Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Good Map

Traveling along the family tree, it often becomes necessary to understand the geography of the area of interest.  A good map is needed to help explore the names, places, and land surrounding this branch of the tree.  For my JONES family this often lead to England, and finally Wales.  The following is a copy of the front of my map.  It came in handy during those dark and stormy nights when you needed to find your way along the branches.

 The map is titled as a sight-seeing map of England and Wales.  It was published by Geographers' A-Z Map Co. Ltd.  It opens to a very large map with index and chronology included.  Starting in the Bronze Age, thru Norman, to modern times, it list the geographic locations of many places important to each period of history.  [Once opened, it could be a bear to fold back up.]  Needless to say, it provided a source of historic and geographic information.  A good map indeed for those who's family tree leads this direction.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Welsh Border Country

East meets west, and West meets east...along a border which for many generations was an ill defined frontier between the Welsh...the Marcher Lords...and the English Monarchy.  On this border is located many of my family stories.  As early as Wat's Dyke, my family tree had established its identity between this often used location to test ones stubborn nature, and willingness to survive.

Modern day accounts of this area provide some help in understanding the history and location of many geographic names.  A fellow "Jones" provided the following text.  First published 1938, it provides illustrations and sketches of the land.

North to south it runs, giving one persons opinion of this landscape.  For many Americans of Welsh descent, Shropshire seems to play a key role.   Oswestry, Maelor Saesneg, and Wrexham were connecting points for my family.

Another text is titled: "In The March and Borderland of Wales".  First published in 1905, it gives the political, legal, and geographic concepts from the time of Edward I, in 1282.  It contains a wonderful group of illustrations giving a context not often found in modern day texts. 

Two helpful references to aide the genealogist they are. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Skipping Rocks

Understanding the historical context often helps the genealogist uncover a variety of factors associated with the family tree.  These factors may provide hints as to the direction ones tree climbing will take.
For those of Welsh descent, this context is frequently framed by war.

The book by Philip Warner outlines a span of some three thousand years.  From prehistoric times to the battle of Fishguard ( 22 Feb. 1797) the topic is organized by a major theme.  "The Battles against the Romans", "The Battles against the Normans", and "The Battles of the Civil War" are just a few of the chapter headings.  Ordnance Survey maps allow for battle site identification.

For me the most helpful was a list of Welsh at the battle of Agincourt. (Appendix 6, pp. 147 - 149)

It is like skipping rocks in a historical pond of Welsh history.  Come skip a few.

The book was published by Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1977, and again in 1997. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Welsh Tract

Early on, the Welsh had a number of folks involved in the settlement of this new land they generally called the colonies.  At times, a large number of individuals would travel together as a group of Welshmen.  Often this would be called a "Welsh Tract".   Such is the case of one group coming as "Cymric Quakers" to what was called "Pennsylvania".

An account of such a migration from Wales is recorded by the text called "Merion In The Welsh Tract".  The front sheet of my copy is shown above.  It includes sketches of the Townships of Haverford and Radnor.  It dates this migration to 1682.

The book by Thomas Allen Glenn was first published in 1896, and was reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, in 1970.  Clearfield Company, Inc. reprinted the text again in 1992.

For my own genealogical tree climbing it was very helpful in understanding this period in my own JONES family tree.  A Dr. Edward Jones was a leading individual among the first of this Quarker group. 

A dedication in the book states:

       "To The Memory of The First Welsh Planters In The Province of Pennsylvania Is Dedicated
        This Humble Record Of Their Lives, Their Lineage And The Country Which They Settled".

For those who have an interest in this early settlement group, this reference is a significant contribution to "The Welsh Tract".

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Cymry of '76

An address given by Alexander Jones in 1855 is recorded in a book about the Welsh descendents who were involved in the American Revolution.  The address was delivered in the Welsh Congregational Church which stood on Eleventh Street, New York.  At the request of the St. David's Benevolent Society it was given on the eve of St. David's day, February 28, 1855.  The following is a copy of the title page:

The material was reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD in 1968.  It was then reprinted in 1989 by the Clearfield Co., Baltimore, MD. 

The book contains a large number of "Appendix" discussing the Welsh language, history, and chronology.  It also contains the address of the Rev. David Jones at the Fort of Ticonderoga when the enemy were hourly expected in 1776.

I suspect the book is not widely known, so I put the reference for those who might be interested.  It is a fun reference to peruse.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Reference

References to aid your Welsh genealogical research are hard to find.  In America, this is especially true for the genealogist who are lucky enough to find their tree branches reaching back to Wales.

The above text written by Charles M. Franklin is a reference that has been very helpful.  It was published in 1995 by Heritage House, Indianapolis, IN.  I ran across this copy in one of those book stores that can only be found with difficulty.    The contents are : 1) Wales: Its History , 2) Welsh in America, 3) Research in Wales, 4) Basic Welsh for Genealogists , 5) What's in A Name , 6) Welsh Towns and Their Counties, and a detailed bibliography. 

It has a section on post-1974 Welsh Counties that were formed after a reorganization.  This "reorganization" has been returned to the original counties.  [Interesting aspect in Welsh history.]

Well, here is a reference that for those of American Welsh descent may find helpful.

