Our Welsh Background.

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 (Welsh National Anthem)

"Land of my fathers"  (Auto start)

Please stand and sing along. A beautiful anthem


The land of my fathers is dear unto me,
Old land where the minstrels are honoured and free;
Its warring defenders so gallant and brave,
For freedom their life's blood they gave.

Home, home, true am I to home,
While seas secure the land so pure,
O may the old language endure.

Old land of the mountains, the Eden of bards,
Each gorge and each valley a loveliness guards;
Through love of my country, charmed voices will be
Its streams, and its rivers, to me.


Though foemen have trampleds my land 'neath their feet,
The language of Cambria till knows no retreat;
The muse is not vanquished by traitor's fell hand,
Nor silenced the harp of my land.


For many decades the legend in our family was our forefather, John Williams, was born on Christmas Day, 25th December 1787 in Brecknockshire, Wales. However, no researchers have ever been able to locate any records of a John Williams having been born in Brecknockshire Wales on that date and there is nothing to indicate the source of that legend.


Searching by many genealogists over several decades has failed to locate the entry of this birth date in the Welsh records in Brecknockshire. Probably the reasons for this are several. Although the records from the church parishes in Brecknockshire have been deposited with the National Library of Wales and have been microfilmed, those records may well be incomplete. Perhaps another factor is the accuracy of the this suggested birth date, 25 December 1787. There is a good chance it is simply the wrong date.

Doubtful Date of Birth

The mere fact that these researchers have turned up nothing on a John Williams with a birth date of 25/12/1787 should have alerted them to the fact that birth date could possibly be wrong.

Second Cause for Doubt

A second cause for doubt regarding the birth date 25/12/1787
This arises from the inscription on John Williams's headstone. This records his age at date of death, 21/9/1854, as 67 years. If he was born on 25/12/1787 and died 21/9/1854 he had not yet turned 67 but was still only aged 66 when he died. This is a clear indication that the birth date of 25/12/1787 is probably wrong.


Researchers to date all seem to have wrongly accepted the birth date of 25/12/1787 as a fact without any evidence at all. There are many reasons information could be incorrect in the early records here in the new colony. Perhaps because of misinterpretation by the constables and clerks collecting  data. The accents of the informants and transcription errors. Additional difficulties arise from the fact that  either intentionally or through poor recollection of details, informants provided  incorrect or inaccurate particulars to the relevant officials. So, without any evidence we should not accept that 25/12/1787 is correct.

"Traditional Birth Date"

Furthermore, there is a distinct possibility that his birth date given as 25/12/1787 is a "traditional birth date." i.e. if someone's true birth date is not known, make it Christmas Day. That is as good as any and it is easy to remember

In the case of John Williams this is particularly relevant because he was illiterate. Not only can persons who are illiterate not read or write, they  cannot count either.

Conclusion on the Birth Date

What is written above is sufficient to create doubt as to the accuracy of John Williams birth date as 25/12/1787. In fact one can probably say with confidence that date is wrong.

Correct Birth Date

If it is not 25/12/1787 when was his birth date. The following paragraphs contain sufficient circumstantial evidence to say his true birth date was 4 June 1787.

4th June 1787 - Brecknockshire Wales

On this day in Llannelly, Brecon, Brecknockshire, Wales, birth records reveal a John Williams was  born. ( "Family Search" ) If this John Williams is not our ancestor it suggests a set of extraordinary coincidences.

Birth, Death & Burial Records in Wales

These records show the birth, death and burial details of most of the family of the John Williams born 4/6/1787 right back to his grandfather and the 1720's.

However, one significant detail is not recorded in those Welsh records and that is the date of death and burial place of this John Williams.  Was it because he was transported to Australia where he died and is buried? That is certainly possibility.

Two John Williams's

If this John Williams is not our ancestor then there must have been two John Williams's born within six months of each other in Brecknockshire. This one born 4/6/1787 and our ancestor said to have been born there on 25/12/1787.

Birth records of the first John Williams are in Wales but not his death records. The death records of the second John Williams are here in Australia but there are no records of his birth on 25/12/1787 in Wales.

The possibility of course is there were never two John Williams's but just the one. The two were one and the same person.

Correct Age at death

If this John Williams born 4/6/1787 is our ancestor then he was aged 67 when he died 21/9/1854 in which case the inscription on the headstone is correct.

Family Names

Robert, Mary and Ann are the names of grandfather, grandmother, and mother of the John Williams born 4/6/1787. His closest relatives.

It is an extraordinary coincidence that they are the very same names of the first three children of our ancestor, John Williams, here in Australia.

Seems like he named these children after his closest relatives back in Wales whom he was destined never to see again, and he never did. He then named his fourth child after his wife, Sarah. The next son born to the marriage here in Australia was named John, probably after himself.


The chances of those coincidences having really happened are  remote. So, it is not too difficult to come to the conclusion there probably never were two boys named John Williams born within six months of each other in Brecknockshire in 1787. There was probably just one who was born on 4/6/1787 in Llanelly, Brecon, Brecknockshire, Wales and he is our ancestor.

Llanelly is situated about 15 kms south east of Brecon, down the A40 road just near the town of Gilwern

Webmaster's Comment

Readers of this page are now invited to compare the strong circumstantial evidence given above with a contrary view written by Carol Baxter at her web site where no evidence at all is provided to substantiate her statements. It seems quite clear the patronymic surname system she speaks of did not apply to this family in 1787.

I am confident most reasonable persons will be more inclined to accept what I have written as opposed to Carol's view.  So, you be the judge. "Click here"

After examining the evidence on both pages, readers are invited to make comments in the Guestbook on what they think. I look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks

Next Page - Meanwhile, "Back in Wales"


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