Wales Compiled Genealogies
The term genealogy is used in this outline to describe records that contain family information gathered by individuals, societies, or archives. These records may include pedigree charts, compiled family information, correspondence, ancestor lists, research exchange files, record abstracts, and collections of original or copied documents. These excellent sources can save you valuable time. However, they may contain inaccuracies, and you should verify the information found in them.
Major Collections and Databases
The Family History Library has several sources that contain previous research or can lead you to others who are interested in sharing family information. These sources include:
International Genealogical Index (IGI). This index provides names and vital information for millions of deceased persons who lived in Wales. This valuable research tool lists birth, christening, or marriage dates. The index for Wales includes names extracted from parish registers and chapel records by volunteers and names submitted by other researchers.
The International Genealogical Index is available on microfiche and on compact disc. If you are using the microfiche, you need to know which county to search. If you are using the compact disc edition, the computer will search the entire country for any name.
Because of patronymic naming customs, the International Genealogical Index lists Welsh entries under both given names and surnames. On the compact disc edition, you can also search for either a given name or a surname.
The International Genealogical Index for Wales can be difficult to use unless you understand a few points. The Welsh names in the International Genealogical Index have come from two main sources: a systematic extraction of the christenings, births, and marriages in church and chapel records and entries submitted by individual researchers. The Parish and Vital Records List is a list of the records and time periods that were systematically extracted. This list is available in print or microfiche formats at the Family History Library and in the Family History Centers.
Many Welsh people did not have surnames in much of the period covered by the International Genealogical Index. They used patronymics. For an explanation of patronymics (see the "Names, Personal" section of this outline). Other families had established surnames. In 1813, the Established Church in Wales started using a standard, printed form for their parish registers, which included a column for surname. This made it relatively easy to determine if the family was using patronymics. Before that date, there wasn’t a surname column, so there was no way to determine if "William the son of John Thomas" would grow up to be "William John," "William Jones," "William Thomas," or by another name.
Welsh naming customs created a need to standardize the extraction of names for the International Genealogical Index. Before 1813, all births or christenings were extracted as a patronymic name, even though the family may have had an established surname.
Some entries in the early registers include a string of names, such as "Rachel daughter of Thomas John Charles of Glasgoed." These multiple names carry their owner’s genealogy, but create problems when trying to index them. The International Genealogical Index treats the first two names as the most important and discards the rest. In the example, Rachel would be listed as the daughter of Thomas John.
In an effort to help you with these problems, the Wales International Genealogical Index has two indexes: the "given name index" and the "surname index." Most entries are indexed twice, once under a person’s surname and once under his or her given name. When doing a given name search, take into account that the Welsh and English equivalents for a given name were sometimes indexed together (Dafydd and David) and sometimes indexed separately (Griffith, Guto, and Griffin).
In order to compensate for the problems, follow these suggestions:
- When searching for a specific baptism or birth after 1812, use the surname index. If you know that your ancestor used patronymics or came from an area where patronymics were still being used after 1812, you may need to search the given name index.
- In the computer version, a parent search can be done only when the father’s surname is in all capital letters. The records extracted as patronymics prior to 1813 do not consider the father’s second name as a proper surname; therefore, the parent search will not work on most pre-1813 entries.
- When searching for a specific baptism or birth before 1813, search the given name index, not the surname index. The index will list all children by the same name, such as William, listing them in order from the earliest date of baptism or birth to the most recent. You may use the surname index if you know your family was using patronymics and you know the father’s given name.
- Search for a marriage under the surname of the bride or groom.
- Search for all marriages after 1812 with a specific surname, as in a one-name study.
In summary, use the surname index (or surname search) for births and baptisms after 1813 and for marriage at all times, but use the given name index (given name search) for births and baptisms before 1813. Use the parent search on the computer version only when the father’s surname is in all capital letters. Always check the entries you find with the original record from which they were extracted.
Ancestral File. This file, part of FamilySearch™ at www.familysearch.org, contains family history information linked in family groups and pedigrees that have been contributed since 1979. Ancestral File contains thousands of Welsh families. It can print pedigree charts, family group records, and individual summary sheets for any person in the file.
