April 2008 Archives
In Blog No 8 I wrote about the problems that occur sometimes with records for people living in parishes on the borders of counties. This doesnât only apply to counties with land boundaries as I remember some totally unexpected complications my wife once had when looking for birth details of ancestors in the Brynsiencyn area of Anglesey. She was looking, quite naturally, in the Llangefni Archives and Llangefni Registry Office without success. She eventually found them in the Caernarfon records office!
When there was a regular ferry service from Anglesey to Caernarfon, Caernarfon was the market town for the southern corner of Anglesey and people found it easier to get to Caernarfon than to Llangefni and used to register their births etc in Caernarfon rather than Llangefni. You would only know this if you knew the history of the area but staff in the County Archives and volunteers at the Gwynedd Family History Society open days are very good in bringing such complications, and the potential solutions, to your attention.
These days we have to make an appointment to go the office of the Registrar of Birth, Marriages and Deaths to register a birth but in the nineteenth century a local Registrar would visit people to register the births. If you look back at the birth Certificate for Robert Williams, born in July 1878 shown with Blog 8 you will notice that the Registrar was Matthew R Williams. He was a clockmaker by trade and I have a grandfather clock made by Matthew Williams. My mother said that he was related but I havenât succeeded in finding the connection yet.
Matthew Williams was the son of Parc, Penmachno, which was the neighbouring farm to Tyddyn Ucha, the home of Robert Williamsâ mother, Catherine Roberts, so he was most probably a close family friend rather than a relative. The authors of an excellent 1993 book âThe Clockmakers of Llanrwstâ?, which is mainly about the famous clockmakers John and Watkin Owen, mention Matthew Williams as one of the lesser known clockmakers in the area. In their research they found only one Matthew Williams clock. I have one and Iâve subsequently found one other so there are at least three of Matthew Williamsâ clocks surviving today. If anyone reading this piece knows the whereabouts of another Matthew Williams clock, with the name âM Williams, Penmachnoâ? like mine in the photo, Iâd be very interested in learning about it.
Being the Registrar of the Yspyty sub-district was a part-time job for Matthew Williams but he sadly hanged himself on 7 March 1879 at the age of 35. In the report on the unfortunate incident in Banner ac Amserau Cymru (12 March 1879) it states that he had spent the previous day in the parishes of Pentrefoelas and Yspyty Ifan collecting details of births and deaths. This would indicate that people would get a message to the Registrar about a birth or a death and he would arrange to visit to collect and record the details.
The Birth Certificate is one of the key documents in tracing your family tree as you will get you will get the exact birth date and details of the father and occupation and address at the time. You will also get the motherâs maiden name. You will always get the motherâs name but in the cases of illegitimate births there will be no name for the father and Iâll give an example of this at some later blog.
Finding a connection with the Registrar, as I did in this case, is an unexpected bonus which you sometimes get when researching your family history. And the story of the clock is itself an interesting story which Iâll write sometime.
GFH Society Annual General Meeting, Saturday 17 May 2008, 2.00 pm at Yr Aelwyd, Stryd yr Eglwys, Caernarfon.
Guest Speaker: Rev Dr Ben Rees, Liverpool.
More about this meeting and the Liverpool connection in the next Blog
The GFH Society meeting for May are:
Bangor, Saturday 10 May Branch Outing: Rhyd Ddu and Nantgwynant with Margaret Dunn
Caernarfon, No meeting
Dolgellau, 8 May (second Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Royal Ship Hotel:
Penri Jones Evans, âHanes Tref y Balaâ?
Llandudno, No meeting
Llangefni, 15 May, Mystery trip
Pwllheli, No meeting