Bebb History

Bebb is generally considered to be a Welsh name. More recently it is found in south Wales, Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. These Bebbs moved into south Wales following the work in the coal and iron mines, generally in the second half of the 19th century. People came to this area from all over the British Isles during this time.

Before the pits opened you would find most Bebbs in the counties of Montgomeryshire and adjacent Shropshire. It seems likely that they started off around Newtown and spread out mainly to the east and west. Llanbrynmair to the northwest of Newtown is well established as a Bebb stronghold, from which several families left to the USA. These families settled mainly in Ohio - Venedocia and Butler County, for instance, but Bebbs were soon found in much of the US as well as Australia and New Zealand.

The Montgomeryshire Bebbs were predominantly farming folk. The earliest references are around the mid 16th century, around Newtown, and there were many Bebb families in the small villages around Newtown and Welshpool.

The old county of Montgomeryshire, in central Wales is now swallowed up in the (post 1974) county of Powys. I'm particularly interested in Bebbs of Bettws Cedewain, Berriew, Llanwnog and this general area.

Early Bebb History

The early history is as yet unclear. Herbert Bebb, and the International Genealogical Index (IGI), refer to Bebbs in Montgomeryshire, Wales in the 17th century. The book "Surnames of Wales" refers to Bebbs in Llanbrynmair in the late 16th century.

Ivor Bebb, of Welshpool, had a copy of the Ludlow parish register, of uncertain age, which lists the marriage of an Ann Bebb in Ludlow, Shropshire on Mar 24 1568. It covers the period 1564 to 1634, and also refers to Bebbe's and Bubb's. Ivor spoke to me on the phone, so I've not seen the book.(Sadly Ivor died around 2002. His son Haydn told described his as "A man very proud of his Bebb heritage/ancestry.") John is a name that crops up frequently, as does Maurice. I've heard very little about Bebbs from Shropshire, although the county appears to have long had a significant Bebb population.
The IGI refers to the christenings of Elizabeth Bebb and Richard Bebb in Clungunford, Shropshire, in 1561 and 1565 to different families - fathers John and George respectively - which implies a family presence in this area before these events. Both Clungunford and Ludlow (Clungunford is about 7.5 miles west of Ludlow) have a number of Bebb references around the late 16th century and early 17th c.

Coming back across the Welsh border to Montgomeryshire, Ivor talks of Castle Caereinion as being an early Bebb centre, and was told in his youth of a lot of Bebbs in Llandisilio. I have a family tree of Thomas Bebb, of nearby Llanfair Caereinion, but at 1752 he's a relative newcomer.

The IGI for Montgomeryshire has a 1696 reference to the will of an Anna Bebb. Thomas Bebbe is mentioned in a tax assessment in Llanbrynmair in 1596 (told to me by Hugh Hughes) and the earliest IGI reference for Montgomeryshire is of William Bebb, born 1585 in Llanbrynmair. He is reported as marrying Margaret in 1605.

Hugh also told me of the view taken by local historians in Llanbrynmair, quoting Montgomery Collections Vol 24 as a source. "In 1331 Edward III introduced 70 families of Flemish weavers to teach their skills to the English and Welsh. This migration to our shores continued for a century." This has its attractions, providing a basis for the persistent Huguenot theory (see below) which may have become confused with it in later times.

Murray Chapman has found a reference to a Thomas Bebb in Montgomeryshire in 1554, an established farmer, in Hendidley which is just north of Newtown. That's the earliest specific reference I have so far.

So did Thomas bring his family, who spread out around the area? Or did he come to the area because members of his family were already established in nearby Shropshire? Or maybe there was a different explanation altogether.

Christian Names - Thomas, son of Thomas...

The term "Christian name" for first or given name is not presently very politically correct, although the early Bebbs seem to have been devout Christians. These days we tend to choose childrens' names for a variety of reasons, but the Bebbs (and many of their contemporaries) used the same names time and again. There was probably a system, althouth I've yet to work it out. However, the first son was normally named after the father and subsequent boys after uncles. Not sure about the girls, I haven't noticed the same patterns.
Common Bebb names are Thomas, William, Morris, John and Evan with numerous Richards and Nathaniels. These appear in generation after generation, and still appear late into the 20th century. (I met a youngish Evan Bebb in 2004).
It was also not uncommon to re-use a name if a child died. Somehow it doesn't feel like something that we would do today, but infant mortality was much higher in the past and perhaps there was a wish to ensure that a family name was carried forward if at all possible. The re-use of names was not specific to Bebbs, and probably not specific to Wales.
I have seen no reference to Welsh style patronymics in Bebb families.

Spreading Out

Over the years Bebbs have spread out. There are records of more Bebbs moving to Ohio c 1847, and to Canada round about that time, maybe a bit later. They are (thinly) scattered over the UK and US, plus Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Ann Bebb of California told me that one of her ancestors sailed to Australia with the Royal Navy, and was left ashore due to illness. But he liked his new location, and stayed there. One of his descendants moved to California in 1906, as a decorative plasterer following the earthquake. And one of his descendants moved to Hawaii...

A William Bebb, born around 1724, left Wales for the United States, and arrived in Ohio. Around 1940 one of his descendants researched the family history, and published a book of the family history. I've got a copy of Herbert Bebb's Book. Various other Bebbs followed over the next few generations. It seems likely that they were largely from the same branch, since there are references to relatives. William seems to be a popular name in this branch.

David Ryall's sister, the late Mrs. Joan Adams wrote an essay about Welsh emigration to North America, which was submitted to Keele University circa 1974 for the Wedgewood prize and was joint winner.

My own branch moved south, to the Rhondda Valley in Glamorgan. Thomas Bebb moved to Pentre between 1881 and 1888, marrying Gwen Lloyd from Gower. Following Gwen's early death in 1903 he remarried to Emily Davies from Llandyssil, and my family are from this second marriage. As far as I know, the first marriage was childless. Subsequently, early this century my grandfather moved to England.

Northern Connections?

