Welsh Tracts, your Genealogy, and Mine

Hey, I am 3/4 Welsh. My Welsh ancestors did not come to America until nearly 1850. They came from Wales to Utah. Some came as families together; others came ad individuals; and some came as women alone with their children. Even in Utah they clustered around each other where they could share their language, their customs, and their culture. The nearest clusters to where I ended up were the Preston valley and Malad Idaho. Here they hold an annual Welsh Festival with food, song, and dance.

In Colonial America, the Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania was established by William Penn for the Welsh Quakers who were persecuted, as he himself was, by the English Church. He invited these non-conformists to come to America where they could speak their own tongue, worship according to their conscience, and create a legacy to leave to their children and grandchildren. At least that was the vision that motivated them to gather their families and their possessions and leave for Pennsylvania.

Here these Welsh Quakers established tracts for themselves,  their relatives, and their friends. Many of their settlements carried the same names as the places in Wales they left behind them. Merion from Merionethshire.  The “Gwynedd Welsh” from North Wales to North Philadelphia. Wynnestay settlers were from Denbighshire. They migrated as groups of kin and settled as groups of kin.

Read Charles H. Browning. Welsh Settlement of Pennsylvania. (Philadelphia: William J. Campbell, 1912). The first 276 pages reprinted in paperback with Index and Appendix by Family Line Publications, Westminster, Maryland, 1990.

There are other studies of the Welsh coming to America,; what I like about this one is the emphasis on family relationships illustrated over and over again for each of the Welsh land companies in Pennsylvania.

Two cautions: patronymics were still in effect when these early families came to America in the 1600’s. Thomas ap Evans is the father of Evan Thomas. Be prepared to work with the naming patterns, which are quite distinctive from what you might be used to.

And second, most online databases did not change their programing to accommodate patronymics. The online programs are oriented to surnames which continue generation after generation. The Welsh pattern changes last names each generation. based on the given name of the father. And the mother often retains her own patronymic from her father. Be careful that you follow the right lineage. The online pedigrees have some real problems.

Browning demonstrates these naming patterns and how they came to be all through the chapters of his book. Add this title to your late Winter reading list. Your favorite Welsh genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com


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