Sunday, February 16, 2014

52 Ancestors - #5 Rees WALTERS b. 1869

When I first asked my Grandfather about his Grandfather Rees WALTERS he told me that Rees was a foundling. Oh great! A foundling with no known parents was just what I needed to throw up a brick wall. I refused to be defeated, I knew that it was impossible to suddenly turn up on earth as an adult and get married without some kind of back story but what made Rees the man he was? Even if he was a foundling, surely someone had raised him as a child. I decided the only thing I could do was analyse what I actually knew.

Info from my Grandfather:

Rees Walters was his maternal Grandfather. Rees married Alice BARNES and had 3 Daughter; Amy Olive, Elsie Mary and Ida Lucy. My Grandfather knew Ida was born about 1913 around Builth, Breconshire, Wales and was the youngest daughter but was unsure of when her sisters had been born other than Amy was the eldest. He also recalled that Alice had been born in Gloucestershire, England and grew up near Tewksbury, Gloucestershire, England where Amy would later live with her husband in her Grandparents cottage.

Using what I knew about the family structure I estimated that given Ida was born in 1913 then assuming there was a year minimum between the girls, then Amy would have been born no later than 1911. When I consulted the birth index I found Elsie Mary was born in 1912 and a likely Amy Olive born in 1909.

Feeling that my best chance of finding the family on the 1911 Census was to start with Amy, I entered her details into the search box and hit search:
1911 Wales Census Result For Amy Olive WALTERS at 
As you can see the first result on the page looks like a match except the county appears to be wrong but I decided to check the record and see if this was what I was looking for or not. The census showed:
Address: Penbenkin, Builth Wells
  • Rees WALTERS, Head, age 40, a Gardener (Domestic) and was born in Beulah, Breconshire, Wales 
  • Alice WALTERS, Wife, age 38 was born in Oxenton, Gloucester, England. She had been married 2 years,had given birth to 1 live child and had 1 child still living. 
  • Amy Olive WALTERS, Daughter, age 1 was born in Llanelwedd, Builth, Radnorshire, Wales. 

When checking the map I realised that Builth is a border town which spans both Radnorshire and Breconshire. This family felt right and I was confident that I was on the right track.

From the 1911 census (which was taken at the beginning of April) I knew that Rees had been married to Alice for 2 years, so off to the Marriage index I went to see if I could find their marriage between April 1908 and March 1909 but expecting to have to widen my search if my initial search didn't bear fruit. Only one result was returned:
Marriage index search for Rees Walters -
So clicking on the page number to see who else was on the page I could see:
Marriage index search for Rees Walters -
The marriage certificate showed that on 10th November 1908 at the Parish Church in Breadon, Worcester, England, Rees WALTER, 38, Bachelor, Gardener, Son of Rees WALTERS (deceased), Cowman was married by Banns to Alice BARNES, 35, Spinster, Daughter of William BARNES (occupation unreadable).

with no idea of a mother's name or any siblings to aid the search, finding Rees was going to be a leap of faith. looking I found a a very likely match:
Address: Pencerrig, Nr Llanelwydd, Builth, Radnorshire, Wales
  • Mary Anne WALTERS, Head, 57, Widow, a Caretaker and born in Beulah, Breconshire 
  • Rees WALTERS, Son, 31, Single, a General Labourer and born in Beulah, Breconshire 
  • Sarah J WALTERS, daughter, 27, single, a housemaid and born in Beulah, Breconshire 
  • Mary WALTERS, daughter, 24, single, a cook and born in Beulah, Breconshire. 
I hoped to follow this family and ascertain if it was the family I was hoping for only to discover4:
Address: 30 Martin's Row, Fochrhiw, Ysgwyddgwyn, Glamorganshire, Wales
  • Rees WALTERS, boarder, 21, single, Labourer in a Coalmine and born in Llangammarch, Breconshire, Wales 
However his mother and sisters' are at5:
Address: Tyclun (Post Office), Treflis, Beulah, Breconshire, Wales
  • Mary Anne WALTERS, Head, 47, Widow, a Laundress and born in Abergwessin, Breconshire, Wales
  • Sarah Jane WALTERS, daughter, 17, single, a laundress assistant and born in Llangammarch, Breconshire, Wales
  • Elizth WALTERS, daughter, 16, single, a dressmaker and born in Llangammarch, Breconshire, Wales

Address: Post Office, Llangammarch, Treflis, Beulah, Breconshire, Wales (same as 1891 with same neighbours)
  • Mary Anne WALTERS, Head, 37, Widow, a Charwoman and born in Llanlleonfel, Breconshire
  • Rees WALTERS, Son, 11, Single, a Scholar and born in Llangammarch, Breconshire
  • Sarah Jane WALTERS, daughter, 7, single, a Scholar and born in Llangammarch, Breconshire
  • Elizth WALTERS, daughter, 6, single, a Scholar and born in Llangammarch, Breconshire
  • Mary WALTERS, daughter, 24, single, a Scholar and born in Llangammarch, Breconshire
Address: Aberawrell Lodge, Llangammarch, Breconshire
  • Rees WALTERS, Head, 23, Married, Sawyer,  born in Llangammarch, Brecknockshire
  • Mary Anne WALTERS, Wife, 27, Married, Sawyer's Wife,  born in Llangammarch, Brecknockshire
  • Rees WALTERS, Son, 1, born in Llangammarch, Brecknockshire
  • David J WALTERS, Son, 8 months, born in Llangammarch, Brecknockshire

Powys Baptisms, Welsh Archive Services / Gwasanaethau Archifau Cymru -

I presented my research to my Grandfather who agreed that it looked right and he recalled an Aunt called Jane who married a Charles Oliver late in life.  When I checked for marriages I discovered that Charles OLIVER married Sarah Jane WALTERS in 1918 - Sarah's father was given as Rees WALTERS deceased while her brother Rees and sister Mary signed the record as witnesses.  When I asked about the 'foundling' my Grandfather repeated that Rees WALTERS was said to be a foundling, however we now know that it was not this Rees. However, I have not ruled out that their is a Rees WALTERS in the family that was a foundling but this just goes to prove that you have to take what others have said and been told with a grain of salt.  I don't doubt that my Grandfather had been told that someone had no parents although with sons named after their fathers and grandfathers, it is very easy to mix up the generations and end up on a wild goose chance.


  1. 1911 Wales Census - Class: RG14; Piece: 33535; Schedule Number: 29.
  2. Marriage Register - Powys Marriages provided by Welsh Archive Services / Gwasanaethau Archifau Cymru, Accessed at
  3. 1901 Wales Census - Class: RG13; Piece: 5164; Folio: 8; Page: 7.
  4. 1891 Wales Census (Rees) - Class: RG12; Piece: 4432; Folio: 9; Page: 14; GSU Roll: 6099542.
  5. 1891 Wales Census (Mary Anne) - Class: RG12; Piece: 4565; Folio: 46; Page: 14; GSU Roll: 6099675
  6. 1881 Wales Census - Class: RG11; Piece: 5453; Folio: 49; Page: 8; GSU roll: 1342312.
  7. 1871 Wales Census - Class: RG10; Piece: 5573; Folio: 8; Page: 9; GSU roll: 850870.
  8. Baptism Register - Powys Baptisms provided by Welsh Archive Services / Gwasanaethau Archifau Cymru, Accessed at

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