Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Welsh Genealogies

The Bartrum "Welsh Genealogies":
By Darrell Wolcott

Over the past 10 years, we have reviewed, collated, dissected and cross-referenced literally thousands of pedigrees related to Welsh families prior to 1400. Our work was done without access to the eight-volume work by Peter C. Bartrum entitled 'Welsh Genealogies - AD 300 - 1400' which some claim to be the 'final word'.

Our approach has been to construct a timeline into which each succeeding generation must fit and which must closely parallel that of other families where marriage matches are claimed. And where persons can be securely identified, to chose a timeline which also accomodates Brut entries, extant grant and charter documents and official governmental records.[1]

Our work has disclosed a multitude of omitted generations in extant pedigrees, more than a few men who have been confused with men of the same patrynomic name and some who have clearly been attached to the wrong ancestors. Although the 'emendments' we suggest are not always supported by any prior authority, they are supported by logical reasoning and the resulting pedigrees are chronologically stable. In most cases, the reasons why those errors crept into the pedigrees can be seen and understood.

Recently, our library managed to acquire the Bartrum volumes mentioned above. After reviewing the work and comparing the pedigrees with our own constructions, it is clear his purpose was much different than is commonly supposed. We commend the work for its four volumes of indexes of names which reference the sources where they are cited. However, sources which did not agree with Bartrum's timeline are marked with ( ) which he says are 'incorrect'. We wish he had noted exactly what those citations said so we could decide for ourselves if they were corrupt or the alternate readings he accepted as 'correct' were, in fact, flawed. The four volumes are family charts, however, are little more than a compilation of what Bartrum thought the original pedigrees claimed. . . . ."

" . . . .
Like Bartrum, we have found the more ancient pedigrees contain much less problematical material than those compiled in the 16th century and thereafter. The works of Gruffudd Hiraethog, Gutyn Owain, Ieuan Brechfa, Robert Vaughan and others of the medieval period have kept extant much material which would have been otherwise lost. But none of those genealogists thought it important to adhere to a chronological timeline, resulting in endless repetition of material with patently impossible family constructions.
So long as today's researchers understand that Bartrum was NOT attempting to portray actual and feasible family charts, but limited his purpose to summarizing the material found in other manuscripts, his work can be very helpful. It should not, however, be cited as the principle source to "prove" any asserted facts. We have seen many cases where he linked unrelated men to the wrong same-named father. The citations were correct, their compilation into a chart was not.
One final observation: the charts and indexes are not a self-contained work. Lines and sources are carried back only until they connect to one of his two earlier works: "Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts" published in book form in 1966, and "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs" published in the National Library of Wales Journal, vol xiii, in 1963. Both those works must be at hand to complete the pedigrees which are continued in the 1974 "Welsh Genealogies AD 300-1400""


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