Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Much Bigger Story

For those who have roots to that Island first called Albion, the terms 1066 and Hastings will forever be connected to the Normans.  Having those roots, it did take me a little while to realize that the Normans had a much bigger story.

The following book by Christopher Gravett and David Nicolle opened my eyes to a broader picture of the Norman culture and history.  These Normans played a role not only in British history, but a wider European history as well.

Their states (dynasties) they established in France, Italy, Sicily and Syria came to be important in world history.  A history of the Normans and the military foundations that they forged, came to play a major role in many aspects of western European history.  This book helps provide a context to realizing the larger role that the Normans played in the pages of history.   From Viking days of the 9th and 10th century, to the last Norman stronghold in northern Syria (Antioch), their role is discussed.  Stone castles seemed to be a remaining legacy.

Lots of pictures, maps, and historic accounts make this book a good read for those who want a much bigger picture.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Normans and Plantagenets

The writers of history are usually on the winning side.  Following the year 1066, there does not seem to be many books titled "The Saxons and the Anglo-Saxon Defeat"!  The following book presents many of the writers of contemporary Latin Christendom following this year of 1066.

"...biased interpretations based upon unhistorical prejudices." is present as a reason for this text in the very first paragraph.  The text is organized into chapters:

                                                                                           I   The Emergent West
                                                                                           II   Normandy
                                                                                           III  England
                                                                                           IV  England, Normandy and Scandinavia
                                                                                           V   The Norman Conquest of England
                                                                                           VI Norman England.

Each page flows with detailed reference to the opinions express during the historical period discussed.  First published in 1969 by R. Allen Brown, it was reprinted in 1994 in hardback and paperback by The Boydell Press.  It is an interesting read for those of us who like to discover the primary documents and their authors. [You have a large number of references to filter through!]

Friday, October 18, 2013


The folks on that Island first called Albion would never be the same after the year 1066 AD.  It was perhaps the most feared warriors of the day, that came from a fairly small geographic area, and took control of this land.   The Normans they were called.

David Howarth in his book presents this year from January 4th (1066) to New Year's Eve.  He writes in his introduction to the book " not meant to be read as a work of scholarship, only as an evocation of the excitement, pleasures and miseries of that year...".  He mostly uses sources that were written within living memory of 1066.  Maps and diagrams include the genealogies of the early Kings of England and Denmark, and the Dukes of Normandy. [For the genealogist in you.]   The earldoms of England in 1066 and the invasion routes are shown.   Stamford Bridge, the Sussex coast, and the battle of Hastings are also given.  Published 1978 by The Viking Press, it is a fun read for those interested in this year...1066.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Prose and Poems

Who were the Anglo-Saxons?  The last post gave a reference that presented these folks from the view of the archaeologist .  This text by Kevin Crossley-Holland gives a view from the literature and art of the Anglo-Saxons.   Poems, manuscripts, prose, sculpture, jewellery and architecture are all included.

First published 1975 by The Seabury Press, NY,  it contains a large number of illustrations, prints, and pictures of the Anglo-Saxon mind.  Its contents are presented in the topics: WAR, DAILY LIFE, and RELIGION.

My favorite expression from an old Norse proverb:

       "One thing I know never dies nor changes, the reputation of a dead man." [p.61]

As Beowulf would say :  "...many a fine sight for those who have eyes to see such things."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Anglo-Saxons

Who were the Anglo-Saxons?  A questions that is often asked among those who are of Celtic origin.  The book by David Wilson is one general view of Anglo-Saxon culture as seen through the eyes of the archaeologist.

First published as a volume in the 'Ancient Peoples and Places' series in 1960, it was reprinted by Pelican books in 1971.   There are 38 figures [including the plans of Anglo-Saxon houses ] and 79 plates including one of my favorites "The Alfred Jewel" (plate 57).  [For the real jewel of Alfred The Great see my post titled "The Real Jewel of Alfred The Great" at on Saturday, Nov. 10th, 2012.]

For those who might have a bend to the shovel (archaeology as spelled by those Anglo-Saxons), this book is a good reference.  The contents include: 
                                                                             The Study of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology
                                                                             Historical Background and Pagan Burials
                                                                             Christian Antiquites
                                                                             The Life of the People
                                                                             Weapons and Warfare
                                                                             Anglo-Saxon Art

A good list indeed...but as shown above, first "hear no evil"...:-).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Anglo-Saxon England

An introduction to Anglo-Saxon England can be found in the text by Peter Hunter Blair.