Andrew Bebb of Liverpool has some observations which go back just a little earlier:

"I am interested in an Anglo-Saxon Northumberland connection. I came across this in the Encyclopedia Britannica: "Ida(d. 559), king of Bernicia (from 547), soon after the foundation of the kingdom of Bernicia by the Angles in the British Isles. He built the fortress of Bebbanburh, the modern Bamborough; and after his death his kingdom, which did not extend south of the River Tees, passed in turn to six of his sons."
There was also a Northumbrian Queen Bebba. I remember seeing in my College in Durham a coat of arms with the inscription Bebb below it.
Bebb does seem a very un-Welsh name. I wonder if the family moved to Wales under pressure from the Norse invasions?"

I have also seen references to Bebbe, wife of Aethelfrith of Northumbria and mother of Eanfrith of Bernicia, daughter of Brude ap Maelgwyn Gwynedd KING OF PICTS who is in turn the son of Maelgwyn 'Gwynedd' ap Cadwallon KING OF GWYNEDD - which inserts an interesting, if rather indirect Welsh reference. Bebbe - probably the same as Bebba - was reportedly born about 580AD.
This information came from a search on Rootsweb for Bebbe, and I haven't taken any further steps to authenticate it. However, this period of history does seem to be fairly well recorded.


I got an email from a commercial firm who publish pre-researched 'shrink-wrapped' family histories, together with coat of arms, decorative scroll etc. They reckon the name came from Leicestershire (pronounced Lester-shire) in England, pre 1100. Since all the names they offer seem to be traceable to pre 1100, that isn't convincing. However, Leicestershire isn't very far from Wales, so it's possible, and Leicester does come up again (see below). To get any further required an outlay of $15. That $15 is still in my bank account, but if you've tried these people I'd like to hear from you.

This may not be the same firm, but it gives a flavour of this kind of offering. This one is called House of Names.

Bebb Immigration into Wales

Leicester is in the region of England called the Midlands. The Powys mailing list included some interesting discussion of the movement of English names (including Bebb) into Wales, and the Duke of Leicester shows up again. I have put an edited transcript on the site.

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Origin of the Name

Here are some more theories about the origin of the name Bebb. If you know a different one, I'd like to hear from you.

Bebb the Welsh

Any Welsh name beginning with a B or P is immediately suspected of being an abbreviation of 'ap <something>', which would be 'ap Ebb'. I must confess I'm not comfortable with that, it doesn't sound right. Too short, maybe. Like me.

Huguenots - or not?

I've also heard a rumour that the name is of Huguenot origin. Herbert Bebb mentions this rumour in his book, part of which you can read on this site, and seems to accept it as fact.

Herbert writes of Bebbs already established in 1663. But the 1598 Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, twenty two years later. The edict basically provided protection for Protestants in a hostile Catholic regime, and the hostility had already been apparent for many years. So an earlier immigration of a Huguenot individual is quite possible, and it is also possible that several individuals or family groups came into Britain over a period of time. That would allow for Herbert's ancestor to have arrived later, in the general exodus around 1685, but personally I have difficulties with this theory.

The Huguenot theory receives some support in article about Bebb settlers in Ohio, from a 1976 newspaper article on the Venedocia home page (Venedocia is an early Ohio settlement with a strong Bebb connection - see the links). I suspect that this article is based on Herbert's research and is therefore not a separate source, but it does have this to add:

Our search on the prolific Bebb family is not so complete. Mrs. James Jervis was also of this family. The first Bebb in Wales (probably William) was also a French Huguenot.
The spelling in French was Bieb and in English Beeb. He was a weaver by trade coming to Wales in 1685.

There are references to Bebbs and Jervises intermarrying, thereby providing a possible route for a Bebb descendant to claim Huguenot ancestry - although not from the Bebb line.

Herbert also mentions the French name (de) Boebe, but that is claimed by Beebe (see below), and he also mentions the older variants Bebbe (or Bubbe). Unfortunately I don't know what his sources are.

The French Connection

On the plus side, the French surname (de) Boebe that Herbert mentions is genuine for the period- I did find a reference on a French web site, but that's unfortunately no longer there. I did try to find a French 'Bebb' some while ago, without success, and this is as near as I've seen. But bearers of the surname Beebe seem to have a stronger claim to Boebe (or originally, perhaps, de Boebe). Les Sullivan has an explanation for it on his home site


Larry Hoefling does surnames. He has a web site at, so I asked his views. This is (a digest of) what he had to say.

"In medieval times (when surnames were adopted), there were several given names that were commonly found among both men AND women. Thinking about it, such practices are not so uncommon today either. (I've made several mistakes assuming gender regarding people who have sent me Email, witness: Chris, Pat, Sammy, et al.).
Bebbe was one such name. Bebb is a patronymic surname of Anglo-Saxon origin, as a variation of the given name Bebbe, which would also occur as a surname in that spelling. Bebbing is a diminutive form, and the location in Cheshire, England called Bebbington is derived from the combination of Bebbe/Bebbing + Old English tun = settlement, which described a medieval settlement headed by Bebbe or Bebbing.[Kate Monks listed Bebbe and Bebba as both male and female Saxon given names on her (sadly defunct) web site "An Onomastikon (Dictionary of Names)" MB]
I should have mentioned that the origin of the given name Bebbe isn't clear, but may have been a nursery nickname drawn from bebathe = to wash, or beber = an Old English term for beaver (in the sense of arrival of first front teeth)."

Just for fun, I enquired of a few Bebbs - my top two front teeth are a lot bigger than the others. How many others show this trait? Votes so far, eight out of ten responses (including me) are "Yes". Voting remains open.
Are we really descended from Saxon 'beavers'?

The Saxons got a bit of a boost in Aug 2001. I was in Poole Hospital in preparation for a minor op, and spent a few minutes glancing through the "Dorset" county magazine. One article described the origin of the name of the town of Beaminster (pronounced Bemminster), which is about 40 miles or so from where I live. It stated that the name came about in the 7th Century AD, and was originally Beb(b)ingminster - the church built by a woman called Bebbe. I did a Google search on Beaminster, and found a couple of articles supporting this statement, although I have yet to take it any further.
Doing a search on "Bebing" brings in quite a few results, and while many are French or Spanish, a great many are from Germany or Holland. There is a village called Bebing in Alsace, which is French/German border country.

Deutschland Über Alles?

The names Bebber and Van Bebber (Van Bibber) may be found in Germany, probably as common as Bebb is in the UK or US. I don't know the distribution within Germany, but Germany/Holland includes the original Saxon country and it appears that Van Bebber's were emigrating from this general area in the 1600s. So we can have the best of both worlds!
Interestingly, Von Bebber doesn't seem to appear. 'Van' to me implies Dutch, although the boundaries used to be pretty blurred. The name appears also in Belgium, Holland and Austria, and Bebba appears as a variant.

The present day Van Bibbers and Van Bebbers are a pretty organised bunch, they have their own web site and electronic newsletter. Here is an extract from one of their newsletters:


By Charles Van Bebber, stationed in Stuttgart Germany

The name VAN BEBBER means simply "from Bebber." I have never located a town named Bebber in The Netherlands, though it might actually exist in Germany and now called something else. Bebber is the original--not Bibber. Van Bebber was not originally a surname, since most commoners were known by their patronymics: Isaacs, Jacobs, Peters, Hendricks, Dericks, Lenarts, Hermanns, Martins, Johans, Friedrichs, Andrews, Arnolds, Willems, Gerrits, Richards, Barents, Roelofs, Mathis, etc. Only when the family became more prominent and owned estates, I believe, did they assume the family name Van Bebber.

When did this occur? Since there are few records that I know of in which Van Bebbers are listed as a surname prior to their migration to Krefeld in the Palatinate, I would surmise that the name evolved in the mid-17th century or slightly earlier. Prior to that, the name was probably like one of those listed above. There is a town called Bebber am Deister, formerly known as Bedebur. Also, it could derive from the German word BEBER (which I have seen in American sources as a misspelling), which means BEAVER. So, it could simply mean "one who dwells by the beaver dam" or something like that. Could be "one who dwells by the sign of the beaver" if the early family were merchants and this were their logo, was usually done for innkeepers and merchants.

Charles Van Bebber

The name newsletter also talks of Matthias Van Bebber emigrating from Holland to America in the 1680s.

I found a few German villages beginning with 'Beb':
Bebbelsdorf, Bebbingen, Bebele, Bebelhof, Bebelsheim, Bebendorf, Bebenhausen, Bebenholz, Beber, Beberbeck, Bebertal.

Beber is in central to north Germany, not far from Hannover, but a random sampling of the others showed them scattered all over Germany. Prompted by Bebertal (Beber Valley, near Magdeburg), I looked for a Beber river and found one.

Bebb the Plaintiff

Stephen Jones of the Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society related some information he'd heard, describing Bebb as an English name:
"Just to explain a bit, Murray Chapman has shown that there was a "plantation" of Arwystli with Derbyshire people by the Earl of Leicester in the mid 16th century and many of the English names in Montgomeryshire (e.g. Bumford, Wilson) go back to this phenomenon. Murray has examined muster rolls and Court of Great Sessions records for the period, extracting those people with English surnames. They show clearly that, apart from in Arwystli, there was no significant level of English surnames in any other part of Montgomeryshire at the time."

I wrote to Mr. Chapman. In his reply he mentioned a reference in the Montgomeryshire Court of Great Sessions, held Monday 21 May 1554 at Pool: (File Ref: WALES 4/124-1 m.22)

INDICTMENT against Margaret Paramore a of Hendidle, spinster, that on 14 February 1554, at Hendidle, she broke and entered the barn of Thomas Bebb and feloniously stole a canvas called a 'wyno shete' (5d) and another sheet (6d) belonging to the said Thomas Bebb. (That William Paramore of Hendidle, husbandman, having knowledge of the felony, feloniously received, abetted and consorted with the said Margaret [crossed out])

a: Confessed to the felony.

Signed David Lloyd, scribe.

Marginal Note: Felony. Confessed to the felony.

Endorsed: Prosecutor: Thomas Bebb. Witnesses: Roger Perks, David ap Owen.

Second Jury. A True Bill.

(Keith Lomas explained about Hendidle: "It's Hendidley, a farming district a mile north of the Milford District (north river bank) of Newtown." And the references to 5d and 6d are to old British pennies (pence), the d being inherited from the Roman Denarius. Until 1974 there were 12 pence to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound. Since 1974 pennies are abbreviated to p, and referred to as (for instance) 10 pee, and we now have 100 to the pound. Fivepence and sixpence would have been significant sums.)

Bebbs and Brees - English Imports?

I was browsing the Summer 1999 copy of the Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society's 'Record' magazine when the name Bebb caught my eye. An article by David Peate refers to the will of Elizabeth Brees, June 1584 (proved January 1586) of Llanbrynmair. The will refers to a number of relatives, and the names include Bebb, Jervis and of course Brees. Elizabeth's daughter (Beatrice?) married Morris Bebb and they had two children at the time, John and Jane. Obviously the families had been in the area together for some time. We hear further (above) of Bebbs and Jervises emigrating together from Llanbrynmair to the US over 150 years later, indicating a long relationship and long residence in the area, and the same applies to Bebbs and Brees. Morris and John show up as "Bebb names" even after 1900...

Other names include Jane Bradley (sister), Margaret Milde (sister) , Margery Wood (daughter), Robert Wood (the younger - ??) and William Turner, John Burry and John Pickin (witnesses). David Peate refers to ALL of the names in the will as "foreign", primarily English. The Rowlands' book The Surnames of Wales also suggests that Brees (otherwise spelt Breeze) is (possibly 12C) English in origin, despite its resemblance to the Welsh "Rees" derivatives.

This suggests a picture of a group of families being transplanted into an area, and perhaps not being too popular with the natives, being thrown into each others's company thus forming associations which would last hundreds of years. Or perhaps they knew each other before then, even?

The Tribulations of Thomas Bebb

In Oct 2000 Susan King sent me a transcript of a document from the PRO, from their 1558 - 1579 Llanllwchaern file. It is a letter from Thomas Bebb to Sir Nicholas Bacon, seeking assistance in dealing with a couple of Welshmen who had unceremoniously removed him from his farm. It has several interesting elements, the main one being that Thomas describes himself as English.
We don't know if it is the same Thomas mentioned above, or possibly his son.

Bebb, Bibb, Bubb and Babb

For a short name, there is no shortage of variations. Apart from the daily ad hoc variations on the phone and in shops, there are four main variations by changing the vowel (don't know about Bobb, though.) The obvious question is, are they connected?
I spent a little time extracting these from the 1881 census index, and putting them on a map, or rather five maps. So you can make up your own mind.

My view on the name

Personally, I think dropping the final syllable from Bebbe(r) is more likely than changing a long e (Beebe) to the short e in Bebb. If your name is Bebb, how many zillion times have you been called Beeb? It works the other way around. But I'm speaking as a late 20th century English speaker, perhaps it wasn't always that way.

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Distances are 'as the crow flies'. You should assume a fairly high-flying crow.

The centre of Bebb history, at least from the 16th century, is the old Welsh county of Montgomeryshire and the neighbouring English county of Shropshire. It is here that the earliest 16th century references are found.
Montgomeryshire owes its existence as a shire county to Henry VIII and the Law in Wales Act 1535, a precursor to the 1536 Acts of Union, having previously been part of the largely autonomous Welsh Marches.

Although one of the less famous kings, the reign of Henry VII had far reaching effects. He brought about a period of civil and financial stability, and began a process of de facto unification of England and Wales by simple virtue of being a Welshman (Henry Tudor) on the throne of England.
His son Henry VIII could not have been unaware of the untidy political situation around the Welsh border, and was reputedly not slow to recognise the taxation benefits of placing Wales firmly under the control of the Crown and within the Shire administrative framework. He set in place a series of laws between 1535 and 1542, which are best known by the 1536 Act of Union.
It is very likely that this legislation tempted English entrepreneurs from the neighbouring counties to try their fortunes in Montgomeryshire.

In Montgomeryshire, the main towns of Bebb interest are Newtown and Welshpool, and in particular the surrounding agricultural villages such as Berriew, Llanfair and Castle Caereinion, Guilsfield, Llanwnog and many more.

To the west is the village of Llanbrynmair (the church of St Mary on the hill ), particularly well known for the Bebbs who emigrated from there to Ohio and with recorded Bebb presence back to at least 1633. Further west is Machynlleth and further again Dollgellau and Aberystwyth with more recent Bebb connotations.

A lady in Brisbane with Ashton ancestors in Llanbrynmair posted a reference to a CPAT (Clwyd and Powys Archeological Trust) site which refers to a number of the places around Llanbrymair, many of which are of interest to Bebb historians.

Despite historical animosity, the English/Welsh border doesn't seem to be taken too seriously in this area, and distances aren't great. Ludlow is only about 25 miles from Montgomery, the county town of Montgomeryshire, and not much further from Newtown. All of the above places, except Ohio, are within a few tens of miles. A number of Shropshire place names are unmistakeably Welsh.

During the 19th Century, perhaps mainly in the latter half, the South Wales coalfields and iron works offered relatively well paid (if sometimes dangerous) work to people from all over the British Isles. Many Bebbs moved to the area, notably to towns in Glamorgan such as Treorchy (Treorki) and Ton Pentre in the the Rhondda Valley, Merthyr Tydfil and further east to towns such as Tredegar in the Ebbw Vale.

[Map of pre-1974 Welsh Counties]
Map of pre-1974 Welsh Counties
Courtesy Data Wales - see Links

Montgomery is the main town, and formerly county town, of Montgomeryshire. The "county town" is the county's equivalent of a capital city, the administrative centre of each county. A county town is likely to have a long history, for instance Winchester (Hampshire) and Dorchester (Dorset) were both Roman towns.
The town owes its name to Sir Roger de Montgomery who arrived there not too long after the Norman invasion, and who is in turn named after a town in Normandy.

Oddly, perhaps, there don't seem to be a large number of Bebb references associated with Montgomery itself, although I have seen a few.

From Welshpool it's pretty much due west to the other main Bebb references of Llanfair Caereinion, Llanbrymair, Darowen, and WNW to Dollgellau, near the coast, all of which still appear on modern maps.

Tawelfan is another name that pops up. It appears as the name of a farm near Llanbrynmair. Here are some notes that Dave Bebb made:
"I am sitting here with my tattered 1944 "Bebb Genealogy", which details the descendants of William Bebb and Martha Hughes. This was put together by Herbert Bebb of Chicago. ... The map in the beginning of this book locates Montgomeryshire in an exploded view, and Tawelan seems to be almost exactly one mile west of the Llanbrynmair parish church. (Herbert has located eleven points of interest in Montgomeryshire.) Unfortunately, the map is a poor reproduction, and difficult to read. I believe Tawelan is somewhat less than a mile north of a place labeled Dolgadfan. Other nearby towns (?) include Plas Caguir (sp), Oringoed, Rhow-myn, and there appears to be a nearby mtn. range called Mynydd Ty'r Sais. Darowan (spelling from this map) is almost exactly three miles to the west and slightly north of Tawelan".

Julie Rowlands, formerly of Llanbrynmair and a descendant of Martha Hughes, emailed me in March 2004 and added some clarification:

Just down the hill towards Llanbrynmair from the little hamlet of Llan (which is where Tawelfan is situated) are two farms; the first is a large farm estate called Plas Esgair (Plas Caguir to a welsh speaker sounds almost identical to Plas Esgair) and just further down the hill is a small holding called Cringoed (Oringoed). These two farms would be no more than half a mile away from Tawelfan. I cannot throw light on Rhow-myn as yet however, there is a river Twymyn close by that eventually joins the river Dyfi leading to the sea at Aberdovey.
Tawelfan, incidentally, is now the name of a row of about 8 houses in Llan built circa 1960.

Tawelfan can be found on the British Ordnance Survey "Landranger" map, sheet 136, in the top left hand corner. Herbert's description is good enough to locate it. The name is alongside a small group of isolated buildings, apparently a farm. The map was current at Feb 1998.

The name is also given to a cemetery in Ohio: Gomer Cemetery aka: PIKE RUN , LLEWLYN or TAWELFAN. John.B.Bebb together with Sephora and Ann are buried there.

Tal-y-Llyn is seven or eight miles south of Dollgellau (Dollgelly).

[Map of Wales]
1898 Map of north Wales. Marked area is (roughly) "Bebb Country"

Take care if you click on the map - it leads to a much bigger version that won't fit on a single screen. You have to scroll around in it. It's scanned from a 1898 atlas, and you can read the place names. I couldn't bring myself to mark it up, it was enough of a sacrifice dropping the colour depth to make it manageable

Many Bebbs moved south, so here is the other half of the map - south Wales. It's an overlapping scan of the same map, as I couldn't scan the whole thing in one go. The page was too big and the scanner ran out of memory.

