- Attempting to trace the Evans’: Part One
- Attempting to Trace the Evans’ Part 2: The Timeline
- Attempting to trace the Evans’: Evaluating the Evidence 1
- Attempting to trace the Evans’: Evaluating the evidence 2
- Attempting to trace the Evans’: Evaluating the evidence 3
Tracing the Evans’ has never been easy, and as I’m writing this introduction, I have no idea which piece of evidence to present to you first.
Evan Evans is my 4x great grandfather; he was born in Caernarvonshire around 1830. He married Laura Roberts in 1862, and they had 4, possibly 5, sons that I know of. He died in 1875 in a fall from a bridge at Cwmorthin Slate Quarry.
I think in writing that introduction, I have decided to start chronologically with the first documented event I have for Evan Evans – his marriage to Laura Roberts.
As you can see from the above certificate from the General Register Office (GRO), Evan and Laura were married at the Bethesda Chapel, Ffestiniog, Merionethshire on 23rd October 1862 1.
Evan was a farm servant and lived in Tyisaf, Ffestiniog while Laura was a spinster residing in Llwynygell, Ffestiniog. Evan gave his father as Evan Evans, a deceased Agricultural Labourer. Laura’s father was a dead slate miner called Robert Roberts 1.
The Registrar was Robert Jones, and the witnesses were John Humphreys and Stephen Roberts 1.
I’m going to start by taking each point at a time beginning with where the pair married.
Bethesda Chapel, Ffestiniog
Bethesda Chapel is on Manod Road, Blaenau Ffestiniog. It belonged to the Methodist denomination and the physical building Evan and Laura would have married in would have been the second of the three Bethesda Chapels in Blaenau Ffestiniog 2. It is within a 5-mile radius of where I expect Tyisaf and Llwynygell to be and is pretty typical of North Wales Religion in the time period.
The date: 23rd October 1862
There’s not much about the date I can say except it was a Thursday. Oh, and Laura was pregnant that day. The couple’s first child was born exactly 23 weeks later. The information doesn’t doesn’t help me find out who Evan’s family were, but it’s nice to see the human side of my ancestors.
Evan gave his age as 31; he married quite late for the period. Although, that could just be me being a bit cynical. From this information, I would put him being born around 1831. It’s close enough to 1830 I have from another document.
Evan was a farm servant. I find this odd because he became a ‘labourer’ within a few short years. Did he follow the money? In the area at the time, the two major employers were the slate quarries and the farms – I don’t believe they would have been arable farms.
I haven’t done a huge amount of research into his place of residence, ‘Tyisaf’. Putting two and two together and potentially coming up with twenty-two, there was/is a Ty Isaf Farm near Ffestiniog, but also a ‘Ty Isaf Cottage’ within a five-minute walk from Bethesda Chapel. I think I’m going to have to do old map research and maybe even search the census for Tyisaf.
Now we come down to the father. Let me start by saying, after my experience with William Williams giving his father as William Williams; I am incredibly suspicious of names where a deceased father’s forename is the same as the last name. I know, I’m researching Evan Evans – but I was also researching William Williams in the previous situation. Please don’t mind me if I take this with a pinch of salt. However, I’m not discounting it entirely because it’s my only lead. It’s the only small snippet of information I have about his life before he married Laura.
I know this isn’t really about Laura but looking at the information given by Laura may help in coaxing some other pieces of information about Evan.
Laura was probably a domestic of some description although rarely is the bride’s occupation stated on a marriage certificate. Her age is accurate enough too although she was born just prior to the start of civil registration in July 1837.
Her residence at the time of her marriage was Llwynygell, which I believe to be Llwyn-y-Gell, which is just north of Blaenau Ffestiniog. I found a great photograph from The National Library of Wales of Llwyn-y-Gell 3. I’ve been unable to find any other reference except the modern Llwyn-y-Gell Road leading out of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Again, I’m left with Laura’s father, the supposed Robert Roberts, a deceased Slate Miner. A generic name with a generic (for the area) occupation. Please forgive me for feeling a little bit apprehensive as I begin the quest to find Laura as well.
The witnesses of the marriage were John Humphreys and Stephen Roberts. I know nothing about either of these people. Stephen could very well be a relative of Laura’s such as a brother, uncle or cousin. John Humphreys could be anyone really. However, if my memory serves me correctly, Evan and Laura’s fourth son married a Humphreys. Probably no relation but worth keeping in mind, don’t you think?
The best way forward for both of these people is to find out, if I can, who they were and document them along with the rest of the family.
As I come to the end of the analysis of the marriage certificate I have a couple of actions to take away. I should have already completed these but they only came to mind as I was writing. I hope that over the coming weeks I’ll be able to start looking for answers.
- Research if farms in the area would have been arable, livestock or mixed.
- Look at old maps to find Tyisaf or even possibilities.
- Search the 1861 census for Tyisaf or Ty Isaf.
- Search the 1861 census for Llwyn-y-Gell.
- Research both witnesses.
- General Register Office, Marriages Q4 1862, Ffestiniog, 11b/792
- Coflein, Bethesda Chapel, 1, 2, 3 (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist), Manod Road, Blaenau Ffestiniog [online] Available at https://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/8393/details/bethesda-chapel-1-2-3-welsh-calvinistic-methodist-manod-road-blaenau-ffestiniog accessed 3rd June 2020
- Thomas, John. (ca.1875) Llwyn-y-gell, Rhiw, Blaenau Ffestiniog, [online] available at http://hdl.handle.net/10107/1126122 accessed 3rd June 2020