Wales - Genealogy Help Pages - Not everyone knows this .... (1)


 Not everyone knows this .... (1)

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This section is a hotchpotch of  submissions by listers to the Glamorgan and Dyfed Mailing Lists supplemented by the site maintainer's mostly own "source accredited " material,  not all of which had previously been posted to those  lists. The submitter's name is shown in brackets after the relevant entry, and where relevant with the date it first appeared on a list [G=GLA; D=Dyfed; P=PEM; C=CGN].

General subjects

The master index below covers all the content which is spread over several pages

Latin Terms in Old Documents

Latin terms/abbreviations sometimes found in old Will or pedigree documents ;
s.p. (sine prole) ....Without issue.
s.m.p. (sine mascula prole)......Without male issue.
s.l.p. (sine legitima prole)...... Without lawful issue.
s.p.s. (sine prole superstite)...... Without issue surviving.
nepos .... grandson (also a descendant).
Later this term meant a brother or sister's son, a nephew.........this last term has confused me greatly, even when Latin translations have arrived from such places as The National Library of Wales......sometimes translation of "grandson" has proved later to be "nephew" or vice versa.
"Not everyone knows" that there is more than one meaning, assuming incorrectly can certainly affect the accuracy of one's research.

[Bettye Kirkwood 12.3.2000 D]

Welsh speakers, some statistics

In 1871 R.Avenstein carried out a survey of the Welsh language.


Persons who speak Welsh only 48350. Both 223110

Percentage who speak Welsh only 12.2%. Both 56.1%. English only 31.8%

The 1891 census was the first one to concern itself with the linguistic situation in Wales. However, it isn't 100% reliable and  the questions were thought to be ambiguous.

From Statistical Evidence relating to the Welsh Language 1801 - 1911 by Dot Jones (USP, Cardiff 1998)


People who speak Welsh only 508036. Both 402253. English only 759416

Percentage who speak Welsh only 30.4%. Both 24.0%. English only 45.4%. Able to speak Welsh 54.5%


People who speak Welsh only 142346. Both 177726. English only 326481

Percentage who speak Welsh only 21.9%. Both 27.4%. English only 50.3%. Able to speak Welsh 49.5%

[Sian Edwards 1999]

How to read a map

The 1:50,000  Ordnance Survey maps give the following information [their capitalisation]:

1.Read letters identifying 100,000 metre (100Km) square in which point lies [in Wales this will be one of SR, SM, SS, SN, SH, ST, SO or SJ].

2. THEN QUOTE EASTINGS. Locate first VERTICAL grid line to LEFT of point and read LARGE figures labelling the line either in the top or bottom margin or on the line itself. Estimate tenths from grid line to point [to give third figure of eastings]

3. AND THEN QUOTE NORTHINGS. Locate first HORIZONTAL grid line BELOW point and read LARGE figures labelling the line either in the left or right margins or on the line itself. Estimate tenths from grid line to point [to give third figure of northings, sixth figure of reference].

The small squares on the maps are one kilometre squares and so the reference gives a point to within 100 metres.

[Gerry Lewis 1998 D]

GRO [St Caths Index], understanding reference/page numbers

Marriage entries on the GRO/St Caths Indexes.

Up until 1852 the quarterly returns sent to the GRO consisted of sheets with space for 4 marriages each side. The number of marriages on the two sides could therefore vary from 1 to 8.

Most returns had four or less, so the 'reverse' which became an even number in the bound volumes, more often than not, had no marriages and this is why most references in the index have odd numbers.

After a certain length of time following the end of each quarter, all the returns for a region would be sorted into registrars' districts. South Wales and Herefordshire (Vol XXVI) would start at Abergavenny and Chepstow in Monmouthshire and proceed through Herefordshire, Radnorshire, Breconshire, Glamorganshire, Carmarthenshire to Newcastle Emlyn and Pembroke in Pembrokeshire (Cardiganshire was in Vol XXVII - North Wales).

I am not at all sure of the order within each registrar's district, but once this was done the pages would be numbered. This would be done for the whole country and the index would be prepared. A long tedious job as you can imagine in the days of the quill pen. The very idea fills me with awe! Aren't we lucky to have computers.

So, a page reference (up to 1852) can actually refer to a maximum of 4 marriages and 8 people (after 1852 the number of marriages is 2 per page).

After the pages had been numbered it was quite common for late returns to arrive at the GRO. What did they do to them? They slotted them in at an appropriate place and the first page was given the number of the preceding page (which was always even, being a reverse or back page) plus an 'a', and if there were entries on the reverse of the new page they would have the page reference plus a 'b'. A second sheet slotted in at the same place would have, I guess, pages numbered 'c' and 'd'.

[Based on a reading of Comedy of Errors. Gerry Lewis 1999 D]

Changing a name and birth registration procedures

The question; "My grandfather,   was born in 1860, the illegitimate son of  ...  and ...   .  Shortly before he immigrated to the US  in 1890, he is said to have received a signed document from his father acknowledging paternity and giving permission to use the surname . I do not have a copy of the document. Would such a document have been recorded somewhere in Wales? If so, how can I get a copy? "

The surname of a child ,[which can be any name the parents choose] has been entered on the birth certificate only since 1969. Before that date it had to be inferred from the parents' name. In the case of an illegitimate child, only the mother's name is normally given on a birth cert. Before 1875 the mother was allowed to name any man as the father, he was not required to acknowledge paternity. Until 1969 the names of both mother and father were indexed if they appear on the entry. The position post 1969 is that an illegitimate child can now be issued with a birth cert which gives him/her the surname of either the father or the mother , but the father's name can only appear on the entry if an affiliation order has been issued, or he signs the entry, or he has acknowledged paternity through a statutory declaration.

I'd better say something about "change of name after registration " too. Legally a change of surname actually requires nothing more than the intent. But here are several ways of doing so formally. The main one is/was by deed poll which may be enrolled in the Supreme Court as a permanent record. Deeds poll were entered in the Close Rolls until 1903, and after that in the Supreme Court Enrolment Books. The deeds are kept in books and are lodged at the PRO.

Another way is to announce the intention to change the name in a local newspaper or the London Gazette. However documentary evidence of the change is sometimes required by officialdom [eg passports], and that evidence would likely be a statutory declaration made before a Justice of the Peace or a Commissioner for Oaths[solicitor].

In the case you mention we might surmise therefore that his father executed a statutory declaration, possibly to do with the son's pending passport application for emigration. But unless it involved the Deed poll method it isn't clear from the above that it would have required "registration" with anyone. Apart from the Passport Office perhaps ?

BUT   passports were not required until 1914, so most people didn't apply for one.[some were issued as early as 1794, usually diplomats/merchants.] A register of passport applications 1794-1948 is at the PRO [various classes]. So, was the "document" just an informal letter[for what purpose ?], or was it a statutory declaration before a JP etc ? And are the latter registered anywhere [as against a Deed poll]?  Or just formal "evidence"for the person to keep in case of future need ? Don't know all the answers I'm afraid :-)

[After consulting the excellent books Family Tree Detective ,and Ancestral Trails. Gareth Hicks 1999 G]

Miners, or colliers ?

No doubt in many census enumerator's terms collier and miner were used interchangeably.

All underground coal mineworkers were miners and they tended to belong to the South Wales Miners' Federation trade union in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

However the term miner was a general term to cover all those working underground in the coal mine. Not all of these workers actually cut the coal at the coal face. These were the colliers and these men made up about half the underground workers. The other workers ( miners) did a variety of other jobs, for example the haulier. The collier cut the coal, his collier-boy ( young trainee assistant) loaded up the small underground wagons ( called drams in South Wales) and the haulier pulled, using a horse, the drams away on a tramway from the coal face to the bottom of the mine shaft for raising to the surface.

Hauliers would aspire to become colliers who earned more. Colliers were paid by how much coal they actually cut from the coal face and was delivered to the surface. All the other miners were on a daily rate which varied with the job they did underground.

The collier in addition to actually hewing the coal from the coal face had the responsibility for other tasks such as clearing away waste coal, keeping his work place safe and constructing all necessary support timber work at the face using the ubiquitous "pit props". The collier was essentially an independent underground worker who worked his plot of the coal face in his own way without interference. Hence the payment by results for coal won and not hours worked. Payment for other associated mining jobs such as ripping the roof of the coal seam to allow room for drams and horses to get in, timbering and gobbing ( backfilling the mined seam with waste material) was paid by the foot and yard completed.

[Paul Young 1998 G]

Seamen all at sea in the census

See also Seamen, BMD at sea

Seeing someone who was apparently missing from the 1881 census the other day, and who had a brother at home who was a seaman, set me wondering how seamen who were actually at sea on census night were treated.

Family Tree Detective by Rogers says;

"British ships in port or in navigable rivers on census night should be found on the 1851 and later censuses, but not in 1841."

Ancestral Trails by Herber says;

"If ships were at sea at the time of the 1851 and later censuses, then they generally should have been included in the census but the organisation of this was very complex, especially for ships which were away from home for a long time. [refers to two books by E Higgs which describe the system].

Shipping on rivers,in port or territorial waters were generally included at the end of the return for the registration district in which the port, river coast lay.

From 1861, British shipping on the high seas and in foreign ports was enumerated in separate schedules at the end of that year's returns. There is a PRO index to the names of the ships in each census, noting each ship's location and the census piece number.

Your first step if searching the 1851, 1871 and 1891 is to first find the name of the ship your ancestor was on and then use the index to find the ship, and your ancestor.

For the 1861 census , the Mormons have produced an index of all the people who were on board merchant or navy ships , whether at sea or in port, lists 120,000 people, records lots of other data about them and the crucial census piece number.

The 1881 census index makes it easy to find an ancestor on board a ship that night."

My summary of the 1881 census cd (LDS) position is;

As far as ships in port in England and Wales are concerned they will show up normally just like a house on the dockside of the port they are in.

Ships at sea, or in a foreign port, are included under Royal Navy on the Northern Borders cd, this class includes merchant ships. There are nearly 30,000 names in this "Royal Navy" section .

The Scotland/ Lowlands cd includes further Royal Navy and [mostly] merchant ships which are actually in Scottish ports on census night. These do include a very small number of people of Welsh origin.

[Gareth Hicks 1999 G]

Townships in Wales, what they are

This particular concept of townships is [in the strict Dyfed context] confined entirely to certain parishes in CGN. There appear to be no townships in PEM or CMN,a truly CGN peculiarity, or perhaps even a north Wales custom ?

The excellent "Parish Churches and Nonconformist Chapels of Wales " by Bert Rawlins, has parish outlines which show townships within parishes within hundreds. From his comments it appears that township boundaries are actually marked on the first ed. of the OS six inch to the mile maps.

The hundreds in CGN which have townships are Genau'r-Glyn, Ilar and Penarth,or roughly the northern half of CGN. The other two hundreds, Moyddyn and Troed-yr-Aur have none.

To illustrate matters; Genau'r Glyn hundred has only 5 parishes, but has 16 townships within 2 of them [if I count correctly ] .Whilst Troed-yr-Aur has 20 parishes and no townships.It seems to be a choice between many smaller parishes, or fewer larger ones subdivided into townships. But it is still the ecclesiastical parish which is relevant for most of our research as far as parish records are concerned.

A chapelry is not a township, [or even a chapel in the nonconformist sense] it is an additional Anglican church situated for the geographical convenience of people living some distance from the main Parish Church. For example Capel Dewi in Llandysul was a chapelry to the Parish Church in Llandysul, it has its own records from 1843 when it appears to have become a separate ecclesiastical parish.

As to what a township is/was by definition, this brief extract from my Help Page[Tech words] might help;

"The larger ecclesiastical parishes were unwieldy for administrative purposes and were sometimes divided into chapelries or townships.The townships undertook much local administration and many became established as civil parishes. From 1871 those ecclesiastical parishes that had not been subdivided into townships or chapelries became civil parishes for civil administration purposes."

[Gareth Hicks 1999 D]

Indexes and PRs & BTs

What is the difference  between the information available on the Glamorgan Family History indexes on fiche and the information found in the actual Parish Registers/Bishops Transcripts ?

One lister hoped the actual registers might be more detailed, the answer is as follows;

BAPTISMS - A baptism on the fiche will give you the father's surname, child's forename, father's forename and the date of baptism. You will usually get the Mother's forename too - but not in some of the very early entries. After 1812 you should get the Father's occupation and at least part of an address. It may just be the name of the parish - or it may be the name of a farm, a district of the parish, or, if you are very lucky, an actual address. The age at baptism will be usually be given if there was any delay in baptising the baby after birth - the page of the Glywcorrwg registers I am looking at gives one child being baptised at 14 days - another at the age of 13. I think I am correct in saying that most babies were baptised within a few days. You will also be told if the child was illegitimate or a twin. If the Father had a title such as 'Mr', 'Rev' or Gent that too will be mentioned.

Prior to 1812, the fiche also list the baptisms by Father's forename rather than surname in case patronymics are being used. There is also an index of illegitimate births giving the surname of both Father and Mother if both are known.

Thus a baptismal entry on fiche will give you the same information as found in a parish register. If there is more information to be found in the registers, then the fiche entry is marked with an asterisk . Your look-up volunteer will tell you if this is the case. The fiche will also tell you if the entry was found in the Bishops Transcripts only or if the fiche entry is a composite entry of details found in both BT and PR.

BURIALS - give name and date of death. You sometimes get a place of death before 1812 but not often. After 1812 place is given as for baptisms. Age of death is given after 1812 and just occasionally before. Sometimes entries prior to 1812 gives relationships eg 'wife of John' 'son of Thomas' etc. Again an asterisk is used to denote further information in register.

MARRIAGES - indexed by the surnames of both bride and groom. Gives the parish of residence of each partner, the parish where the marriage took place and the date of the marriage. In brackets after the entry you may have one of more of these abbreviations - B = marriage by banns; L= marriage by licence; W = witness's signatures in the register; P = personal details in the register. Personal details could just be simply that the groom was a bachelor or the bride was a widow...or it could be something more interesting such as the name of a Father if consent was given or the occupation of the groom. You will have to check the original entry to find out!

Wedding entries between 1813-1837 are more detailed than earlier entries. Fiche marriages do not go beyond 1837 but of course parish registers contain later weddings.

So the fiche really do give you quite a lot of information, especially for baptisms and burials. As indexes go they are pretty detailled. Of course you should always double check against the originals. The Glam Fam History fiche are double checked by other volunteers but mistakes can occur especially when dealing with illegible handwriting and damaged pages! There is no real substitute for actually seeing the original entry in the parish register and obtaining a copy - but failing this, the entry from a fiche will at least give you useful information. Also Parish Register and Bishops Transcript entries can differ; the fiche bring the two together so could be said to be more complete that either PR or BT alone.

[Helen Jones 1998 G]

Place name changes that may have puzzled you.

The second style of a name records their present day form [names in brackets give approximate locations],

[Deric John 15.3.2000 G] 

Welsh pet names

See also Names

Many Welsh personal names have pet or hypocorystic forms. You may come across some of these during your research.

The first column contains the pet form [pronunciation  in brackets,where needed] the last column gives the full name.




  • DEI "
  • DEIAN "
  • DEIO "
  • DEICYN "
  • DEICWS "

[Deric John. 22.3.2000 G ]

Latin words enter Welsh language

Many Latin words entered the Welsh language with the arrival of Christianity at the time when much of Britain was part of the Roman Empire. These words were CYMRICISED [adopted into the Welsh language].

These Latin words were 'softened' and 'moulded' into Welsh.

Here is a list of ecclesiastical words, Latin, Welsh and [English] :-


[Deric John 29.3.2000 G D]

Illegitimate children in parish registers

Entries for illegitimate children in parish registers before 1813 sometimes only name the mother.

They often contain an additional term of disapprobation such as:

  • base; bastard; B., chanceling; illegal; lamebegot; merrybegot; nothus;spurious;visiatus;scapebegot; and even dratsab.

To those add;

  • baseborn; chance child; filius populi =son of the people; ignotus= unknown [father]; filius nullius =son of none; supposed; imputed; misbeggoten; chance begotten.