Ystradyfodwg is as hard to find as it is to pronounce. It's a parish in Glamorgan, to the north of Llantrisant parish. Parishes aren't often shown on maps. As Maureen Jenkins explained "The Rhondda Valleys (two) is made up of three ancient parishes. Llanwonno, Llantrisant and Ystradyfodwg." Ystradyfodwg was a fairly large parish taking in part of Abedare in the east, all the top ends of the Rhondda Valleys down as far as Porth. You'll need to know this if you're looking for Bebbs in Glamorgan, and there are plenty of them.

Bebington (one 'b' - I checked) is just south of Birkenhead, across the Mersey from Liverpool. It's about halfway between Birkenhead and Ellesmere Port, therefore not very far north of Wales - about 15 miles. It's about 40 miles from Bebington to Welshpool, with a further 6 or 12 to Montgomery or Newtown respectively. So a link is completely viable, in terms of distance. And, with Liverpool one of the main emigration ports to the US, the return trip en route to America isn't hugely difficult, either.
I found this reference: BEBINGTON, Merseyside: Bebba's estate. From Bebba, an Old English man's name, and tun, 'an estate'.

[Map of Southern UK]
Map of the southern part of the UK, showing the interesting bits

Poole is not in Wales, it's in Dorset. The reason it gets in here is because it's where I live. It is, as the town's publicity department will tell you, a beautiful place. In fact they'll sell you stickers, mugs, T-shirts, baseball caps and a bunch of other things, all reminding you that Poole is a beautiful place.
Poole is approximately in the middle of the south coast of England, about 40 miles west of Southampton. When TV weather presenters want to show an east-west difference in the weather, they usually draw their line through Poole, just to confuse us. It works.
Poole boasts the second largest natural harbour in the world (although Halifax (or somewhere in Canada) disputes the claim), and tends to fill up with Yachties. The climate is mild, the surrounding countryside including the New Forest and Purbeck Hills is worth coming for, the town is historic (as are several of its neighbours) while having thoroughly modern facilities, and you can get ferries to France and the Channel Islands. So I'm staying.

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Me and My Interests

Well, I live in Poole, in England. I'm married with three daughters. I make my living generating and maintaining electronics test solutions based (usually) on automatic test equipment, or failing that I work as a contract technical author.
Personal interests include camping, folk music (mostly traditional English), Gary Larson and learning German. Plus of course a certain amount of genealogy, on an 'as and when' basis. Mostly this is centered around the Bebb name, as it's unusual. I squirrel away Bebb snippets when I can, although most of them tend not to be directly related to my branch of the family.

I should point out that there aren't many recent photos of me, and fewer that I like. The photo of me here was taken for a driving licence, and has the edge on my passport photo since it leaves me looking slightly more human (albeit with slightly less hair). Of course, it is not good form to look too much like your passport photo, and looking cheerful in photos taken for such purposes is definitely not approved and is probably illegal. So this is the best available for the time being. You'll just have to believe that I don't look this miserable in real life. At least, not all the time. [Picture of me - perhaps better missed!]
[Another picture, more human.] Time has moved on, and another photo has emerged. Not much less hair, although the beard is starting to give a little too much away. Arguably I don't need the other photo any more but it does have a certain entertainment value.

Genealogical Interests

My paternal grandfather, Thomas Elon Bebb, came from Ton Pentre in the Rhondda, one of four - Tom, Cyril, Sid and Ethel. His birth was registered at Pontypridd in 1906.
His father, Thomas Bebb, a miner, (no recorded middle name), and wife Emily (nee Davies), lived in Gelly/Ton Pentre, in Ystradyfodwg parish. Emily was his second wife, the first being Gwen (or Gwenllian) Lloyd, apparently from Gower. I know of no children from the first marriage. Thomas was born around 1861, probably in Berriew near Newtown. His father was another Thomas Bebb, a shepherd although before that possibly a railway labourer. A family in Bettws Cedewain in Montgomery looks promising.

GGF Thomas reportedly had two brothers. I have the names Maurice (or Morris), and Jack. Maurice - I think Maurice Emlyn - seems to have lived in Ton Pentre and brought up a family, including I believe Maurice Emlyn Junior.
I don't know what happened to Jack (John).
It is becoming clear that Thomas also had a brother called Evan Charles Bebb, also a miner. Evan had a son, Elon, in Ton Pentre (Ystradyfodwg) in 1898 (Wife Elizabeth, nee James). However, the family at Bettws Cedewain have an Evan together with a couple of daughters, so it still fits although I've yet to confirm the link. Evan and Elizabeth emigrated, with daughter Mary.E (b c.1896) and Elon, and ended up in Canada. In the 1901 census he has dropped the Evan and is called Charles.

I've been in touch with one or two of Elon's descendants in Canada, and it would be good to fill in some of the gaps.

I found a link to another Bettws Cedewain Bebb. One of Wendy Bowen's ancestors married Mary Bebb from Bettws Cedewain. Wendy was enquiring about her Bowen side. Wendy said

"My" Mary Bebb was born 19 Sept 1802 and baptised 3 Feb 1843. Her father Maurice BEBB was born at Esgirgoch (Esgairgoch?), Llanbrynmair. This is as far back as I have been able to find. Maurice married Mary GARBETT in Newtown in 1801. Maybe one day you might find someone else interested or whom may have this line in their family.

I have another reference to (I think) the same Maurice Bebb on the Interests page.

The name Evan pops up in other Bebb references. I'd like to know where the name Elon came from, as a given name. (Apart from Elon the Hittite, who as far as I'm aware was not Welsh.) The use of biblical names was common, but was Elon, son of Evan Charles, the first in the family to have it?

Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;

The other interest is Gough. In particular, Sarah Gough 1910-1932, daughter of Henry (Harry) Gough and Jane Fleming, around the Crumlin area. Both Gough and Fleming are old names also found in Ireland - there is a rumour that Sarah was Irish. Many families moved into South Wales from other regions, including Scotland and Ireland, for work in the now defunct pits or foundries.

