Wales - Genealogy Help Pages - Not everyone knows this .... (3)


 Not everyone knows this .... (3)

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Assisted passages

Several listers have referred to assisted passages and I have some detail of this ;

My information is general rather than specific to Wales but as the Poor Laws applied in Glamorgan as well as Somerset this can be accepted as the status quo. Also I realise this does not completely answer questions of passage to America since it was no longer a colony and thus not a valid destination and was "contrary to the established regulations". Letters from the Poor Law Board to Wellington Union MH12/10492 letter 18 May 1850 when refusing a payment for emigration.

Poor Law migrations existed in the 1830s and are referred to in the Parliamentary Papers and Poor Law Reports 1834 (44) XXVIII, XXXVII, are the main ones. See also Arthur Redford Labour Migration in England 1800 -1850 Manchester 1926.

In the PRO MH19/22 are letters from Sir George Grey to the Colonial Land and Emigration Office. The principle letter being of the 15th March 1848. In this letter he sets out the basis of a supported emigration system of "well selected emigrants". The main source however being pauper females from workhouses who were "of good character" and "that these young girls would move fully as eligible emigrants especially if brought up in managed Workhouses" the intention being they would work as servants in the Colonies and provide marriage partners for the male colonists. There are suggestions also of sending children "where they may be apprenticed, under a local Act......"

He notes that emigrants should "not emigrate without their own free consent or a consultation with relatives".

In the same PRO class is an Emigration Notice printed for publication and dated August 1848, this sets out regulations in the selection of Labourers for assisted passage to New South Wales and Canada.

"Emigrants must be healthy and able bodied and capable of full labour, and the labouring classes must be going out to work for wages in the colony"

The following payments were required from adults 14 years of age :-

  • 14 - 40 £5
  • 40 - 50 £7
  • 50 - 60 £9
  • 60 and upwards £14
  • 14 years under free , unless the family contains more than two children under 7 or more than 3 under 14 , then £7 per extra child.

In an analysis of figures in 1849 the greater number of persons sailed to Canada rather than Australia.

This is not evidence for assisted passage to America but I feel if the emigrants travelled steerage the fare may not be dissimilar. There is a family tale of my grandfather and others travelling across to America and singing on the ship to assist their passage.

[Steve Keates 25 Jan 2001 G]

Follow on ;

There were other ways of assisted passage. I add this from research on an Oxfordshire parish, which some of you may find of interest.

There was a lot of emigration, from Shipton under Wychwood and area, mostly to New Zealand and mostly as assisted passages made through the Agricultural Union which was very strong in that area. There is a book that gives a good description of this - 'The Farthest Promised Land' by Rollo Arnold published in 1981 by Victoria University Press, Wellington.. It has a whole chapter on the Wychwood area and included is the following on page 130 :-

'The last union party of the year was led by Thomas Osborne, sailing by the Lady Jocelyn on 3 November(1874). among her seventy-two Oxfordshire emigrants were at least nineteen from the Wychwood villages of Milton and Lyneham............'

In this book Rollo Arnold says that New Zealand's National Archives, in the Archives of the Immigration Department, hold almost complete files of passenger lists of the colony's assisted immigrants of the 1870s.

[Jill Muir 24 Jan 2001 G]

Another follow on ;

Another form of "assisted passage" arose out of the operation of the Poor Law. At Uley in GLOS, when the mill failed, the burden on those paying the Poor Law rate became so great (27/- in the £ which ruined many of the farmers), that in 1832, those surviving agreed a double rate to finance the chartering of a ship to export the problem to the Colonies, mostly Canada (Report of Poor Law Commissioners - 1834).

This solution may have occurred in parts of Wales. Even the Assisted Passage rates would have been quite beyond these emigrants. It was more a matter of Transportation with consent. The Home Office must yearn the loss of such simple solutions.

[Jeff Gould 24 Jan 2001 G]

Using probate records in research

Starting in 1858 the government assumed the duty of probate matters. The indexes from the start in 1858 to, I believe 1955, are available through the LDS Family History Centres. Microfilm copies of the wills are available from 1858 through 1925 from the LDS Family History Centres. Unfortunately the administrations are not available on microfilm. The microfilm numbers should be listed in the Family History Library Catalog, in the Locality Search under the heading of Great Britain - Probate Records - Indexes and Great Britain - Probate Records.

The post 1858 probate indexes are an excellent research tool, especially for Welsh research. When you search the civil registration death indexes you may find several entries for the death of John Jones in a district, year, and quarter. It is nearly impossible to determine which one is the correct entry for your search. The probate indexes provide enough information about the deceased that you should be able to determine if you are connected. Not everyone had a probate document but the search for one should still be made.

