Notes on tracing ancestors from Anglesey
These notes have been gathered by various people from different sources the original copyrite is acknowledged
Registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced on 1 July 1837 but as there was no penalty for failure to register until 1875, there may be omissions (particularly births) from the early registers. Superintendent Registrars, who are in charge of registration districts throughout the country, keep registers and send copies quarterly to the General Register Office, where national indexes are compiled.
Events are recorded separately and not in any family order and each entry has to be sought in the quarterly alphabetical indexes of births, marriages or deaths. It costs nothing to search the indexes but the registers themselves are not open to inspection and full information is available only in the form of a copy certificate which has to be purchased. The information in these certificates is of great value to family historians.
Birth Certificates give date and place of birth, the child's forename(s), normally the name and occupation of the father, the name and maiden surname of the mother - with her usual residence if the birth took place elsewhere, and the name and address of the informant for registration.
Marriage Certificates give the names and usually the ages of the contracting parties, their marital status and addresses, the names and occupations of their fathers, the date and place of the marriage and the names of witnesses.
Death Certificates record name(s), date, place, age, cause of death and occupation of the deceased, residence if different from the place of death, and the name and address of the informant for registration. It does not show place of birth or parentage.
Birth certificates give sufficient information to seek the marriage of the parents and from details on marriage certificates it is possible to search for the birth of the two parties.
Certificates are obtainable from the General Register Office OR from the Superintendent Registrar for the district where the event occurred If the district where the event occurred is not known it will be necessary to search the indexes in the search room in the General Register Office. If, however the district and approximate date of the event are known, certificates can be obtained, usually more quickly and cheaply, from the appropriate Superintendent Registrar. Their addresses are obtainable form the General Register Office.
Also available for reference at the General Register Office are the following indexes of births, marriages and deaths:
+ Consular returns of British subjects overseas (from 1849). + Army chaplains' returns (from 1761). + Air Force returns (from 1920) and + Births and deaths at sea (1 July 1837 to 31 December 1874)
The following free information leaflets are available from the General Register Office, in return for a self-addressed envelope and an international postal reply coupon.:
+ PAS 1 - Information about the issue of birth, marriage and death certificates. + PAS 1A - Personal searches at the General Register Office. + PAS 2 - Summary of Registers and Records in the custody of the Registrar General. + PSR 11 - Reference Checking System. + PSR 12 - Brief Notes for visitors to General Register Office.
From 1801 census returns have been made in England and Wales every ten years (except 1941) and they become available for free inspection by the public after 100 years. Returns up to and including 1831 were of numbers only, and did not give names, but from 1841 onwards they provide excellent basic material for family historians. The 1841 returns give names, ages rounded down to the nearest five years, and say whether an individual was born in the county or not. From 1851 the returns give more detailed information - name, relationship to the head of the household, marital status, age, occupation and place of birth. The place of birth is particularly useful as it leads the searcher to the appropriate parish for information before 1837.
The returns for 1841 to 1881, arranged topographically, are now available on microfilm in the Census Room of the Public Record Office, Land Registry Building, Portugal Street, London WC2. As an alternative to personal searches, the Public Record Office will do a search, not exceeding 5000 people, for a fee, and supply the required information if found.
Microfilm copies relating to their own counties are held by either County Libraries or Record Offices and some Area Libraries have the microfilm copies relating to their own areas.
For direct descendants or persons acting on their behalf, the General Register Office, St. Catherine's House, Kingsway, London WC2, will for a fee search the returns for 1891 and 1901 to establish the age and place of birth of named persons, provided they are given the exact address.
The Ecclesiastical Census of 1851 is also widely available and might prove useful in determining which places of worship (churches and chapels) existed in an area at the time of the return - 30 March 1851. Details for Wales have been published.
From September 1538, the incumbent of every parish was required to keep a register of baptisms, marriages and burials. Some registers survive from the 16th century but for most parishes they survive only from the 17th or even the 18th century. The registers are an invaluable source of reference for family historians - the later registers frequently giving names, dates, places, ages, parents, relationships, etc.
Most original registers for the ancient parishes are now deposited in the appropriate County Record Offices, and the National Library of Wales has registers from over four hundred parishes . Information on the location of the registers of any specific parish in Wales may be obtained from the National Library or the relevant County Record Office. In a few parishes the registers are still held by the incumbent, as are current registers in all parishes.
Some registers have been copied or microfilmed and transcripts etc. are held by the National Library of Wales, County Record Offices and the Society of Genealogists. The Society has published catalogues of their own parish register copies (about 6000) and other copies, giving their location. .
From 1598 to about 1860 transcripts of the entries in the parish registers were sent by incumbents annually within a month of Easter to the diocesan registrar. They normally run from Lady Day (25 March) to Lady Day. Few of the early transcripts survive in Wales before 1660 but for most parishes they are available from the second half of the 17th century. The special value of these records is that they frequently fill gaps caused by missing registers and sometimes pre-date the surviving registers. Even where a register survives, transcripts can be useful as they sometimes include information not in the parish register.
