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The County of BRECKNOCK is 106 Miles in Circumference, contains about 620000 Acres, is divided into 6 Hundreds, in which are 4 Market Towns, out of which only Brecknock, ye Shire Town is represented in Parliament. Has 61 Parishes & about 5034 Houses. The Air is good but sharp, & ye Soil for ye most part hilly, having some pleasant & fruitfull Valleys. The County affords plenty of Corn & Grass, in ye Vales, and ye Rivers abundance of Fish, especially ye Wye & ye Usk, which are full of Salmon, Trout &c. [Source: Emanuel Bowen, Britannia Depicta, 1720]

Archives and Libraries

Powys Archives (link is external) Provide a series of Local Studies Notes with Sources for Family History and a Guide to Holdings

The National Library of Wales (link is external). Aberystwyth. The major repository of information relevant to Welsh genealogy, such as Bishop's Transcripts of Parish Registers, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, Nonconformist Records, Probate Records, Tithe Maps and Apportionment Schedules, Legal and Administrative Records, Estate Records and Personal Papers, Pedigree Books, Newspapers, etc.

Brecon Area Library (link is external) Ship Street Brecon Powys LD3 9AE Telephone: +44 (0) 1874 623346 E-mail: (link sends e-mail) Opening hours: Mon 9:30-17:00; Tue 09:30-19:00; Wed to Fri 9:30-17:00; Sat 09:30-13:00 The library holds copies of Breconshire Census Returns 1841 to 1901.

Powys Museums and Galleries (link is external)

The National Archives has details of many archive repositories (link is external) in the UK with links to their websites.

Search the on-line catalogue of the London Family History Centre (link is external) (formerly the Hyde Park Family History Centre). The London FHC is one of more than 4,800 Family History Centres of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the largest such centre outside of North America, and one of more than 100 centres in the British Isles. It holds a good collection of finding aids and a significant collection of primary records, mostly on microfilm. Records are chiefly drawn from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (link is external) (RCAHMW) In addition to the RCAHMW's on-line Archive Catalogue there is also a Chapels database which will eventually list all known nonconformist chapels in Wales.


Here is a substantial reading list for Brecknockshire


MIs held at Powys Archives (link is external) - Breconshire

Welsh Gravestone Inscriptions (link is external) and Graveyard Welsh (link is external) - guides to interpreting Memorial Inscriptions.

Graveyard Surveys - Over the past twenty years, Gareth Jones has produced surveys of the graveyards of over fifty churches and chapels. Each survey is reproduced on A4 sheets with introduction, full inscriptions, and indexes to personal names and place-names. Some of these surveys are large, e.g. the parish churchyards at Defynnog, Llywel, and Ystradgynlais, and Tynycoed Chapel, Abercrâf. Other Breconshire parishes covered include Llandeilo'r Fân, Llanfihangel Nant Bran, Merthyr Cynog, Llandyfaelog, Llanfihangel Fechan, Battle, Brecon (St David's & St John's), Aberyscir, and Trallwng. For free advice, a full list of surveys, and charges, contact Gareth Jones at (link sends e-mail).


Breconshire Records (link is external) for sale by Powys FHS

Brecon Area Library (link is external), Ship Street, Brecon, LD3 9AE. (01874) 623346 has copies of 1841 - 1901 census returns for all of Breconshire - as have Powys Archives (link is external)

FreeCEN (link is external) is an ongoing volunteer based project to provide a 'free to view' online searchable database of the 19th century UK census returns. The 1891 return is the first to be tackled across the UK. (link is external) (the UK arm of - access to indexes and images of the complete set of England and Wales censuses from 1841 to 1911 (and other genealogical material), accessible by payment of a subscription fee.

Church History

Church Plans Online (link is external) - the Lambeth Palace Library holds a database of the Incorporated Church Building Society's images of the plans of various churches (use the onsite search facility)

Brecknockshire Churches Survey (link is external) by the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust

Welsh Chapels & Churches

Church Records

The parish register entries for most of the parishes in Breconshire are available on the website. Images of the original entries, as well as transcriptions, can be accessed on a pay-to-view or subscription basis, but they can also be accessed, without charge, on the computer workstations at branches of the Powys Library Service. Full details of the records available are set out on the FindMyPast (link is external) website.

Detailed information on deposited Breconshire parish registers and transcripts is given on the Powys Archives (link is external) website.