Finally, Whitney crops up. Whitney is the name of my maternal grandfather. The name is very old, and Whitneys have spread out over much of the world from a start in Whitney on Wye in Herefordshire. I'm not actively researching Whitney, but would welcome snippets on Welsh Whitneys, especially from Monmouthshire and in particular Blaina.

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Famous Bebbs

I suppose it depends what you mean by famous. I don't know of any very famous Bebbs, but one or two did get noticed.
It's also been suggested that Bebbs helped to found the Calvinistic Methodist movement. But I don't (yet!) know which ones.

Ohio had a Governor Bebb from Dec. 12, 1846 to Jan. 22, 1848. He gets a few mentions on the Web, and has a park named for him. I'm told "Governor Bebb Preserve is located off State Route 126 (Cincinnati-Brookville Road) about nine miles west of Ross, in Butler County's Morgan Township." I believe that this site (unless there's a second one) contains his old home, although that's not its original location. You can read an account of his life on this site, and there's a newspaper report mentioning him at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

"Ohio History" has some references and a picture at their website. Use the search facility.

Governor Bebb's son, Michael Schuck Bebb (1833-1895), was a prominent botanist who had an arboretum in Illinois where he grew 200 varieties of willow. Several plants including the Bebb willow (Salix Bebbiana or Bebbia) are named for him.

(Herbert Bebb included some biographical notes for both Governor Bebb and Michael Shuck Bebb in his "Bebb Genealogy" book. )

Robert Bebb was a botanist in Oklahoma. His son, called (as I understand it) in true Welsh style, Robert Bebb, followed in his father's footsteps. The Oklahoma National History Museum has some information on him - see the links later in this page.
One of the staff replied to my email:
" I am the interim curator of the Robert Bebb Herbarium. There is a short bibliography on Robert Bebb and his family. Robert Bebb was a successful florist in Muskogee, Oklahoma; however, in his spare time, he collected plants throughout Oklahoma. He donated his personal collections (around 30,000 specimens) to the University of Oklahoma. Hence, the herbarium was named for him."

Dewi Iorwerth Ellis Bebb(1938-1996) was a rugby player for Wales, a winger. Some consider a Welsh rugby cap the ultimate honour. People - for some reason, doctors in particular - kept asking me if we were related. As a boy I was told that we were, but at some distance, and he or his immediate family were not well liked by my side. I never found out why. Perhaps because I didn't ask. He came from Bangor, and went on to have a successful career in broadcasting when his playing days were over.
I'm completely the wrong shape for a winger. I did play tight head prop at school, but I was a bit on the short side and, overall, my rugby career was not distinguished.

The name of W. Ambrose Bebb pops up from time to time. He was an author and poet active in promoting Welsh and more generally Celtic interests in the first half of the 20th century. His works tend to be in Welsh, so I can't tell you much about them.

Ambrose's grandson, Guto (Dewi's nephew) told me a little about him:

In Pwlheli, Caernarfonshire in 1925 the Welsh Nationalist Party was established, my grandfather, recently returned from four years as a lecturer in Paris was a key player in this development. For the next thirty years until his death in 1955 at the age of sixty he played a central role in the development of a new cultural and political awareness publishing over thirty books of history, travel and diaries. In 1945 he stood as a Plaid Cymru candidate in Caernarfonshire polling around 2,000 votes. This seat was subsequently won by Plaid Cymru and has remained solidly nationalist for the past thirty years.

During the period 1925-1955 my grandfather lived in Bangor, North Wales where he lectured at the teacher training college. A visitor in 1946 was Herbert Bebb from Chicago who was researching the family history. I have always been told that we are descended from French Huguenots by my family and this might well be due to the influence of Herbert! The visit led to my grandfather researching and publishing 'Y Baradwys Bell' - The Far Away Paradise, which was a history of the experience of his family who had moved to the USA.

Guto is presently (Mar 2005) standing for election as a Member of Parliament, so perhaps he'll get a few more lines here in due course,

Edward Bebb, son of Edward Bebb of Butler County, Ohio, earned a Civil War Medal of Honour: BEBB, EDWARD J. Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 4th lowa Cavalry. Place and date: At Columbus, Ga., 16 April 1865. Entered service at: Henry County, lowa. Birth: Butler County, Ohio. Date of issue: 17 June 1865. Citation: Capture of flag.
He died in 1916 and is buried with wife Mary in Lynnville, IA.
John Ballard pointed out that he is discussed by Herbert Bebb at p10 of his "Bebb Genealogy".

Charles Herbert Bebb was an architect prominent in the northwestern USA in the first half of the 20th century, including a long association with fellow architect Carl Gould. John Ballard drew my attention to his biography at

You might spare a thought for Gwyneth Bebb if you ever have dealings with a female lawyer. Perhaps even Cheri Blair (Booth) is a little in her debt. In the early 20th century women were not considered fit to practise law in the UK, a view that Gwyneth - a notable scholar - helped to change. John Ballard sent me the following extract:

PORTIA ANTE PORTAS: WOMEN AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION IN EUROPE, ca. 1870-1925. Journal of Social History, Summer, 2000, by James C. Albisetti.
Not until 1912 did a private member of Parliament introduce a bill that would allow women to become solicitors. Its slow progress led four women--two each from Oxford and Cambridge--to launch a direct assault on the Law Society, with one of them, Gwyneth Bebb, appealing her rejection in the courts. Despite having her case argued by Lord Robert Cecil, Bebb lost on the issue of women not being "persons," with the judge citing the seventeenth-century jurist Sir Edward Coke on the unfitness of women to be lawyers. New legislation, with at least tacit government support, was introduced in Parliament in March 1914; but no vote took place before the outbreak of the war. During the war, the Law Society continued to lobby vigorously against admission of women. Not until after the "Khaki Election" of December 1918, in which women over thirty had voted for the first time, did Parliament pass the Sex Disqualification Removal Act in December 1919. [49] The first two women in the United Kingdom to qualify as barristers did so in Dublin in 1921, shortly before Irish independence. The first in England was Ivy Williams in 1922. Cornelia Sorabji even returned from India to collect an Oxford degree and gain admission to the British bar. [50]

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Bebbs Today

The purpose of this section is to identify those Bebbs/researchers who would maybe like to correspond with others. It isn't intended to duplicate the interests page. I won't put the names/addresses of individuals here unless requested.Mail me:
Email address

Anthea Ashfield has some Bebb information. She is looking for BEBB, ASHFIELD and SYNDERCOMBE.
Email address Email address

William Bebb of California asks:

"Does anyone know this Bebb who played a part in P.G. Wodehouse's 'Jeeves and Wooster' presentation. It starred those two gentlemen who worked with Rowan Atkinson in the 'Black Adder' series. I can't remember their names. "
Email Address

Well, I don't know him but I do know of him. His name is Richard Bebb. He's been in a few other things as well.I thoroughly enjoyed the books, and the TV series - starring two very funny comedians, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Richard is also into opera and bronze busts of operatic figures

The name Richard appears a couple more times - one is involved, I believe, in Welsh local government and another has considerable expertise in early Welsh furniture. I believe these are different individuals, feel free to correct me.