Bishop's Transcripts for all the Welsh dioceses are among the diocesan records in the National Library of Wales but those for a few border parishes in English dioceses are in the appropriate English record offices. Most Welsh County Record Offices have detailed lists of the Bishop's Transcripts for their own diocese available at the National Library, and some now have copies of the microfilms of the BTs made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints some years ago.
The Welsh County Archivists Group and the National Library of Wales are at present preparing a publication which will give the location and covering dates of all Welsh registers and full details of the Bishop's Transcripts.
From the 16th to the early 19th century, people (especially the well-to-do) were often married by License, which was obtained from the Bishop of the Diocese, the Archbishop of the Province, or some other lower ecclesiastical authority. The allegations which preceded the granting of the licences often give valuable information about the parties - names, dates, places, ages and groom's occupation. They sometimes name the father of one or both parties.
Marriages License Allegations for Welsh dioceses are in the National Library of Wales and those for Marriage Licenses issued by the Vicar General of the Archbishop of Canterbury are now in Lambeth Palace Library, London. (Welsh dioceses were in the Province of Canterbury until 1920). .
In general the records of nonconformist denominations have not been kept as consistently as those of the Established Church. It is unusual to find records earlier than the 19th century and where they do exist they often cover wide areas. Nonconformist registers of baptisms and burials up to July 1837 (and those from Doctor Williams Library, 1742 to 1840) may be inspected at the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London WC2. (Between 1754 and 1837 marriages of nonconformists, other than Quakers and Jews, were not legal unless celebrated in the parish church of the Church of England).
Microfilm copies of these registers and a few original registers are held by some County Record Offices. Later 19th and 20th century original registers have also been deposited with County Record Offices or the National Library of Wales. Lists of registers deposited are available on request. Registers not transferred may still be with the chapel offices or minister or at the headquarters of the denomination concerned.
ROMAN CATHOLIC RECORDS
A few pre-1837 Roman Catholic registers have been deposited in the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London WC2, but most registers (which generally date only from the mid-19th century) are still held by the priest-in-charge of the local Roman Catholic church. Some early registers have been printed by the Catholic Record Society and, if tracing Catholic ancestry, this Society of the appropriate diocesan archivist should be consulted.
The Public Record Office and some County Record Offices also have 16th century recusant rolls and 18th century registers of papists' estates and other evidence of Catholic persecution.
INTERNATIONAL GENEALOGIC INDEX (IGI)
This index on microfiche has been produced by the Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). In some dioceses they met with religious objections from bishops and clergy and so have been able to microfilm rather less than half of the pre-1837 registers of England and Wales.
It is, nevertheless, a very valuable finding-aid and the British Isles Section contains some 45 million entries - the majority baptisms, some marriages but no burials. The most recent date for entries is 1876 but the majority are much earlier. Entries for Wales are arranged as a single unit (not by counties as in England).
The 1981 Edition for the whole country may be seen at Mormon Branch Libraries in London, in the provinces and in Wales. Copies are also held at the Society of Genealogists and the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies. Many County Record Offices and Family History Societies (including some in Wales) have copies for their own area. (Ed. Note: also check local Branch Genealogical Libraries in the U. S.).
WILLS and OTHER PROBATE RECORDS
Of all the records left by or about our ancestors, probate records are amongst the most valuable, as they mention places, children, relatives, friends, landed and personal property, debts, trading interests, etc. Some disposing of the property of Welsh ancestors exist from the 14th century.
Probate registries were set up in 1858, but before that time probate was a matter for the Established Church, and wills were proved in the court of the Archdeacon, Bishop or Archbishop having jurisdiction over the place where the deceased died or held property. The original will was generally filed amongst the records of the court, and a register copy was made. The executors were supplied with a probate copy, and many of these survive among family archives in Record Offices.
Wills proved in Welsh dioceses are in the National Library of Wales. (A few for border parishes in English dioceses are in the appropriate English record offices). The National Library has card indexes for most of the wills deposited there and in 1980 published an Index of the Probate Records of the Bangor Consistory Court pre-1700. Further volumes for Bangor and for other dioceses are to follow.
Wills of persons holding land in more than one diocese were proved (where Welsh dioceses were concerned) in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Wills proved in the PCC - 1383 to 1857 - are in the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London WC2. There are printed indexes covering the years 1383 to 1700 and for subsequent years, there are manuscript indexes, one per year to 1857. In response to written applications, the PRO makes a free search in the will and administration calendars for a period of three years from the date of death. If the search proves successful, an estimate is sent to the applicant of the cost of supplying photocopies.
1858 and After.
