Welsh surnames, Wales, Welsh Genealogy

Welsh Surnames – A Glimpse of “The Surnames of Wales”

Editor’s Note: The following post relates to the new edition of John and Sheila Rowlands’ The Surnames of Wales. Those interested in tracing their Welsh genealogy may find this to be a valuable resource. Researchers less familiar with the nuances of Welsh genealogy, should also consider the Rowlands’ Welsh Family History, A Guide to Research. Second Edition as a starting point, and Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry as a supplemental guide

A Glimpse of The Surnames of Wales

The revised and enlarged edition of John and Sheila Rowlands’ The Surnames of Wales seeks to dispel many of the myths which surround the subject of Welsh names. In this updated edition, evidence is taken from an exhaustive survey involving more than 270,000 surnames found in parish records throughout Wales in order to present the most complete information. The central chapters include this comprehensive survey of Welsh surnames and an all-important glossary of surnames. This is the core of the work, as it provides the origins and history of surnames from the viewpoint of family history, and also shows the distribution and incidence of surnames throughout Wales. When these genealogical implications are considered alongside the migration patterns to and from Wales, the possibilities for tracking elusive Welsh ancestors improve considerably.

To illustrate the extent of the well researched information contained in The Surnames of Wales, here are the Rowlands’ key to their Glossary of Welsh surnames, followed by a few surname descriptions taken from the Glossary itself.

Key to the Glossary of Welsh Surnames

The Glossary follows a standard pattern. First comes a short historical and linguistic paragraph about each name. An indication of the existence of earlier work on families is given in many cases. A key to these references is to be found in the list of Abbreviations, and also in the References and Select Bibliography. For the most part, the pre-1974 historic counties of Wales are referred to. Frequently included in the historical paragraph is a reference to the work of P.C. Bartrum  on personal names found in fifteenth century Welsh pedigrees (Bartrum, 1981), and also to the work of H.B. Guppy (Guppy, 1890). For an explanation of their work (and the work of others) see Chapter 6. The Welsh medieval divisions used in Bartrum’s work are quoted, and the figures are given as percentages.

Notes from Guppy are included where appropriate: i.e. where names are counted in Wales, Guppy’s figures (expressed as percentages here, to enable comparisons to be made) are shown in the Glossary; figures are also given for the English counties along the Welsh border, where they are included; for other English counties we have been more selective, indicating the figures where they seem to us to be relevant. Many names in this Glossary are totally unrepresented in Guppy’s work. The order chosen here is: North Wales, South Wales, Monmouthshire; the four border counties of Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire; other English counties. Continue reading…