According to a number of newspaper articles, my great-great-grandmother Margaret Preece (née John) [John-2584, LBV2-7XC] had a cousin David Evans [Evans-34840, GCM5-9HW], who was a grain merchant from Llandeilo (Carmarthenshire) and a Councillor and a Poor Law Guardian.

The cousin relationship is given in the following newspaper articles:

The existence of the cousin relationship is also shown from the other side, in the following newspaper articles about the death and funeral of David’s mother Ann Evans (née Jones):

These articles only mention Mr Preece and not his wife (ie, Margaret), as she had passed away some years previously. However it is clear from the mention of both Mr and Mrs Griffiths as cousins that the journalists are using the word “cousin” to refer not just to cousins by blood but also to those cousins’ spouses, as it is not credible that David Evans could be a blood cousin not only of Margaret and Mary John but also both of their husbands.

The fact that David is given as a cousin of Margaret and two of her siblings shows that the common ancestors are on that side of the family. The fact that they are also shown as cousins of David’s mother Ann shows that David is certainly a cousin by blood, although the fact that the term “cousin” apparently applied also to a cousin’s spouse implies that the common ancestor could be on either side of David’s ancestry.

Furthermore, the fact that David Evans and his mother are both given as cousins of Margaret and Mary John suggests that David was not their first cousin – otherwise, his mother would be their aunt, not their cousin.

The full text of all of the articles mentioned in this section can be found in the sources section of my profile on David Evans.

Question: who were the common ancestors of Margaret John and David Evans?

Margaret John’s Family

Margaret’s pedigree is as follows:

Pedigree chart for Margaret John. Her parents are David John and Sarah Jones. David's parents are William John and Margaret Evans. Sarah's parents are David Jones and Ann.

Margaret’s paternal grandparents

David John [John-2598, LBV2-PB7], also known by his Welsh name Dafydd John, was a prominent person in Aberdare society, and there is a good deal of biography about him in newspaper and journal articles. In an obituary in Y Tyst (19 Jan 1894, translated), we learn that “his parents were William and Margaret John. They were both natives of Cilgeran, Cardiganshire, but married after coming to Merthyr.”

William and Margaret were certainly in Cilgerran before David’s birth, as his older brother William was born there in about 1818.

Cilgerran is right on the border of Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire, and is referred to as being in either county interchangeably in the various sources.

We have no particular reason to doubt the statement that William Senior and Margaret married after moving to Merthyr Tydfil, and indeed there is a marriage for a William John and a Margaret Evans in Merthyr on 18 April 1820. But as a further check, we can verify that there is no marriage for them in Cilgerran or anywhere nearby – and indeed there isn’t – so we can assume with reasonable certainty that this 1820 marriage is the correct one.

The fact that they had their first child prior to their marriage is perhaps something of a surprise, especially knowing that they were staunch non-conformists. But maybe this provides an explanation of why they moved so far from their home town: they would have faced significant pressure from their families and chapel community, and to move to what was then one of the most prosperous and fastest growing towns in South Wales would be a natural choice.

Unfortunately I don’t have much further information about William and Margaret, other than the fact that William was, like David, a shoemaker, and deceased by the time of David’s sister Ann’s first marriage in 1853. On David’s first marriage (1845) and his brother William’s marriage (1842), their father is not listed as deceased – but this does not necessarily mean that he was still alive then, as not all marriage records indicate when the father is deceased.

David’s sister Margaret Jones [Jones-99707, GHBB-5P3] (sic) was born in Cilgerran sometime around 1840. Unfortunately it is impossible to say when exactly, as her age on the censuses is very variable – and in fact the only piece of information that confirms that she was David’s sister specifically is that her husband, Evan Lewis [Lewis-43330, GHBB-GJ6], is listed in multiple newspaper articles as a brother-in-law of David and as an uncle of several of his children. However, there is no birth registration for her, so we cannot prove exactly when she was born or who her parents were. Nonetheless, it does suggest that William and Margaret were probably back in Cilgerran by the late 1830s or early 1840s.

