When researching family history we sometimes need to visit an archive to find out some information that cannot be found online. So I thought I’d put together a list of the counties of the UK with the location of their main archives for the county. I’m starting with Wales as it’s a country of the UK which I haven’t done a blog about before.
Anglesey or Ynys Môn in Welsh is the only island county in Wales. It is located in the north west of the country and has a population of around 70,000 inhabitants. The main towns include Holyhead, Beaumaris and of course Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. The county town is Llangefni, not Holyhead as many believe. The archive for the county is also in Llangefni and the following is a link to the website: https://www.anglesey.gov.uk/en/Residents/Archives/Visiting-Anglesey-Archives/Plan-your-visit-to-the-Archives.aspx
Brecknockshire or Sir Frycheiniog in Welsh is located in the mid east of the country. Its current population is approximately 43,000. The main towns in the county include Buith Wells, Brecon and the smallest town Britain Llanwrtyd Wells. Today although still a county the governance falls under the larger ancient and preserved county of Powys. The county town is Llandrindod Wells (which is in Radnorshire). The archives for Powys and Brecknockshire are held in Llandrindod Wells and the website is at: https://en.powys.gov.uk/archives
Caernarfonshire or Sir Gaernarfon in Welsh is on the west coast of the country. It has a population of approximately 122,000. The main places in the county are Betws-y-Coed, Caernarfon, and Conwy. The county town of the county is Caernarfon. The county falls under Gwynedd. The archives for the county are in Caernarfon and can be found at: https://www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru/en/Residents/Libraries-and-archives/Archives-and-family-history/Archives-and-family-history.aspx
Carmarthenshire or Sir Gaerfyrddin in Welsh is in the south west central region of Wales. It has an approximate population of 185,000. The main places in the county are Carmarthen, Pendine, St Clears and Llandeilo. The county town is Camarthen and the archive website can be found at: https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/council-services/libraries-archives/archives-family-history/#.XWfFUd5KiM9
Cardiganshire or Ceredigion in Welsh is on the west coast of Wales and has an approximate population of 76,000. The main places are Cardigan, Aberystwyth and Lampeter. The county town is not Cardigan as you may think but it is Aberystwyth. The archives website can be found at: https://archifdy-ceredigion.org.uk/
Denbighshire or Sir Ddinbych in Welsh is found on the north coast of Wales and has a population of approximately 175,000. The main places in Denbighshire include Rhyl, Wrexham and Denbigh. The county town is Ruthin and the archive website is: http://archives.denbighshire.gov.uk/
Flintshire or Sir y Fflint in Welsh is on the north coast of Wales and boarders England in some places. It has an approximate population of 155,000. The main places of the county are Connah’s Quay, Flint and Mold. The county town is Mold and the archives website can be found at: https://www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/LeisureAndTourism/Records-and-Archives/Home.aspx
Glamorgan or Sir Forgannwg in Welsh is on the south coast of Wales and has a populations of approximately 130, 500. The main places in the county are Cardiff, Swansea, Port Talbot and the Gower peninsular. The county town is Cardiff and the archive website can be found at: https://glamarchives.gov.uk/
Merionethshire or Merioneth or Sir Feirionnydd in Welsh is in northern Wales and goes inland from the coast. It has an approximate population of 46,000. The main places in the county include Dolgellau, Bala and Harlech. The county town is Dolgellau. The county falls under Gwynedd. The archives for the county are in Caernarfon and can be found at: https://www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru/en/Residents/Libraries-and-archives/Archives-and-family-history/Archives-and-family-history.aspx
Monmouthshire or Sir Fynwy in Welsh is found in the south east of the country and boarders England. The population of the county is approximately 503,000. The main towns are Monmouth, Abergavenny and Chepstow. The county town is Newport. The archives fall under Gwent and the web address can be found at: http://www.gwentarchives.gov.uk/
Montgomeryshire or Sir Drefaldwyn in Welsh is in central Wales and has an approximate population of 64,000. The main places in the county include Welshpool, Newtown and Machynlleth. The county town is Welshpool. The archives fall under Powys and can be found in Llandrindod Wells and the website is at: https://en.powys.gov.uk/archives
Pembrokshire or Sir Benfro (the best of the Welsh counties in my opinion) is in on the south west Wales coast. The population of the county is approximately 122,500. The main places of the county are Haverfordwest, Pembroke, Milford Haven, Fishguard and Britain’s smallest city St David’s. The county town is Haverfordwest and the archives for the county are in Haverfordwest and the web address is: http://www.culture4pembrokeshire.co.uk/content.asp?nav=3
Radnorshire or Sir Faesyfed in Welsh is in central east Wales and has an approximate population of 26,000. The main places of the county include, Presteigne, Knighton and Rhayader. The county town is Presteigne, although the county now comes under Powys. The archives can be found in Llandrindod Wells and the website is at: https://en.powys.gov.uk/archives
So I hope this helps people in their Welsh research in identifying which part of the county any records they wish to view may be located, but don’t forget there will be repositories of information in other more local places.
In my last blog I asked the question do you want to be a princess. I touched on the castle in this so I thought I would present you with a castles word search this week. It should give you about 10 minutes of escapism, and yes I know there is a spelling mistake in it and extra points if you notice.
If you like the idea of finding out more about castles I can recommend 2 books. The first is by Marc Morris and is Castle: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain. This is a grown up book about castles. The second is Dark Knights and Dingy Castles by Terry Deary. This is a book for kids of all ages and is really funny.
