Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gone West

Pennsylvanian townships such as East and West Nantmeal and Radnor are a reminder that Radnorians were early migrants to North America. The Quaker and Baptist migrations from Radnorshire, for example, occurred as early as the 1680s.

This early presence means that many millions of Americans can no doubt claim some Radnorian ancestry. Let us look at the name Price for instance, the 76th most popular American surname with over 270,000 examples in the US census. In their important little book The Surnames of Wales, John and Sheila Rowlands show how even the most ubiquitous of Welsh surnames are subject to regional variation. There are districts in Wales, for example, where 30% of the population were called Jones but others where the name was virtually absent. Price is one of a group of names that is overwhelmingly centered on Radnorshire and North Breconshire, so that a goodly proportion of those American Prices will have their origin here in Mid Wales. Of course there will be just as many Americans with a mother called Price, so that 270,000 will be more like 540,000. Throw in one Price grandparent and the figure is over a million and so on up the generations. Do the math as our North American cousins would say.

Yes, millions of Americans will have Radnorian ancestry, which sounds a better bet for targeting tourism than Twm Sion Cati, the Western Mail's latest wheeze.

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