Patronymica

by Gareth Jones
This first appeared in Cronicl,
the Journal of
Powys Family History Society
Gareth Jones is Member 477 of Powys FHS

      

       I joined the Powys FHS in 1988 and have been chasing families, both my own and others, ever since. Some of my solutions alter as time goes by and more information becomes available to me. Some of the more exciting reconstructions/solutions involve patronymic twists. To illustrate this I have chosen three examples.

Thomas Thomas (1788-1863) of Gwernwyddog, Llywel.
       Thomas and his wife Mary (née Price) had, from 1812 - 1834, twelve children. The eldest, John, was born just two months after the marriage, in Nantygweision (Myddfai) his maternal home. The next two children, William and Gwenllian, were born at Troedyrhiw, Myddfai, just over the Breconshire border. There was a Thomas family at Troedyrhiw throughout the c19th, and this bewitched me so much that I have spent almost twenty years wasting my time trying to find a Troedyrhiw link with my Thomases: nothing so far.
      

      I descend from the William above and have reassembled all of his issue but the model was not satisfactory so in the November of 2005, I sent for the birth certificate of his second son, mother unknown at the time. Samuel was born at 8am, 23 October, 1838 to William Thomas and Ann Evans. No such marriage for a suitable William Thomas existed after 1837 nor for the pre-1837 marriage indices of the Defynnog and Perfedd Hundreds. Trying Ann Evans, this found a marriage on 30 October, 1835 to a William Jones at Llywel Parish Church. The witnesses were Samuel Evans and Thomas Thomas. You can see here a possible connection in that William's father was a Thomas Thomas.


       Bells were ringing. The Saron Chapel register had a christening record for a Mary, daughter of William Jones and his wife Anne, born 10 January, 1836 at Gwernwyddog. Forgetting the Myddfai PR, I just looked at the Llywel Registers for more information on Thomas Thomas (1788-1863). The answer was clear as a suitable Thomas was christened in 1788 to a John Thomas, making him Thomas John Thomas. William decided to call himself William John/Jones only for a short period: he was a Thomas again by the 1841 census. Ann Evans died before 1841 and the infant Mary appears with her grandparents, Samuel and Joan Evans, in 1841 and 1851, named as Mary Thomas. She could have been called Ann William Thomas John Thomas!
      

      There is more. In Cronicl 16, 1987, page 10, there is an article by Raymond Humphreys entitled Rees Thomas, son of John Jones. Raymond observed that at Pwlluchaf, Llywel, 'The Christian names of the children and their ages all fitted exactly ( note - with his reassembled Thomas ancestors - GJ) but the surname was Jones.' The other evidence he records includes the marriage certificate of his kinsman as the son of 'John Jones' deceased.


       All the evidence points to this John Jones of Pwlluchaf being the eldest son of Thomas Thomas (1788-1863)of Gwernwyddog, Llywel. John followed the Patronymic rule until the day he died but why his children should adopt the English surname system is a mystery.

Edward Lewis (1775-183-) of Cwmnantbrith, Llywel.
       I came onto this family by various routes. My distant cousin Ronald Lewis, who lived in the old tram road 'shed' (modernised and enhanced) at the end of the Brecon Forest Tramroad, claimed descent from this family. A more recently discovered distant cousin (DPJ) descends from Edward's son Evan (= Mercy) of Llywel. We could not find a suitable marriage for this Edward Lewis and and an Elizabeth anywhere. Just trying Edward and an Edward Jones turned up marrying, in 1799, an Elizabeth Thomas in Llywel Parish Church.

The first four children (1800-1806) were christened in Llywel Parish Church to an Edward Jones, and the last three (1810-1817) at Saron Chapel to an Edward Lewis. Ronald's ancestor was christened John son of Edward Jones, while DPJ's kinsman was Evan son of Edward Lewis. As this Edward Lewis died before 1841 his birthplace was unknown. Just throw a circle around Llywel and explore the neighbouring five parishes. Bingo: Myddfai Parish Church had a christening for an Edward son of Lewis John Lewis son of John Lewis, so John son of Lewis still has to be found. Edward ended his days following the traditional patronymic system, adopting his father's Christian name as his surname, that is the name with which his father had been annointed in a Christian church.

 

David Davies (1807-c1891) of Blaentreweren, Defynog.
       This is the patronymic family which is exercising me at the moment; the evidence is in the public domain. The relevant item in the post-1858 Will calendars exposes us to the probability:


       Mary Williams died 28 July, 1854; will proved Hereford 11 November, 1861; executor: David Lewis, otherwise Davies, Blaentreweren, her brother.
      

       Mary Lewis, the sister, first married a Rees Price in Llywel Parish Church in 1820, then on 14 October, 1844 she married Jenkin Williams of Panterafog, Cray.


       It is early days for this family but the indications are that Mary was christened at Llywel Church as the daughter of Morgan and Elizabeth David, 12 August, 1798, while her brother was christened as David, son of Morgan Lewis and Elizabeth of Dommenlas, Lywel. This is the family of Powys FHS member ALM.

Is it likely to be, as suggested, all on the Internet? I think not.

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