Culled from Eve McLaughlin 'Illegitimacy' and Colin D.Rogers 'Family Tree Detective'

[Jill Muir 1.4.2000 G]


In my database of over 5,000 illegitmate baptisms in Carmarthenshire between c. 1660 & 1870, the following are the most commonly used descriptions (including their Latin equivalents):

  • 31% base/bastard
  • 24% illegitimate
  • 15% reputed
  • 6% natural
  • 6% other adjectives such as supposed, spurious, specious.

In addition, 2% described the child as "notha"  (having a higher-status father) and 0.4% described the mother as a concubine.  

Some 16% of the children were not specifically labelled, but their illegitimacy could be inferred from the context - eg no father's name, mother described as a spinster or similar, or, in registers from 1813, the unmarried status of the parents was evident from their different surnames and abodes.

It appears that the  term used to describe an illegitimate birth depended on the preferences of the person recording the baptisms.

Anna Brueton 23 Sept 2011 (Dyfed list)


Illegitimacy, some suggestions for tracing parents

Thanks to all who sent suggestions for tracing the parents of illegitimate  ancestors. I had many replies on and off the list. For the convenience of  other listers who may have base born reliies' here is an overview of all the  suggestions received

  • 1. Look in newspapers from the time of conception for reports of rape,  incest or other unlawful acts related to the conception
  • 2. Look in newspapers for a year or so after birth for reports of paternity proceedings
  • 3. Court documents in local record offices may have details of paternity disputes or maintenance agreements
  • 4. Birth certificates and marriage certificates sometimes have details of the father of the child, even though they are not married
  • 5. Baptism records in Church or Chapel may have details of the father even if the birth certificate did not
  • 6. Poor relief records from the parish or charities. Sometimes relief would not be given to a single woman if she did not disclose the name of the father
  • 7. Chapel minute books may give details of an unmarried mother being "cut out" (excommunicated) of the congregation for her immorality, the name of the father may be included in the minutes and he might also be "cut out".

Alwyn [19 Aug 2001 Gla]

Blue Books [the]

In 1847 a report was published by 3 English university scholars into the educational system in Wales. The three were Lingen, Symons and Vaughan Johnson. The report unfairly drew attention to the inadequacy of Welsh education . One of their main points was that Welsh children , and often their teachers too, could not speak English. The report was produced in blue books, hence the name.

Apart from , and because of, the understandable outrage of Welsh people the report helped to forge a  greater sense of national identity and the publication was referred to as "The Treachery of the Blue Books" [Brad y Llyfrau Gleison]. One of the principal Welshmen who fought a campaign against the report was Evan Jones , better known as Ieuan Gwynedd, a  minister and a journalist . One of the report's statements was that Welsh was a " peculiar language isolating the masses from the upper portion of society". Sadly, for the Welsh language, faced with such criticism many people did opt for an education in the English language despite the efforts of Ieuan Gwynedd and others.

[ Based on "A Helping Hand "by W J Jones 1996. Gareth Hicks]

See  the NLW site for the full report

Church in Wales [the]

The Church in Wales was finally dis-established on 1 April 1920, breaking away from the Church of England and becoming known as the Church in Wales [ Not  the Church OF Wales].  The relevant Act of Parliament became legally effective in 1914, after the removal of the House of Lord's veto in 1911, but its implementation was delayed by WWI.

It has a bench of 6 bishops, in Abertawe and Aberhonddu [ Swansea and Brecon], Bangor, Llandaf, Llanelwy [St Asaph], Mynwy [Monmouth], and Tyddewi [St David's].

It also has its own archbishop, the first to be appointed was the Bishop of St Asaph.

[ Partly based on "A Helping Hand "by W J Jones 1996. Gareth Hicks]

Church/Chapel Attendance

and other comments from the 1851 Religious Census

A variety of reasons given from the 2 sources below for aspects of  Church attendance figures in 1851, and other matters of interest

  •  The Religious census of 1851 : A Calendar of the returns relating to Wales, Vol 1, South Wales . Ed. by   I.G   Jones, & D. Williams. UWP,  Cardiff, 1976.
  • The Religious census of 1851 : A Calendar of the returns relating to Wales, Vol 11, North Wales. Ed. by Ieuan Gwynedd Jones, UWP, 1981.
  • "In this district a great number of the men are employed in the manufacture of Iron and obliged to work on the Sabbath, and consequently unable to attend Public Worship."   (Aberystruth)
  • "Many of the workmen are employed in the Iron Works and are obliged to work on the Sabbath."  (Aberystruth)
  • "There are a few of our members who are not well and others which do live far off."  (Aberystruth)
  • "There is at present no stationed minister in consequence of which the Congregation is less in number this last three months" (Bassaleg)
  • "Our neighbourhood at present is visited with fever and scarletina which prevents our members and hearers from attending divine worship as usual to a great extent" (Bassaleg)
  • "The state of the cause is rather low, the finances are not adequate to its support" (Bassaleg)
  • "There has been no Sunday School during the last two months for the want of a teacher, if the said church has been erected in a more central part of the parish it would have been better attended" (Bedwas)
  • "There is no encouragement given to the children to attend worship as they would occupy all the room now apportioned for adults. This is the only Church accommodation for a population of 7000 souls."  Bedwellty/Ebbw Vale)
  • "Almost half of the parish live at some distance from the church" (Caldicott)
  • "I beg to remark that the Congregation belonging to this Chapel (including children) amounts to at least 200, but many of them being located at some distance in the country cannot attend but once a month" (Chepstow)
  • "The Church is situated in a very wet locality, the path leading to it being through ploughed field renders it almost inaccessible at present, which fully accounts of the small number of the congregation on 30 March" (Coedkernew)
  •  "Very few persons attended Church on the 30 in consequence of it being Midlent or Mothering Sunday on which day there is a custom of visiting relatives" (Dingestow)
  •  "The above is no criterion of the number of persons in the parish attending public worship, as members of the Church, from the circumstances of the Church being inconveniently situated and not affording sufficient accommodation, from the scattered nature of then population and from many residing near to other parish churches"  (Dixton Newton)
  • "Sunday March 30th being Midlent, or as it is called 'Mothering Sunday' is ill chosen for Counting the Congregation at Church as on that day all farm servants are permitted to visit their homes and many of them attend no church while their absence keeps other members of the master's family at home. My congregation was smaller than usual that day" (Llanvapley)
  • "Probably many more than usual attended the Church service on this day, the 30th March inst., at this church, being desirous to show themselves to be Protestant Church people especially in opposition to Roman Catholic dangerous errors"      (Rumney, MON)
  • "It is worthy of remark that March 30th 1851 was the day called here Mothering Sunday (or Mid-Lent) when the farmers, lower orders etc, visit their parents or nearest relatives and dine etc together, seldom attending church as usual, hence the congregation was below the average."    (Skenfrith, MON)
  •  "The church is situated in the Moors, consequently it is almost inaccessible on wet weather which accounts for the fewness of the congregation on the present occasion,"   (St Brides Wentlloog, MON)
  • "Afternoon service every other Sunday. Attendants at Divine Service and Sunday School more or less according to the weather owing to the overflowing of the water"      (St Brides Wentlloog, MON)
  • ".....Yesterday's attendance  at Church was less than usual  [because of] .......  the Mid Lent Sunday custom of visiting parents etc ..... [also] many come from a distance, attendance not so large in winter ........ [also]  the present depression in the Iron Trade. Not long since there were 12 Blast Furnaces working in this District, now there are only 7 and this according to the common computation would mean a difference from two to three thousand persons in the District, including workmen and their families."   (Trevethin, MON)
  • "The reason of the falling off of our Congregation is the depression that has been (in) the Iron Trade. Four of the furnaces in the British Works going out of blast" (Trevethin, MON)          
  • "Many parishioners residing some miles distant from the Parish Church attend other churches in their vicinity; others are Dissenters"   (Trelleck, MON)
  • "This day was cold and wet which makes a considerable difference in the numbers in country parishes - where many live at a distance"  (Bleddfa,RAD)
  • "Many of the parishioners go to other churches nearer to their residence"   (Cefn-llys, RAD)
  • "The reason for the congregation being small on Sunday last was the visit of an Eminent Minister to a Neighbouring Chappel"   (Glascomb, RAD)
  •  ".... The Church is in bad repair. The County adjoining stands in need of a new ecclesiastical division for the sake of efficiency"   (Heyhop, RAD)   
  •  "The Sunday School has been discontinued for some time back, and the weekly Charity School transferred to another parish.  There is however a Charity School at Weithel, Old Radnor, to which Children are admissable from this Parish.  The Church was rebuilt on the Ancient Site in the year 1847 and 8 with all the available materials of the Old Church - and consequently not deemed necessary to to be reconsecrated - a the Cost of £450; of which £150 was by 'Parochial Rate', and the residue by 'Private Subscription'. It is situated near the lower Extremity of the Township of Llanfihangel in a thinly populated Locality, with a large Tract of Hill Land lying between it and the upper Portion of the Township and a still larger between it and the Lower Division of the Parish, comprising the Township of Trewerne and part of Harpton which circumstance satisfactorily accounts for the smallness of the Congregation, as the Inhabitants usually attend the adjoining Churches of Llandegley, Gladestry, New or Old Radnor, all being much more convenient. At the extreme Western Boundary of the Parish abt. 3 miles from the Church, near Llandegley, a Dissenting Chapel has been erected, on Land given by the Inhabitants of Llandegley for the accommodation of the Inhabitants of that Parish and to which some of my Parishioners resident near the St. occasionally resort.  But beg to observe that all my Parishioners are Church-going People, excepting one Farmer and his Household, resident on the border of Glascombe"  (Llanfihangel-Nantmellan, RAD) 
  • "........There is but one Service in this Church on the Sunday. The Duty is performed alternately morning and afternoon. In order that the Church might become more efficient in this parish there ought to be two services on each Sunday, but owing to the smallness of the living (the Vicar receiving only 1/4 of the rent charge paid in lieu of tithe) the endowment as above stated [tithe £92; glebe £3, fees £1, easter offerings £1] is insufficient for the maintenance of the clergyman and his family - consequently he is obliged to take the duty of another Parish."     (Llangynllo, RAD)
  •  "....... I cannot mention the average number of attendants here because as our vicinity is mountainous  the inhabitants dispersing, and the weather changable, so if the weather be fair we would have a very good congregation, but if the weather be wintry the attendants are very few."   (Llansanffraid Cwmteuddwr, RAD)
  •  "Congregations are much affected by the state of the weather in this church many of the congregation having to walk or ride 4 or 5 miles and in some cases more (illegible)  very many of the Inhabitants attend other Parish Churches being more convenient to them"  (Nantmel, RAD)
  •  "There wd be a longer attendance of children at church both morning and afternoon if there was on General good School which is sorley weenting in this parish " (New Radnor, RAD)
  • "The estimated number of attendants March 30 1851 was considerably below the usual average as the people were induced by the Dissenters to go on that day to the different chapels. I took no step to fill my Church on that day"   (Amlwch, AGY)
  • Beaumaris Paris Church (Diocese of Bangor)    Attendance - morning 40 Welsh, English 220, scholars 167, afternoon 170 + 167 scholars   "During the Summer months the Congregation is much larger from the influx of visitors to the Town"    (Beaumaris, AGY)
  • "This Church stands at an extreme end of a large agricultural parish and on a rocky shore of the sea and at a considerable distance from the thickly populated districts of the Parish, and therefore its position exceedingly inconvenient during the winter months. This is the reason there is no Evening service performed or Sunday School kept here."   (Llanbadrig, AGY)
  • "Llanerchymedd village or Town contains a population of about two thousand. It consists of portions of five Parishes viz Amlwch, Coedana, Llechgynfarwydd, Rhodogeidio and Llanerchymedd itself. The Church which is a Chapelry attached to the Rectory of Llanbeulan (which is about 10 miles distant from here)  is private property and is in a wretched state. The Inhabitants do not attend it in great numbers owing both to the miserable condition of the Building and because the pews being private property they have nowhere to sit but the free benches. This is the only place of worship connected with the Church of England in the town for a population of 2000. The population of the town is made up from the different portions of the Parishes as nearly as can be in the following way ........" [unfortunately the entry ends there although the next page in the source book has a plan of the village/town of Llanerchymedd]   (AGY)
  • "I give the general estimated average rather than be a party to have the congregation counted on the Sabbath"             Llanfair-mathafarn-eithaf (AGY)
  • "No Education. If we were living in South Africa   a society would erect a school for us, but here we have no day school in this 3 parishes: viz. Llanfairneubwll, Llanynghenedle, Llanfihangelnowyn"              Llanfairneubwll (AGY)
  • "The dissenters attended their own places of worship on the 30th of March, to be returned with their own clan - none of them attended the church on this day"  Llanfechell (AGY)
  • "There is only two or three in our Parish that can't read theire bibles. A good day school is much wanted in the Neborhood................"    Llanfigael (AGY)
  • "New Church stands unfinished for lack of funds, the old unfit for service.     Services held in licensed schoolroom"           "It is well known that in Wales those who attend Church at one point of the day generally attend Dissenting places of Worship at another"   Llanfihangel Esgeifiog (AGY)
  • "New Church stands unfinished for lack of funds, the old unfit for service.     Services held in licensed schoolroom"     "It is well known that in Wales those who attend Church at one point of the day generally attend Dissenting places of Worship at another"        Llanfihangel Esgeifiog (AGY)
  • "This congregation is the largest in Anglesey in proportion to the population of the parish & when compared with the other Churches in this county. It is to be attributed to extra services and a Sunday school which started here about 8 months ago" Llanfihangel-yn-Nhowyn (AGY)
  • "This return is enough to galvanise the variest  of Stoics to sympathise with those who now attempt to reform the desperate condition of the Anglesey Churches"       Llanenghenedl (AGY)
  • "The two dissenting schools being open on Sunday mornings merely a few old people (neighbours) attend morning service"             Penrhoslligwy (AGY)
  • "I do not consider the returns for this parish to be worth much as the Dissenters filled their meeting houses for the occasion from neighbouring Parishes, morning and evening in the different places of Worship, three in number"  Trefdraeth  (AGY)
  • "In consequence of my having to ride to Penrhos Chapel, at a distance of four miles from hence to perform the Afternoon service at 3 o'clock I am obliged to drop the Evening Service at Abererch during the winter months" Abererch (CAE)
  • "This Parish abounds with Dissenters of every denomination who do all in their power to prevent people from going to Church, thereby acting in direct opposition to their own professed principle that every man should be allowed to worship God where he pleases "     Bryncroes (CAE)
  •  "The Church is situated at the extreme end of a Parish nearly six miles square, where the Population is widely scattered. An Evening service at 6 o'clock is to be shortly commenced, being a more convenient hour for a large class of the population." Clynnog (CAE)  
  • "I would beg to observe that the Parish Church of Llanddeiniolen is within 3/4 of a mile of the lower boundary of the Parish, and is well placed as regard the old agricultural population. But the bulk of the present population, which has, during the last forty years, been drawn together by the working of Mr Assheton Smith's slate quarries, lies at a distance from the Church of from 3 to 5 miles. There are in the parish 13 dissenting Meeting Houses." Llanddeiniolen (CAE)
  • "The only weekly instruction given in the Parish is under the Superintendance of the Established Church. Children of all denominations are admitted and no objection has been made by any to the course of instruction. The children are not compelled to attend at Church but do so voluntarily in considerable numbers. On the thirty-first of March there were strange singers invited to one of the Dissenting chapels which attracted many of the usual attendants at the Church which made the congregation less than average"    Llanfairfechan Parish Church (CAE)
  • "The Tithes of this Parish, the Annual Value of which is £80, belong to the patron and Improprietor, Sir R W Vaughan, Bart, out of which he pays the munificent sum above specified - 4d a day - to his unfortunate curate - the average weekly allowance given to a pauper in this Union......"    George Phillips A.B., Perpetual Curate (Llanilltyd Parish Church MER)
  •  "There is no afternoon service at Llangar during the winter months, on account of the state of the roads and the distance most part of the congregation reside from the Church; and during the Summer months the number of the afternoon congregation is very variable and so much depends on the state of the weather. There is no hamlet or village or Public House or Chapel of any denomination in the parish"      Llangar Parish Church (MER)
  • "The Questions are so insignificant and unnecessary that I can make no remarks"     Joseph Vaughan, Curate      Mallwyd Parish Church (MER)
  • "The Tythes amount to about £225 now in the hands of Lord Seaham who allows only £22 for the maintainance of the Minister and the Parish Clark"   Edward Pryce, Churchwarden      St Peter's Parochial Church (Pennal, MER)
  • "....In summer the attendance is considerably greater & on the 30th March the Dissenters made a strong effort to have their most popular Preachers which thinned the Church congregation"   Darowen Parish Church (MGY)
  •  "This day wet and stormy - an extensive Parish. Roads almost impassable. Many of the inhabitants frequent dissenting meetings more from necessity than choice owing to the Distance from the Parish Church. An additional Church to be erected in one extremity of the parish an endowment being ready. During the Summer our congregation much larger"      Llangihangel yn Gwynfa Parish Church (MGY)
  • "This parish is mountainous & entirely agricultural with extensive farms near the Church, which is situated at the southern extremity - consequently only a few of the Inhabitants can without inconvenience from the distances of their residences assemble in the Church or Church School on Sundays regularly"          Llanwrin Parish Church (MGY)
  •  "The fees are 5d for every wedding which now average six a year, 6d for Burials, 6d for Christening if taken"         Meifod Parish Church (MGY)

