19 Census Information - surname changes
I'm showing again part of the 1851 Census for Glanypwll, Penmachno, where my great, great grandparents, William and Ellin Williams, can be seen at the bottom. Three doors away in the same terrace can be seen the names of Gwen Jones, Head aged 53, with her son Ellis Jones aged 22 who was a tailor. Also in the house on census night was Ellis Price aged 20 who is described as a visitor and was a smith by occupation. Was Ellis Price a friend or relative who was visiting on census night or was he a rent-paying boarder taken in to help the family finances? In many cases boarders are actually described as "boarders" on the census forms but it really depends on the accuracy with which the enumerators undertakes the recording of the information that he's been given.
I have received, through the generosity of one of the readers of this blog, a copy of William and Ellin's Wedding Certificate, where Ellin is down as Ellinor. On this Certificate William's father is shown as William Pritchard and Ellin's as David Jones, who is shown in the 1851 as living with them. William had therefore followed the Welsh tradition of taking his father's first name as his surname and became William Williams and he was the last of my ancestors to do this as keeping the father's surname was then becoming standard practice. In Blog 15 in September I quoted the gravestone where William Pritchard was buried and this shows that he died in 1830 aged 42 and that his wife was Gwen Pritchard who died in 1867 aged 80.
So how do I know that the Gwen Jones shown as living in Glanypwll in 1851 is William Williams' father and the widow of William Pritchard who is shown on the gravestone as Gwen Pritchard? It was because my grandparents kept important papers. Amongst my mother's papers I found copies of two editions of "Yr Eugrawn Wesleyaidd" (monthly journal of the Welsh Wesleyans) dated May and June 1897. William Williams had become a leading member and deacon in the Wesleyan chapel in Penmachno and these two journals contained tribute articles on his life following his death in 1896. These were invaluable to me in building up the family tree. I might have found these articles through painstaking research through journals but finding them with the family papers saved me dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of research work.
These articles relate how Gwen was left a widow with 7 children to raise when William Pritchard died in 1830 which would have put my great great grandfather aged 5 when he lost his father. Gwen reverted back to her maiden name of Jones on becoming a widow, or she might have always have been called Jones throughout her marriage, and she is down in the 1841 census as Gwen Jones. The extract of the 1841 Census shows her living in a house called Mynydd with three sons, Richard aged 18, William (my gggrandfather) aged 15 and Ellis aged 12. Richard and William are both described as quarrymen but there is no occupational description for Ellis. Gwen is down under occupation as "Ind" for "Independent means". This doesn't mean someone with a private income but a person we would today call "self-employed" and in Gwen's case she scratched a living bringing up 7 children as a stocking knitter.
The three sons are all called Jones in 1841 but by 1851 William has called himself William Williams after his father whilst Ellis is still Ellis Jones. The articles relate how the other sons left Penmachno to look for work leaving only William and Ellis in Penmachno and Ellis then changed his name to Williams so as to be consistent with his elder brother and he is recorded in censuses from 1861 onwards as Ellis Williams. A descendent of Ellis Williams came to a complete stop with her searches as she was quite naturally looking for an Ellis Williams before the 1861 census. It was only when I was able to tell her about the articles that the mystery was solved but the further back you go in researching your family history there is always a chance that you come up against this type of problem!
The 1841 Census Records shown that it was very elementary. The last column simply asks whether the person was born in the same county or not and in all those shown the answer was "yes".
The next Gwynedd Family History Society meetings are:
Bangor, 2 December (first Tuesday of each month) 7.00pm at the Quakers Meeting Hall, Dean Street: Wynne Roberts, "Aber Ogwen to Ogwen Lake"
Caernarfon, 27 November (last Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the The Library, Lôn Pafiliwn: J Elwyn Hughes, "Byd go iawn Un Nos Ola Leuad"
Dolgellau, 8 January (second Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Royal Ship Hotel: BUT this night. "Noson yn yr archifdy / An evening in the Archives"
Llandudno, 8 December (second Monday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Ebenezer, Abergele Road, Old Colwyn (please note new meeting place):
Llangefni, 20 November (third Thursday of each month) 7.15pm at Capel Smyrna, Ffordd Glanhwfa: David Price "J J Dodd, A Victorian Painter"
Pwllheli, 21 November (third Friday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Seion, Lon Dywod:
Elwyn Davies, "Cyfenwau"
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: 19 Census Information - surname changes.
TrackBack URL for this entry: