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The family bible of my 2nd great grandparents Thomas Chichester Browning and Ann nee Morgan states that Ann was born on 15 Apr 1839 in the parish of Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, and that she was the daughter of Thomas Morgan of Tre-bryn.

Ann's parents, Thomas Morgan and Margaret nee Morgan, appear in five censuses and for the first four of these they have between one and six of their eleven children (listed below) living with them.

Childrens' Baptisms/Births

  • Thomas (1831 – 1895) was born on 25 Dec 1831 at Pencoed and baptised on 29 Jan 1832 at Tabernacle and Bethel Independent, Bridgend and Coychurch Higher, as the son of Thomas Morgan (Labourer) and Margaret (formerly Morgan) who were living at Penprisk
  • Margaret (1834 – 1850) was born on 8 Jan 1834 and baptised on 11 Feb 1834 at Tabernacle and Bethel Independent, Bridgend and Coychurch Higher, as the daughter of Thomas Morgans (Farmer) and Margaret (formerly Morgans), who were living at Hendin (= Hendre?)
  • William (1837 – 1855) was born on 14 Jan 1837 in the Middle Hamlet of The Parish of Coychurch and baptised on 22 Feb 1837 at Bethel Chapel (Independent), Bridgend, as the son of Thomas Morgan (Labourer) and Margaret (formerly Morgan) who were living at Ffos-yr-efail
  • Ann (1839 – 1897) was born on 15 Apr 1839 in the Parish of Coychurch according to the Browning Family Bible and a birth which appear to be hers was registered at Bridgend in Q2 1839
  • Catherine ("Kate"; 1843 – ?) from census records appears to have been born about 1843 and there are four candidate registrations for her at Bridgend from Q4 1842 to Q2 1843.
  • Martha (1845 – ?) from census records appears to have been born about 1845 and there are two candidate registrations for her at Bridgend in Q4 1844 and Q2 1846
  • John (1847 – ?) from census records appears to have been born about 1847 and there is a registration likely to be his at Bridgend in Q1 1847 (making the Q2 1846 registration for Martha less likely than the one in Q4 1844)
  • Elizabeth (1848 – 1919) and Sarah (1848 – 1849) were presumably twins, both baptised on 8 Mar 1848 at Coychurch as the daughters of Thomas (labourer) and Margaret, living at Taibryn [sic]
  • James (1850 – 1913) was baptised on 9 Apr 1850 at Coychurch as the son of Thomas (labourer) and Margaret, living at Trebryn
  • Edwin (1854 – 1907) was baptised on 28 Jun 1854 at Coychurch as the son of Thomas (labourer) and Margaret, living at Trebryn

Every time one of the children appears in those census records their age matches what would be expected from this combination of records, with the last four confirming their parents' names and residence at Tre-bryn. Consequently, I am very confident that this Thomas Morgan (and his wife Margaret nee Morgan) were my 3rd great grandparents.

However, it is not so easy to identify Thomas' parents, my 4th great grandparents.

Census Summary

His age and birth location were listed in five censuses:

Census Age Inferred year of birth Location of Birth  Occupation        Residence
1841   33       1802-1803         Glamorgan          Ag. Lab.          Ffos-yr-efail  
1851   42       1808-1809         Coychurch          Farmers Labourer  Tre-bryn
1861   52       1808-1809         Pencoed            Labourer (Ag)     Trubrin Reads(?)
1871   62       1808-1809         Pencoed            Agr. Labourer     Tybryn
1881   72       1808-1809         Coychurch          Farmer            Trebryn

Is it possible to use these census records and perhaps just baptism records to prove who the parents of Thomas were to a level that might satisfy the Genealogical Proof Standard?

  • This self-answered question has been posted as an example of the "Genealogical Proof Standard style Q&A" discussed at meta.genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/2124/… It welcomes additional answers even if they are critical of the standard of "proof" that I have provided. – PolyGeo Mar 5 '16 at 11:19
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The proof has now been substantially improved from its original form, however I will leave the critique below as a (hopefully) useful list of things to think about when trying to locate the correct baptism record for an ancestor.