 Non conformist

  • Wesleyan Reformers, Pillgwenlly    "This Congregation consists mainly of Wesleyans who have been expelled for disputing about matters of Discipline in Methodism"  (St Woollos, MON)
  • Mariners' Church, Canal Side, Newport   Used by all Dissenting Denominations        "The place is fitted up entirely with benches, all free sittings, and the ministers of the various congregations alternately and gratuitously"   (Newport Borough, MON)
  • New Inn Chapel, Independents        "God save the Queen. No popery"     (Panteg, MON)
  • Zion Chapel, Trosnant, Baptist    "Believing the principles of Nonconformists to be in accordance with the New Testament we hail their progress and dissemination and cannot refrain expressing an opinion that the Union of Church and State forms a barrier thereto."  (Trevethin/Pontypool, MON)
  • Nebo, Independent    "A Day School has been conducted in connexion with the Society meeting at the Chapel for the space of about 10 years. It averaged about 25 scholars but owing to the want of pecuniary support it ceased last week"  (Wolvesnewton, MON)
  • "There has been a Sunday School kept in this place for the seven last years but closed for the last Nine Months, its general numbers was from 35 to 40 scholars and will be reopened in a short time. Books and Teachers all gratis." (Nantmel, RAD)
  •  "Many of the Scholars of the Baptist Sabbath School are required to attend Divine Service at Presteigne Church on account of their being pupils of the Free Grammar School"  (Presteigne, RAD)   
  • "The 'Sunday Scholars' are included in the General Congregation being in most part adults"    (Beaumaris, AGY)
  • "The number of persons who attended the Services in the Church on the 30th March 1851 was about one half the usual congregation and this is to be accounted for in this way. Many of the Parishioners are in the habit of attending both the Meeting houses and Church, but on this occasion public notice of the Census was given in the Chapels of the Calvinistic Methodists (who are by far the most numerous body of dissenters in this neighbourhood"   (Llangeinwen AGY)
  • "A Temperance Meeting is held every Sunday in this Chapel at half past 4 o'clock which is very numerously attended"  (Llanbeblig, CAE)
  •  "NB. Many of our Attendants who used to attend our Chapel being ill at home and Great many are gone & going to America during the last and present twelve months"   (Llanddeiniolen CAE)
  • "What was the care that you sent us these papers in English instead of Welsh. We believe that our Language ought to be loved by every heart that can talk it. We think is is the best Language now in the whole earth, and if you cant talk Welsh there we can talk English here. We love our dear Language and we like to have every paper belonging to us in Welsh."   Hermon, Calvinistic Methodists, Llandegai (CAE)
  • "The Independents used to worship at this place at the time of the five Mile Act and the congregation was fined twice to fifty pounds and the above sums has been paid by the few poor frend at the place"   Capel Helyg, Independents (Llangybi, CAE)
  •  "In Connection  with the congregation and chapel named in this return - there is a Singing Society - meeting every Monday and Wednesday - Young Men Society Thursday evening in every week - Church meeting every Tuesday and praying Meeting every Saturday evening"        (Carmel, Cynwyd, Independents  MER)
  • "Sir, I confess myself ignorant of many things but this I know that God hath exalted one to the British Throne of a true protistant spirit. May the Lord evermore preserve her royalty that truth may appear and Error flee away"       Baptist Chapel, Sarnwen, Llandrinio,  (MGY)    
  • "Penarth Chapel is situated on the Borders of Llanvair and Manavon parishes. Many attend it from both parishes. It will contain about 350 hearers. Many attend the congregation and school every other Sunday, as they are obliged to remain at home to look after their infants and farms etc. ..................."   Penarth Congregational Chapel  (Llanfair Caereinion, MGY)
  • "The only Service held in the morning is a School. Our Sunday Schools in Wales are composed of Adults as well as Children. Many of the poor children belonging to this Congregation are educated in the National School and therefore are obliged by their Rules to attend Church twice every Sunday which accounts for the small number of children belonging to this School" Thomas Hughes, Minister, Maengwyn Calvinistic Methodist Chapel,, Machynlleth (MGY)

Gareth Hicks (Genuki) March/Oct 2011

Chapel or church ?

The Latin for  a small mantle is "capella", from which came the Welsh word "capel" which at first just meant a small secluded place for worshipping in. Many churches, mansions and schools had chapels within them. Today the word chapel usually refers to a Nonconformist meeting place. These chapels have been described as "blychau bychain Duw" [God's little boxes].

When we refer to a church we might be referring to a building that faces east and has an altar but over the years Welsh chapel goers have been using the word "capel" to describe the building in which they worship and "eglwys"  [church] to describe the society of people who worship in that building.

[ Based on "A Helping Hand "by W J Jones 1996. Gareth Hicks 3 May 2000 D/G]

Miner's wife

A housewife's work is never done...

From Coal Society quoting from 'Pit Head Baths' by E. Williams in The Colliery Workers Magazine July 1925

She gets up any time from 5 to 6 a.m., prepares breakfast and sends off, maybe, her son, next comes in another son from the night shift. She then prepares a bath for him, which means the lifting of a heavy boiler on and off the fire. He goes off to bed. Then the younger children get up and get ready for school. When they are safely off, she tries to clean up and clear a little bit of the pit dust......Then dinner has to be cooked and her husband got ready for the afternoon shift. Then her son returns again from the morning shift bringing with him some more dust. The same process has to gone through again etc. He then goes off and she again turns around to clean and tidy up before tea-time and the children come home from school........Just as she thinks she can have an hour to sew or read, she again has to be preparing water and supper for her husband returning from the afternoon shift and so it goes on day after day.

Coal Society David Egan Gomer Press 1987

Dylan Thomas writes....... Mrs Ogmore Pritchard ......" And before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes". ( Under Milk Wood)

[Steve Keates 21.5.2000 G]

Land and People in C19 Wales

Land and People in C19 Wales" by David W Howell, 1977, is a very readable book on the subject.

There is an introduction to the book with chapter headings here

[Gareth Hicks]

Coal prices Wales/Somerset

Coal Prices c1795 compared to Somerset

North Somerset coal was selling at an average of 3 3/4d the bushel in 1795.

In 1795 Welsh coal was selling at Watchet ( a small port near Minhead Som.) at 8d per bushel. The poor, however, burned wood, or tanners bark, made into square pieces and called tan turfs, as well as turf cut from the surface of the Quantocks.

In 1779 240 bushels were landed daily from the pits at Clapton (Nr Midsomer Norton Som.) the best coal selling at 3 1/2d per bushel, the smallest being shipped at Portishead (Avonmouth) for Wales where it was used for limestone burning.

From The Victoria History of the Counties of England, Somerset Vol II

A bushel is a dry measure of about 8 gallons in volume about 2219.36 cub ins. I tried to work it out into todays measures but my brain failed!!

[Steve Keates 22.5.2000 G]

GRO versus local RO certificates

The GRO or ONS or Southport or Smedley Hydro, or whatever you like to call it :-)

Just read Michael Armstrong's report in the June 2000 "Family Tree Magazine" of his recent experience of attending a public Open Day at the GRO at Smedley House, Southport .[Open Days not yet a regular occurrence there].

Some interesting points worth re-iterating, and an aspect of certs producedby Southport as opposed to local ROs which hadn't occurred to me before;

Southport regards itself as the "back office" with the FRC in London as the "front office". They get 10,000 applications a week for civil registration certs via the FRC, and 3,000 direct by post, phone and email. Demand continues to grow year on year.

Southport has no original records [latter held at the local ROs], they only have microfilm copies of the original paper copies which are now stored separately in Hampshire. The latter are occasionally referred to when the microfilm copy isn't clear enough. Southport also has and uses the same microfiche indexes we all know and love, the civil registration indexes held at Records Offices or the LDS. Certificates are generated by machine, there are some which don't reproduce clearly and these are dealt with by staff who decipher the wording using a mixture of experience and finding aids such as gazetteers and indexes.[and those original paper copies in Hampshire presumably ]

This makes for an interesting comparison then;

The local ROs produce a certificate which is hand copied from the original register by staff, who may or may not be equipped to do this with 100% authenticity given the varying degree of legibility and their own variable experience and knowledge of C19 names and places in the locality, say. We generally take the result as being accurate unless , say, the spelling is clearly suspect.

Against that, Southport machine-produce an exact copy of their copy, unless it is unclear. It isn't clear to me what their definition of unclear is[?], but it appears that a "clear" cert from Southport may give us the chance to try and decipher a problematical word for ourselves from an exact copy. But an "unclear" one will be deciphered by someone with little possibility of any local knowledge at all, and we are again left to take the resulting cert as gospel, or not.

Hmm, a case of "you pays your money and takes your choice " then.

I make no complaint at all about this, the job is anything but easy, useful to know the score though.

[Gareth Hicks 27.5.2000 G/D]

Children at Work

Part of a statement given to the Goverment Commissioners of 1842, investigating child labour, by Elizabeth Williams, aged 10, who worked in the mines of the Dowlas Iron Company:

'We are the door-keepers in the four foot level. We leave the house before six each morning and are in the level until seven o'clock and sometimes later. We get 2d a day and our light costs us  2 1/2d a week.'

The door keepers opened and closed the underground doors which helped to control ventilation in the workings.

This was a job which involved some risk , Elizabeth refers to one child who ..........'was run over by a tram (coal cart) and was home ill a long while.'

Edward Edwards aged 9, who worked at the Esgyrn Colliery, Britain Ferry, talking about his job as a 'trammer':

'I have been working here for three monthe and I drag carts loaded with coal from the coalface to the main road, a distance of sixty yards. There are no wheels to the carts........sometimes the cart is pushed on to us and we get crushed often.'

[Adapted by Steve Keates from Coal Society by David Egan Gomer Press 1987. 29.5.2000 G]


British picture postcards are not earlier than September 1894.

Five and a half by three and a half inch cards date from November 1899. Smaller cards such as five and a quarter by three and a quarter or the four and a half by three and a half court card are likely to date from the second half of the 1890's

The five and a half by three and a half inch postcard of portraits were very popular with seaside promenade photographers between the wars. The divided back was not authorised until 1902 in Britain. Before that date the whole of one side had to be given to the address with the picture or message on the front. It is safer to assume that ( with old stocks being used up), the changeover was not completed until 1903- 4.

Once the back had been divided it was common for COMMUNICATION to be printed alongside ADDRESS. On earlier divided examples when the new regulations were a novelty, a fuller explanation e.g. for Inland Postage ONLY, this space may now be used for communications, suggests 1904 - 1906.

Cards sent through the post can be dated by the monarch - Victoria 1901 or earlier, Edward VII 1901 - 1910 or George V 1910 or later. Before 3rd June 1918 postage was a ha'penny. Until 12th June 1921 it was a penny, to 23rd May 1922 it was a penny ha'penny but on 24th May 1922 dropped to a penny.

In the stamp space during the ha'penny period the value of the required stamp was often printed

[Philippa Wood 5.7.2000 G]


Baptism--when ?

The 1662 Prayer Book said that infants should be baptised within fourteen days of birth, but the actual practice did vary between parishes.

The book Family Tree Detective says ;

" The median age at baptism seems to have increased from about one week to a month between the middle of the C17 and the C18. To be safe you should assume that only 75% of those born were baptised in the first month of life."

[Gareth , 4 Aug 2000 D]

[Copied with permission]

From: Eve McLaughlin [mailto:eve[at]varneys.demon.co[dot]uk]
Sunday, October 15, 2000. To: OXFORDSHIRE-L[at]rootsweb[dot]com
Subject: Re: Birth & Baptism's

Question ; My Gt.Grandfather was baptised at ...........Oxfordshire March 30 1834.
Can anyone say what length of time might have elapsed between his birth and his baptism? Were there any church rules at that time saying how soon a child should be baptised after birth?

Answer ; There were no rules - sometimes a local custom prevailed, which is possible to work out if the clergyman happens to include birth dates for a reasonable period.

The tendency in rural areas is 3 weeks, or 4 weeks, or two weeks after birth, in that order. In towns, with greater danger to health. the prudent parent may baptise within a week.

A sickly baby could be baptised at birth, at home, and later received into church.

Parents who were inclined to nonconformity, or well to do and confident , might easily wait some months. In some cases, baptisms are done in a job lot every few years. If the other baptisms occur at regular two year intervals, they are conformers and the first custom stated (3 weeks etc) is likely to prevail.

Poor families who were basically nonconformists were often driven into very late baptism (a matter of several years old) if they needed financial support form the parish.

Eve McLaughlin
Author of the McLaughlin Guides for family historians
Secretary Bucks Genealogical Society

A question of marriageable age.

Although not proven to be directly pertinent to Glamorgan, this piece of evidence shows, that in some areas of Britain it was acceptable for girls to marry at 15.

From Parliamentary Papers records at the PRO Kew. Report from the Select Committee on Agriculture 1833 Vol V

Page 48 .From the evidence of Richard Webb Land Agent and surveyor, residing in Wiltshire and employed in Somersetshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorchester; answering questions on agricultural labourers and families this is part of the transcript:

Q941; Has the increase in population been considerable in these parishes?

A; Very considerable.

Q942 ; Is the system of early marriages prevalent?

A ; Too much so, a great deal.

Q943; At what age do they generally marry?

A; As early as 15 and upwards .

Q944 ;What, the man 15?

A ;No the girl. I have known lads 17 or 18 to marry.

Q945 With the view of getting the allowance from the parish forchildren?

A; I do not think that is the inducement.

So don't be surprised at one of your family marrying at 15.

[Steve Keates 22 Sept 2000 G]

Follow on;

"Full age" on a marriage certificate meant being age 21 or over.

"Minor" or "under age" meant between 12 and 20 for a girl and between 14 and 20 for a boy, until 1929 when the lower age was raised to 16 for both parties.

In theory a consent form should have been signed by the parents or guardians  of minors.

Giving the right  age was not compulsory, and a wrong age would not invalidate the marriage although wilful deception might lead to a prosecution for perjury.


Further follow on (March 2011)

Marriage under age 16, though legal, was  rare for both boys and girls.  An analysis of the Glamorgan FHS  1851 census transcript by age and marital status showed  only 2 married girls between 10 and 14 out of over 12,000  in that age range. There may well be a few girls aged 15 who were married, but they fall within the 15-19 age group and could not be easily identified

(Based on  data given by Anna Brueton to the Glamorgan list)

Electoral Rolls

Copied from Newsgroups: soc.genealogy.britain
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2000 10:39 PM

Question ;  How useful is the E.R to genealogists - what information does it contain ?

Answer ; Pre 1870, the qualification was by property (40s freeholder, £10 tenant etc) and these listings can be handy, if your ancestors were property owners, as they do include names and addresses for absentee voters with property 'back home', and this can be the clue or the proof of a link.

