Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"my name is ap Rhys ap Davy ap Flood"

This map shows how the great majority of Radnorshire folk still adhered to the patronymical naming system at the time of the establishment of the county in the 1540s

In most parishes more than 90% still used the ap and vz formations signifying "son of" and "daughter of", indeed in a majority of such parishes the figure was a 100%.

In the south of the county there was a belt of three parishes, Bryngwyn, Newchurch and Michaelchurch where the figure falls just below 90%. And the same was true of Llangynllo, Knighton and Stanage further north.

Only in and around Presteigne was the traditional Welsh system replaced to any extent by the Anglo-Norman fashion for surnames, although even here Discoed has over 60% with patronyms. The figure falls below 50% in the parishes of Norton, Old Radnor and New Radnor. Presteigne itself has the lowest usage of patronyms in Radnorshire, around 10%.

Note: The map is based on Mr Faraday's publication of the Lay Subsidy of 1543-45 in the 1996 and 2003 editions of the Radnorshire Society Transactions which, although some names are missing, list well over 2000 heads of households in the county. The map could show greater detail as the figures were published for townships - for example Nantmel is made up of four townships - but I have amalgamated these into parish totals. If someone can point me to a good and free map making download please do so, as it is I've had to rely on a parish map. For most of the county this doesn't make much difference but the variety in the various Old Radnor townships is missing, for example Weythel had 100% patronyms whereas Walton had just 12.5%. In a minority of names where an ap or vz is obviously missing I've counted the name as a patronym. The most obvious example is where someone has a father called Bedo (a pet form of Maredudd). More often than not the ap is missing. Why? My theory is that the proximity of a P and a B made ap Bedo sound clumsy - maybe the academics have a word for this.

It's Only Rock and Roll

Ireland meets North Korea, Slightly mad but fascinating ...

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Letter From Radnorshire

Dear Radnorian Exile,

Missing the green green grass of home, filled with nostalgia for a Radnorshire accent? Well here's a You Tube treat for exiles everywhere and as an added bonus it was uploaded by representatives of another fine old Radnorshire tradition - people from off who've established a natural holistic retreat. On their facebook site you can even download a ringtone of some Radnorian sheep.

As they probably say where you are: Enjoy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Liberation of Litton Hill

One man's enclave is another man's exclave and this list shows that such geographical anomalies are more common than one might expect, even within Western Europe.

Until 20th October 1844 Hereforshire ruled the roost over a small enclave in Cascob parish, eastern Radnorshire. You can just about make out the borders of the enclave at the centre of this old map (pictured).

No doubt Radnorian joy at regaining Litton was tempered by the loss, to Brecknockshire, of that part of Glasbury parish lying south of the river Wye.

Coming up to date, it could be argued that the Shropshire hamlets of Brompton and Pentreheyling be transferred to Powys. Although not enclaves they cannot be accessed by road from anywhere in England without crossing into Wales.

UPDATE: Anon in the comments draws my attention to the Baarle Hertog enclaves in Belgium and the Netherlands. This website explains a complicated situation very well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forgotten Voices

In 1946 the headmistress of the primary school in Selattyn, Shropshire, in reply to a query, stated that just 5 of her 46 pupils were fluent in the Welsh language.

I guess for most the obvious riposte to this information is "So what!" After all, at around the same time, there were first language Welsh speakers in John Lennon's class at the Dovedale Primary School in Mossley Hill, Liverpool and compared to the 957,490 pupils currently in English schools, for whom English is not a first language, it's a fact of no importance whatsoever.

At the same time there is a difference between John Lennon's school pals and those million non-English pupils on the one hand and the five stalwarts of Selattyn school on the other. The Shropshire children were speaking a language that was indigenous to their parish and had been spoken by natives of the place for generations.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Radnorshire Places, Radnorshire Surnames

This week's Radnor Express reports that Mr Trevor Gummer has been appointed manager of Presteigne St Andrews football club, this follows his success in winning the Edwin Traylor Cup with the Under-18 team.

In Radnorshire and Herefordshire the surname Gummer is in all probability derived from the Gumma farm in Discoed (see post below). Of course elsewhere in England the name may well have other origins and that applies to most of the names discussed in this post. What about Traylor? A search of the 1881 Census shows it to be a surname of the Radnorshire border area, see here. I think there must be a chance that, together with the names Trillo and Trelloe, it is derived from another local farm Maes-Treylow, there were certainly Treylowes in the 16C Lay Subsidy.

Some other local surnames in use at one time or another and which were probably derived from places along the Radnorshire/Herefordshire border include: Badland, Barland, Bilymore, Dyke, Gilla, Gore, Hargest/Hergest, Hoddell, Impton. Knill, Knoke, Lingen, Nash, Norton, Radnor, Rodd, Slough, Weston, Whitney and Whitton.