We all have brickwalls in our family tree where there are several individuals in a parish with exactly the same name, and it can be difficult to sort them out. Rarely is a baptism register alone sufficient evidence to draw these conclusions.

While I do not disagree that Thomas s. of Thomas and Ann is the most likely candidate, I think you are far from proving that it is the case.

The proof relies on several basic assumptions:

  1. Thomas was born were he said he was (Pencoed, p. Coychurch).
  2. Thomas was baptised where he was born, and shortly after birth.
  3. FreeREG contains a complete index of the Coychurch baptism register.

The third point is the easiest one to assess. Certainly, accessing the original register would be an effective means of determining the quality of the coverage, but it is not always easy to access the original. For parishes that have been indexed independently on multiple sites (e.g. FamilySearch), you might compare the results. From my brief search it seems like the Coychurch registers are well-indexed on FreeREG. That is not to say that there are is still the possibility of other errors or omissions – there could be another Thomas Morgan who was never baptised, or forgotten to be entered in the register.

Most people were baptised as infants in the first few weeks or months of life, but not all. Be careful assuming that, for example, the Thomas baptised in 1810 was born in 1810 – there is a chance he could have been 2 years old thus a good candidate for your Thomas.

The major component of this proof that is missing in my eyes is that (as written) it appears no attempt was made to trace and sort out each of the Thomas Morgans. Do all three candidates appear in the censuses? Are the ages and places of birth consistent? If you can't find them in the census, where did they go? Did they die young? Are there burial records at Coychurch for any of them? Did they marry at Coychurch?

Also what are the occupations of the individuals involved? Did your Thomas follow in the footsteps of his father? I know that information is not given on these baptisms but after 1812 there was a set format of the baptism register books that included a space for father's occupation.

This leads to the next point. What about siblings? It is unlikely each of these Thomas Morgans was an only child. Tracing the possible siblings can sometimes provide vital clues and may be an important part of proving which Thomas is which.

You also have a useful piece of information that you have not capitalised on. Your Thomas was probably born at Pencoed in the parish of Coychurch. Although abode may not have been included at that time in the baptism register, was it for any siblings? Were there other Morgans born or living in this hamlet, whether in historical directories, censuses, parish registers, etc.? This could be a good way of narrowing down if any of the Thomas candidates were born or lived in Pencoed.

In summary, I think there are many avenues of research you need to explore before concluding that your Thomas Morgan is the son of Thomas and Ann. If you have done any or all of these things it would be worth noting this in the proof, even if you came up negative.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you for this excellent analysis of my "proof" which is precisely the kind of critical review that that I was hoping for. Some of the avenues are ones that I have explored, and will add into my question/answer, while the following up on what happened to the alternative candidates is something that I have certainly neglected and will need to pursue. – PolyGeo Mar 5 '16 at 23:44
  • I've updated my proof with some additional and new evidence which I think makes it much more robust. – PolyGeo Mar 7 '16 at 0:19
  • I think the way you have prefaced your answer is perfect for dealing with my evolved answer/proof. – PolyGeo Mar 8 '16 at 2:05
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I also have concerns that any proof which looks at only parish registers and census records meets the standard for a reasonably exhaustive search.

To Harry's excellent answer I would add the following caution -- in a recent class on Non-Conformist church records that I took from the Family History Library, the instructor warned that there was a high degree of non-conformity in Wales, and that families would shift back and forth between Church of England (or Wales, in this case) and Non-Conformity all the time. It is not a safe assumption that successive generations, or all members of a sibling set, will all be in the same set of registers.

In his class handout from 2014, Raymon Naisbitt, AG® advises "Reconstruct families by combining church records with other sources like probate, parish chest court, tax, etc." Gathering BMDs (or baptisms/marriages/burials) plus the census is a good start, and helps establish the time frame for further study -- but especially in cases where there are many people with the same name, it may not give you enough information to distinguish same-name families.

Another thing that is missing from this proof is any sort of reference to a map. I have similar cases with records that seem to say my research subject came from different places -- when you look at the GENUKI gazetteer it becomes evident that the places named are all in a tight cluster and refer to the same general area, so one could argue they might be the same person. On the other hand, a non-conformist family could have events registered in the records of their circuit, which could cover a wider geographical range (they could appear to be as much as 10 miles away from where the event took place).

