Guest-written Papers
Reference Abbreviations
Guidance Articles for Researchers
Single Family Analysis
Families of Mixed Origin
Family Pedigrees
Mis-identified Same-Named People in Wales
Battles and Historical Events
Ancient Welsh Territories
Welshmen in Llydaw, Brittany
The Men of the North
Legendary History Prior to 1st Century BC
Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees
Papers Related to Maxen Wledig
Bartrum's "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs"
Britain's Royal Roman Family
The Royal Family of Powys
2nd Powys Royal Dynasty
The Royal Family of Gwynedd
Men Descended from Tudwal Gloff
Royal Family of Gwent/ Glamorgan
Royal Family of Brycheiniog
15 Noble Tribes of Gwynedd
The 5 Plebian Tribes of Wales
Glast and the Glastening
Papers about Rhiryd Flaidd and Penllyn
The Men of Collwyn ap Tangno of Lleyn
Edwin of Tegeingl and his Family
Ednowain Bendew in Welsh pedigrees
Ithel of Bryn in Powys
Idnerth Benfras of Maesbrook
Tudor Trefor and his Family
Trahaearn ap Caradog of Arwystli
The Family of Trahaearn ap Caradog
Cadafael Ynfyd of Cydewain
Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
Sandde Hardd of Mortyn
The Floruit of Einion ap Seisyllt
The 5 Dafydd Llwyds of Llanwrin Parish
Cowryd ap Cadfan of Dyffryn Clwyd
Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
Bradwen of Llys Bradwen in Meirionydd
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                      READING WELSH PEDIGREES
                                              By Darrell Wolcott
           If you are fairly new to the subject of Welsh Genealogies, you may be taking someone's word for what the pedigrees actually say.  This is because those manuscripts were not written in English.  The really ancient pedigrees were written in Latin, but the vast majority of those written in the 13th to 16th centuries are written in Welsh.
           Many of us did not understand, when we first became interested in finding our Welsh ancestors, the system of names which prevailed in Wales prior to the 16th century.  There was no such thing as a surname or family name. The nations of the world all used some other method of assigning a name to a person. The Welsh used the "patronymic system", which is based on the names of your immediate male ancestors. In that system, a newborn child is given a single-word birth name, which is followed by its father's birth name and which may be followed by the birth name of the father of the father, continuing that pattern for as many generations as might be required to differentiate one person from another.  In effect, your name was also your paternal pedigree.
           The names were separated by the Welsh word for "son of" or "daughter of", depending on the gender of the first name in the list.  All the rest of the names were "son of" by definition.
           The Welsh word "mab" means "son", but the rules of Welsh grammar often mutate the spelling of words depending on how they are used in a sentence.  The form "mab" is used to precede names which begin with, or have, a vowel sound, while it mutates to "map" to precede names which begin with a consonant. Since all the early pedigrees were written by hand, writers tended to abbreviate as much as possible.  Thus the name-connectors in a pedigree are rendered "ab" or "ap" by grammar purists, but simply "ap" by most of us.
           Where the new child is a female, her name is followed by "ferch" (VERK) meaning "daughter".  This is another grammar mutation, of the word "merch" (MERK) or "girl".  Writers abbreviate it as "f.", "v" or "vz" in their pedigrees.   It will only occur once in any girl's name since all the rest of the names in her pedigree are males.  Her name does NOT change when she marries, and no part of her husband's name is added to hers.
           An example of the "names" of a brother/sister pair might be:
                    Llewelyn ab Owain ap Dafydd ap Maredudd
                    Gwenllian ferch Owain ap Dafydd ap Maredudd
            How many generations of one's paternal ancestry were actually used as their "name" depends on two factors: the rarity of the father's name among all the people he normally meets socially, and the individual fame of the person.  Some men could be widely known by using only their birth name, such as Cunedda, Coel Hen, Urien of Rheged, Vortigern, Rhodri Mawr, etc.  Not even the name of their father needs to be added for most people to recognize those men.