Breconshire Records published by Powys FHS (link is external)

Map of Breconshire parishes on Powys FHS Brecknock Group (link is external) website

IGI and Familysearch (link is external) - the searchable Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) website IGI Batch Numbers - British Isles It is not always easy to locate your ancestors on the IGI using the search mechanisms provided at the above LDS site. Manually typing the batch numbers into the IGI search screen can be tedious. Hugh Wallis has made an exhaustive search of the likely ranges of batch numbers and created a database of those numbers and the source records that they apply to. A very powerful feature included is a hotlink from each batch number to the actual search engine provided at the Family Search site, including the ability to enter the surname you are looking for. This makes it very easy to search all the batches for a particular geographic location using just the last name you are searching for - something that is not possible directly from the LDS site without doing a lot of typing. This is Hugh Wallis's site (link is external)

Civil Registration

Brett Langston has provided details of the Registration Districts in Breconshire (link is external) for the period 1837 to 1930.

Certificates of birth, death and marriage can be obtained from the Superintendent Registrar at:

Please note: (a) the cost of a certificate is currently £7.00 - send a Sterling cheque payable to Powys County Council plus return postage or two International Reply Coupons; (b) the GRO Index references are of no value; (c) for marriage certificates, the precise place of marriage must be given; (d) Civil Registration in England and Wales began on July 1st 1837.

FreeBMD (link is external) is an ongoing project to make the GRO birth, marriage and death indexes available online - an essential resource for BMD records from July 1837 onwards. (link is external) - here you'll find the complete BMD indexes of the GRO (and other genealogical material) accessible on a pay-to-view or subscription basis. (link is external) (the UK arm of - another way of accessing the complete BMD indexes of the GRO (and other genealogical material), accessible by payment of a subscription fee.

Court Records

The Act of 1543 established the courts of Great Sessions in Wales, equivalent to the English Assizes, which continued until 1830 when they were abolished. Details about these records can be searched at Archives Network Wales (link is external).

Powys County Archives Office hold records pertaining to Breconshire Quarter Sessions (link is external) which were established by the same Act although records do not begin until the late seventeenth century. See also their Petty Sessions (link is external) listing.

Description and Travel

A Vision of Britain Through Time (link is external). "This site contains information about your home area from the 2001 census -- and from every earlier British census back to 1801. It can present this information both as maps of the whole country and as graphs showing change over time in your area. It truly offers a Vision of Britain through time"

Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 (link is external). The Gazetteer compiled by Dr Samantha Letters is a catalogue of markets and fairs in medieval England and Wales. This is the first comprehensive national survey.

Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal on Powys Digital History Project (link is external) website.

Brecon Beacons National Park Online Guide (link is external)

Wales Calling site - Brecon Beacons (link is external)

Explore Mid Wales (link is external), an extensive Powys tourism site

Powys County Council (link is external)


Trades directories held by Powys Archives (link is external)

List of trades directories held by Swansea Central Library (PDF file)      Postal address: Swansea Central Library, Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea, SA1 3SN       Phone: 01792 636464      E-mail: (link sends e-mail)      Website: (link is external)

Directories published on CD by Archive CD Books (link is external):

  • Pigot's Directories 1822-3 of North Wales, South Wales and Monmouthshire
  • Kelly's Directory of South Wales 1884, 1904, 1910, 1920
  • Lloyd's almanac for Breconshire (and Wales) : land of my fathers (gwlad fy nhadau). 3. London : John Lloyd, [1907?]. 44p
  • Pigot's Directory of South Wales 1835. A classified directory of Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, Merchants, Bankers, Professional Gentlemen, Manufacturers and Traders - not a listing of all residents or households.
  • Pigot's Directories of North Wales, South Wales, and Monmouthshire 1822-1823
  • Slater's Directory of South Wales and Monmouthshire 1850
  • Slaters Directory of North and South Wales 1858-1859.
  • Worrall's Directory of South Wales : comprising the counties of Glamorgan Carmarthen, Pembroke, Cardigan, Brecknock and Radnor, with Newport, Monmouthshire. Oldham : John Worrall, 1875. [18],436,174p. Includes 178 pages of advertisements and an index.


The National Gazetteer of Wales (link is external)

The section of The National Gazetteer (1868) relating to Brecknockshire - transcribed by Colin Hinson.

