A really useful site - lots of databases and history

The Welsh Settlement in Patagonia - on the NLW site

The Welsh in Oneida County, New York . By Paul Demund Evans. This is an electronic version of a book which is often cited by scholars and historians as a source of information on the Welsh in New York State.

THE DIARY OF KETURAH DAVIES. Part of the Welsh Family History Archive. " A transcript of the original diary written on board the emigrant vessel Schah Jehan which departed from Plymouth, England, 23rd August 1860, and arrived at Port Adelaide, Australia, 2nd December 1860. "

Some of the reasons behind Early emigration from Wales (from Data Wales).

The Welsh and Slavery in America . A Data Wales site

Researching from Abroad  A Genuki page

The Wales-Ohio Project  a NLW sponsored site

Australian Newspapers online - historic Australian newspapers 1803-1954 (work in progress)

Newspaper notice in the 'Cambrian' Newspaper 29th August 1873.

  • "New South Wales Government - Emigration; The New South Wales Government has resumed Emigration. The classes for whom passages will be provided are those who can pay one-third of their passage money. Married couples, not exceeding 35 years of age, mechanics, farmers, miners, vine-dressers, labourers and domestic servants, not excluding small WORKING CAPITALISTS in any branch of colonial industry. They must be of sound mental and bodily health, and of good moral character. Applications either in writing or personally at No. 3 Westminster-chambers, Victoria-street, Westminster, S.W. --- Charles Cowper, Agent General


Tallis's Topographical Dictionary of England and Wales, published in 1860 in six vols, editor E. L. Blanchard.  See Welsh Family History Archive which includes county maps (showing the hundreds)
From the preface;
"In the following pages will be found fully described the past history and present aspect of every place of any significance in England and Wales, forming a work of permanent importance to the commercial world, of ready service to the tourist of the "In the following pages will be found fully described the past history and present aspect of every place of any significance in England and Wales, forming a work of permanent importance to the commercial world, of ready service to the tourist of the day, and of constant interest to the general reader, who may derive from this source a large supply of entertainment, as well as of information for the amusement and instruction of a leisure hour."

A searchable database of places in the 1891 census. This covers England, Wales and the Isle of Man and returns the County, Registration District, Registration Sub-District, PRO Piece Number and LDS Film Number.

Vision of Britain - the site has the full descriptive text of 3 C19th Gazetteers (over 90,000 entries).



  • Wales - History - links and information.

Land and Property

Welsh Ruins site

British Listed Buildings - "an online database of buildings and structures that are listed as being of special architectural and historic interest"

Cynefin Project   -  "The Cynefin project is almost complete, but there are still a few gaps left and plenty of checking to do. Over 1,200 tithe maps and 28,000 pages of index documents have been transcribed and georeferenced. This crowdsourcing website will continue until the end of June at which point all the data will be available through a new online resource. The georeferencing of maps will finish sooner, by the end of May, because processing time is needed to produce the final merged tithe map of Wales." .[June 2017]

Language and Languages

Patronymics on the Clwyd FHS site

Say Something in Welsh  - sign up includes free lessons and message board

http://www.cymraeg.org.uk/   "apertium-cy, the first free automatic translator for Welsh"

Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru. A Dictionary of the Welsh Language.

Wales Language Guide provided by Britannia

A site for Welsh learners

Sounds of Wales   Listen to the pronunciation of over 200 Welsh place-names - on John Ball's site.

The Story of Welsh - on BBC Wales

Voice Recordings - on BBC Wales  A series of recorded interviews in Welsh and English from different parts of Wales


The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts: Manorial Documents Register: lists the whereabouts of manorial documents in England and Wales. The register for Wales is indexed, this is searchable by county then individual manor.

Merchant Marine

Military History

Wales Remembers -  The First World War 1914-1918

Find my Past (subscription)  Discover your British military ancestor from the Absent Voters Lists from 1918 until 1921. There was a General Election in 1918. All those away from their place of residence (so including all men in the army) were listed on a Absent Voters Lists

The Royal Regiment of Wales was formed in 1969 by the amalgamation of two of Wales' most famous and distinguished regiments, namely The South Wales Borderers (24th Foot) and The Welch Regiment (41st/69th Foot).

The War Diary of the 17th Battalion The Welsh Regiment - The First Glamorgan Bantams - 1916-1918 together with orders and reports etc from the PRO file.

South African War  [Boer] 1899-1902 , Welsh casualty List. Published by Glamorgan Family History Society.

Names, Geographical

Cymru 1900 Wales - Project details; "We need help in collecting all the names of places and features in Wales from the Ordnance Survey's six-inch to a mile maps of c. 1900."

Glossary of Welsh Place Name Elements - on John Ball's site

Names, Personal

Welsh Surnames - on the Data Wales site

A Simple Guide to Constructing 13th Century Welsh Names by Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn [Heather Rose Jones] The information in this guide is taken from a tax roll called The Merioneth Lay Subsidy Roll of 1292-3.