Post 1870, they are not enormously useful, since it states only the names and address of voters over 21 - and pre 1919, this is likely to be only the male householder, with maybe a son or so over 21 permanently resident in the house.

Women (householders/stable residents) over 30 got the vote in 1919 and women over 21 in 1929. A handful of female property owners appear on the local voting register (not Parliamentary,) from 1870.

The local registers may be at local archives, the local council/borough town hall etc. They do not state ages,(except in later rolls, when someone is going to be 21 in the currency of the register) birthplaces, occupations. In wartime, service voters are included and some have the regiment stated, which is very handy.

They are mostly filed by address rather than alphabetically (a few exceptions, but never anywhere you actually want). So you need to know   pretty well where the person was before you can find them

The pre 1892 electoral registers will enable you to find an address for use in consulting the censuses - but, as above, you need to know the area before hand.

Street and trade directories are rather more useful, if you have a clue as to area, since women are included and occupations for people with their own businesses are also there. (So if you know ggfr was a butcher with his own shop somewhere in Sheffield, you could find him right away in a Sheffield trade directory,while it might take ages working through electoral rolls)

Question ;  Are they witheld for a set number of years like the census ?

Answer ; No, they are public right up to date and must by law be available in local council offices, Post Offices, and are in some public libraries.

The FRC has a full set of current ones. The very latest ones are accessible via CD, bought at enormous expense - and I am not clear if one of the information sites has some extracts of the currentish ones or not. Some people say yes, some rubbish this.

[Eve McLaughlin
Author of the McLaughlin Guides for family historians
Secretary Bucks Genealogical Society]

Seamen, births, marriages and deaths at sea

See also Seamen all at sea in the census

This section used to be a long complex list of extant records and their references which exist at the National Archives.
Now it points the reader towards maritime related subjects listed in the Research Guides section of the National Archives site

There are related guides under;

  • Admiralty Correspondence; how to use the Admiralty Indexes and Digests
  • Births, Marriages and Deaths at Sea
  • Coastguard
  • Maritime history, sources
  • Merchant seamen (especially Merchant Seamen: Records of the RGSS, A Guide to Research guides)
  • Merchant Shipping
  • Royal Marines
  • Royal Navy
  • Ships wrecked or sunk

The Merchant Marine page on GENUKI has links and details of other sites & books dealing with Welsh maritime matters

Useful books for those with merchant seamen ancestors ;

  •   My ancestor was a Merchant Seaman: how can I find out more about him by Christopher T & Michael J Watts ,  SOG, 2002  which is available from Family Tree Magazine
  • Records of Merchant Shipping and Seamen by K Smith, CT & M J Watts, PRO 1998.

Place name spellings

The problem ;
Locating Llangatwg (also spelt Llangattock) is a problem because there are a number of places with this name

The answer;
Firstly, what you need to remember is that Welsh is (to you and me) a foreign language, and the place-names are based on that language. In order to make sense of Welsh place-names you need to understand a little Welsh and to understand how the place-names are formed. Hopefully, the "Glossary of Place-names" feature on my website [see below] will help you with this.
For example, "Llangatwg" simply means "the church of Saint Catwg". As there are a number of churches in Wales dedicated to this saint, there are a number of places bearing the name Llangatwg

Secondly, you need to remember that many of those who created the original records we use to trace our family histories were not Welsh speakers. When they heard someone quote a Welsh place-name, they wrote it down in the form of an English phonetic spelling - often only roughly approximating to the actual pronunciation of the name.

Thus we find that in parish registers, in censuses, on old maps, etc., Welsh place-names have "English" (i.e. Anglicised) spellings based roughly on what the name sounds like. Llangattock is an attempted phonetic spelling of Llangatwg - they sound similar. Unfortunately, because they were set down in official documents and maps, the Anglicised spellings often acquired more authority than the correct Welsh spellings. In recent years there has been an attempt to reverse this process and to restore the authentic Welsh spellings.

Thirdly, when Welsh place-names were Anglicised, they often lost their logical meaning, making it far more difficult to understand their origin. For example Llangattock makes very little sense because there isn't a saint called "Gattock" or "Cattock".

The more you learn about the Welsh language components which make up Welsh place-names, the easier it will become to recognise them and understand them.

Anyway, have a look through the Glossary on my website for the elements that make up Welsh place-names, including those you quoted in your message. Go to my main webpage (URL below), select "Short-Cuts" then "Glossary of Place-names".

[John Ball 25 Oct 2000 G]  http://www.jlb2011.co.uk/index.html

Birth Registrations-how ?

Q. When Civil registration started how did people in small villages go about registering births ?

A. Although they could drop in at the market town where he was based, the registrar was supposed to approach them and ask. If he did so, they had to give accurate information, but no one said they had to chase him. In practice, the registrar usually seems to have worked (for various purposes) loosely with the relieving officer based in villages, who would tell him about new infants/. As the registrar was paid by results, it was up to him to make regular visits to the villages and chase the new mums and collect the details

[Eve McLaughlin, Author of the McLaughlin Guides for family historians, Secretary Bucks Genealogical Society]

Foot note;

Registration became compulsary on the parents in 1875  when a £2 fine was introduced.[Gareth]

British Vital Records CD [LDS]

Except for a very few Welsh Nonconformist entries from the records of Dr Williams's Library, the only Welsh records in the LDS British Vital Records CD (VRI) are from Monmouthshire, apart from the BTs of just 2 Parishes in Montgomeryshire:

Montgomery itself (Marriages 1844-1859; Christenings 1844-1872);
Forden (Marriages 1638 and 1660-1843; Christenings 1638 & 1660-1863).

Monmouthshire has Marriages from 18 Parishes and Christenings from 18 (not all the same); but most Parishes are covered only for a limited span of dates.

Also included are 2 Calvinistic Methodist Chapels (pre-1837) and the Ebbw Vale & Crickhowell Wesleyan Circuit Christenings 1876-1882.

Interesting extras are Births at Newport Workhouse (nominally 1876-1925) and Monmouth Workhouse (nominally 1866-1914); though the dates are somewhat misleading, if I remember rightly - the actual dates finish far earlier (which might just mean there were no births near the end of either period).

The VRI supplements the IGI - at least, the fiche version (of which the latest is dated 1992). I'm not sure whether any or all of the VRI information is incorporated into the online IGI.

One guide to the VRI's MONMOUTHSHIRE coverage (though I don't know whether it's foolproof; and I've not tried with other Counties) can be gleaned from looking at the LDS 1992 PVRL (Parish & Vital Records List), which is offered free on fiche with every purchase of the IGI, and which should therefore be held at most repositories holding the IGI.

If the column following column 4 (i.e perhaps column 5, but my printout doesn't show the heading!) has 2 stars (for which a footnote says 'Records in this batch and period are not in the 1988 edition of the IGI'), the records described on that horizontal line seem to be in the VRI.

[Anne Scales 10 Nov 2000 G]]

Schools in Wales

A very brief summary of types of schools in Wales in the C19, mainly intended to explain the difference between British, National and Board Schools.

At the start of the C19 there was no national system of education in Wales.

Some young children could go to Dame schools which were usually run by old women in their own homes and were little more than a child minding service.

Sometimes local factory owners set up schools for their workers' children, these also sometimes  provided food and clothing.

For many children the only education they would receive  would be from a Sunday school.

There were also charity schools run by religious groups, National schools for church children and British schools for those who went to chapel. In fact British schools  were set up by the British and Foreign School Society and were designed to be un-sectarian and instructed to concentrate on the "three Rs",they attracted government grants and provided education for both adults and children.

See the Blue Books[the] entry for commentary on the controversial 1847 Report.

In 1870 Foster's Act brought in Board Schools which took over from National and British schools. The School Boards were set up to supervise schools in their area and build schools where there were none. The schools were to receive money from the government and from the local rates and were to be regularly inspected. The law also said that children between 5 and 12 had  to attend school--elementary education was now compulsory.


American census details

The first census in the US was in 1790. There was a census every ten years after this first one. The early censuses contain the name of the head of household only. The males and females in the household are divided into age groups. The 1790 census lists the number of males over the age of 16 and the number of males under the age of 16. All the females are lumped into one category. 1800 is a little bit better as there are more age categories for both sexes.

It isn't until 1850 that the names and ages of individual persons are listed. So the early censuses are really only useful for placing your ancestor in a certain county and state. Guesses can be made as to the age of the head of household, because of the numbers of children or the absence of children. I don't know of any site online where this information is available for the later censuses; 1850, 1860, etc. Some of the county genweb sites do have 1790 and 1800 census data posted. But they are not in the majority. The census data is available on microfilm and can be ordered through your local FHL.

[Lynn 19 Nov  2000 G]

Historical snippets

Those were the days.....

Selected snippets of life c 100 hundred years ago;


First electric vacuum cleaner invented by Scotsman Hubert Booth. Improved on by a US janitor, J Spangler, who patented it and sold out to a relative, William Hoover.

Guglielmo Marconi makes first transatlantic radio transmission .

The "standard of comfort" was estimated in the 1901 census by the number of servants employed in private houses. In "grand houses" footmen still helped visitors from carriages, saw to their luggage, served at table, cleaned the silver, trimmed the lamps and ran errands. Housemaids were allowed into the family's private rooms after an apprenticeship on halls, stairs and landings. Kitchen and scullery maids never went "upstairs". The butler was a superior being with full responsibility for the servants behaviour, and the key to the master's wine cellar. Wages ranged down from the butler at £100 a year to a scullery maid on £12 to £18.


First powered flight by the Wright brothers in North Carolina.

Education Authorities took increasing care of children's health. Boys and girls in large elementary schools taught separately after age of 7. May have had to use different playgrounds. Corporal punishment not used as excessively as in past.With classes of up to 60 pupils, rote learning set the pattern. Handwriting was practised letter by letter.


Agricultural wages averaged 17/6 a week


Suffragettes first chained themselves to railings at 10 Downing St.

Coal Mines [Eight Hours] Act passed.

Hunger marches by the unemployed.

Children's Act passed, aimed to protect children against negligence,

Imprisonment of children abolished, Remand Homes set up.


First Old Age Pensions paid.

Lloyd George introduced the first People's Budget, which was rejected by the House of Lords. Parliament dissolved.

The agricultural labourer's lot improved during the years before WW1, wages improved and he shared in social benefits like National Insurance.


The mechanisation of farming was on the horizon, but Edwardian cyclists would have seen the fields being harvested by scythe and sickle and cows being milked by hand.

Beaches were divided for ' male', and 'female', or 'mixed' use, and there were local bye laws against indecent exposure of the person. Bathing machines had to be towed to an adequate depth of water before their knickerbockered female cargo could emerge. By c 1910, a few daring girls were wearing one-piece bathing costumes. A musical -hall song spread the word that " You can do a lot of things at the seaside that you can't do in the town" !

Summary of Social Welfare in this period

There was no guarantee of a comfortable old age. If the old had neither savings or family to help them, there were almshouses built by private charities, or the grudging in relief granted by the workhouse system.

In 1909, an Old Age Pension [ -7/6 a week for a married couple, -5/- for single people] was given to all over 70 with an income of less than -10/- a week.

The elderly no longer dreaded outliving their savings, but they did fear being ill. A doctor had to be paid by his patients, insurance was rare although Friendly Societies could help with medical expenses. In 1906 the Workmen's Compensation Act for injury was extended to cover industrial diseases.

Disease caused poverty, poverty increased the risk of disease.

The National Insurance Act[1911] provided free medical benefits for a worker and his family in return for a weekly contribution of 4d.

Labour Exchanges were opened in 1910.

It was the beginning of our present social security system.

Many non-factory workers were employed in "sweated industries". The writerJack London in 1903 described how a woman spent every waking hour making match boxes. In a 98 hour week she made 7066 and earned -4/10 1/4 out of which she bought paste and thread and supported 4 children. The Trade Boards Act[1909] now protected such labour.

Income Tax which started on incomes of £160 a year upwards, was paid by fewer than a million people, and in 1909, was raised from 1/- to 1/2d in the pound.

[Based on Tavistock Newspapers Ltd Special Edwardian Okehampton Supplement 23 Nov 2000 . Gareth D/G]


The 10 most common names in Wales and England, together with the % of their incidence amongst the respective populations:

         Wales -----------------England

  • Jones 13.84% -------Smith 1.37%
  • Williams 8.91% -----Taylor 0.68%
  • Davies 7.09% ------Brown 0.57 %
  • Thomas 5.70% -----Jones 0.43%
  • Evans 5.46% -------Johnson 0.38%
  • Roberts 3.69% -----Robinson 0.36%
  • Hughes 2.98% -----Wilson 0.36%
  • Lewis 2.97% -------Wright 0.34%
  • Morgan 2.63% -----Wood 0.33%
  • Griffiths 2.58% ------Hall 0.33%

Total 55.85% --------------Total 5.35%

From 'The Homes of Surnames in Wales' by John Rowlands, an essay in 'Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry' by John & Sheila Rowlands. FFHS / UWA 1999. David Pike 29 Nov 2000 G]


Q.- I have seen several entries on Census returns giving occupation as "Annuitant". Can some one please give me an indication as to the source of such annuities?------Philip

A.-Good question

I just used the Find facility on the Gla FHs 1851 cd and there are a few ! There is a majority of older folk, some widowed, but also several much younger people, including a 12 year old.

In view of the period dealt with I can't see that what follows is the most likely answer to your question but it is interesting in its own right anyway.

Herber's 'Ancestral Trails' has a section on "Annuities and tontines".

In this context they were C18 devices to pay an income to a nominee [beneficiary] in return for a lump sum payment paid by a subscriber. Payment was for a fixed period or ascertainable period[ the lifetime of the nominee perhaps].

So far this sounds similar to modern annuities, but, I am astonished to read that in the C18 it was the government which arranged these. It arranged eleven such schemes between 1693 and 1789, there are even some records of subscribers available at the SoG. The intriguing aspect of these schemes was that as the nominees died off, the remainder shared the "pot " of income between them, so the last survivor took the lot !

Completely off the point, but the final paragraph of the piece in Ancestral Trails refers to the availability of records of public lotteries and gives the example of " the Million lottery set up in 1694".      I didn't know that !

Back to the question, could the term , in mid C19, have been more loosely applied to any regular income from a trust ? One arising from a will perhaps ?

That would explain the age variation in the 1851 .

[Gareth 30 Nov 2000 G]

Follow on;

I have my doubts when many quite ordinary people speak about being "annuitants", it maybe they were just "living on the parish"( ie getting weekly financial support from the Overseers of the Poor in that Parish) and too proud to admit it to the census taker.

Generally an annuity comes from an insurance policy where a lump sum is paid to the Insurance Company who then guarantee to pay a fixed sum back annually until the death of the policy holder. The insurance company then keeps the capital. Other forms of "annuity" could come from interest on one's own capital in the bank or dividends from government stocks or company shares etc.

[Paul Young 30 Nov 2000 G]

Follow on ;

I have one annuitant in my family, and her income was derived from the farms being operated by her children. On her death the farms were sold and the children shared the monies equally, although the sons remained as tenant farmers for many years after. I presume that the farming sons couldn't raise enough monies to be able to pay their sisters out, because their fathers will does not state that the farms had to be sold, only that they should have equal shares on the death of their mother. During her lifetime to receive per annum, £14 from one farm (my g-g-grandfather), £17 from another, £7 from a tenanted farm, and £10 from another farm (as yet unidentified). She lived with her eldest son, at the tenanted farm, until her death, which was originally owned by his father, but appears to have been sold to provide the money to buy the farms for the sons.

[John Spencer Wilkinson 1 Dec 2000 G]

Burial regulations

All in wool

In the first pages of the [Llandysul, CGN] parish records there is a marginal entry after the deaths, "All in Wool". An Act of 1666 [Charles II] stipulated that no one was to be buried except in wool. This was intended to support the wool and paper trade, and reduce the import of linen from overseas.
It is interesting to see the above Act in 1666 described as "anno decimo octavo Caroli II", or  in "the eighteenth reign of Charles II"; but his reign only began in 1660.
The explanation is that according to law, the Commonwealth period of Oliver and Richard Cromwell does not count, and Charles II's reign is considered to have begun in 1648, so 1648 + 18=1666 !