           Other men need only add their father's name, if that name was rare within the social group where they lived.  Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Rhys ap Tewdwr and Llywarch ap Bran are examples of such names.  If the name of the father of those men had been a common male birth name in their social group, something extra would have been added to their name so folks could tell two same-named men apart.  Usually, this was done by adding the grandfather's name, or by adding a descriptive word . Sometimes it was a nickname or place name added to either the man or his father, such as Llewelyn Fawr ap Iorwerth or Madog ap Gruffudd Maelor.  In the case of females, normally she was known as "ferch A ap B" which identified both her father and her paternal grandfather.
            Many Welsh birth names will be cited alongside a descriptive nickname. This was generally not given at birth, but added at some later time when the child developed distinctive characteristics. Common nicknames include hair color, (Ddu = black; felyn = yellow; Goch = red; Llwyd = gray; Foel = bald) body type, (Fras = fat; Fain = slim; Bach = short; Hir = tall) or temperament. (Gethin = fierce; Mwyn = gentle; Moethus = pampered)
            One of the few nicknames assigned at birth is Fychan (VAWK un) meaning "little", not in the sense of short, but when compared to another of the same birth name in that family. A son named Dafydd, who has a father who bears that same name, will usually be known as "little Dafydd" from birth.  In that sense, Fychan was often used much as the English "Junior" is used.  However, it may also be assigned to the last-born of two siblings who are given the same birth name.
           It is common for a man in a pedigree to be described as "of" somewhere. Often, this "somewhere" is recognizable as a known geographical subdivision, such as a kingdom, cantref, commote or parish which can be located on a map or a source which lists Welsh territorial units.  More often, however, it was the name of his personal manor.  These will NOT be included in standard reference sources, but many years later, that manor's name might be assigned to a town which was formed from lands of that manor.
           There are other common words found in a typical Welsh pedigree, which you should recognize if you wish to understand the pedigree. I say "recognize" because words are often abbreviated or misspelled in the typical pedigree. Remember, most of these pedigrees were written in the 1500's when there were no recognized standards for spelling.  Most spelling was phonetic; you spell what you hear. Examples of common words found in pedigrees include:

             graig or wraig = "wife of" but see the next item
             arall graig = "another woman" not necessarily a wife.  If her birth name is not included,  you can assume she is NOT another wife, at least not a wife of the man being cited
             gariadwraig = "mistress" or "unmarried mother of the named man's child"
             priod or briod = "married"
             mam or fam = "mother of"
             unfam oedd = "with the same mother as"
             tad or tat = "father of"
             brawd = "brother"
             chwaer = "sister"
             plant or blant = "children"
             meibion = sons (plural of "mab")
             merched = daughters (plural of "ferch")
             aeres = "heiress"
             cyntaf = "first"
             ail = "second"
             oedd = "was" or "were"
             oes = "is" or "are"
             dweud arall = "others say", indicates there is another opinion, which the present writer rejects
             wedy or wedi = "after" or  "afterward"
             o'r blaen = "before" or "previously"
             val o'r blaen = "as first given" and is used to indicate that the further ancestry of this person has already been given in full, either earlier in this same pedigree or in a pedigree which was cited shortly before the current one, in this same manuscript
             honno = "that one", the most recent person mentioned by name
             hynny =  "those", a group, such as children, already named
             y rhain = "these", a group now being named
             amser = "in the time of"
             a  or ac = "and"
             ag = "as" or "with" or "by means of"
             ai = "is it?"
             y or yr = "the"
             o' = "of"
           Here is an example of a pedigree which uses several of these words.  Can you "read" it?
           "Madog ap Cadwgan o' Arfon ap Gronwy ap Hywel, val o'r blaen.  Plant Madog oedd Dafydd a Einion ac Ithel.  Mam y rhain oedd Efa ferch Gruffudd ap Iorwerth ap Maredudd.  Wedi honno priod Llewelyn ap Thomas ap Caradog o' Lleyn"