Hopefully my brain should kick in and I should have a proper blog for you next week. Also I’m thinking of doing an ask a question blog at some point in the future so if you have and genealogy questions you want to ask please email them to me at email@example.com
You hear this saying quite a lot these days from little kids playing dress up to brides choosing a dress. But would you really have wanted to be a princess?
Well I would think no unless it’s in modern times. Let’s face it the life in castle would have stunk. The whole place would have smelt of wood smoke in the winter, which isn’t bad but factor in the food smells, the smelly of musty fabrics and furnishing it would be a bit bad. No add into the smell of the people and it would be gross. No deodorant, body wash and shampoo! If you stunk you had to change your clothes and send them off to be washed. Except in reality only your under linen shift would be washed. The top dress would probably never be cleaned. Now add in the smell of chamber pots and toilets if you’re lucky. Versailles in France the people of court used to got to the toilet in the corner of the room and just leave their doings on the floor. I don’t want to be a princess.
But it isn’t just the smells that would stop you from wanting to be a princess. Your life would be completely controlled. What you could learn, who your friends were and even what your interests were. So learning to sew, run a household and be a proper lady was high on the list of your day. Some princesses had more freedom than this, but not many.
If you’re Dad’s King (or brother etc), no choosing your own hubby, Daddy would do it for you and you would probably wouldn’t be too impressed. Lets consider the Tudor princess Mary Tudor the daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Her big brother chose her first husband for her. He chose King Louis XII of France a 52 year old double widower for her. Mary was 18 years old. It was even worse for Isabella of Valois the daughter of King Charles VI of France. He married her off to the 29 year old widower King Richard II when she was 6 years old! So her you are packed off to another country (probably) to live with someone you’ve never met. Luckily you probably get to take your ladies with you, but they may also have been chosen for you. Mary Tudor had Anne Boleyn as a lady in waiting in France and she really didn’t like her.
Then there’s the little matter of woman’s duties. As wife of a monarch, heir to a throne or wife of a high ranking noble you had one job. Have children, in particular sons to carry on the line. Also you would probably have to put up with your spouse carrying on with his mistresses. Once you popped out your child if it was a boy – great celebration and if it was a girl your downfall may be plotted, think Anne Boleyn. If you were kept on as a wife then you would be expected to get pregnant again very quickly. Then was the fact you may well not survive childbirth. Also you may have been a child yourself when you gave birth. Queen Mary II was only 16 when she married her husband and possibly still 16 when she suffered a miscarriage. Now I know it was a different time but at 16 I was very much still a kid.
During your life as a princess you would be controlled by your father or other family member until you married and then controlled by your husband. Everything was controlled. Who you spent time with, what you wore (must look fashionable for your husband), what you did and even what happened to you. Think about Infanta Catalina of Aragon, later Queen Catherine of Aragon. She was sent away to marry, put aside by her husband and removed from court to a cold damp castle with no ladies and very little money and not allowed to see her daughter.
So still want to be a Princess? Maybe the expression should be changed to I want to be a Disney Princess.
So in August 1990 Tim Berners-Lee started to develop the world wide web. What’s that got to do with genealogy or history I hear you say but it does.
Pre tinternet (Yorkshire for Internet) can you imagine how much more difficult genealogy was. No quick look ups. It’s a road trip to a records office.
So I want to consider how the internet has helped my genealogy journey.
Now I’ve always known my family came from around the country but just consider how difficult my research would have been pre 1990. As a by thought just doing my degree in the late 1990’s/early 2000 I didn’t really use the internet, jeez I feel old. So off track there. So my research would have started at the records office in Sheffield, but that would have only got me so far. On my maternal side I would have found no records.
On my paternal side I would have got back quite a way. Then I would have had to travel further afield to both Rotherham and Barnsley as well as Chesterfield. Next stop would have been up to West Yorkshire and then North Yorkshire. So it works out at about one record office per generations and probably 2 as couples are not necessary from the same place. If you consider my twice great grandparents James was from Leeds and Mary was from Barnsley. So this couple would be a trip to Barnsley which is a 40 minute journey and Leeds is an hour.
Now comes the secret side of my paternal line. OK, I have ancestors from Lancashire (help Yorkshire lass). Well they started off in Cheshire before they came to Sheffield so next stop would have been the registry office in Chester which is a good couple of hours away, and then it would be up to Preston in Lancashire.
So onto my maternal side. First stops would be Peterborough and Norwich. From here we would be off to Ipswich, Lincoln London and Nottingham. I’d also need to travel north to both Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne. Also calling in at Glasgow, Carlisle and who knows where the records for the Isles of Scotland are. I sound like a train announcer.
Now consider what all this really means. It’s not just the travelling to the locations. You have to factor in that you would have to spend probably days in the records office. You would have to go through each parish register one by one. Just because your ancestors lived in one place doesn’t mean they were baptised or married there. Also if you think about it if the census says your ancestor was from Leeds, how many parish records would you have to troll through. Then their sibling’s records may not be in the same place so that’s more searching and there may be siblings you don’t know about. So you’re going to need to stay probably a few more days than you thought.
Then there are visits to where our ancestors lived. You may want to visit the church your ancestors were married or where they were buried.
So I decided to add you all the miles between home and the archives I would have to travel to for my research and it comes to approximately 1500 miles.
The cost soon adds up as does the amount of time. So the internet takes all this away. You sit at home and clickety click away and up pop your ancestors for you (not really easy but you know what I mean).
So you could say the internet along with the magnificent people who scan in the records and upload them, that Time Berners-Lee and the others have radically improved the process of tracing our families back through time. It also means I can watch youtube while I’m doing it, Count Duckula today I think!
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!