is there a technical problem with lots of profiles having ap or ab or ferch in the LNAB field (or gwraig in CLN field)? [closed]

+9 votes

Hi! Several discussions are underway concerning guidelines for Welsh names (main one is here). They're moot if technical problems would arise if ap, ab, or ferch (son of, son of, or daughter of) is included in the Last Name at Birth (LNAB) field or gwraig (wife of) is included in the Current Last Name (CLN) field.

Currently, the Index for A has 200 ap names indexed (see

One off-shoot of the main discussion talks about tagging profiles for correct LNAB. I think that if the tag for ap/ab & ferch names were Categories, then the "jump to" alphabet for those category pages could skip the ap/ab/ferch (I can do the coding for the that, just don't want to set up a Category:ap/ab and Category:ferch [and a non-ap/ab/ferch category to be named later] if ap/ab and ferch aren't going to be in LNAB field).

But - is there a technical reason the discussion should be moot & ap/ab/ferch (and gwraig) should not be included in LNAB (CLN)?

I think including ap/ab/ferch (& gwraig) in LNAB (and CLN) is the way to go, but at least one person, a respected genealogist, disagrees.

So - technically, yay or nay?

Thanks, Liz

closed with the note: Issue resolved
in WikiTree Tech by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (364k points)
closed by Darlene Athey-Hill

3 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer

I'm not sure what you mean by a 'technical' reason. There's nothing in the software to keep you from using it...

This is similar to the discussion of a couple/few years ago with the European Aristocrats project (before I joined Wikitree) with regard to prefixes or prepositions in the LNAB field.  There were respected people on both sides of the discussion.  They decided to not use them in the LNAB field so that people would more easily find them when searching.

It seems it would be good to be consistent with this for the Cymru project also.  My other concern is that people creating new ones might improperly use ap or ab and thus create a duplicate.  I find it somewhat confusing myself!  I located this discussion on soc.genealogy.medieval from 20 years ago:

The person noted:  "The difference between "ap" and "ab" is the sound which follows it. We do the same in the English language with "a bicycle" and "an orange". The spelling and pronunciation of the indefinite article changes depending on whether it preceeds a vowel sound or a consonant sound.

"In Welsh, "ap" comes before a consonant sound, thus "Einion ap Llywelyn", "Jenkin ap Gruffudd", "Llywarch ap Bran". "Ab", on the other hand, comes before a vowel sound, thus "Maredudd ab Einion", "Huw ab Owain".

"The reason I said "vowel sound" and not "vowel" is that in certain circumstances the initial letter "I" in Welsh can sound like a consonant. Thus "Rhys ap Iorwerth" and "Dafydd ap Ieuan". Kind of like in English where an initial "U" can sound like a consonant. We say "a university", not "an university".

"As you would expect, not everybody knows enough Welsh to handle patronyms properly, so you'll find lots of variations in the forms, even among people who write on Welsh genealogies."

Darlene - Co-Leader, European Aristocrats Project


by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (319k points)
selected by Joe Farler
It seems I have read AP comes before the surname, the same as de and/or le. Meaning something like the son of.

Yes, ap and ab mean son of.  "Ferch" means "daughter of", so if a woman was named "Elen ferch Llywelyn ap Gwilym", this would mean that her name was Elen, her father's name was Llywelyn, and her father's father's name was Gwilym. Properly, none of these words, "ap", "ab", or "ferch", are capitalized.

The terms come from the fact that those are the words in the Welsh language which mean "son of" and "daughter of". Kind of like "filius" in Latin or "...sson" in Scandinavian languages.

THANK YOU DARLENE !!   Now the ap/ab makes more sense even though I don't know the language.   I hope I get the same kind of answer on a question I just had about verch, ferch, and ingen.    Though I think that ferch is male (with mac) or not?   

Onward... more research.  LOL   Getting Given names right has been more of an issue because so many are changed such as Dafydd into David and so on.    I'll just keep working.   

Sincerest Thanks !!! 


Ferch is definitely female. F is a “v” sound so verch is a phonetic spelling ( should be ferch ). It derives from the welsh word for daughter: “ Merch “
I think somebody may need to close this thread from 2015...
+3 votes
Hi Liz,

No, I don't think there's any technical reason not to do it. It's a style and standards question.

by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)

Thanks Chris.

What I meant by "technical reason" is what Chris just answered.

So the debate continues - preferably back at

Cheers, Liz

+2 votes
I have disagreed with adding the sex quantifiers from the beginning - it causes unnecessary confusion and limits the user in adding variations of the LNAB.

Also, I have come across many females that are given "ap" (and variations) when it should be "ferch" - which causes more problems when searching for duplicates.