Seeing a surname like Bach or Bache or even Bage, I suppose the obvious derivation is from the Welsh word bach. However names in the historical record such as A'Bache suggest that in Radnorshire the name might instead derive from the Bache farm between Kinnerton and New Radnor. Bache in this case being an Old English word for a stream. Blackbach or Black Patch in Norton parish has the same origin. In the 14C Llywelyn Blackbache was a court official in Maelienydd and the name was common enough in the 16C. The surname seems to have disappeared since then, although Blackpatch Godwin, a Presteigne lass, was found guilty of forcible entry in 1747.

As far as I know local placenames made no contribution to the stock of Radnorshire surnames away from the eastern fringe, although it would be nice if Gwenllian Goustrey came from Gwystre.

UPDATE: Since this was posted the National Library of Wales Journal has been added to Welsh Journals Online site and I see that Rhodri's brother Prys Morgan contributed an article on Welsh surnames derived from placenames. For Radnorshire he lists Badarn, Blayney, Bykeldy, Cascoppe, Hodoll, Radnor, Rayad or Ryatt, Treylowe and Trillo. Some of those names would never have been used in Radnorshire of course - Rayad for example is found in Pembrokeshire but possibly derived from Rhayader. Mr Morgan ignores names like Hargest from just across the present-day border which is fair enough. He also makes a good point in relation to the Inner and Outer Wales theory which has been fashionable for a while - a theory which takes a shifting line, the divide between Welsh and English speaking areas and treats it as if it was some permanent feature. Anyway Morgan's point is that the paucity of surnames derived from places in Radnorshire shows it to have been an area of resistance to rather than penetration of English influence.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Beast House

Here's a pretty little map from the National Museum of Wales showing Welsh dialect words for cowshed.

I think it's obvious from the map that any remaining Welsh speakers in Builth Hundred don't keep cows, or if they do, they all live outside - the cows that is.

I suppose it is possible that the last Welsh speakers around Llanwrtyd and Llangammarch have finally passed away, or more likely the map is based on that 1970s volume The Linguistic Geography of Wales, which for some strange reason consigned Builth Hundred to the lands where the traditional Welsh dialects had died out. Yes I have moaned about this before.

As it happens in the 1970s Welsh speakers made up 48% of the population of Llanwrtyd town, in the Upper Irfon Valley it was 73%, in and around Tirabad 32%, and in and around Llangammarch 37%. Surely some old fellow could have been found to tell the researchers the local Welsh name for a cowshed. The trouble is maps like these may get re-used to tell a story that isn't necessarily true. Who knows what a decision maker with such a map in the back of their mind might decide.

Given that Builth Hundred has been reduced to the ranks of the terminally anglicised - and OK there have been more realistic studies such as this chapter on the dialect of the area, starting at page 97 of this book - is there any chance of a study of the lost Welsh dialect(s) of Radnorshire? I'm sure there is enough material in field names, slander cases and a study of vowel sounds to come up with something worthwhile. Radnorshire would have been an area where the dialects of North, South East and West Wales came into contact. My uneducated guess would be to agree with John Rhys, see here, with perhaps the dialect of Gwent a stronger iinfluence in Painscastle Hundred and up the eastern side of the county.

Anyway all this is inspired by the fact that S4C is screening a series on dialects called Ar Lafar, facebook page here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Chocks Away

I like the cover of this booklet, currently for sale on Ebay.

Will it mention Corbett Wilson landing in a Colfa farmer's field in 1912 or the flying shows held in Llandrindod in 1913 and 1914 by the pioneer aviator Gustav Hamel?

The entrepreneurial Tom Norton should be a central character, his art deco garage still bearing the logo "Aircraft" to mystify travellers through the Spa town. In the 1930s Norton dreamed of running regular air services from Llandrindod's Ddole racecourse and the Rock Park even advertised for a hotel and aerodrome manager. Robert Kronfeld was said to be involved in the plan and two aircraft purchased, an Avro 504K - 9d per passenger mile and a Rolls Royce Falcon engined Bristol Fighter at 1/6.

Adventurous Radnorians, my mother for one, took to the air as paying passengers at 1930s flying demonstrations, piloted from the Ddole field by the likes of Alan Cobham, Campbell Black and Owen Cathcart Jones.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Musical Interlude

A rare glimpse of the girl group genius that was Coventry's The Orchids.

I don't know if Val Jones, Georgina Oliver or Pamela Jarman had Radnorshire roots, but with those surnames they certainly could have.