It would seem that this group of Germanic peoples had something to do with the creation of the kingdom  of England as a political entity.  They also had something to do with what was to become  English as a spoken and written language.  Who would have guessed that all this would have come through an invitation of one of those Celtic folks (Vortigern) fighting other Celtic folks? (Picts) 

The chapter titles are:
                                    I.   The Foundation of England
                                    II.  Britain and The Vikings
                                    III. The Church
                                    IV.  Government
                                    V.   Economy
                                    VI. Letters

First published by the Cambridge University Press in 1956, it has been reprinted in 1960, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1976, with a second edition printed 1977.  Over these years, a few folks must have felt it to be helpful in their understanding of the Anglo-Saxons and their beginnings.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Authentic Voices

Conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features is one meaning of the word authentic.  The authentic voices of England from the time of Julius Caesar to the coronation of Henry II are contained in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.  Perhaps it should be the authentic voices of the English language, but the following text translated and collated by Anne Savage is shown below.

Alfred The Great (871 - 899 AD) is the fellow most often credited with getting things started.  The royal capital of Saxon Wessex (Winchester) seems the place where the chronicles first started. [Oldest manuscript which has survived = Corpus Christi College Cambridge MS 173, the Parker Chronicle ]  The church folks here for the first time wrote things down in their own language (Anglo-Saxon) instead of the standard church language Latin.  What in the world were they thinking...starting to write in their own language instead of the usual, widely accepted, language of the known world!  An original idea it seemed to be. 

After the Norman invasion, these records ( dates covered from 60 BC - 1070 AD) were taken to Christchruch, Canterbury where copies were made and the story continued until the coronation of Henry II.   The text above describes:

"From the everyday local dramas that made up the lives of the Anglo-Saxons to the intricacies of government and the reigns of kings, every aspect of life in the England of the Middle Ages is examined in glorious detail." [front cover...inside flap ]

What a deal...the authentic voices of the folks writing in a language that was to become English.  Take a look.

The cover shown above is taken from my copy published Crescent Books, 1995.  It contains illustrated material which gives a broad view of this period in time.  It is an excellent reference to those interested in the authentic voices of the English language.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Book By Bede

Writing a book about the history of the English nation would certainly be a daunting task.  Being the first to do so during a time when learning and civilization were going down the tube, would establish your spot in the annals of history writers.  Such was a fellow named Bede.

Born about the year 673 AD, he was taken as a child of seven to a newly founded monastery called Wearmouth.  He appears to have spent his entire life here and at a sister monastery called Jarrow.  He grew up reading, writing. learning, teaching, and praying. [Must have been an introvert.]  He became an expert in collecting documents of the ancient writers and acts of the church.  He wrote in Latin, and became widely known as the "expert" in Northumbrian and Church history.  He was then ask to write all this stuff into some kind of record, and it has become known as the first history of the English nation.

It was titled "The Ecclesiastical History of The English Nation".  The cover of my translated copy is shown above.  It was first published in 1910, but my copy was reprinted in 1954.  In the introduction of this edition David Knowles writes:

"In the annals of letters and learning there is no more impressive instance of the ultimate fame of work accomplished in silence, for the sake of truth, by a good man."

He died 25th of May 735 AD.  Since his death he has become known as the "Father of English History".  What good genealogist would not like to get to read one of the founding fathers.  Here it is.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Catastrophic events often lead to the question of why.  For most folks extreme misfortune, to utter overthrow or ruin, will cause such a question.  To the philosopher a better questions may be "why not", or to the stoic "because", but to a bishop from North Africa it was "The City of God".

 For over a thousand years Rome had been the ruler of the known world.  When Alaric and his Goths sacked the city of Rome in 410 AD, the city that most felt would stand forever, lost most of its glory.  Lots of folks wanted to know why. 

Of course all sorts of reasons were given among the various groups looking for a scapegoat on which to blame the events. [Sound like today?]  One such explanation was given to the Christian community by this fellow from Hippo. [Modern name of city is Bona.]

It is not an easy read!  Written some three years after Rome first collapsed, it is a detailed analysis of the reason Rome fell. [Written from a particular point of view.]  It is basically a theology of history from the point of view of the existing churches of the day.  Thirteen years in the making, it was an attempt to explain Christianity versus the official religion of imperial Rome.  It was to answer the question why as to the fall of the city of Rome.

