Genealogy – First steps

Genealogy is addictive. You have been warned! If you do decide to have a go, these points will help you get started:-

  1. Record what you can remember.

I’m a great believer in LISTS. Begin with yourself and write down the basics about relatives. Begin with your parents e.g. Sarah Smith (b.1950) married Daniel Jones (b.1951) in 1973.  If you can, chose one side of the family. Decide where to start – are you going to look at your mother’s side or your father’s side first? If your mother, put in her dates, maiden name and so on then go back to her parents adding similar information. If there are facts you don’t know, put in a question mark to show you need to fill it in later: Eva Smith (b.1894 – d. ?) If you feel confident about handling more information you may like to enlarge your list by adding your parents’ siblings with their birthdates. And if you know about their marriage dates and children add those.

MY carmarthen lewis family edited copy

  1. Talk to relatives.

If possible, start with oldest relatives and visit them. You should take notes or even record the interview. Ask for birth names, maiden names, birth and death dates, memorable stories. Ask questions which your relatives can expand upon rather than just yes or no answers! They may have things you can borrow to photocopy or use for research purposes. It’s amazing what clues are in old photographs, for example. Documents are also extremely useful to the genealogist, especially newspaper clippings which may give clues about the life of a relative e.g. sports achievements. Finally you could ask them to suggest other relatives who might be useful to talk to.


  1. Gather materials.

The sorts of materials which are useful are various documents, photos, letters, diaries, journals, certificates, obituaries, a family bible, wills and school records.

Make photocopies wherever possible and keep the originals very safe. These will mount up and you may even have to file them under a variety of headings such as birth certificates, newspaper obituaries, letters and so on. The photocopies could be kept online in a specially earmarked folder in your ‘Pictures’.

david George and Anne Lewis

  1. What resources are you going to use?

Obviously you will use your family members wherever possible and also the Internet is extremely useful. Some websites based on a single family surname can give you a great deal of information. You can also look up the type of clothing worn at certain times through history to give you more of an idea of what your ancestors might have worn. The Powys  archives will be able to help a great deal. You can get in touch via their website )



  1. Have a look around!

There are lots of excellent free resources used by genealogists – here is a small selection: for some birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales. for the vast international genealogy website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for genealogy chat and all kinds of relevant information. – a reference site packed with information, advice and valuable genealogical material. – a genealogical gateway, containing a wealth of information and links to hundreds of websites.


cyndi list


QS 10: Widow and Children Packed Off to Herefordshire



Borrough of New Radnor:

Removal order:

Whereas complaint hath been made unto us whose hands and seals are hereunto set and subscribed two of His Majestys Justices of the Peace for the said Burrough of New Radnor and one of us of the Quorum by the Church Wardens and Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish of Old Radnor in the said Burrough of Radnor.  That Joan, otherwise Jane Watkins widow and her three children (to wit) Mary aged nine years. Thomas aged seven years and a half and Henry aged seventeen months or thereabouts came lately to work in the said Parish of Old Radnor within the said Burrough not having gained a legal settlement there according to the Laws in that case made and Provided, nor produced a certificate to them owing themselves to be settled elsewhere and that the said Joan otherwise Jane Watkins and her said children are now actually chargeable to the said Parish of Old Radnor and are likely to continue chargeable so long as they shall continue there.

We therefore require you the Church Wardens and Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Old Radnor aforesaid, or some or one of you, to convey the said Joan otherwise Jane Watkins and her three children (that is to say) Mary Thomas and Henry from the said Parish of Old Radnor within the said Burrough to the said township of Lower Harpton in the said Parish of Old Radnor in the County of Hereford and deliver them to the overseer of the poor there together with this order or a copy thereof Hereby requiring you to receive and provide for them as inhabitants of your township. Hereof fail not at your respective (?) given under our hands and seals this thirtyeth day of June in the year of our Lord 1756.

Sol. Vaughan


JPs for the Burrough of New Radnor

QS 9: Coroner’s claim


“Radnor County

To the Worshipfull his majestyes Justices of the Peace att their General Quarter Sessions of the Peace in and for the said County:

£   s    d

For Takeing An Inquisition on Saturday the Sixth day of December last past touching on the Death of one John Morgan being unfortunately Drown’d in a sortaine Rover Called Arrow in the Said County –

1 – 0 – 0

For Travailing to Michael Church in the said County being four miles

0 – 3 – 0

1 – 3 – 0

12th Janry 1756

Jno Davies, Coroner “

QS 8: Accused of “following him by night.”


N.B. Recognizance means a promise made by someone in a court of law, especially a promise to return to the court at a later date. If they break their promise they have to pay money to the court.

(As this is a fairly long-winded account I have chosen the more significant parts.)

“Recognizance: Jenkin Thomas and John Thomas of Disserth, yeomen, in £5 each for David Thomas, son of Jenkin, not of full age, to answer charge by Thomas Jones of Llandrindod, labourer, for ‘menaceing and challenging’ him.

Also: John Thomas in £10 and Jenkin Thomas in £5 for John Thomas to answer charge by Thomas Jones aforesd. ‘for threatening to break his bones & following him by night.’ ”


QS7: A convict’s ‘mortified’ arm and the surgeon’s bill


N.B. ‘Mortifyed’ may be construed as meaning decaying or putrefying.

“The Charge of David Edwards Surgeon for the Cure of David Jenkins a Convict in the Common Goal for Radnorshire by the Order of his Maties.Justies of the Great Sessions and of John Bishop Esqr High Sherif of the said County as follows

For attending the Convict abt. 3 months

Dressings applications and plaisters for to                 L   S   D

Cure his Arem which was mortifyed –                          5 : 6 : 0

April the 15th 1755

Ordered                                                                                  2 : 2 : 0 ”



QS6: …And the Knighton Bailiff’s instructions concerning the North British Dragoons


Letter from H.Gough, 28th September 1753

“To the Bailiff of ye Town and Burrough of Knighton in the said County /

These are in his Majestie’s Name to Command you that you forthwith Impress a Cart and three horses to Carry the Baggage of a Detachment of the Royal Regiment of North Brittish Dragoons now upon their March in this Town to the Town of Leominster in the County of Hereford not to be Loaded with above Fiffteen hundred Weight and that you take Care to have Such Cart and Horses ready by four of the Clock in the Morning on Saturday the Twenty Ninth day of September instant for the Purpose aforesaid Given under my Hand and Seal the 28th day of September 1753.




QS5: Knighton Carrier for the North British Dragoons


A letter from Thomas Gilbert, officer of  His Majesty’s Royal Regiment of North British Dragoons.

“Ye 28th Septer. 1753

This is to Certiefie thatt Richard Williams of Knighton in the County of Radnor did Carrye and deliver safe the Baggadge of a detachment of his Majesties Royall Ridgment of North Brittish dragoons from the town of Knighton to the town of Leominster with a cart and three horses for which I have paid him the sum of nine shillings.

Thos Gilbert

Officer of the said Detachment.”