Normally the post 1858 probate index will provide the name of the deceased, place of residence, occupation, exact date of death, place where the probate was proved, name of the executor/executrix and possibly their relationship to the deceased, and the value of the estate.  If you are able to find an entry in the probate indexes you may be tempted to stop there and not get the will/administration or the death certificate. It is advisable to obtain each document available concerning an ancestor because of the chance of gathering additional clues that may not show up in one of the other documents.

With my own research I found that the probate index showed that there is an administration for Howell Williams of Efail Isaf, Llantwit Fardre whose wife was named as Mary Williams. The administration document names Howell's wife Mary, Howell's brother John, and their sister Hannah, also Hannah Williams who lived at Penrhiw, Ystradgynlais, Breconshire. Administrations usually give less info than a will but they can still be helpful. The death certificate adds to the information already gathered by naming the informant of the death as Edmund Williams, nephew of Howell Williams.

By using the post 1858 probate indexes in conjunction with the civil registration indexes I felt sure that I had ordered the correct death certificate. By obtaining each available document, I have been able to go into the census records and sort out the research problems associated with a man who had a fairly common surname and who migrated from Llangyfelach to Llantwit Fardre, a distance of about twenty-seven miles.

Success in researching Welsh families is affected by many factors. By utilizing a variety of sources and combining the bits and pieces of information the puzzle of our Welsh family history can be unraveled. Check the post 1858 probate indexes at your local LDS Family History Centre and see if you can make it work for you too!

[Darris Williams 1998 G]

Local History translations


This is a list of books translated from Welsh into English by the late Ivor Griffiths who died in Feb 2006 -  copies of these translations as listed below are now available for purchase from his son, Robert Leighton Griffiths.
Most of these have been name indexed online and may be available for lookups, please follow the link to the relevant  page on Genuki

These prices are affective from May 2012 and cover photocopying, binding and UK postage.  

Overseas postage will cost extra according to weight and destination.

Please make cheques payable to Robert Leighton Griffiths

EMAIL TO: griffspeed2000[at]yahoo.co[dot]uk    (Confirmed as still valid on 3/3/2022)

8 Maesteg Pontarddulais SA4 8PW  

Telephone 07974 478022


PRICE LIST (22 May 2012)


'The History of Pontardulais' was translated in September 1985 by Ivor Griffiths, from the Welsh language original "Hanes Pontarddulais" written by various contributors, edited by E Lewis Evans. The date of the original publication was 1949.
'Rebecca in Pontardulais' by Ivor Griffiths is appended to 'The History of Pontardulais''.

See also below







By The Rev. W Samlet Williams 1916










Evans, Rev. T. Valentine. The History of Clydach (Clydach a'r cylch)1901
Davies, Rev. D.  The history of the Calvinistic Methodists in Clydach. 1902
Griffiths, Ivor.  Ynyspenllwch : a brief history. 1992/93














HANES PLWYF LLAN-NON   Hen Sir Gaerfyrddin]

Author: Noel Gibbard   ISBN 0 86383 072 2.    Published: 1984, J D Lewis and Sons, Gomer Press, Llandysul.   Translated: Ivor Griffiths, Gorseinon, 1986.







Hanes Plwyf Llandybie

By Gomer M Roberts, 1939.









The History of Llanelli. By David Bowen 1856


By Ap Huw 1873






By J E Morgan [Hirfryn] 1911








By John E Morgan [Hirfryn] 1908








Hanes Brynamman.  By Enoch Rees1883 & 1896


By D Trumor Thomas , Glanamman, 1894






By the Rev William Thomas. Published 1868






Hanes Plwyf Llandyssul

By Rev. W J Davies 1896





Hanes Methodistiaeth Sir Gaerfyrddin

By Rev James Morris. Published 1911
Translated by Ivor Griffiths, 1994






By Benjamin Humphreys , Bicentennial Memorial Volume 1709-1909








By John Ceri Williams and D. Tom Davies [no date but after 1971]





Bethlehem Y Pwll

Published by Gomer, 1984





See The History of Pontardulais' above








Maps ?

Q. Can anyone tell me where I might purchase a good old map of Wales circa 1820-50 ?

A. I don't think there is any one map which will solve all  your problems.

A map of the whole of Wales will lack sufficient detail to show most of the places you'll be looking for.

One of your essential requirements is a good gazetteer of place-names -an alphabetical list giving the correct spelling of the name, and giving its coordinates so you can locate it on a map. On-line searchable gazetteers rarely do the job because they require you to type in the  exact spelling. When you're using 19th century sources, the spellings of Welsh place-names are rarely the same as are used today.

A good road atlas of Great Britain, in the form of a book, will include a gazetteer, but its scale (often 3 or 4 miles to the inch) will be too small to show many of the places you'll be seeking - and it won't include the names of parishes.