My copy, published 1950 by Random House, is a translation by Marcus Dods, with an introduction by Thomas Merton.  For those who have the guts to read this text will need to stick it out.  Why?  Why not?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Roman Britain and Early England

Few writers left their marks during the period following the fall of the Roman Empire.  Written records during this time are few [55 BC - 871 AD], and the events of the day are not well understood.  Peter Hunter Blair provides a brief and very readable account of this early period in the history of the people that occupied the Island after Rome pulled out.

In my growing up days, it was generally known as "The Dark Ages".  It took me some time to realize that the same sun shown brightly on these folks that gave the light to my own Kentucky home. [You know, the sun shines bright...on my "old Kentucky Home".]  Anyway, the book was published in 1966 by the Norton Library, and its major view is to present the rise of Anglo-Saxon England.  Of course those of us with Welsh, Irish, and Scottish lineage will have to dig a little deeper. [There is a good discussion of Offa's Dyke at Llanfair, Shropshire staring p. 229]

Knowledge and understanding of this period in the family tree is one foundation to our JONES surname.  This book provides an avenue to the window of time for the time traveler.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Church and The State

Immense social, political, economic and religious changes had been occurring during the last two centuries of the Roman world.  The Emperor Constantine [ 324 AD onward ] saw to it that the Christian religion was legal in the empire, and began a series of changes that were to place the "State" and the "Church" together in a cauldron that would forever change the western world as we have come to know it.

An intimate friend of Constantine was a Greek Bishop named Eusebius. (263 AD - 339 AD)  He wrote a history of the Christian Church, leaving a personal account of this period in time.

His work, translated by G.A. Williamson, and published 1965, by Dorset Press, is a very readable version.  It provides the reader a clear insight into the mind of Eusebius who has been called the "Christian Herodotus".

For those who need an understanding of the religious beliefs that were to bring the name of  "JOHN" into common usage among the people of the world, this would be it.  It was the name "JOHN" that was to become the surname "JONES".  It is a source of fascinating information for the genealogist and time traveler.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Later Roman Britain

As the foundations of the Roman world began to unravel, the geographic locations farthest from the center at Rome, began their own attempts at survival.  Being at "the end of the world",  this Celtic island had its own way of trying to deal with the events of the day. 

A small book entitled "Later Roman Britain" by Stephen Johnson", presents a clear account of this period in what was to become the very difficult times following the withdrawal of Roman rule.

For me, the most important aspect was the fact that the "Anglo-Saxon world" had made itself known to this "British Roman world" much before the "Celtic world" would tell their stories.  Saxon raiding parties had caused a series of defensive forts to be built along the eastern coastline.   This interaction had produced a long history of contact between these folks long before old Vortigern was accused of letting these folks get their foot in the door.

Lots of maps and lots of pictures make this read a neat book to gaze upon.  First published 1982 by Paladin, Grafton Books , it has been reprinted in 1986.  Later Roman Britain, a bridge to the past.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Picture Books

Books with lots of pictures and maps have always been a help to me in my tree climbing experience.  Any book with the word "Atlas" included in the title would catch my attention.  An "Atlas" of Roman Britain is such a book.

Of course, one of the authors having the surname JONES would certainly require my examination.  Over 270 maps, figures, plans, and site photographs help make this book a fun place to spend some time.

First published by Blackwell Publishers in 1990, it was reprinted by Oxbow Books in 2002.  It gives a lot of attention to the physical characteristics of Roman Britain including such things a mining, metallurgy, pottery and the growth of trade.  My interest in Celtic tribal society and the like was detailed in maps of the iron age settlements in Wales.  Maps, maps, and more kind of book.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Genealogy offers all kinds of opportunities to learn about different things.  Ancestral roots being one.  For those of Celtic origins, the first writers to record their views of this world were the Roman historians.  They of course had their own views of the world, and how it was to be, but they did write about this Celtic world.  The following text gives a collection of these early historians, edited by Ronald Mellor, published 1998, Routledge, NY.

A fellow named Tacitus [ca. 55 - 117 AD] seems to be the most quoted.  In his writings titled, "The Life of Agricola" he states:

"The geography and inhabitants of Britain, already described by many writers, I will speak of, not that my research and ability may be compared with theirs, but because the country was then for the first time thoroughly subdued.  And so matters, which as being still not accurately known my predecessor embellished with their eloquence, shall now be related on the evidence of facts." [p.398]

Thus it would seem that old Tacitus felt he had the goods on those "inhabitants of Britain".  He even quotes a Celtic leader named Calgacus, who is recorded as stating:

        "Nature has willed that every man's children and kindred should be his dearest objects." [p.408]

In a nutshell this summarizes the basic social structure of this Celtic race as view by Tacitus.  Children and kindred, that's genealogy!  Likewise, genealogy is being a family historian.

For those interested, other text which have proved helpful for old Tacitus:

The Annals of Imperial Rome, Tacitus, Dorset Press, 1984.
Tacitus Annals I-VI, W.F. Allen, Ginn and Co., Boston, 1890.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Time travel offers the genealogist a chance to view the world as it existed.  One's ancestors help provide a window to the understanding of who we are, and from where did we [our family] begin this life process.  The Celtic gene pool begins the roots of my own family tree, and it is the Romans who were the first to write down what they saw.   Getting to know one of those "Romans" has been a special treat among my own JONES surname tree climbing.

Hadrian was his name.  He wrote an account of his life and travels in a series called "memoirs".  I had to chuckle many times because he seemed to express many of the same thoughts I share.  The text is:

                                      "Memoirs of Hadrian" by Marguerite Yourcenar.

This translation was first published in French 1951, and first translated into English 1954.  Hadrian begins his life story visiting his doctor. [Being a physician perked my attention.]  He states:

        "It is difficult to remain an emperor in presence of a physician, and difficult even to keep one's essential quality as man." (p.3)  What a thought it is.

He goes on to say:

      "This morning it occurred to me for the first time that my body, my faithful companion and friend, truer and better known to me than my own soul, may be after all only a sly beast who will end by devouring his master." (p.3)  Wow, lots of truth here I thought.

My favorite words are:

     "One part of our ills comes from the fact that too many men are shamefully rich and too many desperately poor." (p. 119)  [Not much has changed here!]

The following is a picture of two of my daughters standing on a section of what remains of Hadrian's Wall.

Built in or about 122 AD, a Roman biographer states: "{Hadrian} reformed many things, and, the first [to do so], erected a wall over a length of 80 miles, which was to force apart the Romans and barbarians".*  Well are some of those "barbarians" standing upon your wall.  Getting to know you a little bit, I thought you might get a chuckle out of this picture.

* The notes are taken from "Hadrian's Wall History & Guide" by Guy de la Bedoyere, p. 13.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An Outpost

The end of the world was this island.  The Roman Empire made this their outpost.  H.H. Scullard in his book titled: "Roman Britain Outpost of The Empire" is a very readable text which gives this theme its due.  Of course, beginning with the Celts, he gives a general overview of the island from this time frame. 

With 125 illustrations and 5 maps, a number of topics are presented.  They are by chapter title:

Britain and the Celts
Caesar and the native kingdoms
Conquest, occupation and Romanization
Defence : The second and third centuries
Military and civil administration
Life in the towns
Villas and countryside
Economic life
Language, art and religion
The end of Roman Britain.

First published 1979 by Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, it was printed in Great Britain by Jarrold and Sons Ltd, Norwich.  It is a wonderful read for the time traveler. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Roman Britain

The first folks who started to write things down about the island were the Romans.  They saw, they came, and they conquered as the saying sort of goes.  For some 400 years they gave it their best shot to take complete control of all those folks who were already here.  Peter Salway does a excellent job on organizing and discussing this period of Celtic history. "The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain" it is called.

Illustrated it is with over 30 color plates, and 10 detailed maps.  Chronology, chronology, chronology is the greatest help for us chronology lovers.  From the iron age warrior to the last days of the Empire, a detailed account is provided.  Published 1993 by the Oxford University Press, it has proved a great resource and reference for my tree climbing. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Celtic Britain

The arrival of the Celtic race to the "ends of the world" would of course lead to the British isles.  This is the foundation of the language, culture, society, and lore of the peoples that were to become Welsh.  Of course there were the Irish, Scots, Cornish, Isle of Man, and the Britons who shared these roots.  Celtic Britain written by Lloyd Laing is such a book. 