If you do a search on the Web, you'll come across a variety of Bebbs, past and present (Note - different search engines return slightly different sets of results). Ordinarily, you might consider doing a Web search on your surname to be a pretty sad course of action, but I'm sure it can be justified for the sake of genealogical research.

There are architects, an actor, some computer people, a realtor (I think that's what we in the UK call an estate agent. Given the bad press that estate agents get, I'd probably prefer to be called something different, too). There's a former (Catholic!) minister, a publisher, some students, some academics. Bebbs are currently represented in rugby and golf, too.

If you're visiting Wales, this might interest you:
"RHOSGADLAS is a converted barn of character, situated near the beautiful Tal-y-Llyn lake at the foot of Cader Idris in the Snowdonia National Park. The pretty bedrooms have washbasins, shaver points, hospitality trays and separate bathroom facilities. Sitting room has beams and fireplace. Also adjoining is a tea room serving afternoon teas.
B & B from UKP 16pp, Rooms: 1 en-suite twin, 2 double, No smoking, Minimum age 14, No pets, Open March - October. Rhosgadlas, Tal-y-Llyn, Tywyn, Gwynedd LL36 9AJ
(Formerly) Mrs Rhiain Bebb, Tel: +44 (0)1654 761462 Fax: +44 (0)1654 761462" but the ad's no longer there). I'm told it's good fishing country. Not an endorsement, just a mention.

Rhiain told me (mid 2001) that she's no longer running the guest house. She teaches Welsh language to adults in the Machynlleth area, and has a strong interest in Welsh folk music and dance, especially the harp.

I do like the postcode (the LL36 9AJ bit). Very roughly, postcodes for a area typically start with the first two letters of the (or a) major town in that area. Starting a Welsh postcode with LL must narrow it down to a few thousand...

John Llewellyn Bebb has just started looking for his ancestry. His family arrived in Connecticut from Wales, probably from Montgomeryshire. 'John' is a well established Christian name is his family. I've put some notes on the Interests page.

Bebb's Busses

If you've travelled in Wales, or even England, you might have come across one of "Bebb's Buses" - run by:
S.A Bebb Travel Plc The Coach Station Llantwit Fardre Pontypridd Mid Glamorgan CF38 2HB.
When you've got used to having a name that nobody's heard of, it comes as a shock to see "your" name emblazoned across the side of a 50-seater coach!

I was very pleased to learn that it's still run by a descendant of the original founder. Nigel Bebb told me

"The firm was founded in 1924 by two brothers Si (my father) and Ken Bebb using an advance of approx. £10 from their mother, Sarah Ann Bebb. The firm was named after their mother (S.A. Bebb Ltd).
In 1960 the two brothers divided their partnership, Si retaining the bus/coach company. I joined in 1966 and my father retired shortly afterwards.
The present day coach company operates some 5 million miles per year and has the largest fleet of refrigerated air conditioned coaches in the U.K. We were contracted in the Rugby World Cup and carried all the teams from the quarter final stages onward. (a little incongruous at Twickenham having a Welsh coach company for all semi-finalists).

As far as the history of the Bebb family is concerned, the following are the brief details:

Thomas Bebb (Trefeglwys, Montgomery) married Sarah Ann Morris (Llanidloes) in 1894 and moved to the South Wales coalfield. He obtained work at the Lady Windsor colliery, Ynysybwl and lived at Robert Street, Ynysybwl. He was also a member of the mine rescue team used at the Colliery disaster at Cilfynydd.
In 1907 he had a severe stroke and was handicapped until his death in 1909.
Sarah Ann Bebb then took her family of 4 boys and 2 girls to Llantwit Fardre and supported them by her work on a self employed draper's round. The family spent annual "working" holidays in Llanidloes and looked on it as their original home.

Incidentally, my family's thoughts on the origin of the name is that the name was truncated from the Welsh "ab Ebenezer".

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Beeb, Beebe, Bebington, Bebbington - and that's without starting on the Bab- and Bub- variants. Are they variations of the same name, or simply different names?
Larry Hoefling thinks that at least some of them have the same root. And Mary Beebe is happy to hear from any variation.
Me, I'm just keeping it simple.

Round about 1834 a Bebb married a lady called Leech. Ladies keeping their maiden name as a middle name is not uncommon (and is most helpful to genealogists), but this couple adopted the double-barrelled form of Leech-Bebb. I don't know much about them, but Lawrence Griffiths helped me out:
"The original Leech in the Castle Caereinion area came from Malpas to Penybryn, with a family, including two sets of twins. Two of the daughters married Bebbs and had children. Another daughter, Mary, a twin, married Edward Higgins and they had children including Jane, who became the second wife of David, her uncle by marriage after the death of Martha, his first wife. They had ten children who appear variously as "Higgins" or "Bebb" in the records, there having been some doubt about the legality of the setup.This family were brought up at Tynllan, the Village Farm, which is now owned and farmed by my wife's brother, his wife and twin sons, together with Tafarn Dolarddun. Mary Higgins was widowed and remarried, having a third set of children, Edwards. She was widowed again and lived in a cottage in the village until she died in 1902 at the age of 91."
Email address

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Believe it or not, there are some books about Bebbs. There is even a fiction series, brought together in "The Book of Bebb", by the Rev. Frederick Buechner. It would be interesting to know why he chose Bebb. Dave Bebb and I have tried to enquire, but with no luck.

