Looking for advice on determining correct line of ancestry of Welsh relatives c.1800

+4 votes
This little conundrum is being posted to inspire some thought by seasoned genealogists who have encountered the same problem.   I am busy tracking my paternal Edwards Lines and thus far I have been successful arriving back in 1816 concerning myself with [[Edwards-20460|John Edwards]] and his date of birth.  Baptism records show that at the approximate period of his birth, in the most expected location, Abergele, Denbighshire, Wales, there happen to be two John Edwards’ born.
* John, with parents John and Mary Edwards, was baptised on 13 April 1816;
* John, with parents John and Ellin Edwards, was baptised on 2 July 1816.
Which set of parents are my relatives, or rather how does the genealogist set about determining the correct line?  I would be interested in your views.

The story doesn’t end there.  [[Williams-64705|Elizabeth Williams]], John’s wife has a similar problem, perhaps made worse by the fact that the two Elizabeths were born within days of each other in the same location, Llanddulas, Denbighshire, Wales.
* Elizabeth, with parents John and Elinor, was baptised on 2 November 1823;
* Elizabeth, with parents William and Anne, was baptised on 15 November 1823.

The Williams’ and Edwards’ (with simple names such as John and William) obviously abound in Wales at the time.  Is there any prospect of taking this family ancestry back to the 1700s and how do we handle this conflict on WikiTree?
WikiTree profile: John Edwards
in Genealogy Help by Andrew Field G2G6 Mach 3 (37.4k points)
edited by Andrew Field

2 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer
In this case the marriage certificate  or entry in  a parish register would give you the names of John and Elizabeths fathers.
( certs can be bought from the GRO website) Using free bmd I found a marriage in the last quarter of 1840 that is a possibility but do check .They are expensive and its infuriating to get the wrong one; though sometimes there is more than one possibility.
EDWARDS     John          St. Asaph     27    277      
WILLIAMS     Elizabeth          St. Asaph     27    277      

Before 1837, one has to rely on registers. Searching for clues. As many children died in infancy  checking burials may help exclude one of the possibilities ( e.g. if  John son of John dies at age 5 then he is not the right one. Also Ive found that often a new baby is named after one in the extended family who has recently died.) Sometimes clerks are helpful and include places of residence within the village/town , sometime they use the junior or senior or elder or younger to distinguish two men of the same name.Sometimes occupations help.
Looking at the families as a whole can help.Fitting bits of the jigsaw together. (Who were witnesses at a wedding?  Going beyond registers to wills, poor law records and other records: which if they exist may not be online)
And sometimes, it has to be said that being certain becomes impossible. (but keep good records as sometimes another clue comes along which solves the problem)
by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (484k points)
selected by Pip Sheppard

Thank you Helen for the useful tips... I think checking subsequent burials may help exclude one or other of of the possibilities and its certainly a logic I must pursue.  You are right in that there is a prevalence in infant mortality in the period reviewed.  Genealogy logic must be a science in its own right!  I shall definitely follow the leads suggested. 

Oh boy Andrew, I have WIlliams and Davies and Richards and Edwards and more in my Welsh Family Tree.  When I looked up my family in Wales, I kept thinking of the Michael Caine movie "Zulu" where when calling the roll, they called out Williams by the last name and service number because too many had the same first name.  LOL  I feel your pain.

However, through Ancestry DNA I discovered a living relative in Wales who had been researching the family for years.  I lucked out on that one.  He walked me through everything Helen mentioned and that was a great help where our families were disconnected.

Good luck and all the best.
+8 votes
Are you using transcriptions or viewing the record images? The images of the registers often give more detailed information of abode or occupation enabling you to group families more easily or differentiate when there are two close baptisms in the same parish church. I knocked down two of my own brick walls yesterday by  spending an afternoon at the Northumberland Archives where I could access a level of detail that is not shown on the transcriptions on familysearch.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (683k points)
Thanks for your good advice Lynda... Yes, but those online are not too fulfilling and I only have access to one source.  Wish I could call upon someone in the immediate parish areas to do a search, but that is expecting a little much!   I just wonder though, if some sources of this imagery are better than others... I use Find My Past principally.  Perhaps other genealogy sites offer more detailed images.  I can't do physical research in the UK, since I am based in the African jungle (Zimbabwe :-)).  This also presumes that we are able to successfully obtain the residential addresses from census or other sources, and that the family did not move.
I understand your problem. Having lived abroad for 30 years myself I only had limited access to the archives when I was back in England on holiday. Try looking up the county archives for the area you are researching. They will most likely have a service where you can order images if you cannot find what you need on findmypast. Also look up the local Family History Society. You may be able to make contacts there who are willing to do lookups for you.

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