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Richard Burton Archives: Family History

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Sources for Family History

Part of decorated family tree.The Richard Burton Archives hold various collections that may be of relevance to family history research. These cover:

  • religion
  • education
  • working life and business

Our collections can be very useful for discovering background information about the communities in which your ancestors lived, and they may also contain details about individuals.

Part of decorated family tree of the de la Beche family

Roman Catholicism - St David's Priory, Swansea

St David's Priory is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Swansea. It replaced an earlier church building which had been established c.1808. Father Charles Kavanagh built the new church of St David's in 1847 as well as the Catholic school adjoining St David's. Most of the parishioners came from the Greenhill area and it became essential to build a church there and in 1866 St Joseph's church opened. In 1873 the parish was taken over by the monastic Order of Saint Benedict, and St David's Church was elevated to the status of a Missionary Priory. In 1875 St Joseph's became an independent Mission and a larger new church was opened in 1888. Today the mission is divided into two districts, St David's and St Joseph's.

The collection includes:

  • parochial registers 1808-1982: baptisms 1808-1910 (nominal index, 1805-1950); marriages 1840-1956 (nominal index, 1930-1982); burials 1859-1870 
  • Church service records, 1862-1982 
  • St David's School records 1855-c1983;
  • material relating to other parishes such as St. Joseph's Church, Greenhill 1870-1945 and St Illtyd's Church and School, Danygraig c.1870-1953

Handwritten text.Find out more about this collection on the MA Communicating History website created by MA students from Swansea University. The website explores the Church, the associated school and education, unexpected stories and much more.

Extract from the earliest surviving diary of church notices at Sunday services, 1862-1865 (Ref. LAC/99/C/1)

Swansea and Gower Methodist Circuit

Swansea became the head of the first Wesleyan Methodist Circuit in West Glamorgan in 1795. The Gower Methodist societies were part of the Swansea Circuit from 1795 until 1864 when they were formed into a separate Gower Circuit. This arrangement lasted until 1907 when Gower was re-united with Swansea. In 1940 Gower reverted to independent status but rejoined Swansea in 1962. The records in this archive consist of surviving administrative records of the Circuit and of certain of its constituent chapels.

The collection includes:

  • administrative records, minutes, financial records, correspondence, circulars of the Swansea and Gower Circuit, 1859-1990
  • Gower Circuit records including minute books, administrative records, financial records, circuit preaching plans and miscellaneous records, 1850-1991
  • records of numerous constituent chapels, 1843-1991

For the registers of the Swansea and Gower Methodist Circuit contact West Glamorgan Archive Service.

Industry and Business

The records of businesses and industry may be less obvious sources for family historians but they can contain useful records, such as registers of employees. The Local Archive Collections are varied and include business records for the metallurgical and engineering industries as well as other business.

Handwritten declaration.When undertaking a placement in the Archives as a Swansea University student Leah Hewitt, came across an interesting example of an industrial dispute in the wage and salary records of Old Castle Tinplate Company Records:

'there is evidence of why the 1898 strike by the cold roll boys took place, and a day by day account of it, along with their agreement to return to work and a signed apology by the boy who sparked the strike. The strike occurred because once again Amos James had been overlooked for promotion due to his incompetence. The other workers condemned the action of the boys so they decided to return to work but as Amos James was not re-employed they went on strike again but shortly after they returned. The result of this skirmish was the boys had to pay for the loss in profit of the Old Castle Tinplate Company and for court proceedings. There is record of another strike by the cold roll boys in 1901 but all that is recorded is the damages that they had to pay as a result of their insubordination.'

Declaration by Amos James, 9 September 1899 (Ref. LAC/87/D/8)

Family History Gallery

Family group outside of cottage.

Photograph of family, c.1900 (Ref. SWCC/PHO/PC/12/1/6)

Handwritten family tree.

Notes about Dillwyn family history (Ref. LAC/26/A/9)

Group of women and one man.

Members of Cardiff Independant Labour Party Women's Group campaigning in a Municipal Election before the First World War, c.1905 (Ref. SWCC/PHO/PC/10/4)

List of names and acts in talent show programme.

Extract from programme for Gilfach Goch 'Go-As-You-Please' talent show (Ref. SC/629)

South Wales' Miners Federation / National Union of Mineworkers

The South Wales Coalfield Collection covers much of the old counties of Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire and part of South Pembrokeshire and provides a unique insight into the social, political and cultural life of the area during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is held between the Archives and the South Wales Miners' Library (SWML):

  • records of the main trade union, the National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area) and its branches or lodges (Archives)
  • records of other institutions, including Miners’ Institutes and Co-operative Societies (Archives)
  • personal collections of people who lived and worked in the Coalfield (Archives)
  • photographic collection (Archives)
  • oral history recordings (SWML)
  • books and pamphlets (SWML)
  • banners (SWML)

If an individual was a prominent figure in their community or trade union, or involved in a particular event, such as a mining disaster, there may be reference to them within the South Wales Coalfield Collection. The collection can also be very useful for discovering background information about the communities in the South Wales coalfield.

Printed memorial card for miners killed in the Marine Colliery Explosion.

Printed memorial card for the 52 miners killed in the Marine Colliery Explosion, which includes the names and addresses of all the victims, 1 March 1927 (Ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/J/12)

Co-operative Societies

There has been a constant co-operative presence in South Wales from the 1860s and for over a century it was deeply embedded in local culture. They were a major economic and social phenomenon, closely involved with the community, often having a vibrant social and cultural life, with events and organisations, such as children’s choirs and sporting clubs.

List of committee members and their attendance record.

Gorslas Co-operative Society report and balance sheet for six months ended 10 November 1925
(Ref. SWCC/MND/137/2/32/2) 

Find out more about the history of co-operative societies and the material held in the Archives in the Co-ops theme section of the Coalfield Web Materials site, as well as the wordpress site created by MA history students at Swansea University as part of their Communicating History module.

Swansea University

If your ancestor was a student or member of staff at the university the University Collections may be of interest:

Look at the University Collections guide for more information.

Group of men and one woman.

Photograph of the Physics Department, 1925-26 Honours students (Ref. 1996/14)

Sources Elsewhere

For Wales other useful resources include:

Other Sources at Swansea University