One of the descendants of William Bebb from Llanbrynmair (Herbert Bebb of Chicago) researched his family history in the 1940s. I know of four copies of his book (one in private hands), but you can read a substantial extract from it here. I'm told the Mormon (LDS) church have microfilmed it, so it should be safe for the future and readily accessible.

There are a couple of scam books - or maybe the same scam book in more than one guise. These are the ones advertised by mail, or more recently by spam email, offering details of the family coat of arms etc etc.
I've been given one of these books. It has a list of 600+ (at 1989) names and addresses, in zip code/postcode order, by country, with some basic analysis. It shows a Bebb coat of arms, with description but no history or location. The rest of the book is filled with the basic (and very general) genealogy stuff that you could get in any bookshop.

A relative bought one, out of curiosity. His name wasn't in it - it was added as a very obvious postscript, presumably after they got his order...

There is a Bebb book, I'm told, in London, in Welwyn Garden City. I tried to contact the owner, who was invariably out when I phoned, so I have no idea which book it is, or whether it really does exist. It seems this group of Bebbs are into male voice choirs, a traditional Welsh preoccupation.

I didn't personally believe there was a Bebb coat of arms until Andrew Bebb sent me a photograph. It was not in an ideal position to photograph, so the camera was struggling. Next to it is a version that I touched up a little. If you are artistic enough to create a clean version from these, I'd be very pleased to put it here. The original is "on the wall at the top of the main staircase at Ushaw College, Durham. Ushaw College is a main seminary for the training of R.C. priests."

[Coat of Arms] [Coat of Arms]

My father and brother were shown a picture of a Bebb coat of arms by a gentleman at, I believe, a fairground or some such. It apparently originated somewhere in the region of Oxford, a little off base but not totally out of range...

Bebbs in the US

The Welsh played a significant part in the development of the northern US, with significant populations in Pennsylvania and Ohio. William Bebb and his family get a variety of mentions on this site. The Bebbs are also mentioned in this book, which Mike Hall of Powys Family History Society told me about:

The Welsh in America - Letters from the Immigrants. ed. Alan Conway. Pub Cardiff, Universiy of Wales press, 1961. Here are a couple of extracts:
(Page 51:) Between 1789 and 1802 the rural areas of Wales were plagued by a series of bad harvests ...
(Page 52:) In 1795 a party ... of about 50 emigrants left the neighbourhood of Llanbrynmair in Montgomeryshire for the lands purchased by the Baptist Minister, Morgan John RHYS, and the Cambrian Company in Western Pennsylvania. Prominent amongst these emigrants were Ezekiel HUGHES, George ROBERTS, and Edward BEBB. [there is more about Bebb & Hughes later in the book]

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No Home Page can be considered complete without the mandatory set of links, so here are a few to choose from. These are all sites that I've visited and found interesting or useful.

I've split them into two groups. The Bebb links have references of specific Bebb interests, referring to a past or present Bebb. The general links are others of genealogical, Welsh or personal interest.

My Links - Bebb

Mary Beebe has an "all variations of the name" Beebe web site at:

Some emigrant Bebbs helped to start a village called Venedocia in Van Wert County, Ohio. It's still there, and still has a strong Welsh influence and interest in its past, although the Bebb name has apparently faded out. Its pop is about 160, from which they draw the resources for a cool Home Page with Welsh maps, history, culture and a story about the original settlers. One of them was William Bebb, relative of William Bebb, Governor of Ohio. It's at:

Robert Bebb was a botanist in Oklahoma. He and his son did a lot of field research and collected many specimens, which were eventually donated to the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. They named a Herbarium for him (Robert Bebb Herbarium) because of his extensive and generous donations. They also publish a little booklet about Robert and son. There is a home page at:

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My Links - General

Cyndi's List is perhaps the canonical list of internet genealogical resources. It is a list of more on-line genealogical resources than most of us could visit in a lifetime. LDS Family History Centres - FAQ's, Locations (worldwide), and so on:

If you're interested in family history research, subscribing to a mailing list is a good way to share knowledge and make contact with others of similar interests. The ROOTSWEB site is the home of numerous such lists. It also houses the ROOTS-L surname list, a massive source of real names.

I'm a member of the Powys Family History Society, one of two that cover Montgomeryshire. Their home page is at:

Info for the Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society, of which I'm also a member, is at

You can find out about other Family History Societies, together with other Welsh information, at: at the GENUKI site: In fact you really should visit Genuki (GENealogy - UK and Ireland, or something like that, in case you wondered). It's full of good stuff, and is the premier UK genealogy site.

Broderbund produce the Family Tree Maker software package, which comes in assorted flavours. They also do an impressive searchable genealogy web site, which is a 'must visit'. It has several Bebb references. Just to top it all, they do a range of CDs with a huge amount of genealogical info. It's mostly US and somewhat commercial, but still pretty good!

Taffnet is another Welsh site, with general information, links and some humour. Head for

Here is another link to Larry Hoefling's site, from which you can get to his "What's in a Name" surnames page. I know I gave it before, but it's good so I'll give it again.

These people, Data Wales, have some interesting Welsh information, including a useful set of Welsh maps showing old and new counties, roads, parks and so on. I was initially disappointed to discover that their relief map didn't show the locations of the public toilets. The site is at:

If you're interested in Welsh History you should visit this site. It leads to a colourful map of the old Welsh Kingdoms after the Romans went home, and similar pages for English regions:

John Ball's site is worth a look. John provides sound clips with the pronunciation of over 200 Welsh place names, notes as to their meaning, and a host of other useful and interesting stuff. It's at

Julie's Welsh Surnames List has, I believe, metamorphosed into the Welsh Ancestors List on John Ball's website, as above. Nice one, John, spent an hour looking for it only to find I'd just been there...

Hugh and Marian Zorger have a Heritage site at They have a list of genealogy homepages, and will add yours.

Warren Lewis and East Gwent Genealogy Research Agency offer a service of interest to Monmouthshire researchers:
They have a great deal of local information, including an Index of the births, deaths and marriages, that were placed in the "Free Press of Monmouthshire" newspaper. The index dates from 1859-1927. They search their archives for researchers and charge a small sum, for the benefit of some local charities.

The Society of Genealogists have a comprehensive web site at:
Worth a look.

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