A useful and comprehensive gazetteer is "A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-Names", by Elwyn DAVIES, third edition published in 1967 by the University of Wales Press, Cardiff. ISBN 0-7083-1038-9 It was last reprinted in 1996 in softback. However this is purely a gazetteer; it includes no maps, but quotes the coordinates (called grid references) used on all modern UK Ordnance Survey maps.

My advice is to use a combination of the following:

  • 1. A good road atlas of Great Britain.
  • 2. The gazetteer by Davies mentioned above.
  • 3. Appropriate Ordnance Survey large scale maps (Landranger and Explorer or Outdoor Leisure series) of the specific parts of Wales in which your interested. Small sections of Landranger maps are accessible on-line at https://www.streetmap.co.uk/ which you can search by inputting the grid reference obtained from Davies.
  • 4. Possibly a Victorian Ordnance Survey "First Edition" facsimile (authentic copies of detailed 1 inch to 1 mile maps originally published in the 19th century, based on surveys undertaken in the 1820s and 1830s. But be warned, the place-names are difficult to read on these old maps.
  • 5. 19th century large scale maps available on-line at Oldmaps

You'll find a lot more advice on maps, including some on-line mail-order suppliers, on the "Maps of Wales" page on my website. Select "Maps of Wales" from the "Short Cuts" link at the top of my "Welsh Family History Archive" homepage

[John Ball 1 Feb 2001 G]

Making ends meet ?

From Reports to the Commissioners on Employment 1842.

Adapted from Collieries of West Glamorgan and Carmarthanshire. R.W. Jones report. (appendix).

Two examples of weekly income/expenditure comparisons in the coal mining industry;

Thomas Rees, aged 28 years, miner at Cyfarthfa Iron works, Merthyr; earns 15s per week; has a wife, and one child two years old:-

Expenditure per week.

£ s. d.

  • House coal and rent   0 3 0
  • 14 lbs of flour, at 2½ d. per lb. 0 2 11
  • 1½ lbs of butter, at 10½ d. per lb.  0 1 3½
  • 2 lbs of cheese, at 7d. per lb.  0 1 2
  • Fresh meat and bacon   0 1 6
  • Tea, 3ozs, at 4½ d.  0 1 1½
  • Sugar  0 1 0
  • Tobacco  0 0 7½
  • Soap  0 0 3
  • Total   0 12 10½
  • This shopping list does not appear to include any fresh vegetables.
  • Neither does it include bread so possibly they made sour dough type bread for baking.
  • Note, this family does not get free coal.

David Jones, aged 28 years, labourer at the collieries (Llangennech, Carmarthenshire); wife 28 years, and one child four years old; earnings 12s per week, and feeds a pig:-

Expenditure per week

£ s. d.

  • 35 lbs of barley flour, at 1½ d. per lb   0 4 4½
  • 6 lbs cheese, at 4 d. per lb.  0 2 0
  • 1½ lb of butter, at 11d. per lb.  0 1 4½
  • 1½ lb of sugar, 8d. per lb   0 1 8
  • 1½ oz of tea, at 6d. per oz  0 0 9
  • 1 lb of salt  0 0 0½
  • ¼ lb of soap, 1¾d. & ½ lb candles, 3¾ d.   0 0 5½
  • ½ lb of oatmeal, 1¼ d. &  ½ oz of blue, ½ d.   0 0 1¾
  • 1 oz of starch, 1d. &  tobacco, 3¾ d.  0 0 4¾
  • Rent  0 1 0
  • Total   0 11 6½
  • 5½ d. for clothing and sundries.
  • They grow their own potatoes.
  • Coal from the works.
  • Blue was used to make washing white.
  • The pig was usually killed around November. It's value would possibly be about £4 10s.

It looks as though the Jones family did not buy bread but made a traditional rough barley flour loaf using a sour dough culture. A tradition dying out by this time. See Elizabeth David 'Tradtional Bread and Yeast Cookery'

[Steve Keates 2 Jan 2001 G

IGI and patronymics

I briefly quote from the excellent reference book "Welsh Family History" 2nd ed. by John and Sheila Rowlands;

" When the IGI was started in 1968 its eventual scale [the 1992 edition has 187 million names] was not envisaged and it was not designed as a research tool for genealogists. A rule of thumb was adopted for indexing Welsh names which, in retrospect, leaves a lot to be desired."

That "rule of thumb" mentioned above relates to the patronymic naming system which lasted in some parts of Wales well into the C19. There is no problem from 1813 onwards after the adoption of standard printed baptismal registers which had a column for the parents surname.Before 1813 there was no surname column in the register.

