Sunday, May 15, 2011

Welsh Adjectives as Names

Welsh names throw most genealogist into a cold sweat. What do they mean? How do you make heads or tails out of them. How do you find your ancestors in such a thorn bush of branches? The page to the right shows a listing of Welsh names as they were recorded in English records of 1301 AD. [The translation is provided by Professor G.R. Boynton, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City] Forty five percent (45%) of the 355 names listed were recorded in the form "Griffith ap Res". An additional 19% were listed as a Welsh birth name associated with a qualifier (adjective) . [For a discussion of these names see "Welsh Names in English Records 1301 AD" and "Welsh Birth Names 1301 AD" at ]

A list of qualifiers (adjectives) are given below, showing how a word used with a birth name often came to be part of the naming system. The word usually followed the birth name, but occasionally it was placed before.

Frequent Welsh qualifiers (adjectives): 1) abad = Abbot, 2) bach = little, 3) coch = red, 4) dew = fat, 5) du = black, 6) fychan = the younger, 7) glas = blue, 8) goch = red, 9) gwyn = white, 10) gwyrdd = green, 11) hen = old, 12) henaf = the elder, 13) hir = tall, 14) ieuaf/ ifanc = younger, 15) ieuanc = young, 16) leiaf = the younger, 17) main = thin, 18) mawr = the great, 19) melyn = yellow, fair, 20) rhudd = red, ruddy, 21) sais = Englishmen, Saeson (pl.), 22) sinobl = red, 23) teneu = the thin, 24) teg = fair, 25) tew = fat, 26) vychan/vaughan (from fychan) = the younger, 27) ychan/ v(f)ychan/ ynfyd = mad! So there you have many of the Welsh terms associated with a Welsh birth name. You can see how a genealogist might go ychan!

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