Thursday, 17 June 2010


After a long gap, I went back to see if there was anything new around on the internet to help me with my family tree, which I worked on a lot over a period of about five or six years from 2001. Up until now, the furthest I have been able to get back definitely was to the early eighteenth century with the Williams line, the ancestors of my father's mother. They had come to Cardiff from the area north of Bridgend via Pontypridd during the industrialization of the nineteenth century.
Beyond Thomas Williams, who died in 1780, things get a bit hazy. I think he was born in the ancient parish of Llangynwyd (left), and if I have the right Thomas Williams, his father was Morgan and his grandfather Jenkin Williams. That would take me inside the end of the seventeenth century.
Well this week I splashed out on the church records of Llangynwyd, including the gravestone records that were researched in 2003, after I did the original work on that branch. I now have traces of more siblings from Jenkin's relations, and they all bear names that were used later on in my "definites" era, like Morgan, Thomas and William. So it's looking more and more likely that the Jenkin Williams hunch was right. 
The great surprise is that the gravestone of Jenkin and his wife Elizabeth survives, apparently on the inside wall of the tower at Llangynwyd. And it seems he was born in 1650 - over 350 years ago, which takes me back even further into the seventeenth century than I had suspected. In 1650 we are in the thick of the Civil War here, though Cromwell is not yet in charge; Nell Gwynne and the Duke of Marlborough are born, Descartes dies; "Paradise Lost" is yet to be published. Jenkin died in 1728, and this also puts him at the same period as the people involved in the famous Llangynwyd story of "The Maid of Cefn Ydfa", one of Wales' great love stories, and familiar to many from the beautiful song "Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn" (Tending the White Wheat). Ann Maddocks (nee Thomas) and Wil Hopcyn, the ill-fated lovers, are both buried at Llangynwyd (pic shows her grave), and Ann died in 1727, aged just 23, only a year before my Jenkin. They must have known each other, the beautiful but sad young wife and the old farmer... 
Here's Dafydd Hafod singing it unaccompanied.