Saturday, June 6, 2015

A First

History books are written by those who feel they have something important to record about the events that have surrounded them.  For Wales [written by the Welsh], the earliest history book is titled "Annnales Cambriae" which begins Welsh history in the year 447 AD.   However, it was in another history book that the word "Welsh" first appears.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle it is called, and the word "Britons" is used to refer to the folks on the island before 456 AD.  In 465 AD it records:

"Hengest and Aesc fought the Welsh near Wippedesfleot and killed twelve Welsh ealdormen.  One of their own thanes was killed there, whose name was Wipped."

After this date, the word "Welsh" and "Britons" are both used in the context of these chronicles.

Note: in 540 AD Gildas wrote "De Exidio Brittaniae", and "The Chronicle of Ystrad Fflur" begins their history of Wales at 49 AD.  As best as I can tell, 465 AD is the first time the word "Welsh" is used in the English language. [Actually Anglo-Saxon.]


For those who might like to read things for themselves, the book shown above [translated and collated by Anne Savage] is an excellent reference.  Published by Crescent Books, NY in 1995.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Add Your Thoughts

Those interested in Welsh genealogy have approached it from all kinds of angles.  This blog has presented many things that have helped me approach this subject.  I am sure that there are many other folks out there who have experienced different ways to climb those Welsh family trees.  Please add your thoughts on ways that you have found helpful.  The comment section will allow you place your thought (method(s)/tool(s)/resource(s)/reference(s)/helps/etc....etc...).   In this way, you can share your own experience that may be helpful to those of us with Welsh descent.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Travel to Wales

Family tree climbing has led me from Kentucky, to Virginia, to London, to the county of Kent, and finally to the Vale of the Dee.  "Wild Wales" it was called by George Borrow in 1862.  Being on this side (USA) of the Atlantic Ocean, it was difficult at times to get a clear understanding of my ancestor's home.  The following book by Peter Sager helped give me insight to this land.


First published in German 1985, it was translated into English 1991 by David Henry Wilson.  A second edition came in 1996.  It was published by Pallas Athene, London 1991.

Mostly written as a travel guide, it provides a picture of Wales from South Wales, to Mid Wales , and to North Wales.  It contains 135 illustrations and diagrams, 64 color plates, 104 black and white plates, and 2 fold-out maps.  Certainly a good collection it is.  "Wales and the Welsh" is the first section.  "South Wales", "Mid Wales", and "North Wales" complete the 511 pages.  As the author states:

             "Books live with their readers, and some may also grow with their readers..." (p. 9)

Alive and growing it remains for me.  For the genealogist it fits well into the family tree of those with Welsh descent.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Law

The laws of the land they come to be called.  Those social directives that helps stabilize and hold together a culture.  The ancient laws of Wales were organized around 850 AD.  A fellow named "Hywel Dda" is credited with such an activity.  These have been translated from the Welsh and published as "Hywel Dda The Law".   The cover of my copy is shown below.


For those who might want to study the Welsh tribal system and its social directives, this book is for you.  First published by Gomer Press, Llandysul, Dyfed in 1986.  It is translated by Dafydd Jenkins and contains the law texts from medieval Wales.

For my own Welsh genealogy, it is recorded that Hywel Dda was the father-in-law to Tudor Trevor, the beginning of my Welsh family tree.  How about that, a father-in-law from the past!   This text has served me well to help understand the culture of this beginning.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Companion

Genealogy opens many doors to the past generations of our family.  Many of these generations experienced events and struggles that are, at times, difficult to understand or appreciate.  Seeking answers to the questions regarding the period of life that our ancestors experienced can often be found in the literature of the time.   For Welsh history, the following "companion" is recommended.


Edited by Meic Stephens, with over 150 contributors, it represents a treasure trove of information regarding the mind of Wales and its culture.  The topics are arranged alphabetically and span the scope of Welsh expression.   Eminent and obscure are included including as the editors states:

"...a substantial number of saints, kings, princes, gentry, patrons, philanthropists, martyrs, patriots, landowners, villains, soldiers, preachers, reformers, industrialists, politicians, publishers, painters, musicians, sportsmen and eccentrics - a motley company who share with our writers an undeniable place in the Welsh heritage."  [editor's preface, p. vi ]

First published in 1986 as The Oxford Companion to the Literature of Wales by Oxford University Press, it was reprinted in 1986, and now this edition by the University of Wales in 1998.

There is a brief discussion on the pronunciation of Welsh which is always helpful for those of us across the great pond.  Containing 841 pages, it is not intended to be read "cover to cover"  but to serve as a
reference to help identify and understand many aspects of Welsh culture. 

It ends in a chronology of Welsh history beginning with the Roman conquest [43 AD]  to the first elections for the National Assembly of Wales in 1999.  What a deal!  My kind of book.  You may find it helpful also.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Welsh Family History

A second set of books [first and second edition] by the Rowlands is named: "Welsh Family History, A Guide To Research". 


A number of other folks join the Rowlands [contributing authors], and present a broad series of topics that are helpful to the genealogist seeking their Welsh roots.  It was published in 1998 [first edition 1993] by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD.  Helping you understand a wider historical context to finding your Welsh ancestors it is.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Surnames of Wales

Often time one ask...where did that surname come?  Many of us on this side of the great pond (USA) have asked this question.   "The Surnames of Wales" offers a source to check if it be from Wales.


The authors state: "...it is the purpose of this book to provide the reader with a detailed insight into the origins and occurrence of the more common surnames within Wales, together with some consideration of those which have established something of a presence at the regional or more local level." (p.4)  They begin this account after 1800.  The appendix section (A-C) provide helpful information regarding surnames by "Parishes" and "Hundreds" (Appendix A), surnames derived from various sources [eg. Old Testament, etc.] (Appendix B), and a offer for a limited service to enquirers (Appendix C).  A "Surname Index" ends the book.  This index can provide a quick answer to a surname question.

The book is published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD.  It was first published in 1996.  A helpful book it is.