Always start with what you already have about your family. Be organised, even if you have limited information at the start, it will help when the details start building up. Ask questions of members of the family. As well as the obvious names, addresses and dates asking about the following may help your research:
- Most families in the 19th century attended a religious institution. Knowing the denomination eg, Baptist, Independents, Church in Wales etc is likely to help a great deal later on in your research as families tended to stick to the same denomination and marry the same denomination. For example, you are unlikely to find a family of Baptists buried in an Independent Chapel graveyard.
- If there is a family bible – is it in Welsh or English? Finding family details in a bible can be very important and definitely exciting but be aware that some entries may have been written after the event, sometimes decades afterwards and is not always accurate. An English bible suggests Church in Wales or ancestors from the more anglicised parts of Wales.
- Are all the surnames you have come across typically Welsh ie Jones, Davies, Williams, Thomas etc or are there some more anglicised names in the mix eg Walker, Taylor, Smith etc. An almost exclusive mix of typically Welsh surnames suggests that your family was from a rural area rather the more industrial parts of Wales. There is much more information about gleaning important information about surnames from the excellent book “The Surnames of Wales” by John and Sheila Rowlands.
- Make a note of the professions your family was involved with. This could prove helpful in future research.