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  • 1
    Thank you for this excellent analysis of my "proof" which is precisely the kind of critical review that that I was hoping for. I will add a map to my question because the early baptisms mention farms that Thomas and Margaret were living at (Penprisk, Hendre, Ffos-Yr-Efail) prior to Tre-bryn and are all local to Pencoed and Coychurch. The first three baptisms were from the "England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970" and occurred at Bridgend, Coychurch, Bethel Chapel (Independent) while the last four were from "Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," – PolyGeo Mar 5 '16 at 23:57
  • I've updated my proof with some additional and new evidence, and two maps, which I think makes it much more robust. – PolyGeo Mar 7 '16 at 0:20
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From the five census records my hypothesis is that Thomas was born at Pencoed, in the parish of Coychurch, in 1808-1809.

Baptisms

I found that between 1805 and 1812 there were at least 4 Thomas Morgan baptisms at/near Coychurch:

  • 1805 at Coychurch with parents Morgan and Catharine - this seems to be the same baptism as that below.

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFCV-XHH : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 1805; Baptism, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

  • 11 Feb 1805 at Coychurch with parents Thomas and Catharine - indexed at FreeREG and appears to be the same baptism that is indexed at FamilySearch without the Parish name. That links to a FindMyPast image showing the father's first name to Morgan rather than Thomas.

enter image description here

"Wales, Glamorganshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1912," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KCY4-ZT3 : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 11 Feb 1805, Baptism; from "Parish Records Collection 1538-2005," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing , Glamorganshire, Wales, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

  • 21 Sep 1808 at Coychurch with parents Thomas and Ann - indexed at FreeREG and appears to be the same baptism that is indexed twice at FamilySearch. The first only mentions the County and not the Parish but links to the FindMyPast image below the FamilySearch citation. The second includes the Parish.

"Wales, Glamorganshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1912," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KCY4-DBP : accessed 5 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 21 Sep 1808, Baptism; from "Parish Records Collection 1538-2005," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing , Glamorganshire, Wales, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

enter image description here

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFCV-XHP : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 1808; Baptism, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

  • 17 Jun 1809 at Bridgend with parents John and Catherine (which has a currently unreachable FindMyPast image)

"England and Wales Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8), 1588-1977," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FQ4N-R6G : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 17 Jun 1809, Birth; citing p. 14, Bridgend, Glamorganshire, record group RG4, Public Record Office, London.

  • 2 Oct 1810 at Coychurch with parents Evan and Jane - indexed at FreeREG

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFH5-PDK : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 1810; Baptism, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

The 1808 baptism is the one closest to the expected birth date. It also fits best when applying the Welsh Naming Pattern to the order of his children’s births because his first son was Thomas and his second daughter was Ann, suggesting that Thomas’ parents would have been named Thomas and Ann.

The 1809 baptism would suggest Thomas naming his third son after his father and his third daughter after his mother which not quite what be expected when applying the Welsh Naming Pattern.

The 1810 baptism would be to parents whose names were not used for any of Thomas’ five boys and six girls, and so to me that seems unlikely.

The 1805 baptism would appear to be a few years too early, but if the father was Morgan and not Thomas then it suggests that Thomas did not name any of his five sons after his father, and named his third rather than second daughter after his mother.

My tentative conclusion from examining the baptism records is that my 3rd great grandfather Thomas Morgan was baptised on 21 Sep 1808 at Coychurch to Thomas and Ann.

Burials

I found that between 1805 and 1831 (when my 3rd great grandfather married) there were at least 3 Thomas Morgan burials at/near Coychurch:

  • 1819 - buried at Coychurch but aged 22 so would appear to be at least 8 years too old

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFHS-TBG : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 1819; Burial, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

  • 1819 - buried at Coychurch but aged 19 so would appear to be at least 5 years too old

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFCV-GFH : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 1819; Burial, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

  • 1825 - buried at Coychurch but aged 66 so far too old

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFCV-GF8 : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan, 1825; Burial, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

There appear to be no burial records demonstrating that any of the four Thomas Morgan candidates died as infants/children so I need to assume that all reached adult and may have married.

