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Welsh place names as surnames. 

 We recently had a letter from Canada asking us to try to put our correspondent in touch with long lost relatives here in Wales. Unfortunately, the mail did not contain a fully formed sender's address so our reply bounced but the family name in question was so unusual that it prompted me to put up this short note. I hope it surprises a few people who might not have suspected that their surnames indicated ancestry here in Wales. 

In Wales, the proportion of surnames based on place names is rather small. This is very different to the situation in England where such names are quite common. Most people in the English speaking world are aware that names like Jones, Evans, Rees and Davies are common Welsh names, some people are familiar with the Welsh derivation of names like Meredith, Morgan, Lloyd and Bowen but what about a name like Hargest? This is one example of that comparatively small place name group, it's actually a location (but spelled Hergest) near the Radnor Forest in Mid Wales. There follow a few more examples of such names together with the locations they refer to. 

  • Barry - Barry in Glamorgan*
  • Carlyon or Karlyon - Caerleon in Monmouthshire (Gwent)
  • Cogan - Cogan in Glamorgan
  • Carew - Caeriw (Carew) in Pembrokeshire
  • Gwinnutt, Gwinnett - Gwynedd in North Wales
  • Kemeys, Kemys - Cemais (Kemeys) in Monmouthshire
  • Mostyn - Mostyn in Flintshire
  • Nash - Nash in Pembrokeshire
  • Powis - Powys, Mid Wales
  • Stackpoole - Stackpool in Pembrokeshire
  • Trevor - Trefor in Denbighshire

* Some people are under the impression that Barry was named after the Norman French family de Barri but this is not the case. The family took its name from the existing placename of Barren. This is confirmed by Giraldus (Gerald of Wales), the most famous member of the family known for its participation in the invasion of Ireland.

John Weston  

 Welsh Surnames 
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