Introduction 

Morris / Dowdeswell Family History

Welcome
How I started with genealogy
Penbank or Penbanc?
Acknowledgements
Contact

Welcome

Welcome to my family. Of my sixteen great, great, grandparents, six had been involved with farming and five in heavy industry. All my great grandmothers were working before they married. 

 I hope that you find this an interesting and informative site. It will, by its nature, always be under development. If you like it or dislike it please let me know and of course if you have any suggestions for improvement I would be very happy to hear from you. If you have any questions about the content then please contact me.

How I started with genealogy

I was born in Wales in the Rhondda and was brought up in Pontypridd. In 1951 my parents, sister and I moved to Tavistock in Devon, England. Later I moved near London and now live in Surrey. 

Way back in the 60's I first felt an urge to trace my family history. The urge soon subsided because I was making slow progress and other things in life became more enticing.
With little idea on how to set about genealogy, let alone know the word existed, I visited Somerset House. What a place! It was at the time, I felt, designed to intimidate and make you unwelcome. What a contrast with the present day National Archives and the late Family Records Centre. Talking to family members about people and past events was low on my list of priorities. I thought all I needed were the certificates. I've lost count of the number of times I have said "If only".

That could have been the end of the story but it starts again after a gap of a mere 30 odd years.
In the autumn of 1998 my late wife and I were visiting my sister and her family who, unlike me, live in Wales. Looking at some old photographs and trying to guess who the people might be she asked "Didn't you once start tracing our family history?" I smiled and said "I've probably still got some certificates somewhere."

When I returned home to Surrey armed with photographs and jottings of what little we knew, I rummaged around and found the handful of certificates and a few notes to go with them. At this point it would be true to say that I was not fired with enthusiasm but then two things happened.

The first was that I searched the web and discovered that the subject of family history was very popular. On joining a few newsgroups I found just how helpful and friendly everyone with an interest in genealogy was. They forgave my naive questions and comments and gently gave me advice and set me off in the right direction.

The second was that I discovered the - now closed - Family Records Centre in Islington. From the polite and courteous security staff to the 'New Visitors' helpers, everyone made me feel welcome and could not have been more helpful. Of course, the information available was truly enormous. Later I discovered the National Arcives at Kew which has a breathtaking collection.

So I can now say that I have been bitten by the genealogy bug. I am no longer a newbie but I am always finding things to learn. I still keep saying "If only".

Anthony

Penbank or Penbanc?

Without doubt the "correct" Welsh spelling should be Penbanc but like many other words it has changed into "Wenglish"! Translated into English it would be "head of the slope" or perhaps "hill-top".

Thomas MORRIS was born in 1844 at Llandissilio and by 1851 was living with his parents at Pen-y-bank isaf according to the census records. Pen-y-bank is a farm in Llanychare, Pembrokeshire. He lived there until he died in 1913. All the available census records, including 1841, refer to the farm as Penbank. The 1942 Farm Survey refered to it as Penbank but the map used had the farm named as Penbanc.

Thomas's son John moved from the area and owned a grocery shop at Pontycynon. He and his wife then moved to Pontypridd where they bought a house. According to the IR valuation the house was called Penbank.

So there you have it. It should have been Penbanc but was more often refered to as Penbank.

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge all who gave me encouragement at the start of my research; my late wife Theresa who put up with my "interest in the past"; my sister Margaret who is working with me on the project and her late husband James for his support ; my late cousin Beryl and her husband Dafydd who have given me family photographs and a great deal of information, as well as George and Pat Dowdeswell and Ralph and Joan Dowdeswell who gave me photographs and yet more information. Also the many friendly people Margaret and I have met during our visits to towns, villages, farms and churches.

I am also very grateful to the helpful staff at the - now closed - Family Records Centre, the National Archives at Kew and the many record offices that I have visited.

The other group of people that I wish to thank are all those on the internet. Some have set up informative web sites.   Others have contributed to news groups and some have helped me directly by e-mail. Wonderful people, I thank all of you.

Contact

If you have any questions or comment please type the following address.