This was followed by another Act in 1677 which ordered

  • 1. No body , after 1 August 1678 to be buried in a shirt, nightgown, sheet or shroud, or anything of whatever material, or a mixture of flax , silk, hair, gold or silver, or any other stuff, unless it was made of the wool of the sheep only ; or placed out of sight in any coffin;  or covered by any sort of cloth or anything else made from anything except the wool of the sheep.
  • 2. The fine for any transgression was £5 in legal English money. If anyone died of the plague, that person could be buried in anything.
  • 3. An oath had to be sworn within eight days of the burial before a Justice of the Peace, Mayor, or Bailiff, or any other high official of a city, shire, borough, corporation, or market town in the county where the person was buried; that the person was buried in wool.

An amendment of 1680 said that if there was no resident JP then any parson, vicar or curate  was authorised to accept the oath, and to do this without any fee.

The last two Acts were in force until an Act of 1814  which abolished them.

In this period, 1814-15 an Act was also passed permitting the export of wool and the import of linen.

[History of the Parish of Llandyssul by the Rev W J Davies, 1896.  Translated by Ivor Griffiths.
Gareth 3 Dec 2000 D]

The position with burials after the 1836 Acts.

This section follows on directly from a mailing list query where a burial had taken place [in 1875] but the registration of the death appeared to be absent.

Here are partial extracts from what appear to be the relevant Acts of Parliament affecting both England and Wales

1836 Act for the registering of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England       http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~framland/acts/1836Act.htm

 [Section]XIX. And be it enacted, That the Father or Mother of any Child born, or the Occupier of every House or Tenement in England in which any Birth or Death shall happen, after the said First day of March, may, within Forty-two Days next after the Day of such Birth or within Five Days after the Day of such Death respectively, give Notice of such Birth or Death t o the Registrar of the District ; .........................

My comment on the above

It says the parents or occupier *may* give notice of death to the Registrar, no obligation and no fine specified

[Section] XXVII. And be it enacted, That every Registrar, immediately upon registering any Death, or as soon thereafter as he shall be required so to do, shall, without Fee or Reward, deliver to the Undertaker or other Person having Charge of the Funeral a Certificate under his Hand, according to the Form of Schedule to this Act annexed, that such Death has been duly registered, and such Certificate shall be delivered by such Undertaker or other person to the Minister or officiating Person who shall be required to bury or to perform any religious Service for the Burial of the dead Body, and if any dead Body shall be buried for which no such Certificate shall have been so delivered, the Person who shall bury or perform any Funeral or any religious Service for the Burial shall forthwith give Notice thereof to the Registrar : Provided always, that the Coroner, upon holding any Inquest, may order the Body to be Buried, if he shall think fit, before Registry of the Death, and shall in such Case give a Certificate of his Order in Writing under his Hand, according to the Form of Schedule to this Act annexed, to such Undertaker or other person having Charge of the Funeral, which shall be delivered as aforesaid ; a nd every Person who shall bury or perform any Funeral or any religious Service for the Burial of any dead Body for which no Certificate shall have been duly made and delivered as aforesaid, either by the Registrar or Coroner, and who shall not within Seven Days give Notice thereof to the Registrar, shall forfeit and pay any Sum not exceeding Ten Pounds for every such Offence.

My comment on the above

If the undertaker or minister didn't tell the Registrar within 7 days of a burial that there was no certificate exhibited before the burial then they were liable to a fine.

Act to amend the Law relating to the Registration of  Births and Deaths in England, and to consolidate the Law respecting the Registration of Births and Deaths at Sea. [7th August 1874  http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~framland/acts/1874Act.htm

[Section] Registration of Deaths [para] 10. When a person dies in a house after the commencement of this Act, it shall be the duty of the nearest relatives of the deceased present at the death, or in attendance during the last illness of the deceased, and in default of such relatives, of every other relative of the deceased dwelling or being in the same sub-district as the deceased, and in default of such relatives, of each person present at the death, and of the occupier of the house in which, to his knowledge, the death took place, and in default of the persons herein-before in this section mentioned, of each inmate of such house, and of the person causing the body of the deceased person to be buried, to give, to the best of his knowledge and belief, to the registrar, within the five days next following the day of such death, information of the particulars required to be registered concerning such death, and in the presence of the registrar to sign the register.

[para] 15. After the expiration of twelve months next after any death or after the finding of any dead body elsewhere than in a house, that death shall not be registered, except with the written authority of the Registrar General for registering the same and except in accordance with the prescribed rules, and the fact of such authority having been given shall be entered in the register.
Every person who registers or causes to be registered any in contravention of this section shall be liable to a penalty exceeding ten pounds.

[Section] Burials [para] 17 ................................ The registrar, upon registering any death or upon receiving a written requisition to attend at a house to register a death, or upon receiving such written notice of the occurrence of a death, accompanied by a medical certificate [of the cause of the death] as is before provided by this Act, shall forthwith, or as soon after as he is required, give, without fee or reward, either to the person giving information concerning the death or sending the requisition or notice, or to the undertaker or other person having charge of the funeral of the deceased, a certificate under his hand that he has registered or received notice of the death as the case may be.
Every such ................. certificate of the registrar shall be delivered to the person who buries or performs any funeral or religious service for the burial of the body of the deceased; and person to whom such order or certificate was given by the coroner or registrar who fails so to deliver or cause to be delivered the same shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings.
The person who buries or performs any funeral or religious service for the burial of any dead body, as to which no order or certificate under this section is delivered to him, shall, within seven days after the burial, give notice thereof in writing to the registrar, and if he fail so to do shall be l iable to a penalty not exceeding ten pounds

My comment on the above

A medical certificate stating the cause of the death  is now needed before a death certificate can be issued

It's now a *duty* of nearest relative etc to register a death within 5 days.
There's a fine laid down in para 15 but it doesn't seem to apply if a death registration never takes place, only if registration is late.
Which implies that there was still a potential loophole only covered by the additional obligation of the undertaker/minister which remains the same as before

Various Acts passed 1875 - 1926

Burial Laws Amendment Act 1880    


My comment

Appears to relate to burials " within the churchyard or graveyard of such parish or ecclesiastical district or place without the performance, in the manner prescribed by law, of the service for the burial of the dead according to the rites of the Church of England........"

The Cremation Act of 1902  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation_Act_1902 Brief History
"The first Act of Parliament concerning cremation was the Cardiff Corporation Act, 1894: section 71 of this Act empowered the Corporation to establish a crematorium in its cemetery. Between then and 1902, four other similar local Acts were passed.
In 1902, Parliament passed the Cremation Act, 1902, the first general Cremation Act. It repealed all the previously passed local Acts. Since then Parliament has passed one other Cremation Act, the Cremation Act, 1952. Both general Acts are still in force, though they have been amended. Since 1902, Parliament has also passed several local Cremation Acts."

1926 Act for the registration of births and deaths in England and Wales         


[para]1.-(1) Subject as hereinafter provided, the body of a deceased person shall not be disposed of before a certificate of the registrar given in pursuance of this Act or an order of the coroner has been delivered to the person effecting the disposal :
Provided that it shall be lawful for the person effecting the disposal by burial of the body of any deceased person, if satisfied by a written declaration in the prescribed form by the person procuring the disposal that a certificate of the registrar or order of the coroner has been issued in respect of the deceased, to proceed with the burial notwithstanding that the certificate or order has not been previously delivered to him.

[para](2) Any person contravening the provisions of this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.

My comment

Looks like a tightening up of the previous position in that Registrar's certificates are now usually needed before burial, but why the exception I don't know !

With thanks to Guy Etchels who transcribed the Acts that I quote from

North or South Wales ?

"Wales was in ancient times divided into three parts............they were Venedotia, now called North Wales ; Demetia, or South Wales which in British is called Deheubarth, that is, the southern part ; and Powys, the middle or eastern district.

Roderic the Great, or Rhodri Mawr, who was king over all Wales, was the cause of this division. He had three sons, Mervin, Anarawt, and Cadell, amongst whom he partitioned [in  876] the whole principality. North Wales fell to the lot of Mervin ; Powys to Anarawt ; and Cadell received the portion of South Wales.............But Cadell , on the death of his brothers , obtained the entire dominion of Wales as did his successors till the time of Tewdwr, whose descendents,............(like the father) enjoyed  only the sovereignty over South Wales."

" .........Approaching the river Devi[Dovey]  which divides North and South Wales.........................."

[Above direct quotes from Giraldus Cambrensis "Itinerary through Wales " & "Description of Wales " 1188]

It is a fact that some of the above facts are disputed by later historians.

There were of course many varied  subsequent sub-divisions of Wales under, for example, Hywel Dda [910-950], Gruffudd ap Llywelyn [1039-1063], the Normans, the Statute of Rhuddlan[1284], Owain Glyndwr [1401-5] and the Act of Union[1536] masterminded by Thomas Cromwell for Henry VIII.

Is there still a north/south divide?

It follows that   if there was an ongoing  north/south concept after the Act of Union of 1536 then by any definition those 5 counties definitely in "North Wales" were Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, Merionethshire, Denbighshire and Flintshire. It is certainly too simplistic to just draw a line from the Dyfi and across the middle of Montgomeryshire and suggest that everything south of that line to be in "South Wales".

My own approach to 'the problem', by reference to the 13 historic pre-1974 counties, is to describe the 'modern' areas as follows;

  • North Wales; Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Merionethshire
  • Mid Wales; Breconshire, Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire
  • West Wales; Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire
  • South Wales; Glamorgan and Monmouthshire

[Gareth 4 Dec 2000 D/G, amended]

And again

For the sake of another opinion, the allocations given for counties in Lewis's 1833 Topographical Dictionary of Wales are as below - it excludes Monmouthshire altogether but it is clearly in South Wales;


  • Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Merionethshire, Montgomeryshire


  • Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Glamorgan, Breconshire, Radnorshire, Monmouthshire

[Gareth  1 July 2005 ]

Military death records

According to The Family Tree Detective book by Colin Rogers ;

Army ; Regimental registers at the GRO record the BMD of soldiers IN the UK from 1761-1924.

The Army register Book [1881-1959] contain BMD OUTSIDE the UK , similar books for Royal Navy [1837-1959], and RAF [1918-1959]. Since 1959 all three services are in same books with a common index from 1964.

All are at the GRO and certified copies may be obtained in same way as civilian events .

Not clear from a quick reading of the book whether BMD outside UK are recorded anywhere prior to 1881

[Gareth 27 Jan 2001 G]

Nonconformist marriages

Q. > Until 1898 nonconformist marriages could only take place if the local civil Registrar of BMD attended as well.

> Does anyone know what happened exactly ?

> Did the Registrar take along "the official register", or a book of certs, and presumably a copy of the cert remained in his book/register which was the basis for the return to HQ ?

>Did the nonconformist minister who conducted the service also complete his chapel's register as a separate thing ?

A. In churches with a full licence to conduct marriages, there are always two separate marriage registers (as some listers will doubtless recall). The couple receive an individual certificate. One register is passed on completion for retention by the local Superintendent Registrar; the second copy remains with the church (although it may subsequently choose to deposit it with their local county record office). The details "for the return to HQ" are submitted on separate forms by the clergy every quarter - via the Superintendent Registrar.

In chapels where the registrar was still required to attend, he or she would bring along their official register. A second copy of the register was not essential, although some nonconformist denominations (not all of them) kept their own unofficial registers on a voluntary basis. These might have levels of detail which varied from the official registers. In Roman Catholic churches, parts of the text might still be in Latin, whilst Congregational churches sometimes used the same volumes for recording Births/Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths/Burials, together with church minutes and membership rolls.

[AJ   3 Feb 2001 D]

Death Certificates and Informants


> I hold a Death Certificate from 1868, where under cause of Death there are the words "Not Certified".

> Can anyone advise me is this precisely what it says, I find it difficult to understand that the registrar would issue a certificate without the cause of death being made clear.


I think the answer lies in the fact that until 1874 it wasn't necessary to have a doctor's certificate as to cause of death before a death cert could be issued by the Registrar.

In that year entering cause of death in a cert became a legal requirement.

It seems that between 1837 and 1874 Registrars were only required to request a "medical statement" as to cause of death which presumably lead to the comment " Not certified".

But why the cause isn't shown  as such I don't know.

[Gareth 7 March 2001 G]


A death certificate gives the following information;

  • Date and place of death
  • Name, sex and occupation of deceased
  • Cause of death
  • Name and address of informant
  • Date of registration

Also the name of a dead woman's husband might be given.

For a legitimate child under school leaving age the name of the father should be  given,; and that of the mother too from 1982 onwards.

Since 1969, additional information is given;

  • Date and place of birth
  • Usual address
  • Maiden name if a married woman


Who is qualified to report a death to the registrar?   is a question that comes up on lists from time to time.

I have come across an official  Notice to Informant issued in 1939 which has this definition below included, but bear in mind that the law at other periods in time might have been different.

Persons Qualified and Liable to Act as Informants

The following table shows in full the persons, in the order of their successive liability, who are designated by the Births and Deaths Registration Acts as Informants :­


  • (1) A Relative of the Deceased, present at the Death.
  • (2) A Relative of the Deceased, in attendance during the last illness.
  • (3) A Relative of the Deceased, dwelling or being at the time of Registration in the Sub-District wherein the Death occurred.
  • (4) A Person present at the Death.
  • (5) The Occupier of the House in which the Death occurred
  • (6) An  Inmate of the House in which the Death occurred.
  • (7) The Person causing the body to be buried.


  • (1) Any Relative of the Deceased having knowledge of the required particulars.
  • (2) Any Person present at the Death.
  • (3) Any Person who found the Body.    
  • (4) Any Person in charge of the Body.
  • (5) The Person causing the Body to be buried.


  • (1) Any Relative of the Deceased who may be available.
  • (2) The Chief (or Acting Chief) Resident Officer.
  • (3) A Person present at the Death.
  • (4) The Person causing the Body to be buried.

LDS batch numbers

Don't forget that all batch numbers are obtainable from the IGI catalogue.

From the Home page click the Library tag, then the Family History Library Catalogue, then Place Search.
Enter your target place then click on Search. This will bring up all the places with that name in the catalogue.

As an example I entered Cardiff and had four results, among which was Wales, Glamorgan, Cardiff. When clicked this brings up a list of all Cardiff, Wales material in the Library.
The key entry on the page is Church Records Indexes. Clicking on this brings up three entries, one of which is Parish register printouts of Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales (Saint John and Saint Mary) ; christenings, 1813-1849. By clicking on this entry I have a page with details of this index, including the (unmodified) batch number - in this case C-5790-1.
To convert this to a useable batch number replace the first hyphen with a zero and delete the second hyphen, thus producing C057901.

[Charles 13 March 2001 G]

Marriage, my name or yours? 

It is customary for brides to take on their husband's surname on marriage, at least since surnames became the norm themselves. But it seems it has always been legally possible for the husband to take the bride's surname instead, or indeed any other surname they cared to chose. Another possibility was to use both surnames separated with a hyphen. In fact the article quotes an example of an actual case of a couple combining parts of their separate surnames into a new one ! [Based on a reading of an article in the latest Family Tree Magazine(UK)]

[Gareth    G 22 Oct 2001]


Cousins, how related


Third cousin twice removed, what exactly does that mean?

What is a third cousin, or fourth, fifth, or even just a second for that matter.  How exactly can someone be removed?


I will attempt to show you how exactly someone can be removed !

Persons with * both common GRANDPARENTS are 1st cousins. Persons with * both common GREAT-GRANDPARENTS are 2nd cousins. * BUT, if only one grandparent is common then they are half 1st/2nd cousins which is an important distinction in the genetic sense.

1. Determine the common ancestor, e.g. gt-grandparent, gt-gt-grandparent.

2. Determine how many generations you are from this ancestor [you are three generations from your great grandparent].

3. Determine how many generations the other person is from the common ancestor. If he too, is two generations from the common ancestor, he is your first cousin once removed [your father's or mother's first cousin]. If he is four generations from the common ancestor he is your second cousin once removed [the child of your second cousin.]

