Thursday, August 28, 2014

English Equivalents

Welsh names and their transliteration to English equivalents can give the genealogists nightmares.  Taking an English surname and tracing it back to the Welsh language can be difficult.  The words are distinctly different, and often in appearance not even close.  For example lets take the surname "David" as spelled in the English.

The name "David" first appears in the Jewish literature around 900 BC.  In the book of I Samuel 16:13 it is recorded: "...and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward."  In the Hebrew the name comes from the word for "short", but in the same book chapter 16:12 it describes David: "...Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance."  Hum... red headed and blue eyes maybe?  At any rate, the name was adopted by the early Celtic Christians and became a common name among the Welsh.

In the Welsh the name is written in a variety of ways.  The most common is "Dafydd" which certainly appears to be similar to the English spelling.  This also might be written "Davydd" where the "f" and "v" are frequently exchanged for one another.  Now you might not recognize the following : 1) Dai, 2) Dei, 3) Delo, and 4) Dewi which all are spellings of the name David.  How about that...Welsh names to the English Equivalent.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Welsh Genealogical Terms (part 3) M - Z

This is the third post on the topic of Welsh terms. They are abstracted from Dwnn as described in the first two previous posts.  There is no letter "Z" in the Welsh alphabet.

Mab, ab, ap = Son

Mam, vam = Mother

Marchog, varchog, pl. marchogion, varchogion = Knight

Marw, varw = Died, Dead

Marw heb etivedd = Died without issue

Marw heb etivedd yn byw ar ol = Died without issue surviving

Meibion, veibion = Sons

Merch, verched = Daughters

Modryb = Aunt

Nai, pl. neiaint = Nephew

Nith = Niece

Pais, bais = Coat of Arms

Parchedig = Reverend

Tad, dad = Father

Wedi priodi = Married

Wyr = Grandson, or grand-daughter

Yn byw = Living

Ysgwier = Esquire

Taken from Heraldic Visitations of Wales and Part of The Marches, Lewys Dwnn, Vol. I, p. xxxii, 1846.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Welsh Genealogical Terms (part 2 ) F - L

The second post that give the genealogical terms recorded in Dwnn, Vol. I, p.xxxii :

Ganedig, anedig = Born.

Gorvuchedd = Surviving.

Gwr, wr = Husband

Gwraig, wraig = Wife

Gwr bonheddig = Gentleman

Heb briodi = Unmarried

Hen = Senior

Hen dad = Grandfather

Hen vam = Grandmother

Iarll = Earl

Iarlles = Countess

Ior = Lord


This edition was published in Wales in 2005 by Bridge Books, Wrexham.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welsh Genealogical Terms (part 1) A - E

Samuel Rush Meyrick states in his text of Dwnn:

"For the benefit of the English reader, large portions of Welsh have been followed by translations, and in the notes to the text the meanings of several words and phrases have been given; but, as a futrther assistance, the following with their mutations are added under this title."

The "title" is "Glossary".   Since Dwnn is not widely available to most genealogist, I thought it might be helpful to list the terms as translated by Meyrick on p. xxxii, Vol. I, Dwnn.  They are listed in alphabetical order in the text.  Part 1 will list those words beginning with A - E.

      Aeressau, pl. = Heiresses.

      Anweddawg = Unmarried.

      Arglwydd = Lord.

      Bach, bychan, vach, vychan = Junior, little.

      Barwn = Baron.

      Brawd, vrawd = Brother.

      Bedyddiedig = Baptized

      Cevnderw, fem. cyvnitherw = Cousin.

      Chwaer = Sister.

      Dwc = Duke.

      Etivedd = Heir.

      Ewythr = Uncle.

The title page from this monumental text (Dwnn) is shown below.




Monday, July 7, 2014

The Townlands (part 4)

The text goes on to read (by Jenkins translation):

"It is right for the two townlands to be for the king's waste and shielding-land for him.  And as much as all we said above in the other commote, and that makes a total of five score townlands, and that is properly the cantred.  It is right for ten times ten to be in a hundred and counting does not go beyond ten."

By now it should be very confusing with all the terms and measurements.  A score is defined as a group of 20 things.  Five score would be (5 x 20) 100 townlands.  The "ten times ten" would also equal 100.  So "five score townlands" (100) is properly the "cantred".

In the last post it was recorded that there were "twelve maenolydd and two townlands in every commote". [Remember that there were "four townlands in every maenol". ]  Thus, "twelve maenolydd" would also equal 48 townlands.  Therefore, a single commote would be 48 townlands for family use, and two townlands set aside for the king's use.    Two "commonte" were to be in every "cantred".   This makes the "five score townlands" that is properly the cantre.  Whew...can you dig it?  They certainly did!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Measuring The Land (part 3) The Toft

From the last post the "legal acre" was defined. [I am not sure the exact interpretation but I believe it to be 1 rod x 30 rods which would equal approximately 16 ft x 480 ft ]  At any rate the law books go on to define:

"It is right that there be four such acres in the toft";

      This would be about 64 ft x 480 ft in dimension.  A toft was a plot of land carrying a house (ty).  This would suggest that a family would be allowed 4 acres of plowed land.

"four tofts in every shareland";

      Thus four houses (families) would live together on shared land.

"four sharedlands in every holding"

      Thus a "holding" would be roughly 16 houses in an area that most likely represented a families' land...i.e. "holding" which was shared by the larger family group under the head of the family.  Generally this was four generations of descent.

"four holdings in every townland";

       Dafydd Jenkins in his translation states that a townland corresponds closest to the medieval Latin villa (p. 387).  This does not indicate an actual town in the medieval sense.  Thus up to 32 houses could be contained in an area equivalent to the Roman villa. 

"four townlands in every maenol";

      This is were the concept of the "manor" is derived among the Welsh.   Thus four villas would group together under the leader of the tribe (mayor).  This would be a tribal (family) holding to six generations.

"twelve maenolydd and two townlands in every commote"

      The commote was the basic land area defined in Welsh culture by 850 AD.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Measuring The Land (part 2) The Legal Acre

This post continues the ancient Welsh view of measuring the land:

"And then they made the measure of the legal acre from the barleycorn.  Three lengths of the barleycorn in the inch; three inches in the palmbreadth; three palmbreadths in the foot.  Four feet in the short yoke, sixteen in the long yoke; a rod as long as the long yoke in the caller's hand, and as far as he reaches with it, his arm stretched out, is the two limits, that is, the width of the legal acre; and thirty times the rod is its length."

Again from the barleycorn:

      three lengths of the barleycorn = 1 inch

      three inches in the palmbreadth

      three palmbreadths = 1 foot [would be about 9 inches in today's measurements]

      four feet [12 palmbreadth] in the short yoke [a yoke is used to plow the land ca. 36 inches]

      sixteen feet in the long yoke [a yoke used for two animals ca. 12 feet long]

      1 rod = the long yoke + "caller's hand" = roughly 14 - 15 feet

       legal acre =  2 rods (width)  x 30 rods (length)  = roughly 30 ft. x 450 ft.

Thus, a "long yoke" (two animals) could plow up and down the legal acre in two passes.  A "short yoke" (single animal) would take four passes of the plow.

Taken from: Hywel Dda The Law, Law Texts from Medieval Wales, translated and edited by Dafydd Jenkins, Gomer Press, 1990, p.120.