Sunday, September 4, 2011

Son of a Welshman!

I don't have any confirming data, but I hear that the biggest use of the internet world-wide is for, er, pornography. The second most popular usage may be for genealogical, family history research. I find that quite a stark contrast. On the one hand is an activity of questionable propriety in building solid family relationships, or at least feeling close to a Godly spirit. And the other is an attempt, in LDS religious terms, to connect with our ancestors and perform sealing ordinances in sacred Temples to actually heal families, including those who in life were never well connected due to sometimes very ugly circumstances of illegitimacy or even much worse. I mean, the very prurient, sometimes horrifyingly vile behavior occasionally resulting in unintended innocent birth ends up as a purified connection through the Lord's priesthood authority. The Light and Life of the world will conquer sin and death. That is Atonement at its most astounding.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, my surname originates with a 1789 illegitimate birth of John Vaughan in Hay, Breconshire (now Powys) Wales. We found John's unmarked grave site in Llanfoist, Monmouthshire last summer through the help of a churchyard plot map and a dear, unofficial (over-the-fence) church caretaker by the name of Margaret ("Maggie"). We knew he was buried there by following British Census data and family marriages and births along the way.
Right to left: My aunt, her (& my dad's) cousin, and this blogger at grave site of John Vaughan (1789-1851)
St. Faith's Parish Church, Llanfoist, Monmouthshire, August 19, 2010  
I've been working on this project for 25 years. It's been a family challenge for longer than that. My dad's cousin and I have been doing all we can including that trip last summer to try and tie it down.

We have John's mother's name, Hannah Vaughan. She doesn't show up (so it seems) in Hay in any other context. We thought she might have come from neighboring Winforton, Herefordshire, but we couldn't find any helpful, confirming evidence even with a visit to the county archives and checking out all the Vaughans in that little village.

Yet my dad's cousin had a theory that a Joanna Vaughan who had another illegitimate son two years earlier was the same person as "Hannah." "Joanna" is the Latin form of English "Hannah."

Then we had a researcher check the Hay Parish Vestry records (that ended up being a little easier than dealing with the ethereal vicar). She found the most amazing entry of a petition by a Roger Vaughan for support of his daughter's illegitimate son "on behalf of the tailor who is in gaol [jail]." Wow! It matches up by time and there is no conflicting evidence of any other illegitimate children that year. So our potential forefather was likely this imprisoned "tailor." Why in heck didn't they mention his name!

The Roger Vaughan does not show up elsewhere in Hay records, but I had seen him somewhere. I already had notes on him from my perusal of County Quarter Sessions Order Books (looking for "petitions for maintenance in bastardy"). I had noticed a Roger Vaughan who applied for flax bounties from Parliament in the same years around John's illegitimate birth. And he was in the next parish, Glasbury. And then we found he had a daughter name Joanna. And a certain Johanna Vaughan had another illegitimate birth in that neighboring parish a few years later. We saw a pattern here besides the name variations of Joanna/Hannah/Johanna. And Roger appears to connect up to the Vaughans of neighboring Talgarth, the center of the ancient Kingdom of Brycheiniog. (Are we feeling "Welsh" yet?)

So, the tailor search began. A few show up. We haven't yet found the jail list, but we're still looking. Then last night we went to the Bountiful Temple and took names from those Vaughans of Glasbury. I had Joanna's oldest brother, Philip. I had some pretty strong feelings about continuing my work on this family. I went home and had a new thought. (Coincidence?). I remembered a resource I had on the Glasbury Parish records. Its a published book now digitized and online from BYU (of all places!)  I pulled it up and did a search for "tailor." Several turned up. One was with a family named Bradshaw who had a John Bradshaw who had at least one, and maybe two illegitimate children in the same decade that my ancestor John Vaughan was born.
Bountiful, Utah Temple
We have a few more things to check. And I'll be commissioning our Welsh researcher again as soon as I get input from my dad's cousin. Bradshaw. It could be worse. But I will keep my current surname as it is potentially noble if you go back far enough and I have a lot of respect for Hannah whatever her circumstances. I guess my role, though, is to go forward in helping make us all noble in the eternal realms.

Addendum of January 1, 2012

The tailor's name may have been Price, rather than Bradshaw as we have explained here and here, as our work progresses.

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