The Principal Registry of the Family Division (formerly the Principal Probate Registry) holds the indexes of wills proved from 12 January 1858 to the present day. They may be searched free and the wills themselves can be read for a small fee. Copies of wills are obtainable, by post or in person, provided the date of death is known.
Wills proved in District Probate Registries can be inspected there. Their addresses appear in Telephone Directories under "Probate". The Registry covering North East Wales was closed in 1928; its original wills, 1858 to 1928, are now in the Bangor Sub-Registry and the register copies are in the National Library of Wales.
Annual Printed Calendars of Grants of Probate for England and Wales, 1858 to 1928, are held by the National Library of Wales and by Dyfed, Glamorgan and Gwynedd County Record Offices.
PRINTED RECORDS, Directories, Electoral Registers, Newspapers
These records are of great value in compiling a family history.
County and Town Directories (generally from the 1820s - but a few from the late 18th century - until the second World War) are excellent contemporary guides to most places. They give a brief description of each town and large parish, list its principal inhabitants and tradesmen and give addresses. They are to be found in the National Library of Wales (Department of Printed Books), County Record Offices, County and Area Libraries, the British Library (Reading Room), the Guildhall Library and the Society of Genealogists' Library.
Electoral Registers were printed from 1832 and many survive from that date. Up to 1867 they give the names of freeholders and taxpayers in each parish. With the extension of the franchise in that year and in 1884 (when almost every male adult was given the vote) the number of names increases considerably. From 1868 the addresses of voters are also given. These registers are available in the National Library of Wales (Department of Printed Books), County Record Offices, County and Area Libraries, the British Library (Reading Room), etc.
Newspapers provide family historians with useful general background information on such matters as obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, trials etc. The largest collection of national and provincial newspapers - chiefly 18th to 20th century - is at the British Library Newspaper Library, Colindale Avenue, London NW9. At the British Library Reference Division, Bloomsbury, is the Burney Collection of 17th and 18th century London newspapers (1603 to 1800).
The National Library of Wales is Wales' copyright library and has an extensive holding but these are not complete for the 19th century. Most County Record Offices have copies or microfilm copies of newspapers published in the 19th and 20th centuries, but in some cases the runs are not complete.
QUARTER SESSION RECORDS
The records of the county courts of Quarter Sessions are the oldest and most important collection of public records belonging to the historic counties of Wales. The existence of these records was the main reason for the creation of County Record Offices - the majority after the second World War - and initially they were the nucleus of their records.
Some date from the 16th century, and they cover every aspect of county government up to 1889, when most of the administrative functions of Quarter Sessions were transferred to the newly-created County Councils. The records are a potentially rich source for family historians with a wealth of information - names, dates, places, relationships etc. - on a wide variety of activities.
Included in the records are Sessions Rolls, Minute or Order Books, Bastardy Maintenance Orders, Jurors' Lists, Land Tax Assessments, Settlement Orders, Transportation Orders, Indictments, Recognizances, Petitions etc.
Some Welsh Counties have printed calendars of their Quarter Sessions Records.
POOR LAW RECORDS
From Elizabethan times to the 19th century the relief of the poor was the responsibility of the parish. Overseers of the Poor had the duty of collecting a poor rate from the richer inhabitants and of relieving the poor who were not able to support themselves. The Overseers of the Poor kept detailed accounts and most of these are now in County Record Offices. Their survival has been rather haphazard, but included are various Overseers' Accounts, Poor Rate Books, Settlement Certificates, Removal Orders etc., and they are of great interest to family historians, as they give names, dates, previous and present parishes.
Under the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, parishes were amalgamated into Unions to provide for the poor, and work-houses were set up and became the responsibility of Boards of Guardians. People were admitted to the workhouse if they were destitute.
Union records - admissions and discharges, register, births and deaths registers, outdoor relief lists, etc - cover the period 1837 to 1930, and County Record Offices have records for the Unions formerly in their county. Unions did not follow county boundaries and some parishes were in unions for another county.
Although school attendance, up to the age of ten, was not compulsory until 1880, Board Schools were established under the 1870 Education Act to supplement the voluntary privately endowed National (church) and British (nonconformist) Schools, which had existed from the beginning of the century. Education became the responsibility of the County Councils in 1902.
Records of British, National, Board and Council schools survive in the Welsh County Record Offices. They include admission registers, from the mid-19th century, giving the pupils' names and addresses of their parents. Log books, kept by head teachers since 1862, often provide information on individual pupils.
TITHE MAPS and APPORTIONMENTS
The Tithe Commutation Act, 1836, provided for the valuation of lands subject to payment of tithe in order to substitute a money rent for the existing system of payment in kind. In the period 1838 to 1854 an original large-scale tithe map with two copies was prepared for each parish. The original maps were deposited with the Tithe Commissioners, and are now in the Public Record Office. One copy was deposited with the diocesan registrar, and these are now (for parishes in Welsh dioceses) in the National Library of Wales. The other copy was deposited with the incumbent and church wardens of the parish concerned.