There is a possible 1841 Census record for a William and Margaret John in Cilgerran; William is a shoemaker and is living with children William (20) and Sarah (19). Clearly this is a good match for this family, except for the daughter Sarah, who at 19 must have been born in the same year that David was, and I don’t have any records that would suggest he was a twin – although it is of course quite common for census ages to be inaccurate, especially in 1841. It also implies that, if Evan Lewis’s wife Margaret was a member of this family, then she was born after 1841, but that her birth was not registered – although this would mean that her mother was exceptionally old at the time of her birth. The earliest Margaret could have been born is about 1836; this would explain why there was no birth registration, and would mean her mother was just about young enough to have another child – but we would have to explain why Margaret doesn’t appear with her parents on the 1841 Census. For William and Margaret to have had an illegitimate child at the ages of about 33 and 28 respectively also seems very late.

Another issue is the impossibility of discounting the chance that they were in Merthyr Tydfil. Unfortunately, many of the 1841 Census books for Merthyr are missing. As David John is not shown on that census, it is reasonable to assume that he was enumerated in one of the missing books, and therefore it is likely that his parents, if they were still in Merthyr, would also be in one of the missing books. If we could prove that they weren’t in Merthyr in 1841, we might be more keen to accept this census record in Cilgerran as the correct one, in spite of the objections above.

The name Evans is of course significant, as we are looking for the common ancestors with David Evans – but he was from Llandeilo, in a different county to Cilgerran. The only evidence we have that Margaret Evans was born in Cilgerran is that statement in David’s obituary – but it is a very long time after the fact, and it is possible to imagine that she may have in fact been born in Carmarthenshire and moved to Cilgerran before meeting William – or conversely that her family was originally from Cilgerran but later moved to Llandeilo.

Margaret’s maternal grandparents

Margaret John’s mother Sarah Jones [Jones-99706, LBV2-QZ2] was born in Llandeilo – and the name Jones is also significant, as it is David Evans’s mother’s maiden name. Sarah’s father (Margaret’s grandfather) was David Jones [Jones-102595, GHBB-B4N] and, perhaps surprisingly considering his name, we can actually trace him in all censuses from 1841 to 1871, as in 1871 he was living with his daughter and son-in-law. David Jones may be a common name, but a David Jones born in Llandeilo about 1795 and working as a carpenter and wheelwright is in fact entirely unique – and he happens to be living in Aberdare in all four census years where we find him.

David Jones’s wife was called Ann [Unknown-577240, G855-6YX], and as one of their children has the middle name “Pryce” and another has “Price”, we might reasonably expect that Ann’s maiden name was Price – and indeed there was a marriage of a David Jones and an Ann Price in Llandeilo on 7 August 1829 – although not only was this after three of their children had been born, it also appears to be a different couple whom we shall see shortly.

Unfortunately finding out Sarah’s mother’s maiden name is tricky. Although one of the children of that family appears to have been born in 1841, there is no matching birth registration for him. All of the other children were born before the start of civil registration in 1837.

While it is interesting that Sarah comes from Llandeilo, the same place as the cousins we are trying to connect, it does not necessarily prove that the connection is on her side of the family. We don’t know how David and Sarah met; it could well have been that it’s just a coincidence that the David’s cousin and David’s wife are from the same town – or they could have been introduced by mutual friends or relatives.

Sarah Jones was in fact David John’s second wife; his first, Mary Rees [Rees-3144, LBV2-QZ2], passed away in childbirth in 1849. I haven’t been able to find much more information about her – however she was the mother of Tom John, who is also mentioned as being a cousin of David Evans. This could potentially suggest that the common ancestor is on David John’s line rather than either of his wives’, but that is probably reading a bit too much into specifics that probably weren’t intended by any of the journalists. Either way, I have very little information about Mary Rees’s life, but I also think that she is the least likely to be the connection – especially as I have DNA matches with Evans ancestors from Llandeilo, and one who is a descendent of a close relative of another probably Evans relative, D Silyn Evans.