There is more reading matter on this and the gist of the above is taken from 'The Family Historian's Enquire Within' by Pauline Saul, FFHS

[Jill Muir  G  20 Nov 2001 and corrected * on advice from  Tom Roderick 10/2003]

Probate records at the NLW

I received this reply a while ago and thought it may be of some small help to other researchers seeking wills from the NLW. Please notice the patronymic change of name the first one that I had found in my family. Family from a farm in Merthyr Tydfil.

Dear Mrs Smith,

In response to your e-mail of 31 May 2001 I can confirm that the National Library of Wales holds most of the Welsh probate records, divided into two groups, the first being 1521-1858, and the second being 1858-1928 for some district registries and 1858-1940 (approx.) for others.

The first group have been fully catalogued by a combination of printed surname indexes and a computer database, which is searchable by name, parish or occupation.

The second group, the register copy wills, are arranged by date only, and may be searched by means of a chronological and alphabetical index called the Calendar of Probate Grants (or National Probate Calendars), or by integral indexes, which are incomplete for some district registries.

The post-1858 register copy wills for Montgomeryshire are not held here, but at the Shropshire Records and Research Centre in Shrewsbury.

The vast majority of the wills are in English, with a small percentage in Welsh, and some of the early official documents (pre-1733/4) in Latin.

I have searched the database of the pre-1858 Welsh probate records and I have traced entries for two wills which appear to match your requirements, as follows:

Thomas David of Merthyr Tudful, will proved 1749 (ref. LL/1749/92)

David William of Merthyr Tudful, will proved 1816 (ref. LL/1816/78)

I shall send a photocopy order form, with an estimate of the cost, to your postal address.

Hilary A. Peters

Assistant Archivist

[Heather Smith  G   6 Dec 2001]

Birth Certificates- a complication

It is possible to fail to find a post 1837 birth entry in the GRO index[St Cath's], partly because it just doesn't exist since compulsory registration wasn't introduced until 1874 and under registration is an unfortunate fact of life in the intervening period.

There is another potential pit fall however, one where the forename of a child had not been chosen by the date of registration, which had to be within 42 days of the birth. These entries appear in the GRO index as 'male' or 'female' at the end of the run of entries for any particular surname. These might of course refer to a child who died soon after birth, so a matching death entry may also be found. But, if you can't find a birth entry, and there is a male/female entry  which may be relevant then you could buy a certificate anyway with a qualification by a parents' name.

Another quirk to bear in mind is that a forename can be added up to a year after the initial registration and the register will be changed accordingly.

Something I didn't know, the actual registers in local Register Offices in the late C19 had  a page of example forenames, I wonder how often it was resorted to by parents who simply couldn't think of a name for their off spring ??

[Based on reading of the Family & Local History Handbook, ed. Robert Blatchford, 2001]

[Gareth   all lists 12 Jan 2002]

Episcopalian Church

Q. Does anyone know if the Episcopalian Religion was active in Wales before 1890? And what type of religion would it be considered? Conformist, or non-conformist, etc.? How do I know what Churches in the Rhondda Valley were ones that they were likely to go to?

A.This is a simple question with a complex answer !!!

The Episcopal Church in the USA, until recently called the Protestant Episcopal Church belongs to the Anglican Communion of Churches of which the mother church is the Church of England.

So if your family went to an Anglican Church in the Rhondda valley, it would have been the Church of England ( now called the Church in Wales).

Whilst I am aware that the Episcopal Church in the USA has many ritualistic tendencies common to the Roman Catholic Church, I would suspect that whilst other Church of England Churches in England were adopting similar ritualistic practices in the 1850 onwards period, I'd be surprised if this were the case in the Rhondda valley in the 1890s, though I stand corrected on this. The most likely churches in the Treherbert area would have been StAlbans and St Mary's ? ?

So I would suspect your family joined the Episcopal Church in the USA after having attended the Church of England Church in the Rhondda Valley. They then found they did not like the ritualistic aspects of the Episcopal Church and moved on to another more " Protestant" Church.

[Paul Young 7 March 2002 G]

Follow up;

Episcopalian, means "with a bishop". The only two Churches in Wales to ordain bishops are The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England (Church in Wales now).

In America, circuit superintendents of some branches of the Methodist Church  were also ordained as bishop, but despite regular calls for the English and  Welsh circuit superintendents to follow suite (the last attempt was about 4  years ago) they have not, as yet done so.

[Alwyn 7 March 2002 G]


 "The Militia Act of 1757 provided for men to serve in the militia at home in  order to counter any threat arising while the majority of the regular army  was stationed abroad. Lists of eligible men in each parish were known as  militia ballot lists and from these, the men actually chosen appeared in the  militia lists which are often to be found in county record offices. At the  Public Record Office, however, are the muster and pay lists in series WO13.  These record the men actually serving and the indexes provide details for  each man at the three or four musters during the two year period for which  records survive. County regiments, although recruited locally, often served  away from home and these indexes tell precisely where, under whom and on what dates the men were mustered."

[Bill Griffith-Jones  P 6 May 2002]

Still births  

The LDS publication Research Outline for England, page 25, says:

No provision was made for registering stillbirths until 1874, when a new law required a death certificate before burying stillborn children.  

Since 1927, all stillbirths (any birth where the child never took a breath) are recorded in the Register of Stillbirths, which is not available to the public.

(Glamlist 17 March 2003 Diana-in-Canada)


Gentleman and Esquire  

The term "esquire" is explained in Hey (1996) page 155:

Originally the shield-bearer to a knight, by the 16th century an officer
of the Crown, and in the following two centuries a man with a coat of
arms who was a superior gentleman. In the 19th century 'esquire' became
more widely used as a style when addressing letters to a gentleman, and
later to all men."

Source: HEY, David (ed) (1996) "The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History", Oxford University Press, Oxford; ISBN 0-19-860215-4

The term "gentleman" is explained in FitzHugh (1998) page 126:

In the Middle Ages the word 'gentil' meant 'noble', but 'gentleman' came
into use in the fifteenth century to signify a condition between baron
and yeoman,or sometimes between knight and yeoman, after a statute had
laid down that in certain legal documents the 'estate, degree or
mystery' of the defendant must be stated. In 1429 the term 'les gentils'
was used in an Act of Parliament, of men having freehold property worth
40 shillings per year or more.
From the sixteenth century onward, the distinction between gentleman and
yeoman lay more in their way of life than in their relative prosperity.
A gentleman did not work with his hands, so his household included
personal servants; whereas the servants of a yeoman were his assistants
on the land and in the dairy. A gentleman's son was often described as a
yeoman while he was working his holding, pending inheritance of his
father's lands. Members of the professions, e.g. army and naval officers
and barristers, were regarded as gentlemen, some of them being entitled
to the description 'Esquire'. For apprenticing a son to a London citizen
a property qualification was required, so many gentlemen's sons entered
the more profitable trades of the City. When a man, who during his
working life was designated by his occupation (for example tailor),
retired, he would often then describe himself a 'Gentleman' as he was no
longer gainfully employed."

Source: FITZHUGH, Terrick V. H. (1998) "The Dictionary of Genealogy", A & C Black, London; ISBN 0-7136-4859-7

(John Ball Dyfed-L  6 July 2003 )


Religious Census

In 1851 a religious census was compiled at the same time as the ordinary census. Returns were produced for nearly all places of worship (all denominations) in every parish. The returns give details of accomodation, pew renting, average attendances for the previous year, endowments, number present at services on 30th March 1851. Also the foundation of non-conformist chapels built or adapted after 1800. The original returns are kept at the PRO.



The OED defines a charity as an organisation or institution set up for helping those in need.

In 1786 it was decreed that charitable organisations should lodge copies of their annual accounts with local Clerks of the Peace who forwarded periodic returns to Parliament, the latter may  now be held at County Archives with the Quarter Session records.
The Charity Commission for England and Wales was set up by the Charitable Trust Act of 1853 with powers to oversee and regulate  the accounts and activities of registered charities, it does have extant records, some have been lodged with County Archives.

Examples of charities in Wales were Charity Schools, there is an useful list of these on the Wales Genuki pages, as extracted from the article;
'Sir John Philipps of Picton, the SPCK and the Charity School Movement in Wales 1699-1737'. By Shankland, Thomas[Rev]. From   Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, Session 1904-05.

A further example of charitable giving from Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1833);-
" Swansea;- Gabriel Powell, in 1733, bequeathed a rent-charge of £ 5, to be distributed among twenty-five poor persons of the parish ; Captain John Price bequeathed £200 for apprenticing poor children ; Dr. Miller left a rentcharge of £ 1. 4., and there are several other charitable donations and bequests, the produce of which is annually distributed among the poor, according to the intention of the several benefactors."

Jones the Fish ?  

An amusing quote from Gwyn Alf Williams' ' Where was Wales';

"There are 54 Joneses in 'The Dictionary of Welsh Biography', but this is a five finger exercise for anyone who has to locate a Jones in an average Welsh telephone directory (hence the familiar Jones the Fish, Jones the Bread, and, in recent times, Jones the Spy). The recent rise of Welsh nationalism has led some people to reverse the process; even the 'ap' is returning. But the most engaging last stand was made in the eighteenth century by a genial bankrupt who signed himself  'Sion ap William ap Sion ap William ap Sion ap Dafydd ap Ithel Fychan ap Cynrig ap Robert ap Iorwerth ap Rhyrid ap Iorwerth ap Madoc ap Ednawain Bendew, called after the English fashion John Jones' ."

A collection of things said about and to the Welsh people  

I acknowledge that I have copied these original third party quotations directly from that most excellent reference work ' The Welsh Almanac' by Terry Breverton, 2002.
This is an unusual book, crammed full of facts, dates, events, quotations --- brought to life by the author's own strongly held feelings about his homeland which one senses on every page.
Details of this and other books can be seen on Wales Books

I have only copied material from a part of the book, if your interest has been piqued then you know what to do.....

Gerald Cambrensis ' The Description of Wales', 1193/4

"The Welsh people are light and agile. They are fierce rather than strong, and totally dedicated to the practice of arms. Not only the leaders but the entire nation are trained in war. Sound the trumpet for battle and the farmer will rush from his plough to pick up his weapons as quickly as the courtier from the court. One cannot say here, as elsewhere, 'the farmers' toil is one long round' "

"The name Wales does not come from that of a leader called Walo, or from a queen called Gwendolyn, as we are wrongly told in Geoffrey of Monmouth's fabulous 'History', for you will find neither of these among the Welsh who ever lived. It is derived from one of the barbarous words brought in by the Saxons when they seized the kingdom of Britain. In their language the Saxons apply the adjective 'vealh' to anything foreign, and, since the Welsh were certainly a people foreign to them, that is what the Saxons called them. To this day our country continues to be called Wales, and our people Welsh, but these are barbarous terms."

"The Welsh are given neither to gluttony nor to drunkenness. They spend little on food or clothes. Their sole interest in life consists of caring for their horses and keeping their weapons in good order, their sole preoccupation the defence of their fatherland and the seizing of booty. From morning to evening they eat nothing, devoting their whole energy to what business they have in hand and their whole day to their affairs, leaving everything else to chance. In the evening they eat a modest meal. If food is short or if they have none at all, they wait patiently for the next evening. Neither hunger nor cold can deter them. They spend the dark and stormy nights in observing the movement of their enemies. "

"In Wales no one begs. Everyone's home is open to all, for the Welsh generosity and hospitality are the greatest of all virtues. They very much enjoy welcoming others to their homes. When you travel there is no question of asking for accommodation or of their offering it; you just march into a house and hand over your weapons to the person in charge. They give you water so that you may wash your feet and that means you are a guest. With these people the offering of water in which to wash one's feet is an invitation to stay. If you refuse the offer, it means that you have only dropped in for refreshment during the early part of the day and do not propose to stay the night. "

The Act of Union, 1536

"The people of the Dominion of Wales have and do daily use a speech nothing like nor consonant to the natural mother tongue used within this realm. ...... No person or persons that use the Welsh speech or language shall have or enjoy any manor, office or fees within the realm of England, Wales or other of the king's dominions upon pain of forfeiting the same offices or fees unless he or they use and exercise the speech or language of the English."

Henry Penruddocke Wyndham, ' A Gentleman's Tour Through Wales', 1797

"The ancient history of Wales is a calendar of usurpations, depredations and murders."

Sir Robert Kerr Porter in ' Tour', 1799

"The Welsh are extremely selfish, and if it is at all possible to cheat and in any way to take in a stranger they will. If one settles amongst them as a farmer or otherwise, every way is used to injure him, they hamstring his cattle, open his gates and break his enclosures, in short everything possible by which they can annoy him they do, but in some degree, this may be accounted for, they are uncommonly Methodists and consequently Devils. The women are of a most disagreeable disposition, one moment all good humour and affability, the next they are sulking and apparently without any cause whatsoever. They are continually knitting, both walking and sitting in their Religious Bawling Houses. "

Rev Thomas Price (Carnhuanawc) Eisteddfod speeches 1824 & 1826

"Perhaps it would be difficult to point out any other country in the world in which the peasantry and lower classes feel such an interest in literary and intellectual pursuits as the people of Wales do..."

"I have no hesitation in asserting that the Welsh language at the present day to the Welsh peasant is a much more cultivated and literary medium of knowledge than the English is to an Englishman of the same class....... Show me another language in the world in which such a body of knowledge is found in the hands of the common people ! Show me another race of man on the face of the earth among whom the labouring classes are the entire patrons of the press. "

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), ' On the Study of Celtic Literature'

"It must always be the desire of government to render its dominions, as far as possible, homogeneous. Sooner or later the difference of language between Wales and England will probably be effaced, an event which is socially and politically desirable"

Report on Education in Wales, 'The Treason of the Blue Books'. 1847

"The Welsh language is a vast drawback to Wales, and a manifold barrier to the moral progress and commercial prosperity of Wales. .... Whether in the country or among the furnaces, the Welsh element is never found at the top of the social classes ....... his language keeps him under the hatches...."

George Borrow in ' Wild Wales', 1862

"The Welsh are afraid lest an Englishman should understand their language, and, by hearing their conversation, become acquainted with their private affairs, or by listening to it, pick up their language which they have no mind that he should know --- and their very children sympathise with them. All conquered people are suspicious of their conquerors. The English have forgot that they ever conquered the Welsh, but some ages will elapse before the Welsh forget that the English have conquered them."

Michael Jones, founder of Patagonia (1865?)

"...a free farmer could tread his own land and enjoy on his own hearth, the song and harp and true Welsh fellowship..... There will be a chapel, school and parliament and the old language will be the medium of worship, of trade, of science, of education and of government. A strong and self-reliant nation will grow into a Welsh homeland....."

The Lord Chancellor, responding to a request from a member of parliament for a Welsh speaking judge in Wales--- before appointing an English monoglot. 1871

"There is a statute of Henry VIII (27 Hen 8 c 26) which absolutely requires that legal proceedings in Wales be conducted in English, legal proceedings had been in English for 300 years, and , moreover, the Welsh language is dying out ... probably the best thing that can happen to Wales is that the Welsh language should follow the Cornish into the limbo of dead languages. "

Dr William Price, 1880

"You the coalowners .... think that you can suck the life-blood out of the colliers for ever. You have grown fat and prosperous; you own the big houses; you wear the finest clothes; your children are healthy and happy; yet you do not work.... Take heed, you men whose bodies are bloated by the life-blood of the poor, take heed before it is too late.."

David Lloyd George, in ' Y Faner', 1896

"Is the mass of the Welsh nation willing to be dominated by a coalition of English capitalists who have come to Wales, not to benefit the people, but to make their fortune ? "

Herbert Asquith MP, 1905

"I would sooner go to Hell than Wales."

Sir Owen M Edwards (1858-1920), ' Clych Atgof', 1906

"Every day the (Welsh) Not, under its own weight as it were, would find its way from every corner of the school, to my neck. This is a comfort to me even today; I never tried to get rid of the Not by passing it on to someone else ... Damnable system, I am grateful when I remember that there is the hope that I shall see the time when I can dance on your grave.  It was not the school-mistresses's fault, but the system's .... I spoke one language, and the school-mistress another --- and I learnt nothing. But for the Welsh Sunday School, I should be illiterate today. "

Gwyn A Williams, concluding lines from  ' When was Wales ?', 1985

"One thing I am sure of. Some kind of human society, though God knows what kind, will no doubt go on occupying these two Western peninsulas of Britain, but that people, who are my people and no mean people, who have for a millennium and a half lived in them as a Welsh people, are now nothing but a naked people under an acid rain "


Marriage by Certificate  

People sometimes come across the expression 'married by certificate' which is potentially confusing.