Family Group Records Collection. Millions of family group record forms have been microfilmed in the Family Group Records Collection. These forms include many Welsh families. There are two major sections: the Archive Section and the Patrons Section. The film numbers for both sections are listed in the Author/Title Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- FAMILY GROUP RECORDS COLLECTION
Many families have produced histories or newsletters that may include pedigrees, biographies, photographs, or other valuable information.
The Family History Library has a few Welsh family histories and newsletters listed in the Surname Search of the Family History Library Catalog. Only the major surnames discussed in a history are listed in the catalog.
Due to the intricacies of early Welsh land tenure and the unchallenged jurisdiction of tribal laws, a tribe member, upon reaching 14 years of age, had to establish his freeborn status with the tribe. Knowing his genealogy for at least nine generations was required for him to get his inheritance. Many Welsh pedigree collections have been produced from this tradition.
The Family History Library has some collections of Welsh genealogical material, including published and unpublished collections of family histories and lineages as well as the research files of prominent genealogists.
The National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United Kingdom and Ireland lists major manuscript collections and a few published guides (see the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline).
The Golden Grove pedigrees are a large manuscript collection on film in the Family History Library (Family History Library film 104349–52). They are indexed on film 104351 but require some time to search because of the way the index was compiled.
Three sources for finding Welsh pedigrees compiled from manuscript pedigrees at the National Library of Wales are:
- Bartrum, Peter C. Welsh Genealogies a.d. 1400–1500. 18 vols. Aberystwyth, Wales: National Library of Wales, 1983 (Family History Library book 942.9 D2bw.) Eight of the 10 volumes are indexes to the pedigrees.
- Bartrum, Peter C. Welsh Genealogies a.d. 300–1400. 8 vols. Aberystwyth, Wales: National Library of Wales, 1974 (Family History Library fiche 6025561.) This source is indexed.
- Smith, Frank. Smith’s Inventory of Genealogical Sources: Wales. 14 vols. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library, 1994. (Family History Library book 942.9 D23s; fiche 6110529.) This work is a subject and surname index to items within selected periodicals, books, and films.
The following books contain alphabetical lists of surnames for which published pedigrees of at least three generations were found. Under each surname, the brief title of the published book(s) is given.
- Marshall, George W., ed. The Genealogist’s Guide. Reprint of 1903 ed. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980. (Family History Library book 929.142 M356g; film 496451.) This book, continued in the following books by Whitmore and Barrow, is a valuable source to use when looking for pedigrees.
- Whitmore, John B. A Genealogical Guide: An Index to British Pedigrees in Continuation of Marshall’s Genealogist’s Guide (1903). London, England: Walford Bro., 1953. (Family History Library book 929.142 M356g supp.; fiche 6054492.) This book continues Marshall’s guide and is continued by Barrow.
- Barrow, Geoffrey B. The Genealogist’s Guide: An Index to Printed British Pedigrees and Family Histories, 1950–1975. London, England: Research Publishing, 1977. (Family History Library book 929.142 M356g; fiche 6026284.) This book continues those by Marshall and Whitmore.
Genealogical collections are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- WALES - GENEALOGY
- WALES, [COUNTY] - GENEALOGY
- GREAT BRITAIN - GENEALOGY
Since most persons with the same surname are not related, you may have to do some research to connect your family to a family listed in one of these sources.
Many Welsh family history societies produce a "Directory of Member Interests" that lists members of their society and the surnames of families in which they are interested. For more information, see the "Societies" section of this outline.
The following publications show names and addresses of individuals and the family names they are researching. Using them may help you coordinate your research efforts.
Federation of Family History Societies. British Isles Genealogical Register. S.l.: The Federation, 1997. (Family History Library fiche 6344978 for the address list and 6344979 for the index.) This work is often referred to as the "Big R."
Johnson, Keith A. and Malcolm R. Sainty. Genealogical Research Directory. Sydney, Australia: Genealogical Research Directory Editors, 1996. (Family History Library book 929.1025 G286grd.) Search all editions since the directory is published yearly and specific family names may appear in only one edition.
It is also possible to find lists of people who are researching certain surnames through the GENUKI website at:
From the above site:
- Click [County of your choice].
- Click Genealogy.
- Click Surnames List.
The Guild of One Name Studies publishes a list of organizations that study specific surnames:
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Research Outline: Wales (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President, 2000), 36-39.