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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Measuring the Land (part 1)

One of the first things you might want to do with this land and earth is to measure it.  According to the law books of Hywel Dda, "Dyfnwal Moelmud" [Dyfnwal the Bald!] was king over the land "Before the crown of London and the sceptre were taken by the English...".  He measured the island in "...order to know its tribute and its mileage and its journeys by days."  The method he used was not changed by Hywel himself "...for he was the best of measurers".  The method he used is described as follows:

"And this measure Dyfnwal measured from the barleycorn. 

Three lengths of the barleycorn in the inch;"

[Apparently, the kernels of the barleycorn were uniquely the same size.  Each kernel would be 1/3 of an inch, and could be used as a standard instrument of measurement.  Barleycorn was a standard food source and would have been readily available for use.]

"three inches in the palmbreadth;"

[Nine kernels of barleycorn place in the palm of the hand would equal three inches.]

"three palmbreadths in the foot;"

[This would make what was called "the foot" around nine inches in length plus or minus.]

"three feet in the step;"

[This would give a method to step off a segment of land that could easily be check by another.]

"three steps in the leap;"

[So a leap would be roughly nine foot, which would be around 81 inches, or 243 lengths of barleycorn!]

"Three leaps in the land: a land in newer Welsh in a selion;"

[Leaps setting the bounds called a selion.  I wonder if this is where the saying "leaps and bounds" has its origin?]

Finally, "and a thousand lands if the mile. And this measure is still used here."

Wow, 3000 leaps in the Welsh mile.  Let's get to work.

The information outlined above is taken from p. 120 in the book translated and edited by Dafydd Jenkins titled Hywel Dda The Law, Gomer Press, 1990.  The legal acre is next!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Land and Earth

From the ancient tribal past, the laws that came to be called "The Law of Hywel Dda", was a foundation to the culture and society of Wales.  Certain basic concepts were contained within these laws that allowed social structure, and the survival of the folks who accepted them as their authority. [See last post which gives the first principle of their existence.] 

One basic concept was called "land and earth".  This concept had its origins from the belief that "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." [ Pentateuch - Genesis 1:1]  It was "God's Will" that was the ultimate authority within these spheres of existence.   Since God was in heaven, it was his will that man was placed upon earth.  Thus "man" was responsible for this land. 

In the laws, "land and earth" was a key sphere of existence.  No land was to exist that did not have a "proprietor".  This had meaning from Roman days which comes from the Latin privatus, meaning 'proper to a particular person'.  A "proprietor" had right to the land by "kindred and descent".  It is written:

"Whosoever wants to claim land by kindred and descent, let him show his pedigree as far as the stock from which he derives; and if he is there as fourth man he is a proprietor, for it is as fourth man that a person becomes a proprietor." [ from: Hywel Dda The Law, by Jenkins, p. 104.] 

Claim to land ownership was thus proved by giving a pedigree from the family tree.  Four generations of occupation by the family needed to be shown.   A deed to ownership was your family tree.  Wow...everyone needed to be a genealogist for this land and earth.

[The term "proprietor" is defined on p. 375 in the text by Jenkins.]

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Customary Principles

A living community changes over time.  From early family units, to larger tribal groups (clans) there is a common core of customs which develop.  These become the "laws" [spoke or unspoken] that begin to structure the obligations of the folks living within the community, and institute controls [often punishment] that establish authority within this cluster of folks trying to survive.  For the Welsh, this was well established by the mid-10th century.  This common core became associated with the name of Hywel Dda.

The figure above shows the cover of my copy, which was published by Gomer Press, 1990.  It contains a translation of the "Law Texts From Medieval Wales Translated and Edited by Dafydd Jenkins".  For the genealogist who wishes to understand the core principle of Welsh culture, this is a helpful test.

On page 71 it records:

"For the wise say that worldly law does not pursue any person (whether it is to heaven that he goes or to hell) save until he leaves the earth.  This is the reason for it:  Though there be law between persons and each other on this earth, there is no law between angels and each other, and there is no law between devils and each other, save the will of God."

Hum..."the will of God"...who would have guessed this would be a customary principle in the laws of Hywel Dda, around 942 AD.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vale of the Dee

Welsh genealogy and the surname JONES can not usually be separated.   The following is a summary table of the first who are recorded as taking the surname JONES.  They are show by Welsh county and the dates that they were first recorded in the English legal records of the day.  The table is a figure taken from my blog called "The Jones Surname" [ ].  This blog discusses everything you wanted to know about the JONES surname but were afraid to ask.

The date of each post, which presents a little more about each JONES for the Welsh county listed, is shown above.  The documentation of each JONES is given in the post.  I thought this might be an interesting topic for those who have been following this blog [Welsh Genealogy] since my 50 years of genealogy have brought me to the Vale of the Dee.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Henry Edward Jones (JAC-1)

Henry Edward Jones (JAC-1), born July 8, 1926, is the 53rd in direct male line to me.  He married Myrna Jean (JAC-2), May 8, 1948, and my older brother and I came along not many years later.

Here we are November 1953.  Henry Edward (27), Myrna Jean (23), Henry Lee (4), and me (2).  Smiles and our future are in place.  Hard to imagine that over 60 years have now past.  How about that!