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Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society

Montgomeryshire parish registers transcriptions

Transcriptions

The transcriptions were made by members of the Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society for publication in booklets, using copy registers kindly lent to the society by the incumbents. Details of the society and its publications can be found on the publications page on the society's website. There is currently a backlog of booklets awaiting printing at our printers. It was decided to make all the data available online and the society appreciates the assistance it received from the Federation of Family History Societies.

The policy is to transcribe to 1837 but to continue beyond that date to the end of the particular register. This accounts for the various end-dates of the transcriptions. There are occasional gaps in these registers and some parts are very difficult to read. To fill these gaps and to confirm and clarify the entries, Bishops Transcripts, most of which are located at the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth, have been used. Entries which are wholly from the Bishops Transcripts have been indicated in the data.

The patronymic system

Prior to the 19th century the patronymic system of naming was common in Wales, particularly in those rural parishes more remote from the English border. Persons were named as the son of ('ap', or 'ab' before a vowel), or daughter of ('ferch'). In the early 16th century and earlier, its pure form gives names such as John ap David ap Howell ab Evan, showing four generations of a male person, and Mary ferch William ab Owen ap Hugh, showing the same for a female. Please note that a woman did not (could not!) adopt her husband's 'surname' on marriage - she retained her family name throughout her life, even on burial. 'Ferch' was often anglicised and abbreviated giving 'vch' or even 'vz' in the register.

From the 16th to 18th centuries this system was in a process of change. The first development was often the dropping of the earlier names, giving us, in the above examples, names such as John ap David and Mary ferch William ab Owen. The next stage was often the dropping of the 'ap' or 'ferch', giving possibly John David or Mary William Owen. These might then develop the possessive 's' at the end giving John Davids or John Davies, and Mary Williams. A novice in this field may feel confused on coming across a name such as the above 'Mary William Owen', i.e., giving the appearance of a middle name of William. With experience one will realise that 'William Owen' is the name of Mary's father.

Often the 'ap' or 'ab' would be fused with the following personal name, so giving, surnames such as Pugh from 'ap Hugh', Parry from 'ap Harry', Probert from 'ap Robert', Bowen from 'ab Owen' and so on. The derivation of Jones from John normally arises from the Welsh version of John, Siôn, pronounced as in 'Shone'.

The difficulty for the researcher is working out when this process happened in a particular instance, e.g., a son of John Davies above may be known as William John or William Davies, i.e., a surname has possibly formed. William John's son may be David Williams or David Jones. There are examples where what appears to be the development of a 'surname' (e.g., the existence of the 's' at the end of the name) in one generation is not continued in the next. This process was a gradual one largely taking place between about 1600 and 1800, although there are examples of the practice surviving after 1800.

You are advised that in researching such a parish back beyond 1800 looking for the birth of Edward Evans, for example, you should be aware of the possibility that his father did not have the surname Evans but was named Evan John or Evan Roberts, etc. The chances of it being a patronymic name increases as one goes back in time.

In these transcriptions the basic rule has been to treat all names with 'ap' or 'ferch' (or variants) and/or with more than two names (e.g., John William Ieuan) as patronymic and typed all in lower case. Where there are just two names the second is treated as a surname and typed in block capitals even though doubt may exist as to whether a surname has been established or not. This editorial decision does not imply an opinion as to whether any second name is a 'surname'.

A more detailed account of the patronymic system can be found in T.J. Morgan & Prys Morgan's Welsh Surnames University of Wales Press 1994. ISBN 0708309364.