Marriages

I found that between 1825 and 1850 there were at least 2 Thomas Morgan marriages at/near Coychurch:

  • 1830 at Coychurch to Elizabeth Howell

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFCC-WFF : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan and Elizabeth Howell, 1830; Marriage, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

  • 1835 at Coychurch to Elizabeth Morgan

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VF41-7SK : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan and Elizabeth Morgan, 1835; Marriage, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

These marriages may belong to two of the alternate Thomas Morgan candidates, but more marriages may need to be considered because my 3rd great grandparents Thomas and Margaret were born in Pencoed/Coychurch and Bristol respectively, and appear to have married on 20 Aug 1831 at St Brides Minor that is a few miles away.

"Wales, Glamorganshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1912," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KCBX-R1B : accessed 6 March 2016), Thomas Morgan and Margaret Morgan, 20 Aug 1831, Marriage; from "Parish Records Collection 1538-2005," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing St Bride's Minor, Glamorganshire, Wales, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

The image of that marriage is available at FindMyPast and shows that Thomas is of Coychurch parish:

enter image description here

I have noted that one of the witnesses to this marriage was William Morgan. It seems probable that he would have been the father or brother of either Thomas or Margaret (they both had the surname Morgan) which may help confirm their identities. Thomas and Margaret named their second son William so perhaps this was Margaret's father. Neither William nor Margaret signed, whereas Thomas did. The baptism I have for Margaret is on 28 Aug 1808 at St James, Bristol to William and Jane, and while that may require further investigation it seems to fit. That Margaret seems to have also had a brother called William baptised in the same church on 15 Jul 1804.

Sibling

Acting on a tip in @HarryVervet's answer I looked for possible siblings for Thomas son of Thomas and Ann and found a baptism indexed twice (and a FindMyPast image) for Ann who was baptised on 23 Mar 1814 to Thomas (a Collier) and Ann, who were living at Ty Bryn.

"Wales, Glamorgan Parish Registers, 1558-1900," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFHR-K6M : accessed 7 March 2016), Ann Morgan, 1814; Baptism, citing Coychurch, Glamorgan, Wales, Glamorgan Family History Society, Cardiff.

"Wales, Glamorganshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1912," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KCY4-DHH : accessed 7 March 2016), Ann Morgan, 23 Mar 1814, Baptism; from "Parish Records Collection 1538-2005," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing Coychurch, Glamorganshire, Wales, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

enter image description here

I think Ty Bryn is either a misspelling of Tre-Bryn or a variation of it, but in any event from Google Maps two modern locations with those spellings are only a few hundred metres apart:

enter image description here

Conclusion

My conclusion from examining census, baptism, burial and marriage records, and taking into account the locations of place names mentioned, as well as Welsh naming conventions for children, is that my 3rd great grandfather Thomas Morgan (a Labourer and Farmer), who lived for the latter half of his life at Tre-bryn, was baptised on 21 Sep 1808 at Coychurch as the son of Thomas (a Collier by occupation) and Ann, who were of Tre-bryn (or at least Ty Bryn), Pencoed in the parish of Coychurch.

These places are found to be in close proximity using 19th and 20th century maps from the Vision of Britian Historical Maps site:

enter image description here

enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • Are you sure you're applying the right Welsh Naming Pattern -- an eldest daughter named Ann would imply to me that the maternal grandmother was Ann (eldest daughter named after mother's mother not father's mother)? – user104 Mar 8 '16 at 10:14
  • @ColeValleyGirl My reference for this is not strong (familytreeforum.com/content.php/368-Naming-Patterns) so I would be keen to hear more about whether there is an authoritative Welsh Naming Pattern that I should refer to instead. – PolyGeo Mar 8 '16 at 10:40
  • @ColeValleyGirl the eldest daughter was Margaret - Ann was the second daughter. – PolyGeo Mar 8 '16 at 12:36
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    Whoops -- misread it. John & Sheila Rowlands, The Surnames of Wales (2nd edition) page 18 discusses naming patterns in families, with caveats about the influence of naming children out of turn after recently deceased relatives, and the impact of having a relatively small set of forenames anyway. – user104 Mar 8 '16 at 13:00

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