The SOG has an online leaflet on names generally

Surname Profiler Project     "A recent research project based at University College London (UCL) has investigated the distribution of surnames in Great Britain, both current and historic, in order to understand patterns of regional economic development, population movement and cultural identity. This website allows users to search the databases that we have created, and to trace the geography and history of their family names......."

Forebears -  search for meanings and distribution of surnames

1851 and 1891 censuses - a database of Jewish Surnames in Wales


Richard Heaton's Index to Digitalised British and Irish Newspapers

Welsh Newspapers Online - A NLW site - search for/browse articles etc on designated newspapers

Newsplan Cymru  Search here on a place name and it will report on which newspapers cover the area and where extant copies are held

Y Brython. National Library of Wales 'Treasurers' series. A Welsh-language magazine published in Tremadog between 1858 and 1863 under the editorship of Alltud Eifion (1815-1905) and D. Silvan Evans (1818-1903). "The Welsh-language magazine, Y Brython (1858-1863), has been digitised by the National Library in order to consider the amount of work involved and the issues which might arise from a project to digitise the whole of the Library's collection of pre-1900 Welsh and Wales-related periodicals on preservation microfilm....."

Online Newspapers Wales  and Online Newsagent - links to Welsh newspaper web sites.

ABYZ News - links to Welsh newspaper web sites

Welsh Newspapers Welsh Library, University of Wales, Bangor   "Newspapers are a priceless source, and one which is used extensively for all types of research, academic or otherwise, for subjects such as local and family history, social history, advertising and sport. The collection of the Welsh Library at Bangor is one of the most comprehensive in Wales"

The British Library Newspaper Library  It holds the national archive collections in the United Kingdom of British and overseas newspapers.



Welsh Journals Online provides students, teachers and researchers with free online, searchable, access to a selection of 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century Welsh and Wales-related journals held at The National Library of Wales and partner institutions. These materials cover a very wide range of subject areas, including humanities, social sciences, science and technology.
As at Jan 2012 there were c 45 journals available online.

Welsh Almanac Collection - the National Library's  "collections of early printed material also include publications for the other end of the market. An almanac is an annual publication that includes information such as weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, tide tables, and tabular information often arranged according to the calendar....."

Brython: A Welsh-language magazine published in Tremadog between 1858 and 1863. On the NLW's Digital Mirror site.
 "The Welsh-language magazine, Y Brython (1858-1863), has been digitised by the National Library in order to consider the amount of work involved and the issues which might arise from a project to digitise the whole of the Library's collection of pre-1900 Welsh and Wales-related periodicals on preservation microfilm"

Internet Library of Early Journals ; A digital library of 18th and 19th Century journals which currently include;

  • Annual Register
  • Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine
  • Gentleman's Magazine
  • Notes and Queries
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
  • The Builder

History of the United Kingdom -- Primary Documents  Various online transcripts including some newspapers and periodicals eg London Gazette, Penny Magazine.

For a list of denominational magazines and historical periodicals see under Religion and Religious Life

Politics and Government

David Lloyd George's Diary for 1886. The National Library of Wales 'Treasures' series.

The National Assembly for Wales

Crime and Punishment Database - at the NLW.
"Comprises data about crimes, criminals and punishments included in the gaol files of the Court of Great Sessions in Wales from 1730 until its abolition in 1830. The Court could try all types of crimes, from petty thefts to high treason."

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

The Workhouse  - on Peter Higginbotham's site

Hospital Records Database   A Joint Project of the Wellcome Trust and the National Archives. This database provides information on the existence and location of the records of hospitals in the U.K. Currently over 2,800 entries can be found by searching the database

Index to "Paupers in Workhouses in England & Wales in 1861" (10% sample)

Probate Records

Wills and Probate Records at the NLW.
Wills, which were proved in the Welsh ecclesiastical courts before the introduction of Civil Probate on 11 January 1858, have been deposited in the Library. The old indexes produced by the courts themselves have now been replaced by a new online index. Post-1858 wills for England and Wales are accessible at the Probate Dept of The Principal Registry Family Division:
Probate Search Room, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NP.

Obituaries - (Of Welsh people of standing) - Cumulated Index: 1992 - 1997 - on the NLW site (Index is not online)


The Blue Books of 1847.   An inquiry into the state of education in Wales - on the NLW's Digital Mirror site

Welsh School magazines and newspapers - a list on the NLW site

Social life and Customs


Association of Family History Societies of Wales.

South Wales Record Society - "The society was set up in 1982 with the aim of publishing a regular series of books and other works on the history of South Wales and particularly Glamorgan and Gwent."

The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion -  "........... seeks to promote the practice and development of the Language, Literature, Arts and Sciences of Wales."

The Welsh Legal History Society  -l "....... exists to spread knowledge of, and promote research into, the rich history of law in Wales. That history extends from a fascinating medieval indigenous legal system to the specific (sometimes surprising) application of law within Wales in more modern times."

For individual Family History Societies see: "Family History and Genealogy Societies: Wales".