No 73: The Anglesey man who invented pi

By Hywel Roberts on Jan 29, 12 09:34 PM

Gwreiddiau1211.jpegThe latest edition of "Gwreiddiau Gwynedd" or "Gwynedd Roots" arrived a couple of weeks before Christmas and is, as usual, full of interesting articles and items of information. This is the bi-annual journal of the Gwynedd Family History Society and is a substantial A4 sized 64 page publication.

Each edition has a section on one specific area of Gwynedd and this time it is Anglesey and there are 42 pages devoted to 21 substantial articles on Anglesey family histories together with a number of shorter items of interest. There are 5 other substantial articles together with numerous shorter items in the remainder of the journal. It's impossible to mention them all.

The Anglesey articles include two articles on the famous Bulkeley family, one on the old inns of Anglesey which have now long gone and a number of interesting articles on family histories and how people made their family history discoveries. In addition to being interesting there is always something to learn about how to discover some aspects of family history in these articles. Some articles are written in Welsh and a synopsis is always given in English and, additionally, anyone interested in obtaining a full copy of the article in English can obtain one from the Editorial Board.

Sir William Jones.jpegAs someone who did a mathematics degree over 50 years ago I was amazed to read a short article on "The Anglesey Man who invented pi". He was William Jones, later Sir William Jones, who, because of his mathematical alibies, received financial assistance from the Bulkeley family to pursue his education beyond his village school. He taught mathematics on board navy ships between 1695 and 1702 and published a book on navigation and how to calculate position at sea. It was he who proposed that the Greek letter "π", or "pi", be used to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter and school children over the years have learnt that the area of a circle equals πr². Π is an indeterminate number and an essential mathematical concept. He published a number of books and was a friend of Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Edmund Halley (famous for the Haley comet). There is a portrait of him by William Hogarth in the National Portrait Gallery and I certainly learnt a lot from this short article.

Janice B Edwards from Poultney, Vermont, in the "Slate Valley" is becoming a regular contributor and this time she gave the background the family of Bob Thomas of Missouri who is trying to trace his ancestors, Elias Thomas and Anne Williams. In the early years of their marriage they emigrated to the Slate Valley from the slate town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. She writes an interesting story and gives much information and invites anyone who may have a connection with these families to make contact. There have been many articles like this over the years which have resulted in links been formed with information being exchanged with mutual benefit.

There is always a specific section where new members detail their research interests and there are also numerous letters with members seeking assistance and quite often there are articles where members relate how information received from such enquires have been an enormous help to find those elusive missing links.

One of the short news items is about the research work undertaken by Hefin Thomas on the Welsh language newspaper published in the USA, "Y Drych". He has compiled an index of all the emigrants from Anglesey to the US detailed in "Y Drych" between 1898 and 1935 and a hard copy is available in the Society's library which is open every third Saturday each month. Bangor University Archives holds copies of most of the issues of "Y Drych" during the period 1898-1935. The Society also has publications "A01 Emigrants from Gwynedd, Wales, to the USA, Pt.1: Anglesey, Pt2: Caernarvonshire, Pt3: Merionethshire" compiled from 3 Welsh-American religious publications. Details of all the Society's publications can be found on the website, given below.

William Alexander Madocks completed the Cob in Porthmadog in 1811 so the area which will be featured in the next edition of Gwreiddiau Gwynedd will be the Porthmadog and district.

Gwynedd Family History Society,
Meetings for the next four weeks are:

Caernarfon, 23 Chwefror (In Welsh, last Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Library, Lôn Pafiliwn: Rhys Prytherch "Born and Bred"

Bangor, 7 February (In English, first Tuesday of each month) 7.00pm at the Quakers Meeting Hall, Dean Street: Peter Brindley "Welsh Comic Postcards"

Conwy, 13 February (In English, second Monday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Ebenezer, Abergele Road, Old Colwyn: Hywel Roberts: "My Great Grandfather's Misfortune"

Pwllheli, 17 Chwefror (In Welsh, third Friday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Seion, Lon Dywod: Ieuan Wyn Williams: "Yma ac acw ac yn ôl "

Dolgellau, 9 Chwefror (In Welsh, second Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Royal Ship Hotel: Gweithdy yn yr Archifdy

Llangefni, 16 February (In English, third Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Smyrna, Ffordd Glanhwfa: Eric Lander: "Anglesey's Industrial past"

Clwyd Family History Society,

The meetings are held on the second Saturday of each month (except August) at 2.00 pm at locations that rotate within the former county of Clwyd.

Saturday 11 February: 2.00 pm at The Community Centre, Ruabon, LL14 6LE
Joy Thomas: "Basic Sources for Family History"


Hywel Roberts

Hywel Roberts - is known to many readers of the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald as a member of Caernarfon Town Council and as chairman of the Caernarfon Civic Society. He is also company secretary of Segontium Cyf, the voluntary organisation that runs Segontium Roman Fort Museum.

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