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.