We are placing Anglicized rules on non-Anglic surnames.
by Michelle Brooks G2G6 Mach 2 (22.7k points)
edited by Michelle Brooks
Michelle, I don't think we need to back away from the principle that it's good for people to learn stuff.  I've certainly seen females with an "ap" or "ab" designation -- that's simply wrong and needs to be corrected.  I think if someone is going to work on Cymru profiles, it's appropriate to learn as much as possible about the people they are working on, including their naming conventions.  I certainly know a whole lot more now than I did two years ago with respect to my Welsh ancestors, and I'm glad that I do; and I'm quite confident there is a whole lot more out there to be learned.  If WikiTree had not encouraged me to learn the proper designations, I'd be the poorer for it.
Learning? Yes. Learning should facilitate a better understanding of a subject matter.

Adding to the confusion? Not the best way to facilitate understanding  

When the naming conventions of the country are 'fluid' - example, ap/ab/mab/map -  depending upon the letter of the given name, or variations in spelling of Gruffudd/Gruffyd & Denis/Dinys-  and we, as genealogists insist upon on using one or the other... we are fitting a square peg into a round hole by placing our Anglicized interpretation of LNAB on a society & culture T hat was not using this method.

I have been out-of-the-loop the last year due to health issues - and this issue hasn't become any clearer for our seasoned Wikitrre users, much less new members. Just the number of questions on G2G concerning the current Cymru naming conventions points to this fact. See G2G on "ab Ieuan or ap Ieuan" - if we just used "Ieuan" - would be no need for the question.
And this profile -

On Wikitree it is "ab" - elsewhere on the internet it is "ap" — now, someone searching Wikitree for duplicates would look for "ap Owain" ... and not find any duplicates ... using "Owain" would cut out needless duplication.
One problem is that we are using the data field for two purposes:  (1) As a heading and summary of the key information in the profile, and (2) as a method of indexing.  If it were just a matter of indexing, no problem, we could index by Owain or anything else.  But the data field is also the heading for the profile and displays the person's whole name at the top.  So Dafydd, Owain's son, would have been formally known as Dafydd ab Owain and his name should appear that way at the top of the profile. Prior to the Cymru policy change, peoples' "work-around" was to put in Owain as the LNAB and "Owain ab" as the first name, which is even more wrong, in order to get it to look right at the top of the page.
If the current system were practical - seasoned Wikitree members would not need to seek clarification (see above example). It's been a year - and the questions are still abundant.

We strayed from the Euro Standards by adding the quantifier/participle to the LNAB.

Using the current naming guidelines - we sacrifice accurate indexing (having all siblings under the same surname - instead of males under "A" & females under "F" — and only having to change the gender [M/F] rather than doing another merge to correct any mistake on the gender quantifier in the LNAB)  —  lessening the chance of creating duplicates (again, see above examples) for how it "looks" at the top of the page?
I spent the evening going through the Wales telephone directory & searching the U. K. Electoral Board — while there are some people that have reverted to the patronymic naming system as a matter of national pride - the database indexing system does not use "ap/ab" for LNAB.  

In books I have on Wales - (one is concerning Welsh surnames) ap/ab is not used as the first letters in the index for Last Name.
As I've mentioned earlier, I see the root of the problem lying in trying to use the same data field for both presentation and indexing.  My major concern is presentation, and the current Cymru policy satisfies the needs for correct presentation. I can understand that your primary concern is indexing, but I'm not at all confident that the old LNAB policy actually worked to group all the profiles where one wanted them, partly because it too was confusing and people mis-named profiles.  In fact, where  you have a duplicate profile, I think you're also more likely to have a mis-named profile, so that the reality is that find and correcting duplicate profiles is going to take some degree of detective work no matter what system one has.
As an aside, when I worked for a hospital in Saudi Arabia, I discovered that they had thrown up their hands completely at trying to deal with various European naming and indexing conventions, and the phone directories there were alphabetized according to first name, so you would find me among the "J"s.
Is there a digital database that you can find that uses 'ap/ab/ferch' to index LNAB? I have looked since the project implemented the current guidelines — can't find one.

If people that designed the guidelines are still seeking G2G clarification on which to use (see Ieuan link posted earlier) — & we have decided to use 'ab' to being a LNAB when an Internet search shows 'ap' used in other circumstances (see Ab Owain link above) — this is symptomatic of the problems we are needlessly creating. Problems that will only compound.

Since starting back with Wikitree merges - the last few merges have been because ap was used in the LNAB instead of ferch - this problem would not have occurred if all siblings had the father's name without the addition of the gender identifier.

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