Tallis's Topographical Dictionary of England and Wales, published in 1860 in six vols, editor E. L. Blanchard. See Welsh Family History Archive (link is external) for all the excellent county maps (showing the hundreds) and the alphabetical gazetteer. From the preface: "In the following pages will be found fully described the past history and present aspect of every place of any significance in England and Wales, forming a work of permanent importance to the commercial world, of ready service to the tourist of the day, and of constant interest to the general reader, who may derive from this source a large supply of entertainment, as well as of information for the amusement and instruction of a leisure hour."


Online Welsh Names Directory (link is external) by Graham Jaunay

Welsh Ancestor List (link is external) - an all-Wales surnames list provided by John Ball on his Welsh Family History Archive website.

The new Powys FHS (link is external) website offers a Strays Index and Publications List

FreeBMD (link is external) website offers free access to an index to the civil registers of births marriages and death, complete for the period from 1837 to about 1915. The period from 1916 onwards is covered by (link is external) subscription site.

Timeline of genealogically interesting dates (link is external), by Gareth Hicks.

The Powys Mailing List established in 1997 and hosted by RootsWeb is the most active mailing list covering the county of Breconshire.

John Fuller has provided full details of the mailing lists serving this county. This is but a small part of the data available on the "Genealogy Resources on the Internet (link is external)" pages maintained by John Fuller and Chris Gaunt.

All-Wales Lookup Exchange (link is external)

Brecon Wills (link is external) - VAUGHAN Wills proved in the Archdeaconry of Brecon 1575-1858 - Indexes and Abstracts on Hugh Wallis's Genealogy website.

Land and Property

Gathering the Jewels (link is external) site - Houses of Breconshire (use on-site search box)


Map of Breconshire on Breconshire Local & Family History Society (link is external) website

Map of Breconshire parishes on Powys FHS Brecknock Group (link is external) website

Breconshire Old Maps (link is external)

Welsh county maps by Samuel Lewis (link is external) and published in 1833

Cambridge University Library's collection of John Speed's County Maps (link is external) published circa 1610, include his detailed map of Breconshire.

Details of various maps available at Powys Archives (link is external)

An exceptionally useful set of maps showing parish boundaries, on a one inch to the mile scale, was produced in 2001 by Kain, R. J. P. and Oliver, R. R., Historic Parishes of England and Wales: an Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata [computer file]. Colchester, Essex: History Data Service, UK Data Archive. See here for current availability.

Names, Personal

Welsh Ancestor List (link is external) on John Ball's Welsh Family History Archive website.

The Brecon & Merthyr Railway, by D. S. Barrie, Oakwood Press, 1980; ISBN 085361 087 8 (first published 1957) An index of personal names mentioned in the book is available here.


Victorian Professional Photographers in Wales 1850-1925 - a county based database compiled by Mari Alderman, includes sources and a bibliography.


Cronicl Powys (link is external) is the Powys Family History Society journal.

Brycheiniog, the annual journal of the Brecknock Society and Museum Friends (link is external) has been digitised and all volumes up to 2005 are available on the National Library of Wales (link is external) website.

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

Workhouses: the Workhouse (link is external) website describes its aim thus: 'dedicated to the workhouse - its buildings, inmates, staff and administrators, even its poets..."

Social life and Customs

Welcome to Powys: A Day in the Life (link is external) - This fascinating digital history project website explores life in Powys in 1891, and compares it with the present day. All information and material for 1891 was drawn from collections throughout the counties of Breconshire, Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire. For the contemporary part of the project, the people of Powys were asked to keep a diary of their day on 24 September 2002.


  • Brecknock Society and Museum Friends (link is external). The Society has as its "aim the promotion of the study and understanding of the Archaeology, History, Geology, Natural History, the Arts and Literature of Wales, especially the historic county of Brecknock".
  • Brecon Local & Family History Society (link is external) (BLFHS). This exciting new society was launched at an inaugural meeting in Brecon on 1st June 2011. Its aims are " enhance, encourage and enable the study of local history and family history in the mid-Wales county of Breconshire". The BLFHS holds monthly meetings at Brecon Library at 2:00 pm, normally on the first Wednesday of the month. The BLFHS website is the Society's main medium for communicating with its members and with the general public. Some parts of the website are open only to members.
  • Powys FHS (link is external). The Society aims to " encourage the study of family history and, in so doing, encourage the transcription and preservation and publication of indexes relating to the records of Powys". Since June 2012, the PFHS has a Facebook (link is external) presence.