In broad terms, he discusses the arrival of the Celts to the British isles giving the locations of the most notable Celtic sites in Britain.  The chapter titles are:

1) Introduction - the Celts in Europe
2) Iron Age Britain
3)The Roman Interlude
4)The Dark Ages
5)Epilogue - Celtic Twilight

There are 109 plates (mostly pictures) contained within the pages. [I like pictures!]  It was published 1979, by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.  A fun kind of book.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Celtic Realms

A second book that has provided useful information regarding the Celts is The Celtic Realms.  Written by Myles Dillion and Nora Chadwick, it is more like a survey of the Celts of the British Isles from their beginnings.  It is an introduction to literature, religion, and visual arts of this ethic group.  It was first published in 1967, but this cover is from the 2006 edition published by Castle Books.

The content is more focused on the Celts of the British Isles, and deals a lot with the Celtic kingdoms of Ireland and Wales.  My favorite part is the explanation of "Ogam", and the providing of the alphabet for this earliest of Celtic writings. [Chapter 9, The Celtic Language and The Beginnings of Literature ]  It provides documentation that this language was used to transmit "genealogies" [markers for names], thus giving the foundation to Celtic family trees.  The chapters are as follows:

1. Discovering The Celts
2. The History and Geography of The British Isles To The End of The Roman Period
3. The Celtic Revival
4. The Formation of The Historical Celtic Kingdoms
5. Secular Institutions: Early Irish Society
6. The Early History of The Modern Celtic Kingdoms
7. Celtic Religion and Mythology and The Literature of The Otherworld
8. Celtic Christianity and Its Literature
9. The Celtic Language and The Beginnings of Literature
10. Irish Literature
11. Welsh Literature
12. Celtic Art

A good read for those who like to go to the roots.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Celtic World

A heavy tome is it, both in content and weight.  The Celtic World edited by Miranda J. Green is not something you would want to carry around with you unless you had a particular question regarding the Celtic world.  Illustrations, tables, charts, graphs,  pictures, and all kinds of stuff about the Celtics. 

Twelve "Parts" (each essentially a topic) make up this resource.  It is written by multiple authors who provide their own expertise around the subjects present in each of the 12 parts.  The titles of these parts are:

Celtic Origins
Warriors and Warfare
Society and Social Life
Settlement and Environment
The Economy
Technology and Craftsmanship
The Art of The Celts
Pagan Celtic Religion
The Celts in Europe
On The Edge of The Western World
Celtic Britain Post AD 400
The Survival of The Celts

wow...what a list of subjects just waiting to be explored.  For the genealogist who has that Celtic gene, it is a must...:-).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Epics, Sagas, and Stories

The earliest stories from Wales can be view as part of the family tree.  They are in effect, the links we share to the past that help us understand where we have been as humans that share this thing called life.  The following shows another text that has been fun to read.  It is the account of the "Princes of Dyfed".

The cover shows its age, being published in 1914 by Katherine Tingley.  In her preface she writes:

"The deepest truths of religion and philosophy had their first recording for the instruction of the peoples, not in the form of treaties, essay, or disquisition, but as epics, sagas, and stories."

A picture taken from the inside of the title page is shown:

I guess it was her view of the symbols of the stories contained within.  The dragon is central, just below the flaming sword held high.   The dragon's wing encircles a harp, the symbol of song and the bard.  Oxen are shown in the lower right which represent "The Exalted Oxen" [Nynnio and Peibio] who were tamed by Hu who led the people from the "Summer Country" into the "Island of the Mighty, ages before..."  It is of interest to me that the first act of Hu was to plow the land thus making it theirs. [A word for "plow" is first seen in the writing of the Sumerians.]  Epics, sages, and stories...the eternal dramas of the world.  These are from Wales.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Mabinogion - Tales Recorded Gladly

The literature of a people will reveal their heart and mind.  Over time, the stories written down become much of the foundation of this record.  For the Welsh, two manuscript collections have been preserved and are considered by some to be "the finest flowerings of the Celtic genius".  Charlotte Guest translated these stories and placed a title "Mabinogion".  These have been translated anew by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones in 1949.  Since then, a number of revisions and additions, along with an index of proper names have been added.  The cover of the reprinted edition of 1994 is shown.

In the introduction it reads:

"Lord" said Gwydion, "it is a custom with us that the first night after one comes to a great man, the chief bard shall have the say.  I will tell a tale gladly."

To tell a tale gladly is certainly a Celtic tradition.  For the genealogist, it is these stories that provide the family tree to many early, early, generations.  Come, take a while, read a series of tales (eleven stories) recorded gladly.

