Educated guesses or barefaced assumptions?

Family history, as with academic history, is something I enjoy doing.  It is so interesting and dare I say fun to scroll through nearly 200 year old censuses and try and make some sort of heads or tales of what the writer is saying.

This is especially true with Welsh names, conventions and house addresses.  

When my parents first did our family history, in the 1970s after President Kimball’s admontion to get back four generations there was quite the work done to trace it back.  My mother even got our ancestry on one side back into the US before the Revolutionary war.  It seems my mother is both a Daughter of the Revolution and a Daughter of United Empire Loyalists.

She also had Quaker ancestors who did not care about either side and moved up to Canada over a religious split.

Well on my father’s side, which is all Welsh there were some places mentioned which as typical of Welsh are near unpronouncable to an English Only speaker.  Places like Pwllheli, Aberystwyth, Tyn y mina.  You know the easy ones.

So as I am reading my way around these I start to realize that what my father had done, completely unknowingly.  He had given the complete street address for his ancestors.  Rather than born, Cardiff Wales.  It said the equivalent to Born 7 Caspian Close St Mellons Cardiff Wales.

When you realize you have the street address of your ancestors it was almost frightening.  You are left with a feeling of awe, a sense of responsibility to track it down.  So that is what I started to do.  Well as I did I knew I had the generally correct people and so I took it to the opportunity and started with the Church owned 1888 British census.  (Which is where I finally figured out these associations)

In Britain you see a house NAME is like a physical address.  Similar to how a domain name, like represents an IP address of say 49.101.100  the real location for the website is the server IP address.  Yet we associate it better with a domain name.

So it is in Britain.  If you want to you can name your house.  Something like The Royal Welshman, or The Light Within or something along that line is your address as much as a number is.  It helped me immensely when I realized this.  Because every instance of one house was strangely passed among my maternal line at least until 1900. (handed from mother to daughter)

So using that information I gained about 50 years of research, family names, literally hundreds of people opened up before me.  But it is based on one educated guess.  That Elizabeth Ann Jones Grand parents really lived at Fron-o-leau (the Light Within in English apparently used a lot by Quakers) in Rhiw, Wales.

If I am correct in that one instance then about 100 years of names are correct, and if I am wrong, well I made a right bollocks of my Family History.

So as someone who is trying to be an academic historian, I felt better when I got a hold of the Bishop’s Transcripts and was able to confirm most of where these people were born, christened, died and buried after death was in this little parish which associated them with that house.  Of course at this stage my feeling is still that this is circumstantial evidence.  But that comes from an academic sense of doubt.

Meanwhile as I read about these people, I am left wondering, what would they think of their great great grandson who hates fishing, eating and catching, will not go near a farm and spends most of his time in books?  It almost makes me laugh to consider how these people would have perceived my urbanized anglicized self.

It is certainly fun to consider.  This is why I love Family History, because I have a better knowledge of these people than I would have had with this.  With this research I can tell you my Welsh line of poor peasants back to before the American Revolution. 

Not a small bit of work, and being a detective certainly is part of the job description.


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