Friday, March 11, 2011

Is Batman Welsh?

Radnorians with an interest in family history are quite well served by the internet. As well as the collection of pre-1858 wills mentioned in the last post, there is also the huge collection of pre-1600 genealogies compiled by the late P C Bartrum - and yes it does seem as if Batman was Welsh. With the digitisation of the Radnorshire Transactions, the 1670 Hearth Tax return for the county is now available on-line, as is the Lay Subsidy of 1543-45, another record which lists hundreds of heads of households in the county at the time of its formation.

Looking at the Lay Subsidy the overwhelming majority of Radnorians alive when the Acts of Union were passed were still using the patronymic system. Surprisingly this is true even for Stanage in the far east of the county. Only in and around Presteigne do surnames predominate, some of very local origin. In the town itself we find the Welsh bard Morgan Elfael listed, as well as a harper and a crwth player. Apart from the occasional plague it must have been an interesting place with its mix of languages and probable bilingualism. Knighton, on the other hand is a smaller and much more Welsh place in 1543 compared to 1670. In the rest of the county surnames are rare and the occasional Tailer or Smyth is clearly a job description rather than an hereditary surname.

Around 200 of the heads of household listed in the county are women and some 90% use patronyms, mostly using the vz = ferch formula. Welsh forenames are still common, around 20% are called Gwenllian and versions of Angharad, Goleu, Tanglust and Dyddgu make the top ten of most popular names. Other Welsh names are Gwenhwyfar, Tudo, Lleucu and a name which one comes across in Radnorshire and only rarely elsewhere: Deili. Other popular female names are versions of (spelling wasn't formalised in the 16C) Margaret, Agnes, Maud, Elen and Catherine.

3 comments:

KJJ spotter said...

I know Bateman was Welsh...the Pengwyn definitely was.

old radnor said...

Good spot ..... I actually bumped into Bateman in a paper shop in downtown Cronulla when he was playing for the Sharkies. Never knew he was a superhero, damn fine rugby player though.

Arbiter said...

Thank you for drawing attention to Welsh Journals on-line at http://welshjournals.llgc.org.uk .
Not only is the website particularly useful for reading Radnorshire Society Transactions but also for reading Montgomeryshire Collections, and so on. Much appreciated.