Welsh sources:

White Book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) written down ca. 1300-1325 AD.
Red Book of Hergest (Llyfr Coch Hergest) ca. 1375 - 1425 AD.

The book was first published in Everyman's Library 1949.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Gerald of Wales

Keeping a record of your travels can be fun.   This place, and that place...what I liked, and what I didn't like.  The food, the people, and the scenery are often included.  My impressions written down are a must.  A travel-diary through Wales written in 1188 AD by a priest [usually the only ones who could write at this time], is one of a kind.  Such are the accounts titled "The Journey through Wales" and "The Description of Wales".  Written by Giraldus Cambrensis [Gerald of Wales] during a preaching-tour of Archbishop Baldwin trying to gain support in Wales for the Third Crusade.  It provides a first hand account of the country called Wales during this historic period.  Lewis Thorpe translates [it was first written in Latin] and Penguin Books publishes the texts.  The front of the book is shown.

In "The Description of Wales", chapter 17 [p. 251 in the book above] is written the following impression.  As a genealogist, this has given me a deeper understanding of Welsh genealogy and my family tree.

                             Titled:  "Their respect for noble birth and ancient genealogy."

"The Welsh value distinguished birth and noble descent more than anything else in the world.  They would rather marry into a noble family than into a rich one.  Even the common people know their family-tree by heart and can readily recite from memory the list of their grandfather, great-grandfathers, great-great-grandfathers, back to the sixth or seventh generation, as I did earlier on for the Welsh princes: Rhys son of Gruffydd, Gruffydd son of Rhys, Rhys son of Tewdwr, and so on."

What a story, and what an account of Wales it is for the genealogist who needs to time travel to 1188 AD.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Law and Order

Survival often depended upon how well one got along with another.  A societies willingness to cooperate among themselves were reflected in the laws and order of the group as a whole.  From the most primitive days tribal groups had to figure these things out in order to keep their families alive and well. [At least as well as could be expected.]  The following shows a text that records the laws and order of the tribal groups in Wales before 950 AD.

Professor Dafydd Jenkins translates the Welsh texts, and provides notes and definitions which are extremely helpful in understanding the social context of this period.  For the genealogist, it provides a window into the culture and society of the time that gives a picture of my ancestors. [For those of us from Wales.]  It lays the foundation of the state (kingdoms) as Hywel Dda was trying to clarify for his own purposes, but hey, he was a father-in-law among my own family tree branches.

For the genealogist who really wants to "time travel", this book is for you.  Hywel Dda, The Law...the law and order of 950 AD Wales.

[First published in Wales at the Gomer Press, Llandysul, Dyfed, 1986 by Dafydd Jenkins.]

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Topographical Dictionary

Finding out that one of your ancestors was from a place called "Much Birch", in the hundred of Wormelow, around the year 1590, might lead you to say... "say what"?  How in the world am I going to get my family connected across that great pond to that big island called England?  Of course this assumes you are from this side [U.S.A.] trying to get back in time to the land of your ancestors. [England and Wales]

For me, one great help was the reference shown below:

    The fancy word "topographical" just means to describe a place...a place like Much Birch.  Well here it is for those of us wanting to break down some of those brick walls.

First published in London, 1831, it was intended to give a historical and statistical description of parishes, chapelries, townships, boroughs, market towns, and all kind of places across the sea on that island.  It also contained maps of the different counties and islands [Guernsey, Jersey, and Man.] and a plan of London.  Samuel Lewis was the author, and did he have his work cut out for him.  The Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. reprinted the original four volumes in two 1996, and made it available to the general public.

Oh yes, on page 169 (Vol. I) there is a description of "Birch (Much)".  It was helpful to see that it needed to be separated from "Birch"(x2), "Birch (Great)",  and "Birch (Little) x2.  Much was taken to get here, but this reference is one of a kind.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tracing Paper - A Resource

It has been recognized that folks learn best when they utilized their own particular learning skills.  Some folks learns by "seeing" (visual), some folks learn by "hearing" (auditory), and some folks learn by "feeling" (touch).  For those of us that learn best by touch (called kinesthetic learning), taking a pencil in hand is one method to aid this process.

Tracing paper gives the kinesthetic learner a way to grow their genealogy.  Making maps, charts, figures, and family trees can be quite an assistance in climbing out those genealogical branches.  The following figure shows the front of a tracing pad I am presently using.

