Evan Lewis [Lewis-43330, GHBB-GJ6] was a prominent man in Swansea society, being for much of his life a Librarion and/or Curator at the Royal Institution of South Wales in that city. He is also documented in several newspaper articles as being a relative of the John family:

The relationship implied by all of these articles, and others, is consistent: that Evan was David’s brother-in-law and thus uncle to his children. Unfortunately, the evidence from censuses and vital records is rather more confusing.

Evan had two wives; his second wife, Selina Lewis coincidentally shares a birth surname with Evan, but is not otherwise related to my family in any way. Indeed she cannot be the connection, because her marriage to Evan is later than two of the articles mentioned above.

The connection is certainly through Evan’s first wife, Margaret Jones [Jones-99707, GHBB-5P3]. The surname Jones implies that she may have been a sister of David John’s second wife, Sarah Jones [Jones-99706, LBV2-QZ2], except for the fact that Margaret was born in Cilgerran (Pembrokeshire), the same birthplace as David John’s parents, and in a completely different county from Sarah’s birthplace of Llandeilo (Carmarthenshire).

Evan and Margaret’s marriage certificate shows that her father was William Jones, a shoemaker. David John’s father was William John [John-2603, GHNY-28R], a shoemaker. Obviously the two surnames are related: Jones is a derivative of John, and it was common for a family that was originally using the surname John to later change to Jones.

While I haven’t been able to find any evidence that William John [John-2603, GHNY-28R] ever used the surname of Jones, his son William John Jr [John-2604, GHNY-VK2] certainly did later in life, and he and his family are listed on some censuses with that surname. He was also a shoemaker.

Margaret’s date of birth is something of a mystery – anything from 1837 to 1845 is given on various sources. As there is a consistent pattern of the implied birth year getting later and later as time goes on, I am inclined to believe that the truth is towards the earlier end of this range.

There are no birth records for a Margaret John or Jones, daughter of a shoemaker William, recorded in or near Cilgerran during this period (I enquired at the local register office, and they performed a thorough search for me) – but of course an 1837 birth could be before registration began in the latter half of that year, or it could indeed have been slightly before that.

The only potentially matching birth record is that of a Margaret Jones in 1845, daughter of the aforementioned William John Jr and his wife Esther. I believe this to be a separate person to the Margaret we are looking at here: for one, it is right at the last moment of the plausible range of birth years, which we have already noted is the less likely end; and this relationship wouldn’t match up with those stated in the newspapers (it would mean that Evan Lewis was David John’s nephew-in-law, not his brother-in-law). So I am fairly confident in discounting the idea that these two Margarets are the same person.

If Margaret was born before 1841, we would expect her to show up on the census of that year. Her parents had lived in Merthyr Tydfil in the previous decade, and so there are two possibilities:

  1. That they moved back to Cilgerran, in which case this census record may be them. But there is no young Margaret on that record.

  2. That they were visiting Cilgerran at the time of Margaret’s birth, and were back in Merthyr by the time of the census. Unfortunately, half of the 1841 census book for Merthy Tydfil are missing, and it seems that the John family lived in that half of the town. So the lack of a census record in Merthyr is not evidence that the Cilgerran record is correct.


  1. When was Margaret born, and who were her parents?
  2. Assuming she was born before 1841, where is she on the census of that year?
  3. Who were David John’s other siblings? There are mentions of brothers and brothers-in-law in his obituary, but it’s not clear which are which (and two of them are also called David).

[ Research Notes | Home ]