Marleta Childs
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     If you are trying to find the locale where your Welsh ancestors originated, you will welcome the updated and expanded THE SURNAMES OF WALES by John and Sheila Rowlands. Since the publication of their first edition in 1996, the authors have delved further into the subject matter and share their new information in this volume.

     Because only a small number of surnames have been used by the populace, the lack of diversity presents a major obstacle in tracing Welsh ancestors. By the mid-nineteenth century, for instance, roughly ninety percent of the Welsh population shared fewer than 100 surnames. In addition, approximately half of the nation’s inhabitants shared the ten most common surnames. Distinguishing individuals with the same name, therefore, can be a daunting task.

     The Rowlands demonstrate how a knowledge of two factors—the history of the development of surnames in Wales and the geographical distribution of certain names in the country--may make research easier. Utilizing these fundamentals may help genealogists pinpoint an ancestor’s most likely place of origin. The updated and extended chapters, as well as four new ones, concern such topics as the historical background of Welsh names, the adoption of surnames, a survey and glossary of surnames, a survey and glossary of given names, uses of the name survey of parish records, and an overview of migration within the country and emigration to other parts of the globe.

     Of particular importance to family historians is the glossary of names, which explains the origin and meaning of Welsh surnames. (One of the most famous is TUDOR, the surname of the famous King Henry VIII of England, whose progenitor was a Welshman.) It also tells which surnames (GOODWIN, for example) were brought into Wales by the English. Nearly fifty maps show the dissemination of typical surnames like JONES, WILLIAMS, DAVIES, THOMAS, EDWARDS, ROBERTS, PRICE, HOPKINS, LLEWELYN, PUGH, ROWLANDS, MEREDITH, GEORGE, HAMER, HUMPHREYS, LEWIS, MORGAN, SAMUEL, SMITH, and GWYNNE/WYNN. Four helpful appendices supply a list of Welsh administrative hundreds and the parishes they encompass; data on surnames derived from Old Testament given names (DANIEL/DANIELS, for instance), the incorporation of the “ap” prefix (for example, POWELL), and adjectival surnames (such as TEAGUE); dates of local transition of surnames in specific hundreds; and services offered by the National Library of Wales to predict place of origin.

     Already considered a classic reference work, THE SURNAMES OF WALES is an indispensable resource for family historians researching their Welsh pedigree. All genealogical libraries will want to add this updated and expanded edition to their holdings.

     The 323-page book has soft covers, a foreword, an introduction, end notes, a list of abbreviations used in the text, tables, charts, maps (most with some color), a document facsimile, a list of select references consulted and a select bibliography, appendices, a subject index, and a surname index. To the book's price of $39.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #5033) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website at

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