Following Hardwicke's Act of 1753/4 all marriages had to be in the parish church either by banns or by licence (excluding Quakers and Jews).
But from the Civil Registration Act of 1837 marriages could also take place before civil registrars or in licensed chapels.
The Superintendent Registrar was authorised to issue a certificate, similar to an Anglican licence, authorising marriage, without banns, in licensed places of worship. The written declaration of the couple were open to the public for 21 days before any such marriage.

(Based on a reading of Ancestral Trails by Mark Herber )

See also Nonconformist marriages


Birth registration of twins  

If a time of birth is given on a birth certificate this implies a multiple birth, except in the very early years of civil registration.
But, if one of the twins was still born (Still births) then the time should not be stated on the birth entry of the surviving twin.
This fact is relevant to anyone looking to these indexes for evidence of twinning in a family.

Twins aren't described  as such in the indexes but a same surname search through the indexes for the same quarter should give the same or perhaps adjoining reference numbers.
But beware of same surname cousins and common name entries.


Birth registration -  surname?  

Before 1969 a child's birth entry/certificate didn't show any surname, this had to be inferred from the parents' name.

From 1969 the child's surname may be any name under which the informant says the child will be brought up.


Birth registration - mother's name ?  

A mother who has been married previously should show on the birth entry/certificate as "Ann Davies, late Jones, formerly Evans". In this example,  Evans was her maiden name, formerly should always mean maiden name, not her previous married name.


Baptisms - but where was mother ?  

People are often perplexed, when they first get a research toe into the C18th, to find that baptism entries in parish registers unhelpfully do not include the mother's name, only the father's.

This was in fact the norm prior to  Rose's Act of 1812 which decreed that baptisms had in future to be kept in specially printed books which included spaces for the date of baptism, child and both parents names and abode and fathers occupation. These are the registers which are still in use today.
To illustrate the point, in the Llangiwg baptisms index, published by the Gla FHs, for the surname DAVID there are only 5 pre 1813 entries which have the mother's name out of a hundred or so entries.

Why was this?  -  is perhaps the next question that arises.

Well, the first thing to do is forget present day customs and values - for the answer lies in the disadvantaged relative status of women as opposed to that enjoyed by men in the preceding centuries.
In a nutshell, women just weren't considered as important as men in the grand scheme of things !

The following random facts and comments will confirm this 'phenomenon' ;

  • The patronymic naming system was based solely on a man or woman's male ancestry - as in 'Dafydd ap Rhys' and 'Ann verch Rhys'.  So, it didn't matter who your mother was.
  • The move from a patronymic system to one of fixed surnames led directly to the  adoption of male given names as family surnames. And in a marriage it was the norm for the wife to adopt the husband's surname, leading to the disappearance of the wife's maiden surname in most marriages - although in some families the latter is used as a second given name, for example.
    And of course a child of a marriage usually takes the father's surname, although not a legal necessity.
  • The form of marriage certificate brought in in 1837 has both  fathers' names, presumably to assist with the identification of the parties to the marriage, but  those of the mothers are not included.
  • Prior to the 1892/3 Married Women's Property Act, married women had no legal right to hold property in their own names, for example at marriage any property gifted to a woman by her father would have legally gone to the new husband immediately.
  • The traditional 'lesser status' of women in Welsh inheritance custom is described under Gavelkind and Primogeniture
  • In a divorce, from 1858 a husband could obtain a divorce because of his wife's adultery. But until 1925 a wife had not only to prove adultery but also that it had been aggravated by the husband's cruelty or other offences such as bigamy or desertion for 2 years.
  • Women didn't have the right to vote in parliamentary elections until 1919/29 - a right that most adult males had from 1884.
  • Wife selling - until the end of the C19 it was a common misapprehension that a wife was her husband's chattel and so could be sold by him if he so wished.


Licensing of pubs, alehouses, taverns, inns  

This brief overview owes much to a reading of the excellent reference book Ancestral Trails by Mark Herber (2nd ed).

From  1532  Justices of the Peace (JPs) at Quarter Sessions were authorised to select the victuallers who should be permitted to keep alehouses. The latter had to provide a bond of  surety (or recognizance) for the orderly keeping of their houses and were granted a licence in return.

By the C17th, licences at many Quarter Sessions were required to be renewed annually and from 1729 annual licensing became compulsory.  Recognizances were  required every year from 1753, and Clerks of the Peace kept registers of these.

Surviving lists of licences and registers of recognizances are usually in Quarter Sessions' Records.
Recognizances name the licensee, his parish, the name of the surety and (later) the name of the alehouse.
The local survival of these records should be determined by enquiry to the County Records Offices (CROs/Archives).

An Act of 1828 replaced most existing licensing laws and and confirmed annual licensing sessions of JPs although no records had to be kept.

An Act of 1830 allowed any householders to sell beer, ale or cider with a licence from the Excise authorities (but there are no known extant records of these so few records exist for the period 1828 -1869).

In 1869 a new licensing system was introduced for all types of premises, the JPs licensed annually, with from 1872 by standing committee of JPs. And from the latter date registers had to be kept.

The book Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry by J & S Rowlands  (p325) contains an image of an original register licensing entry for a public house in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire.

The book Quarter Sessions Records for Family Historians (3rd ed 1992) by Jeremy Gibson contains details of extant records at various CROs;  

  • Glamorgan RO in Cardiff  has inter alia a) Register of alhouse recognizances 1753-63;  b) Recognizance Books, 1779-80; 1801-04; 1810-40, and Rolls 1819-1970
  • The references for both Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire imply very few extant Quarter Session records, the reference for Pembrokeshire is unclear as far as licensing records is concerned.

A general point to make is that when searching for extant records it may be worth looking in Petty Sessions Records as well as Quarter Sessions

There is also the specialised book (which I don't have)

  • VICTUALLERS' LICENCES - Records for Family and Local Historians by Jeremey Gibson and Judith Hunter, published by the Federation of Family History Societies, ISBN 1 86006 048 X. This book contains details and descriptions of all records held for the Victuallers' Licences.

See also Quarter Sessions  and Courts of Great Sessions of Wales

Carriers - what did they do ?  

Before mechanised transport became widespread in the early C20th rural villages relied on carriers, with their horse/donkey and cart, for their links to nearby towns to obtain goods which weren't available in the immediate locality. These goods might have included items such as food, tools, boots, medicines, seeds - the list is endless.
Doubtless, rural villages would also have sent/taken manufactured goods by carrier to the markets/fairs held there.
Rural villagers couldn't normally afford coach travel, so a trip to town would have meant either walking or climbing on the back of the carrier's cart too.

It seems likely that carriers would generally have been based in the towns -  with villages being 'serviced' by being on the carrier's route between towns.

The existence of carriers in Wales, and the sort of journeys they made, and how often, is illustrated by the following extract from Kelly's Directory South Wales 1910

Carriers from Aberaeron to;

  • Aberystwith --- Isaac Jones, every day
  • Lampeter --- Owen J Jones daily
  • New Quay --- David Williams, mon, wed & fri

So, exactly how far did they travel ?  With reference to the above daily journeys,  the same directory notes Aberayron as being " 13 [miles] north-west from Lampeter railway station, ........ 16 south-by-west from Aberystwyth "
I estimate Aberaeron to be 5 miles from Newquay by [modern] road.

These carriers would have had regular customers in every village en route, a 30 mile round trip at, for argument's sake, an average of 4 miles an hour, up hill and down dale, much of it in the dark on unmade tracks, with umpteen delivery stops in between, sounds like a long day's work to me.
I wonder if they organised facilities for a change of horse ?
Did they make deliveries in both directions ?

And what would they have carried between the above towns ?
Well, Lampeter is the only inland town of these particular four, so goods brought in by sea would have featured on that trip at least - I answer the question with these extracts below - all from A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1833) by Samuel Lewis.

"[Lampeter] The inhabitants procure grocery and various other articles of domestic consumption from Bristol, which are brought by sea to Aberaëron, and thence by land carriage a distance of thirteen miles : coal, of a bituminous quality, from Newport and Llanelly, which is brought to the same port; and stone, coal, and culm by land from Llandebie and Llandyvan, a distance of about thirty miles : there is neither trade nor manufacture carried on here. The market is on Saturday : three principal fairs, in addition to others of inferior note, are held annually on the Wednesday in Whitsun-week, July 10th, and October 19th"

"The port [of Aberaeron] is a member of that of Cardigan, and is one of the most thriving within its jurisdiction : there are from thirty to forty sloops belonging to it, of from seventeen to one hundred tons' burden, which are navigated by about one hundred and twenty seamen of this place : they are chiefly employed in the importation of coal and culm, and two of them trade regularly with Bristol. The principal articles of importation, in addition, are grocery and timber; and of exportation, butter and oats : there is also a lucrative herring fishery, in which about thirty boats, with seven men to each, are engaged......................... The merchants' stores are open weekly, on Wednesday, for the reception of corn ; and it is intended to establish a weekly market for provisions, &.c., under the auspices of Colonel Gwynne, the present proprietor of the manor : a fair for the hiring of servants is held on November 13th"

"[New Quay] There are at present from sixty to seventy vessels belonging to this port, averaging from forty to fifty tons' burden each, and employing from one hundred and fifty to two hundred men. Fish of very superior quality is found in abundance on this part of the coast, soles, turbots, and oysters, being taken in great numbers during the season ; a good herring fishery may also be established with advantage. The village is of considerable size, and is inhabited chiefly by persons connected with the business of the port. A fair is annually held on November 12th."

"[Aberystwith] The trade is considerable, and, if not obstructed by the insufficiency of the port, would doubtless be much more extensive: it consists principally in the importation of timber, hemp, tar, tallow, wine, spirits, and grocery; and in the exportation of bark and the agricultural produce of the neighbouring country. The number of ships belonging to the port is one hundred and twenty-two, averaging a burden of fifty-three tons each; and during the summer months nearly one hundred vessels are employed in the coasting trade."
"[Aberystwyth] There are two weekly markets, held on Monday and Saturday ; the former is for corn, butter, cheese, fruit, fish, and poultry, and is held in the area under the town-hall ; and the latter for butcher's meat, for which a new market-place, one hundred and four feet long, and thirty-one feet wide, was erected in 1822, in the street leading to the castle hill, by a tontine subscription. Fairs are held on the Monday before January 5th, Monday next before Easter, Whit -Monday, May 14th, June 24th, September 16th, and the Monday before November 11th: the first Mondays after the 12th of November and the 12th of May are called, by the natives of the surrounding country, Dyddllun Cyvlogi, or " Hiring Mondays;" and on these days a great number of the farmers and others meet here, for the purpose of hiring servants"

Here are further examples of carriers based in the above group of  towns as listed in C19th trade directories - note that the longer journeys were made weekly/fortnightly.

Carrier from Lampeter - Pigot's 1844

  • To Carmarthen & Aberayron, David Owens, once a week

Carriers from Aberaeron - Pigot's 1844

  • To Aberystwyth, John Jones, from the Monachty Arms, every Monday and Saturday; and Thomas Bowen, once a fortnight
  • To Carmarthen, Thomas Bowen, once a fortnight

Carriers from Aberystwyth - Pigot's 1844

  • To Aberayron & Lampeter, John Jones, from the Swan, every Monday
  • To Birmingham, Morgans & Co from Bridge st, and Evan Rees, from his house, once a week; thro' Llanidloes, Newtown, Welshpool, and Shrewsbury
  • To Carmarthen, Thos Bowen, from his house, every alternate Tuesday, goes through Llanrysted, Ystrad, Llanbyther, and New Inn
  • To Machynlleth, Lewis Edwards, from the Prince Albert, every Monday
  • To Shrewsbury, Morgans & Co from Bridge st, and Evan Rees, from his house, once a week; both go through Llanidloes, Newtown, and Welshpool


Random insights into the lives of workers in the Swansea area copper smelting works.

 From the 1851 Religious Census extracts for Llansamlet parish;

<Canaan (Congregational Church), Foxhole
"The reason for the difference in the  attendance Morning and evening is
that many of the copper men work from Saturday morning until Sunday morning;
consequently they cannot attend until the evening" [morn. 148, even. 389]

From  ' Swansea, its Port and Trade and their Development 'by Alderman Edward
Harris, 1935

"........ the copper industry  soon became the staple industry in the town.
As the River Tawe was tidal and thus navigable for small ships as far up
river as Morriston, and with no other cost effective alternative at the
time, these works were sited along the banks of the river from Hafod to
Morriston. By 1851 the works in operation included ; the Forest, White
Rock [Bristol Co Copper Works], Middle Bank, Upper Bank, Ynis, Rose , and
Copper was firstly imported from Cornwall, but later also from Anglesey,
Cumberland, Spain, Cuba, South Africa and South America; and exported to
almost all parts of the world.
According to Cliffes Book of South Wales published in 1848, the copper trade
employed a large number. Messrs Vivian then employed about 500 men and 500
women and girls. The women  were chiefly employed in wheeling ore in barrows
for crushing, and were paid 9/- or 10/- a week whilst children received from
3/6 to 6/6. Furnacemen earned from 28/- to 32/- a week and ladlers from £2
upwards. A certain number of men rested on a Saturday, and worked a given
task, to keep the furnaces in, on a Sunday; these tasks were called
"watches", children did not work night "watches"

From ' Copper-Works Schools in South Wales during the Nineteenth Century'
By Leslie Wynne Evans, National Library of Wales journal. 1959, Summer Volume XI/1'

"The first copperworks school to be established in the Swansea district was
associated with the White Rock, Upper, and Middle Bank Copper Companies. The
two proprietors, Pascoe St. Leger Grenfell of Maesteg House, St. Thomas,
Swansea, and John Freeman, promoted a school which was opened in 1806 by the
proprietors, it was maintained by stoppages of a 1d. per week from the
workmen employed in the three copperworks. The girls were required to pay,
separately at the Works offices. This school was later converted into a
Boys department, a girls' school being added in 1842."


Marriages not allowed  

The list of forbidden marriages was drawn up by the Church of England in 1560 and remained unchanged until the 20 th century.

For  comprehensive details of this list, and much else, (see  F M Lancaster's  Genetic and Quantitive Aspects of Genealogy site)


Marriages, my parish or yours ?

Llandewi Velfrey, 1754 - 1812    (PEM)

An analysis of 270 marriages

Assuming that where no parish was given, the groom and/or bride were from Llandewi Velfrey,

  • about half of the marriages (136) were between people who both lived in Llandewi Velfrey
  • 127 marriages (47%) were between an out-of parish groom and a Llandewi Velfrey bride
  • 7 marriages (3%) were between an out-of-parish bride and a Llandewi Velfrey groom

Where were the out-of-parish grooms from?

Adjacent parishes - total 70 grooms

  • Lampeter Velfrey 21
  • Crinow 3
  • Narberth 14
  • Egremond (Egremont) (CMN) 1
  • Castle Devon (Castelldwyran) 6
  • Llanfallteg 9
  • Henllan Amgoed (CMN) 6
  • Llangan (CMN/PEM) 10

"Next door but one" parishes - total 31 grooms

  • Ludchurch 3
  • St.Issels 2
  • Robeston Wathen 2
  • Llawhaden 2
  • Bletherston 2
  • Llandekeven (Llan-y-cefn) 1
  • Llandisilio (CMN/PEM) 7
  • Cilymaenllwyd (CMN) 5
  • Llanboidy (CMN) 3
  • Llandowror (CMN) 1
  • Kiffick (Cyffig) (CMN) 3

Other parishes within 10 miles - total 17 grooms

  • Jeffreyston 1
  • Carew 2
  • Slebech 1
  • Prendergast 1
  • St. Martin's Haverfordwest 1
  • St. Dogwells 1
  • Llangolman 1
  • Whitechurch 1
  • Llanfair-nant-y-gwyn 1
  • Eglwys Fair-a-Churig (CMN) 1
  • Llangunrog (Llangynog? CMN) 1
  • Laugharne (CMN) 3
  • Eglwys Cymmin (CMN) 2

Parishes 10 to 20 miles away - total 6 grooms

  • St. Peter's (CMN) 3
  • Kidwelly (CMN) 1
  • Llanstadwell 1
  • Haroldston West 1

Further afield in Wales - 2 grooms

  • Llangefelach (GLA) 1
  • Llangoodmore (Llangoedmor) (CGN) 1

England - 1 groom

  • Cowitch (Wilts) 1

A statistician may find it interesting to note the numbers in each category:

136; 70; 31; 17; 6; 2; 1 - numbers reduce by c 50% each time !

