- The census may have been completed in either Welsh or English, which can make it difficult to both search for an individual and then understand any Welsh-language results that are returned
- A small number of surnames and occupations account for large portions of the population, which can make it difficult to narrow down a search that returns a large number of results.
When you search for an ancestor with a common Welsh surname you will almost certainly need the forename as well. If you are unable to find your ancestor with the spelling that you have, try:
- Searching for variants and diminutives of the forename – even if you are sure that you have the correct spelling. The most common Welsh forenames have been added to the variants search, but you will need to refer to other sources, such as name dictionaries, for the variants of less common names, and search for them separately. The table of Welsh forenamesmay help you. It provides a list of diminutives, variants and Anglicised versions of the most common Welsh forenames, such as Gruffyd, Gruffud and Gruffydd; Aneirin and Aneurin; Alys and Alice.
- If your ancestor has a Welsh forename, and you are unable to find it with any of the Welsh spellings, you should also search the Anglicised spelling
- A wildcard search on the forename or last name will allow you to search for variations in spellings, and will also compensate for translation errors
Narrowing your search results
If your ancestor has a common name and you wish to narrow your search results you should use the the numerical fields (ages and codes) or the additional name fields, as these will return results in both English and Welsh. In the first instance we recommend that you use:
- your ancestor’s age
- names of other people in the household.
- birthplace codes in the place of birth field
- occupation codes in the occupation field.
Understanding the results
If the census form you need was completed in Welsh, you can use the translation tables to translate the most common terms into English. Tables have been provided for all the fields of the census return, though you may need to refer to other sources such as a Welsh/English dictionary if the term you find was not commonly used. For example, if your ancestor had a rare occupation, or if the form was filled out in a personalised way, such as ’assisting at Cardiff Ice Co Limited.’
You may also need to do some lateral thinking to use the translation tables, as the word you need to translate may be misspelled or it may be a grammatical mutation, so it will not appear exactly as it does on the table.
- For example, the Welsh for ‘sister’ is ‘chwaer’, although the following spellings have also been found in the returns: chwaer. (with added full stop), chwair and chwoer
- Grammatical mutations in Welsh cause certain letters to change at the beginning of the word. Examples of mutated forms have been found on some of the schedules, for example, berthynas for perthynas (relative) and ferch for merch (daughter).
Translation tables kindly provided by Geoff Riggs and Association of Family History Societies of Wales (http://www.fhswales.org.uk/ (new window)).