Gwent Archives holds the archives for the historic county of Monmouthshire, and is run by a Joint Management Committee of councillors from the five unitary authorities now responsible for that area. Originally, the Church in Wales deposited some of its parish records with the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth, but both repositories now hold a set for the Diocese of Monmouth.
The Archive Office is located at General Offices, Steelworks Road, Ebbw Vale. Blaenau Gwent NP23 6DN and our separate page provides local information on how to get there by road, bus or train (use your browser’s back button to return here after viewing). Though the new Search Room has more space than the previous one accommodation space in the Search Room is still limited, so it is always advisable to book beforehand, even if you don’t require a viewer.
For more details on the premises, see the Gwent Archives web site.
PRE TWENTIETH CENTURY PARISHES
To locate a Parish that existed within Monmouthshire before the twentieth century, look at the separate page giving a full List of Parishes.
This List also shows which Registration District and Sub-District each parish came under, from 1852 onwards, so that you can find the place concerned more easily in the census returns. Before the Districts were reviewed in 1851, Bedwellty wasn’t a Registration District, merely a Sub-Division of Abergavenny Registration District.
The Lydney Sub-District of Chepstow and the Coleford Sub-District of Monmouth consisted entirely of parishes in the county of Gloucestershire; similarly, the first 6 parishes in the Dingestow Sub-District of Monmouth were in Herefordshire. None of these have been included in the List of Parishes, nor have the handful of other parishes which were part of Monmouthshire Registration Districts but which lay outside the county border, such as Tidenham which is in Gloucestershire but was part of Chepstow Sub-District. Exceptions to this general rule have been made in the cases of Fwthwg and of Llanfedw: these are two “places” which are outside Monmouthshire (the first in Herefordshire and the second in Glamorganshire) but which are hamlets attached to Monmouthshire parishes (Cwmyoy and Michaelstone-y-Fedw, respectively).
Conversely, parishes in Monmouthshire which were part of Registration Districts of other counties have naturally been included: Rumney and St Mellons (both in Cardiff Registration District), and Grosmont and Llangua (both in Dore Registration District, in Herefordshire).
PLACENAMES, VILLAGES AND AREAS
If you can’t find the place you’re looking for in the List of Parishes, try looking at our secondary page giving a List of Other Placenames in Monmouthshire which we have also compiled.
This gives alternative names which were sometimes used for places, and differences in spelling, most of which originate from the anglicising of the original Welsh placename – in particular, the Welsh “f” and “dd” sounds were often replaced by the English equivalent sounds of “v” and “th”. Other differences arise from the fact that parish names are the ones used by the Church, and so they may not be spelt exactly the same as the administrative name of an area (and sometimes may have a completely different name).
The List of Placenames also includes the names of local areas or districts, villages and hamlets that were part of larger parishes in the nineteenth century. Geographically, the eastern half of Monmouthshire is comparatively flatter and mainly agricultural (and more anglicised in its nature); historically, it was where most of the population originally lived and so it consisted of a large number of small parishes. The mountainous western half, on the other hand,(“the valleys”) was originally more sparsely populated.
But that was before the explosive growth which took place from the middle of the nineteenth century, as a result of the South Wales Iron & Steel and Coal Industries exploiting the natural resources of the area. Consequently, the western half consisted of very few parishes each covering a large area: Mynyddislwyn, Bedwellty, Aberystruth and Trevethin, the first two being divided up into hamlets. The multitude of villages which mushroomed to house the colliers and iron & steel workers within these valley parishes were not parishes in their own right initially, and so will only be found on this secondary page.
We have come full circle, because the modern structure of historic Monmouthshire is now made up of benefices, each of which may comprise one or more parishes. In recent years certain parishes have lost their individual identity, having been amalgamated into a larger “Rectorial Benefice”. To discover the current parochial structures, go to the Church in Wales web site.