Mary Thomas [Thomas-48068, LBV2-NH2] was my third great grandmother. She married Alfred Preece [Preece-924, KZCP-F49] in 1852, and I have plenty of good information about her after her marriage, but little to nothing about her life before then.


  1. Where was she before her marriage?
  2. Who were her parents?

While her father's name and occupation (William Thomas, labourer) are found on her marriage certificate, a name and occupation on its own is not always enough information to find out the full details of someone's life. In this case, it's the only information I have about him, and I would like to find out more, such as his date of birth and census records, and the details of Mary's mother.

Existing Sources

Mary appears on the following census records:

Year Reference Place Age Birth Place Implied Birth Year
1861 RG9/4028/69/30 Trallwn 34 Cardiff 1827
1871 RG10/5374/97/36 Trallwn 45 Cardiff 1826
1881 RG11/5293/115/67 f. Feeder Row, Glyntaff 56 Cardiff 1825
1891 RG12/4410/30/21 Ynysangharad Road, Pontypridd 64 Cardiff 1827

The information about Mary's birth is remarkably consistent, and is also consistent with ages given on other sources such as marriage and death records. She was clearly born about 1826 in Cardiff.

Her husband Alfred's birth place is consistently given as "Llandaff" and Mary's as "Cardiff". The two were considered separate cities in this era; Llandaff was only incorporated into the City of Cardiff in 1922. Therefore it seems most likely that Mary was born in one of the parishes of the City of Cardiff as it existed in the 1820s.

Mary died in 1899 and was buried at the Glyntaff Cemetery. Her husband was buried alongside her when he passed away five years later.

Alfred and Mary were married "at Sardis Chapel in the District of Cardiff" on 22 August 1853 – presumably the Sardis Chapel in Pontypridd. Alfred is a gardener living in Treforest, and Mary is a servant living in Llandaff. Her father is William Thomas, labourer.

1851 Census

As Alfred and Mary were married in 1852, it seems a reasonable assumption that she may well have been a servant in Llandaff on the 1851 Census. Either that, or she could be living with her parents. Unfortunately we don't find anything that matches this exactly; the nearest match is HO107/2455/116/38 – Mary Thomas, 27 years old (born about 1824), house servant in Charles Street, Cardiff, born in Llandaff. This doesn't seem close enough to the known facts to be accepted as correct.

A search on William Thomas, labourer, within 5 miles of Cardiff but no other known details such as an age, is too broad a search by far to find any answers with reasonable confidence.

1841 Census

In 1841 Mary would've been about 15, so we can hope that she may have still been living with her parents. If she wasn't, then we have no hope of positively connecting either her or her father based on the information available on this census.

Unfortunately though, while there are a few records where a William Thomas is living with a presumed daughter Mary, born about 1826, none are in Cardiff itself, and all of the nearby ones have an occupation other than "labourer".

Baptism Records

Alfred and Mary were married in a non-conformist chapel, despite the fact that Alfred's father was an official at Llandaff Cathedral – ie, he was from a very much Established Church family. It therefore seems probably that Mary's family were non-conformists, so searching for baptism records is a long shot – and indeed there are no matching records. There are two cases of a Mary Ann Thomas, parents William and Eleanor, baptised at St John the Baptist in Cardiff in 1824 and 1827 – but in neither case is William a labourer, and in any case Mary Ann was considered a completely different name to Mary in this era, so it is highly unlikely that a Mary Ann would later appear on all other records consistenly as Mary.

What next?

Non-confomist baptism records are notoriously difficult to find. Unfortunately Cardiff is a fairly large city, so without any more detail any search is necessarily broad. I don't have any ideas of what else to look for.

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