Surname of Morgan Williams, gg-grandfather of Oliver the Lord Protector

+4 votes

I’ve been reading Lady Antonia Fraser’s Cromwell: The Lord Protector. She makes a case for Morgan Williams being Morgan ap William. While Fraser is usually very good at primary sources, she does not include a source for this while explaining naming conventions during that time period (mid to late 1400s) 

Just wondering if this might be a possible change in the LNAB for Morgan. Thoughts?

WikiTree profile: Morgan Williams
in Genealogy Help by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
recategorized by Jillaine Smith

2 Answers

+4 votes

Hi Pip, I think Antonia Fraser may be using the Llyfr Baglan or Book of Baglan as her source.

It is available at Hathitrust and Google Books but I can only see a snippet view (Google Books and Hathitrust have very archaic restrictions on anyone trying to access material who isn't from the United States) so you might be able to see it in full-text?

It was originally written in the early 17th century, so there probably needs to be some level of scepticism about the genealogies?

An article in The Houses of Parliament for Sir John Williams, names his father, another John Williams as a kinsman of Morgan Williams (except on WikiTree currently they are brothers) and the first to anglicise his name, so I would guess that Morgan also anglicised his name at about the same time.

by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (341k points)
I think Fraser was making that point. Would this, then, not be a case of LNAB being “ap William,” or, alternatively, something that could be put in the bio at least?
Sorry Pip, I didn't add to my answer - yes I agree that perhaps his Last Name at Birth (LNAB) should be ap William, and Williams his Current Last Name (CLN).

However I would like to see something that confirms his father was definitely named William before proposing any changes.
+3 votes
Hi Pip,

Leaving aside any questions over the validity of the pedigree, this is an example of where naming conventions of the time do not quite map between countries or to current naming conventions. By this era, England was using heritable surnames (typically from ~1400 onwards) but in Wales the convention remained use the given name of the father as the second name of the son, thus 'Morgan ap William' literally translates as 'Morgan son of William', 'ap' being a contraction of the word 'mab'. This convention remained in some places into the C18 and tended to be replaced by simply converting the last such generation into a phonetic equivalent of 'son of XXX's', thus 'son of John's' became 'Jones', 'son of William's' became 'Williams' etc. It is reasonable to assume that, on moving to London, Morgan would have followed this convention.

However, which name to use as LNAB is slightly less clear. It is rather like the Norman convention of naming after places, incorporating 'de' which is omitted within WikiTree. Morgan would never have been known as 'Morgan William' but equally the inclusion of 'ap' may not be acceptable.

As an aside, the equivalent patronymic naming convention is still used in Iceland but it simply incorporates the context within the suffix of the name, e.g. William's son would be Morgan Williamson and if Morgan happened to have a daughter she would be Morgansdottir.

Thanks, Alec. I appreciate your response.

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