So, take a specimen pre 1813 register entry
"William the son of John Thomas and Sarah his wife was baptised"
In the Given Name index on the IGI that would be indexed under William as;
"William ...........[son of] John Thomas/Sarah"
In the Surname index on the IGI it would be indexed under John as;
"John, William......[son of]...........John Thomas/Sarah "
He does not appear in the surname index under Thomas, which is his proper surname.
The surname John is entirely fictitious.
It gets worse.
Earlier Welsh registers [ when there were commonly no surnames] often give a string of patronymics .
For example
" Rachel daughter of Thomas John Charles of Glasgoed"
Appears in the Given Name index as;
"Rachel...[dau of]..Thomas John/
And in the Surname index as;
"Thomas,Rachel[dau of] Thomas John/

Bear in mind that even if the last name of Charles HAD been a proper surname it would still be missing from the IGI Surname Index.
That , in a nut shell, is the problem with the IGI and patronymics.
If you intend to use the IGI a lot I recommend you get hold of a copy of the above book, it has a strategy for using the IGI with Welsh research which partly overcomes the problems.
If you wish to read more on patronymics check out the entry under Pot Pourri.

[Gareth Hicks 1999 G]

Using the IGI for Wales and Monmouthshire


The Structure & Distribution of Land Ownership in Wales

There is a paucity of statistics relating to landownership in Wales in the C19th.

The source used in this study is the 'Return of Owners of Land in 1873' with any obvious errors corrected to 1877 by John Bateman whose refinements bring us closest to the situation. It is considered that these figures may be taken as representative of the C19th as a whole.

The main categories of owners devised by Bateman in his book[' The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland', 1883] have been adopted  in the statistical analysis table below.

The categories of ownership used are as follows;

  • Peers ; include Peeresses and Peers eldest sons
  • Great landowners; include all estates held by commoners owning at least 3000 acres, if rental reached £3300
  • Squires; include estates of between 1000 and 3000 acres, and such estates that would be included in the previous class if their rental reached £3000 averaged at 1700 acres
  • Greater yeomen; include estates of between 300 and 1000 acres, averaged at 500 acres
  • Lesser yeomen ; include estates of between 100 and 300 acres, averaged at 170 acres
  • Small proprietors ; include lands above 1 acre and under 100 acres
  • Cottagers ; include all holdings of under 1 acre.

The figures show Wales was primarily a country of large estates in the possession of a small number of owners, or put another way, combining 'Small proprietors and Cottagers' together produces over 90% of the total people who owned a mere 10.5% of the land.

Bear in mind we are talking ownership here, not occupancy.

Waste land has been excluded in the analysis below

[Based on Land and People in Nineteenth Century Wales by David W Howell, 1977. Gareth 1 Feb 2001 D/G]

There is an introduction and contents listing to the book on here 

Owners                Number            Area/1000acresNumber %Area %
Great landowners1481,263.1.25330.64
Greater yeomen1,224612.02.09814.84
Lesser yeomen2,932498.45.02612.09
Small proprietors17,289431.829.63910.47
Public bodies72379.71.2391.93



The name RECHABITES comes from a Biblical Passage:

And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine,  and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.

But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us saying. Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever. Jeremiah 35:5-6

From the late 1700s a number of Friendly Societies had ben set up to help working class people with such things as health insurance, death benefits, etc. Generally these held their meetings in Public Houses. In the 1830's a  group of Manchester Methodists became concerned, that by encouraging working  men to attend public houses to pay their friendly society dues, then the societies were harming the men's health and financial situation and threatening their moral welfare, rather than helping them. To counter this they set up a new Friendly Society called the Independent Order of Rechabites.

Before one could join the Rechabites and benefit from their insurance and saving scheme a document had to be signed swearing that the proposed member and his family would not drink any alcoholic beverages. This document was The Pledge (a pledge being a solemn promise).

The Rechabites were just one of a number of temperance organisations to spring up in the mid 1800's the two most prominent of which were the Women's' Temperance Movement - which succeeded in getting the American prohibition laws passed and the Band of Hope a children's organisation whose aim was to encourage children to shame their parents into giving up the evil drink. One of the main ways in which the Band of Hope used to work was by encouraging children to join by offering games, trips parties and other activities. So if you nag your dad to stop drinking you can have a free day trip to Barry Island

The temperance movement was very big in Wales by the 1880s - and temperance became a pre-requisite for joining nonconformist chapel (to the extent that being teetotal was more important than being a Christian!).

With conscription giving young men a much wider experience of social attitude, temperance began its decline after the first world war - a second generation going through the same cultural revolution in WW2, saw the movement and its nonconformist supporters going into rapid decline.

[Alwyn  G 15 Oct 2001]