Where were the out-of-parish brides from?

All marrying Llandewi Velfrey grooms.

  • Narberth 4
  • Castelldwyran 1
  • Lampeter Velfrey 1
  • Llanboidy (CMN) 1

All within about 5 miles of the Llandewi Velfrey parish boundary.

Gerry Lewis (Dyfed list 4/2/2007)


Dioceses in Glamorgan 

From  Archives Network Wales

  • "Within the county of Glamorgan there are 125 original parishes, known as 'ancient' parishes.
    During the 19th century and early 20th century, however, a number of new parishes were established to serve the needs of the county's growing population.
    These are known as 'modern' parishes and are supplemental to the ancient parishes.
    The majority of the parishes are within the diocese of Llandaff, served by Llandaff Cathedral.
    There are a small number, however, on the western and eastern extremities of Glamorgan which are within the dioceses of Swansea and Brecon (established 1923) and Monmouth (established 1921)."

From the Church in Wales site;

  • "The Diocese of Swansea & Brecon
    The Diocese was created in 1923 from the ancient Diocese of St. David's and comprises most of the former counties of Brecon and Radnor together with the City of Swansea, the Swansea valley connecting it with Brecknock, and theGower Peninsula."

On the Genuki parish map of GLA can be seen a thick line denoting the boundary of the area originally in St David's Diocese - which is all parishes west of, and including, Llangiwg, Llangyfelach and Llansamlet.

From wikipedia;

  • Diocese of Monmouth;
    In local government terms, the territory of the diocese covers the City of Newport, Monmouthshire, the county boroughs of Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen, part of the City of Cardiff, part of the county borough of Caerphilly, and even a (very) small part of Herefordshire in England.


Baptisms - have I found the 'right' one?

I just had a mild fright and thought my experience might help highlight the inherent danger in accepting a key pre 1837 baptism as the 'right' one.
You know the scenario, someone born AND married pre 1837 -  so a father's name/occupation on a birth cert is not forthcoming to help with firm identification.

About  12 years ago I was looking for a Rees Rees born c 1909/10 in Cadoxton juxta Neath parish, a maternal gg grandfather, he married in 1831.
I duly found what looked like the most likely baptism entry - 19 August 1809 in the Cadoxton PRS, son of David and Margaret Rees.
I then went on to find the latter couple at a farm in that parish  and happily researched sideways and backwards to expand the line quite a way, end of.

Until last week anyway, in database material sent to me for Genuki relating to that parish was a list of baptisms/births for Bethany Baptist chapel in Neath parish, an adjoining parish to Cadoxton.
In that list is a baptism/birth entry "Rees son of Rees Rees and Elizabeth - 12th December 1809". A previous baptism showed they were from Cadoxton parish, probably the Neath Abbey area.

Points arising;

  • Cadoxton parish has well over 50 non-conformist chapels within its boundaries, and most of those don't have extant records.
  • Parish boundaries have no relevance as to 'which' non-conformist chapel our ancestors might have attended - in this case I guess the family lived at the bottom end of a large parish and the nearest Baptist chapel might well have been  Bethany, in Neath parish - which is under a mile from the boundary line with Cadoxton parish.

As it turns out I've been belatedly able to convince myself that my initial choice of baptism was the correct one through other means, but it needn't have turned out that way.
Obviously, the moral of the story is "don't assume a baptism entry is 'the one' just because there doesn't seem  a more likely one in the PRs".
Try very hard to find some other firm evidence to back up your 'best fit' choice.
And if you can't, then make sure you clearly note this weakness in your records so that other people don't accept what you've concluded as 'gospel'.
Or, do as I say, and not as I do !

 Gareth (July 2007)


Marriage by divorced persons

Q. If  a divorced woman marries again, would her maiden name appear on the marriage certificate?

A. According to Colin Rogers' 'The Family Tree Detective;

"A divorced woman must remarry under the surname by which she is then known, which will not necessarily be her earlier married name or even her maiden name."
[My comment; I think this is allowing for the fact that a surname change required no formal legal process]

"Between 1858 and 1952 a divorced bridegroom should be described  as the 'divorced husband of.....' his former wife's maiden name being given and a divorced bride as 'the divorced wife of...' with the additional phrase 'from whom she obtained a divorce' - only in the case of the respondent.
Since 1952 the condition of the divorce is simply 'previous marriage dissolved' "

[The relevance of the year 1858 is the passing of the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857.  See Pot Pourri on this site]

 Gareth (Jul 2007)


Parish boundaries

Q.  Does anyone know if parish boundaries during the period between late 1700s and early 1800s were the same as in 1830?

A. The best answer I can give is contained  in this short extract from the Introduction to the book which optionally accompanies the Kain/Oliver map Cd. See here

"................. the so-called 'historic' or 'ancient' parishes of England and Wales. It is known that these districts came into being during the Middle Ages as the units in which the pastoral and spiritual care of the church was delivered, that the map of these ecclesiastical parishes was essentially complete by the fifteenth century, that these ecclesiastical boundaries were adopted during the early modern period for secular and judicial purposes, and that boundaries remained essentially unchanged until a number of reforms from the mid-nineteenth century onwards reorganised the local administrative geography of the country. That is not the same as saying that everything remained totally unaltered in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but rather that the amount of change was small. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the pace of change was an order of magnitude greater. Some places were divided, others were amalgamated, some new administrative areas were created, and some others disappeared.

The structure of parish and township boundaries which formed the basis of local administration at the time of the first decennial census of population in 1801 was one which had been almost unchanged for at least three hundred years. The considerable changes in this system which occurred during the nineteenth century can be traced to the advent of the New Poor Law and secular registration in the 1830s. The first boundary reforms, in 1843-4, were only permissive parliamentary acts, which enabled the division of large parishes into either smaller ecclesiastical parishes or wards.................."

See also Parishes on this site

The site ' A Vision of Britain through time' contains both C19th & C20th maps which have parish boundaries marked on them https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/
Search on a parish name, then scroll down to Administrative Units/parish name - AP/CP, click on that link, scroll down to link Historic boundaries which takes you to the map section.
You can now choose between various maps, e.g C19th or C20th., and zoom in/out and pan.
The default map is on the small side, in IE7 use its built in zoom facility to enlarge the general view.

(Gareth 7/07)


Finding places

We all have this problem from time to time, not being able to find a place -given in whatever source, here is how a dedicated search on Genuki might help.

Start at ANY Genuki page and put the place name in a google search box, and use the 'Search this site' option.
This will only search Genuki pages and in particular will pick up a place name that has been extracted from the Kain/Oliver maps  (listed under Description and Travel on every parish page in CGN, CMN, PEM & GLA - and BRE)

Try it with "Allt yr hebog"  and you'll discover it's in Conwil Caio parish in CMN
In fact with an unusual name it matters not whether you search the whole web instead, you won't be faced with thousands of options to wade through

BUT, note that if you are dealing with a spelling variant (or botch up) then this won't work.
Try the same search with "Alltyrhebog" - no good, although Allt-yr-hebog( with hyphens) will come up

It's sometimes necessary to look at the structure of a word,  break it down into its component bits to perhaps see if one or all have been corrupted - or contain mutations - experiment with the alternatives. It exercises the brain cells  if nothing else ..........

This Help Page has a section styled Graveyard and History Book Welsh which may be of some help with name meanings, read the intro re mutations .
And there's also the Languages section on Genuki Wales
And the Names, Geographical section

Or you can always take the easy way out and ask on the lists - one or two listers regard every 'where is ?' query as a personal challenge :-)

Gareth Hicks (Oct 2007)   


Women in 1851, where were they all?

A series of exchanges on the Glamorgan/Dyfed mailing lists initiated by Gareth Hicks

A generally interesting aspect of 1851 life viewed through the parish statistics given in the 1851 Religious Census for Monmouthshire is the imbalance between the sexes in 2 industrialised parishes. This dearth of females phenomenon in Aberystruth and Bedwellty is no trepeated in the nearby rural parish of Abergavenny .

I guess this meant that men who would have mostly arrived from rural parishes for work - and wishing to get married - might have to go back to their their home parish for a likely partner, or even to neighbouring parishes - such as Abergavenny??

  • Bedwellty - Population 13,434 males, 11,110 females, total 24,544.
  • Aberystruth - Population 7994 males, 6389 females, total 14,383
  • Abergavenny -  Population, 2646 males, 2860 females, total 5,506

Follow on;

The stats for Glamorgan as a whole from the 1851 Census shows the same general pattern ;  male 125,087, female 115,008, total 240,095.This is generally consistent with the MON industrial parish figures I gave earlier,

But random *District* figures within Gla show some differences;

  • Swansea; male 22,763, female 24,144, total 46,907
  • Cardiff; male 24,902, female 21,589, total 46,491
  • Merthyr Tydfil; male 41,425, female 35,379, total 76,804

In fact a quick scan through the non industrialised coastal strip parishes in Glamorgan show a fairly consistent even balance between the sexes, pointing to the imbalance phenomenon being mainly within the industrialised areas.

The evidence for an excess male movement into Gla industrial areas is supported by stats for predominately rural Districts in south Wales

  • Cardigan; male 8,812, female 11,374, total 20,186
  • Haverfordwest; male 18,383, female 20,999, total 39,382
  • Carmarthen; male 17,982, female 20,160, total 38,142

One would have to look at later censuses when the  flow of men into Glamorgan slowed down/stopped to see if and when these imbalances corrected themselves.

Rachel of the Dyfed list made a good point - some married men would have gone alone with their wives following on at some later stage.

Follow on by Anna Brueton;

I've been looking at the demography of Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire in some detail, as part of a study of illegitimacy, so I'm particularly interested in what you might call the more sexually active age groups. Although the 1851 census collected information on marital status, the published statistics by age and marital status are available only at county level. I've compiled statistics at a registration sub-district (RSD) level from the Glamorgan FHS index of the 1851 census.  This shows that the RSD with the most extreme imbalance was Aberdare, with 152 men per 100 women in the 15-44 age group.  Although as Rachel said, some married men migrated to the industrial areas ahead of their wives - there were 108 married men aged 15-44 per 100 women - but the imbalance was most extreme among unmarried men, a massive 204 per 100 unmarried women aged 15-44.

Unfortunately I don't have comparable figures of age by marital status for Carmarthenshire - it would have meant going through the entire census for Carmarthenshire, rather than playing with a few spreadsheets, as I did for Glamorgan.  But even ignoring marital status, there are hefty sex imbalances in some Carmarthenshire RSDs, for instance Llandeilo Fawr with 68 men per 100 women aged 15-44 and Llandingad with 67 men per 100 women.

All this raises interesting questions about courtship.  If you have among your ancestors couples where the wife came from West Wales and the husband from Glamorgan (at the time of their marriage) do you know how they met?  Did the man have roots in his wife's village?

(Gareth March 2011)


Church, the - some terminology

See also under Vicars

Discharged rectories

What are/were they ?

Barney Tyrwhitt Drake defined this several years ago - in his own inimitable fashion.

He said:

"This is all tied up with Church Law and the Reformation.  Before the Reformation a priest coming into a parish as a new Vicar or  Rector had to make a payment known as the first-fruits. It usually represented the amount of the first year's income, and was paid direct to  the Pope in Rome. Then along comes Henry VIII and sees all this money  going out of 'his' kingdom and thinks I could get my hands on that! So he  dreams up a divorce as his reason for establishing the Church of England  and grabs the money. Havingsuceeded once he then grabs the  monasteries as well and sells them off without sitting tenants to his mates.

Enter the greater evil, bureaucracy-
The king realises that for many parishes it costs more to  collect the first-fruits than their value. For those parishes that had a first-fruits payment of less  than 10 pounds, the Crown decided to 'discharge' them from having to  hand it over in perpetuity. Hence the discharged vicarage or  rectory. "

Perpetual curate

The name given in the Church of England  to a clergyman who officiated in a parish to which he had been nominated by the impropriator and licensed by the bishop. When parishes which had been appropriated to monasteries passed at the dissolution to lay rectors, these rectors had to nominate to the bishop for his licence a priest to serve the cure. Curates thus licensed became perpetual. The ministers of new parishes/districts established by various C19th  Acts of Parliament were also perpetual curates.


A layman who holds possession of  lands of a Church or of an ecclesiastical living


A fixed and regular payment, such as a salary, as in;
"Incumbent not resident; the curate, who resides in the parish, has a stipend of £80"


Someone  in  possession of a benefice or an office.


Historically the Patron of a Church would have been the person on whose land, or in whose estate, the Church was built. The Patron reserved the right to appoint the Incumbent subject to the approval of the Bishop. Patronage is a property right and it used to be possible to buy and sell it. Every parish has a patron, sometimes a private individual or group of individuals................


The term dates from the grant of benefices by bishops to clerks in holy orders as a reward for extraordinary services. The holder of a benefice owns the "freehold" of the post (the church and the parsonage house) but this freehold is now subject to many constraints.The term benefice (or living) is now used in the Church of England to describe a parish or group of parishes under a single stipendiary minister. (wikipedia)


"Consecration is the setting aside of land or buildings for sacred use in perpetuity. The consecration of a church or a burial ground can only be undertaken by a Bishop. It is usual for a written request to be made to the Bishop in the form of a Petition for Consecration. This is usually presented to the Bishop at the beginning of a consecration ceremony. The church or burial ground becomes legally consecrated upon the Bishop signing a document called a Sentence of Consecration, which is usually done in the course of a consecration ceremony.  (See  http://www.peterboroughdiocesanregistry.co.uk/consecration.html )

(Gareth  - March 2011)


God parents named in baptism records ?

According to The Family Tree Detective by Colin Rogers;

  • "In Anglican Registers it has never been the custom to include the names of godparents, apart from a short period in the 1550s when they were subject to strong Roman Catholic influence......"  [Roman Catholic baptism registers usually include the names of a child's sponsors or godparents]

 As far as Welsh non-conformist registers are concerned, I can say that I have personally never seen godparents names recorded there.

"Nonconformist registers sometimes contain more information than those of the Church of England, and may include the date of birth as well as baptism, place of residence, the mother's name (including her maiden name) and sometimes even her father's name as well.......  [Family Records Centre]

Gareth Hicks (Oct 2007)   


Pews and kneelings

Welsh Journals Online - Pews and kneelings
Radnorshire Society Transactions vol. 15 1945

"The above phrase occurs in various old Indentures (mainly of the eighteenth century)...........Such 'pews and kneelings' went with the rest of the
property and referred to the seats in the parish church to which the owner of the house had an inalienable right"

Gareth Hicks (May 2012)



Welsh method of counting

By Davies, D Stedman Rev.  

Radnorshire Society Transactions vol. 15 1945   Welsh Journals Online        https://journals.library.wales/view/1191402/1192569

Something I'd always wondered about..........

(Gareth Hicks 3 May 2012)


List of Persons who paid duty on male servants in 1780

Below is an extract from the Radnorshire Society Transactions, vol. 9 1939 on Welsh Journals Online

"An Act of Parliament pass in 1777 said that 21 shillings should be paid yearly for every male servant employed, such as footmen, coachmen,
pastry-cooks, gamekeepers and so on. An MS volume in the PRO dated 1780 gives a long list for England and Wales estimated to consist of 24,750 persons employing 59,944 servants. The Radnorshire names are only 10 in number...................."

Gareth Hicks (April 2012)