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Using the IGI for Wales and Monmouthshire

Because of the late development of the use of surnames in Wales, where the uses of patronymics continued in many places until into the 19th century, the Welsh IGI has both a surname index (SN) and a given name index (GN). Before 1813 parish registers did Because of the late development of the use of surnames in Wales, where the uses of patronymics continued in many places until into the 19th century, the Welsh IGI has both a surname index (SN) and a given name index (GN). Before 1813 parish registers did not make the surname explicit: The IGI assumes, in all cases before 31st December 1812, and of course wrongly, that the child took its father's christian name as its surname. Thus when William, son of John and Sarah Thomas was baptized at Cowbridge, Glamorgan on 17th October 1783, he appears on the microfiche thus:-

In GN, indexed under William:

In SN, indexed under John: He does not appear in the surname index under Thomas.

Early registers in Wales often give a string of patronymics such as 'Rachel d. of Thomas John Charles' (baptized at Panteg, Mon., on 25th March 1741) . . . The Morman computer assumes the first two are the important ones and totally discards the rest. So the Panteg entry becomes:-

Although this is the basic system, which applies to the vast majority of entries, it is not a hard and fast rule. A lot seems to depend on the intelligence or whim of the individual who made the original input into the computer. Several examples of 'multiple' names can in fact be found in full in the index, and also some baptisms before 1813 which have been indexed under the correct surname.


Based on C.P. Lewis' "Using the IGI for Wales and Monmouthshire," Gwent Family History Society J., vol. 3, no. April, pp.5-9, 1982.

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