There are all kinds available.  This particular pad is made by "Pacon Corporation" and available at Walmarts.  Using the two previous books shown on the last two post [Touring Britain, and the Guide Book to Wales],  I have been able to give my mind some understanding of the land and geography of my family tree.  Making maps can be such a help.

A "tracing pad" containing "tracing paper"...what a resource.

P.S.  You can read about how this can be done utilizing my blogs: The Brick Wall Protocol and The Jones Surname.  Also, the following figure is a tracing I made from one historic map showing the geographic location of "Both Maelors".   My JONES family was found using this term, and it was delightful to understand its location in relationship to my family's towns. [Oswestry, Whittington, Wrexham, etc.]

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Touring Britain

A tour guide is most helpful when you are visiting a new country, especially if only in your imagination.  In my JONES surname tree climbing it was necessary to make this trip on many, many, many, occasions.   "A unique combination of Atlas, illustrated Guidebook, and Gazetteer..." it states on the cover.  A guide to the familiar, the offbeat, and the not-so-well known the cover goes on to state.  My kind of book.  Over the years, it has proved to be such a guide.

Reader's Digest was a standard in my house growing up.  It was placed on bathroom floor next to that thing you sat on for a while to help get things moving.  When I saw this guide book by Reader's Digest, I already had room for it in my mind.   Beautiful pictures and excellent writing were mine as I took my turns touring throughout Britain.  Published 1992, it contained detailed maps of the big island which I have used again and again to study locations and geographic areas.  A delight to my sore eyes after a long day at the office. [Was Family Physician for some 27 years!]  A wonderful reading, reference, and resource to have on your shelf.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Welsh Place - Names

Unusual and strange names were these that presented themselves to my thought processes.  What in the world!...was often my response.  Who ever heard of Ifftwn or Kilgwrrwg?  This Welsh tree climbing was getting more difficult by the discovery.  Where were these places anyway?

Names and places found in Welsh genealogy can be difficult to understand and/or to find their location.  The following text has served me on many occasions to help discover if such a place name really exist.
"A Gazetteer of Welsh Place - Names" it is called. [ A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary.]  First published in 1957, it represents a revised work for the Ordnance Survey map system for Welsh place-names.  In the introduction it states that the primary purpose was to serve as a guide to the orthography of Welsh place-names. [An orthography is the art of writing words with the proper letters according to standard usage or the representation of the sounds of a language by written or printed symbols.]  You can imagine the difficulty I had with the Welsh "proper letters" and the sounds of the Welsh language passing through my Kentucky born and Bluegrass raised brain.

At any rate, this text provided me a way to look-up a name and find where it was geographically located in Wales.  What a help it was on those dark and stormy nights in my genealogical tree house.

The text was last published Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1967.  Edited by Elwyn Davies.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guide Books

A guide is to help direct you in a course or show you the way to be followed.  It implies an ability to help keep you on that course, and provide you intimate knowledge along the way.  You can certainly appreciate what a budding family tree climber (genealogist) with a surname JONES was trying to figure out.  The following is a picture of such a guide for me in my Welsh tree climbing.

Living in many imaginary castles during childhood, you can see why this guide caught my attention.  "Wales" and a picture of a "castle" I to get this book! [Soon learned this was a picture of Harlech Castle]

Written in 1969 by Wynford Waughan-Thomas and Alun Llewellyn, it provided me names, places, and pictures of what I was to discover was the home of my heart's blood.  Over the years, I have used this reference to read about places in Wales that had unusual names and at times very unique history. A fancy word "Gazetteer" is used to describe the content, but fancy words were always a challenge to me.

The introduction was the first written history of Wales that was to come across my mind.  It begins:

                                                           "Their Lord they will praise,
                                                             Their speech they will keep,
                                                             Their land they shall lose,
                                                             Except Wild Wales."

"Wild Wales" kind of place...thought I.  It must have been my genes talking at the time, since it would take me many years to figure out that this was indeed my place.  A guide book indeed it is.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The "Bible" of Welsh Genealogy

Heraldic Visitations of Wales and part of the Marches, by Lewys Dwnn, is the "Bible" of Welsh genealogy.  Like that other Bible, it is most often quoted, but not often actually read.  "Lewis Dwnn" first published in 1586 genealogies from three counties of South Wales. [Carmarthen, Pembroke, and Cardigan]   Between the years 1586 and 1613, it was the life of Lewys Dwnn, the "Deputy Herald At Arms".  It is written in Welsh with English footnotes. [It takes some time to get use to reading it!]  It was first published in 1846 by Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick, and became the record of many Welsh families.  In 2005, it was reprinted in Wales by Bridge Books and made available to the genealogy world. 