The maps are accompanied by a written apportionment, which usually gives the following information for each numbered parcel of land on the map: name of landowner; name of occupier; parcel number on the map; name and description of the property; state of cultivation; quantity in acres, roods and perches; and amount of rent-charge payable in lieu of tithes.
Most County Record Offices in Wales have some of the parish copies mentioned above but they also have copies of tithe maps (mostly photocopies) and apportionments (mostly on microfilm) for parishes in their own county obtained from the National Library.
The National Library of Wales, Welsh County Record Offices and the Libraries of University College of North Wales, Bangor, and University College Swansea, hold family and estate archives (some dating from the 13th century), records of local businesses and industries, societies, political parties, trades union and also solicitors' collections.
Explanatory leaflets providing helpful information for searchers are produced by the National Library and by County Record Offices.
Here are most of the addresses you will need for your family researches. If you write to them in advance of your visit, please include as many details, with specifics of exact names and dates, and let them know exactly what you want. Please also enclose International Reply Coupons.
(NOTE: Opening Hours stated below are subject to change. For obvious reasons, it would be prudent to telephone ahead to verify).
The National Library of WalesAberystwyth, Dyfed SY23 3BU Tel: 0970 3816/7 Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9:30am to 6:00pm. Saturday 9:30am to 5:00pm.
County Record Offices in Wales Every county in Wales, apart from Powys, now has its own repository for the custody of local records. Although the reorganisation of local government in 1974 resulted in the merger of some counties and a few boundary changes were made, the ten county record offices still relate generally to pre-1974 counties.
GWYNEDD Headquarters: Gwynedd Archives Service Victoria Dock Caernarfon, Gwynedd. Letters to be addressed to County Offices Shire Hall Street Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 1SH Tel: 0286 4121 Ext 228
Area Offices: Caernarfon Record Office Victoria Dock Caernarfon, Gwynedd (Letters as above) Tel: 0286 4121 Ext 382
Dolgellau Record Office Cae Penarlag Dolgellau, Gwynedd LL40 2YB Tel: 0341 422341 Ext 260
Llangefni Record Office Shire Hall Llangefni, Gwynedd LL77 7TW Tel: 0248 723262 Ext 138 Opening Hours: Caernarfon - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:30am to 12:30pm - 1:30pm to 5:00pm. Dolgellau - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:00am to 1:00pm, 2:00pm to 5:00pm. (Open to 7:00pm Thursday by appointment). Llangefni - Monday to Friday 9:00am to 1:00pm, 2:00pm to 5:00pm. (Open to 7:30pm Tuesday by appointment).
University College of North Wales Library Department of Manuscripts Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG Tel: 0248 51151 Ext 316 Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 9:00am to 5:00pm, Wednesday 9:00am to 9:00pm (Term); Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm (Vacation).
University College of Swansea Library Singleton Park Swansea, Glamorgan SA2 8PP Tel: 0792 25678 Ext 7316 Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm. Evenings and Saturdays by arrangement.
British Library Great Russell Street London WC1B 3DG Tel: 01636 1544 Opening Hours: Monday, Friday and Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9:00am to 9:00pm.
British Library Newspaper Library Colindale Avenue London NW9 5HE Tel: 01200 5155 Ext 35 Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm.
General Register Office Birth and Marriage Indexes St. Catherine's House 10 Kingsway London WC2B 6JP Tel: 01242 0262 Ext 2474 Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:15pm (except Public Holidays).
Death Indexes Alexandra House 31 Kingsway London WC2B 6TR Tel: 01836 1599 Ext 289 Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:15pm (except Public Holidays).
Guildhall Library Aldermanbury London EC2P 2EJ Tel: 01606 3030 Ext 2863 Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4:45pm.
Lambeth Palace Library London SE1 7JU Tel: 01928 6222 Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10:00am to 5:00pm (except week after Easter).
Principal Registry of the Family Division (formerly Principal Probate Registry) Somerset House, Strand London WC2R 1LA Tel: 01405 7641 Ext 3097 Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10:00am to 4:30pm.
Public Record Office Chancery Lane London WC2A 1LR Tel: 01405 0741 Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5:00pm (except Public Holidays and first two weeks in October).
Ruskin Avenue Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU Tel: 01876 3444 Opening Hours: As above.
Census Room Land Registry Building Portugal Street London WC2A 3HP Tel 01405 3488 Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4:50pm (except Public Holidays and first two weeks in October).
Society of Genealogists' Library 37 Harrington Gardens London SW7 4JX Tel: 01373 7054 Opening Hours: Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 10:00am to 6:00pm. Wednesday and Thursday 10:00am to 8:00pm (except Public Holidays and for one week in February and October). Some Other