David Evans’s Family

Here is David’s pedigree:

Pedigree chart for David Evans. His parents are Henry Evans and Ann Jones. Ann's parents are David Jones and Ann Price. Ann Price's mother is Sarah.

Henry Evans [Evans-34841, GCMP-RTP] was a farmer from Llandeilo. His parents were Henry Evans [Evans-34841, GCMP-RTP] David Evans and Sarah Daniel – and this David Evans was born in Llanwenog in Cardiganshire. It’s still some distance from Cilgerran, but it is at least the right county – and if David could move 20 miles to Llandeilo, then it is by no means impossible that other members of his family could move 20 miles in another direction to Cilgerran.

Noting that David Evans [Evans-34840, GCM5-9HW] and Margaret John [John-2584, LBV2-7XC] both have grandparents called David and Ann Jones, it might seem like an obvious and simple solution that they are the same people in each case – but unfortunately this isn’t so, as both sets of David and Ann Jones can be traced independently and shown to be two different couples. Not only do they have different dates of birth and occupation, but they appear separately on each census:

David Jones (*1795)
Ann (Price?) (*1799)
Grandparents of Margaret John
David Jones (*1810)
Ann Price (*1809)
Grandparents of David Evans
David's occupation Carpenter and wheelwright Labourer and farmer
1841 Census Mill St, Aberdare Cilwern, Llandeilo
1851 Census Treaman, Aberdare Cilwern, Llandeilo
1861 Census Cardiff Road, Aberdare (not found)
1871 Census Harriet St, Aberdare Cilwern, Llandeilo

In each case, there are enough census records with children or other relationships to confirm that we are looking are two different men called David Jones each married to a different Ann. If the common ancestor is on this branch, then it must be at least two generations further back (as two Davids or two Anns who were siblings would be unlikely), and it therefore seems unlikely that the relationship would be close enough that Margaret John and David Evans would consider each other cousins.

One further piece of information that may or may not be relevant is included in the obituary of Ann Evans (née Jones), which states that: “One of her brothers survives her, David Jones, Cilwern, who has just crossed his 80s. Her father and mother, and a son and daughter of her parents’ family, died at the age of 77, and, lo, she was 77.” (Y Tyst, 19 Jan 1916, translated). This confirms that she is from the family that owned the Cilwern farm (and thus that her father was not David Jones the carpenter and wheelwright). The information about her father’s death is certainly correct – his death certificate shows that he died at Cilwern on 19 February 1881 at the age of 77, which is consistent with a birth in about 1804 and his wife being widowed on the 1881 Census in April of that year. This implies that his wife Ann (née Price) died in about 1886, although I can’t find an obviously matching entry in the GRO index.


The main question is who were the common ancestors of Margaret John and David Evans? The following questions are also raised by the information that we have available, and may help in answering the main question:

  1. When and where were David John’s parents (William John and Margaret Evans) born? Who were their parents? When and where did they die?
  2. What was the maiden name of Ann, the wife of David Jones the carpenter and wheelwright? When and where did they marry?
  3. Is it too much of a coincidence that both Margaret John and David Evans would have grandparents called David and Ann Jones, who were different people? Does this suggest that we have perhaps mistakely identified the wrong people? But then how do we explain the different years of birth and occupation on the records that positively match each David Jones to his child or grandchild whose relationship to the rest of the family we already know?
  4. Is it too much of a coincidence that David John’s mother Margaret Evans has the same surname as the cousin we are trying to connect? But in that case would it be too much of a coincidence if she had been from Llandeilo and moved to Cilgerran, and then later in life her son happened to marry an unrelated woman from Llandeilo, in spite of never having lived there himself?

My current hypothesis is that David Evans Senior (who was born in Llanwenog) is probably a brother of David John’s mother Margaret. However I don’t have any real proof for this hypothesis, beyond the fact that the other possibilities I’ve investigated seem to be ruled out.

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