Monday, December 11, 2006

New Year’s resolution!

I mentioned recently to a friend that I’ve already made my New Year’s resolution – and that it is "To be more organised." The fact that, yet again, it is over two weeks since I posted anything probably demonstrates why – there’s certainly been things happening on the study, they just haven’t made it into the blog.

It’s amazing how much time gets wasted through not being organised – papers not filed when printed, resulting in it taking longer to find them when they’re needed, emails not written when first thought of, so it effectively takes twice as long to write them because they need "re-thinking". And I have lost count of the number of half-finished web pages in the "working" folder. How much more convenient it would be if those were finished – then I could just give people a link to them instead of having to virtually rewrite the same information in an email to answer a query, as I did yesterday. Another researcher had asked whether Ap Harry (which led to the surname Parry) was also the same surname as Harry. Now that page on the origins and derivation of the surname would have been so useful – if only it was online!

The question arose because I’d posted on a couple of mailing lists about a new discovery – the pre-1858 probate indexes for Wales have finally been made available online, but through the A2A site, rather than the NLW. That will be a great help to researchers – there are well over 2000 entries just for Parry and, since the records go back to the 1500s, it’s important for me to include the "ap Harrys" as well as other variations on those two names. I have collected all of the references that show up just from the initial search, but I still need to go through each catalogue individually in order to pick up the parish information. With 68 separate catalogues and all those individual entries, I think I could be busy for some time. But what a great resource for anyone researching family in Wales. And it could also be useful for the wider study of surnames – looking at the frequencies of particular names in particular areas and at how the Welsh surnames developed over time.

That I discovered the indexes were on A2A was thanks to one of the two researchers who have been helping me with regard to the Parrys in Carmarthenshire – he’d sent me a second listing of Wills for the parish of Llanfallteg and I’d recognised the format as that of A2A so checked out the site. Such contact with people who are local to the area of research is a great help and often a good reason for joining and supporting the local family history societies. Of course, I had already written to the NLW with regard to the four Wills for the Parrys of Llanfallteg that had previously been mentioned to me, and it now looks as if there will be a few more that are relevant, but such is life. I shall probably wait until I have been through all of the early Will entries, adding parishes and any other details, before I decide which others are important enough to obtain copies of. I now know, from the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, that one of the family was born in Llangan, an adjoining parish to Llanfallteg, so I shall obviously have to widen the net from just that parish.

I have been working hard over the last week to try to get all my emails up to date, after some non-genealogy activities had taken up my time. I think I have done reasonably well – even managing to answer some emails on the day I received them, since more come in while I’m clearing the backlog. But there are still a few long outstanding ones (that I need to find the paperwork for!).

An interesting point arose with regard to one of the new correspondants – the use of Parry as a first name. I am now in touch with three people whose first name is Parry – but two are male, and one is female. It’s interesting how "non-gender specific" the use of a surname as a first name can be.

There have been some interesting discussions on the Guild Forum recently. One, about the differences between Access and Excel and how people use them for recording their genealogical research, has set me thinking about organisation (again!). Another was about the Genes Reunited site, and about how to follow up the "Genes New Names Alert" messages. When I was a member (I joined for a year to solve a family mystery) I rarely received these notifications but now, having let my membership lapse, they are arriving every two weeks.

From the 3rd Nov – 15th Nov, there were 812 new Parrys added and from the 17th Nov – 1st Dec there were 787. In total, there are currently 34982 Parrys listed on the site – that’s more than there were in the UK in any one census. You’d think, with that number of entries, there must be a lot of researchers who should connect to each other – I wonder if people actually look for, and follow up, possible matches?

Perhaps I should just be glad they aren’t all writing to me - not even my New Year's resolution would help in dealing with that number of queries!

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