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Tracing your Welsh ancestors

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Cat Whiteaway Cat Whiteaway | 16:44 UK time, Friday, 22 June 2012

After every appearance as a family history expert on BBC Radio Wales I get deluged with enquiries from listeners. Last week's programme was no different, other than our focus on paternal family history queries because of the proximity to Father's Day.

Seeking Mr Savage

Judith Savage was one of the first to admit she had simply given up with her dad's side of the tree years ago. Her grandfather's name was Caradoc Savage and he was born in 1903 in Rhosllanerchrugog near Wrexham.

I think perhaps the records may have been indexed more efficiently since Judith last looked because a quick look at the 1911 census shows an eight-year-old Caradog Savage living with his widowed father Peter at 56 Jones Street in Rhos and several siblings.

1911 Wales Census for Caradog Savage

1911 Wales Census for Caradog Savage

A quick scan of the family trees posted on websites such as Ancestry and Genes Reunited revealed that there are several other people interested in the Savage family history. I think perhaps it would be wise for Judith to subscribe to one so that she can contact those people and share information and photographs, rather than struggling on alone.

One of the things that Judith really wanted to know though was whether the family took or gave its surname to Savage Street in Rhosllanerchrugog. This might be possible to verify but not without a trip to the local archives or local studies library probably. If you are uncertain where to find the correct location of relevant county archives the best place to look is www.genuki.co.uk, which covers the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

From the research I completed for Cilla Black's Coming Home family history story in Wrexham I recalled that the Savage surname was also prominent in Cilla's tree so it is certainly a popular local name. If anyone else has an answer or has any better suggestions please post a comment below and I will make sure Judith gets the details.

Searching for John Jones

One of the queries that made me shudder came in from Terry Jones. His great great grandfather was John Jones, who was born in Wales in 1836. It was an incredibly common surname in Wales at that time just before civil registration began. Terry knows John Jones died in 1872, aged 36, and is buried in Ystalyfera but that is it.

All I can think of to help Terry is to make sure that he has the marriage certificate for John Jones. This should give John's father's name and occupation, as well as John's age and address. These details could then help identify the right family on the 1841 and 1851 census returns or at least help eliminate the wrong families.

Tracing Mr and Mrs Stocking

Eighty-five-year old Marie Evans also wanted help with her father's family history. Her parents were William Stocking and Maria LC Delponte who married in 1920 in Knighton, Radnorshire. After her father's death in the 1950s her mother remarried and went on to have more children.

She believed that her parents met in hospital when he was wounded as a soldier but wasn't sure how she can go about verifying any of this, especially when she cannot access the internet. I asked Marie to confirm the details of her father's death by visiting his grave and once she sends these through I should be able to make some progress, but as usual, if this is your family or you have any better suggestions then please send them to me.

Workhouse admission registers

One of the nice things that happens quite often on the radio is that people go out of their way to help others. This happened last week when Maureen Boyardi admitted she was struggling with her father's family history. He was born William John Howard and brought up in the local workhouse in Pentre.

I had a quick look at the birth indexes when we were on air to see if I could provide an easy solution (which is never that easy with just a few minutes spare between all the music, weather, travel and advice being broadcast). Anyway I could see that there were at least six possible matches for people with those combinations of name and so I suggested that Maureen pay a visit to the West Glamorgan Archives in Swansea who may be able to help with baptism details or better still the admission registers for the workhouse.

Just as the programme ended we had a call from Jeff Howard. He's researched the Howard family history in south Wales back to 1695 and he very kindly offered to help Maureen with her Howard research.

I'm not sure whether you can have a family history angel or what the equivalent of an MBE for service to those in family history need might be, but whatever it is Jeff and other's like him are angels and the world is a better place with kind and generous people like them.


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