It is in two volumes. 
     Volume I : Counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke, and Cardigan
                       Pedigrees of Radnorshire Families
                       Pedigrees of Montgomeryshire Families
      Volume II: Llyfr Achau (various family trees of Henry VII)
                        Three Counties of North Wales
                        Flintshire and Denbighshire Families

There is a glossary in Volume I  for the benefit of the English reader.  Large portions of the Welsh has been translated by Meyrick. 

This reference is foundational to Welsh genealogy.  The text has been reprinted: Bridge Books, 61 Park Avenue, Wrexham (LL 12 7AW)  Get your Welsh genealogy "Bible" right here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

3 R's All Rolled Into One

The following texts represent one of the most utilized references that I have owned over the past 25 years.  They are truly a "reading", a "reference", and a "resource" all rolled into one.  In two volumes, reproduced by the Genealogical Publishing Company, in 1991 [first printed London, 1872]  they have provided my own family research an invaluable resource for my tree climbing.  It was among these pages that I first discovered my JONES family connection to Wales.

As a reading, they contain a history of each county in Wales from their earliest beginnings.  As a reference,  they present various families in each county with their history, and context.   As a resource, they present many family genealogies for each county giving in many cases a detailed family tree. They also give a listing of the members of Parliament and Sheriffs for each county.

Volume I :
     Anglesey (Mon)
     Breconshire (Brycheiniog)
     Cardiganshire (Ceredigion)
     Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)
     Carnarvonshire (Sir Gaernarfon)
     Denbighshire (Sir Dinbych)
     Flintshire (Sir Fflint)
     Glamorganshire (Morganwg)

Volume II:
     Glamorganshire (con't)
     Merionethshire (Meirionydd)
     Monmouthshire (Mynwy)
     Montgomeryshire (Sir Dre-Faldwyn)
     Pembrokeshrie (Sir Benfro)
     Radnorshire (Maesyfed)

An important resource for tree climbing in Wales.  I have pulled it off my book shelf many, many, times for reading, references and a as a resource... "3 R's" all rolled into one.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A History of Wales

The first Professor of History at the University of Wales Bangor was Sir John Edward Lloyd.  He is widely recognized for his scholarship in medieval Welsh history.  First published in 1911, his two volume text titled "A History of Wales: From the Earliest Time to the Edwardian Conquest" has become the standard for those interested in exploring their Welsh history.  Volume II of this text has been reprinted by Barnes & Noble, 2004 and covers the period from the Norman Invasion to the Edwardian Conquest.  The book cover of this reprint is shown below.

For me, the value of this work is the documentation that is given in the footnotes.  Professor Lloyd is very detailed and his scholarship is demonstrated.  It is somewhat difficult to read as a general text due to the Welsh terms and spellings that are so distinctive to the language.  However, it gives a clear documentation to the early Welsh resources available to the genealogist.  It is a foundation to the reader as both a "reading" and "reference".   Please, don't leave Welsh genealogy with out it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Readings, References and Resources

Over the past several decades, I have spent a fair amount of time climbing my family tree.  With a surname like JONES you can imagine what sort of branches I have had to navigate.  There have been a lot of readings, references and resources that have been a tremendous help along the way.  It is the purpose of this blog to present the things [readings, references and resources]  that have helped me get a littler further along the limbs.  It might have been a reading, a particular reference, or a certain type of resource that helped breakdown the barriers that presented themselves.  [Called "brick walls" by some genealogist.]  For those who might find these genealogy "bread crumbs" helpful, I will leave a few to be found along the trail.  Genealogy for generations...that have been...are in the present...and yet to come, my three Rs...readings, references and resources.

One of the readings that has providing a great deal of insight into my Welsh ancestry is the text called "A History of Wales", by John Davis.  It is well written...easy to read...and chronologically presented.  For those of us with a Welsh ancestry [living outside of Wales], it is a good read and excellent reference for those interested in getting a basic grasp of Wales.

Paviland to Wales since 1939 is presented.  John Davies is from the Department of Welsh History, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.  It was first published in Welsh, 1987, with an English translation 1992.   My copy is well worn.  My first bread crumb..."Hansel and Gretel" would be proud.