Discovering Carmarthenshire

Family History

Family History in Carmarthenshire

Travelling down the dusty corridors of time and polishing up the family secrets is fast becoming one of the nation’s favourite pastimes. The quest to find out who we really are and what our ancestors might have been up to is an overriding passion for so many people. It has become quite an industry worldwide.

The BBC’s programme 'Who Do You Think You Are?' has helped set the trend for a boom in genealogy internet sites - there are now more than four million family history enthusiasts in the UK. The subject is the third most popular pursuit online.

The BBC Wales series 'Coming Home', which unravels the hidden Welsh ancestry of some of the world’s most famous faces, has made some startling discoveries. Many celebrities searching for their Welsh roots have found themselves in Carmarthenshire, discovering family connections they never knew existed. And more and more from all parts of the globe are clamoring to our green hills and sandy shores to discover their roots.

Travel back in time

Carmarthenshire has a long tradition of famous sons - Dylan Thomas, Phil Bennett, Barry John, Huw Edwards and Rhod Gilbert, to name but a few. Now, thanks to the genealogy craze, Carmarthenshire can claim a growing list of Michael York, Paul Daniels, Pam Ferris and even Oscar-winning Hollywood star Susan Sarandon, as its own.

If you have got the travel bug or are itching to find out what your ancestors were like and where they came from then Carmarthenshire County Council can help bring your family story to life. You do not have to step into a Tardis and transport yourself like Dr Who to the past. Thanks to advances in online technology the process of travelling dusty corridors of time has never been easier.

The Family History Service uses a variety of original historical records, many of which are now available electronically, like the census, which has been held every 10 years from 1841. It gives a great deal of information and is a fundamental historical source for nineteenth century history. It tells you where a family lived, how large it was, their occupations, their ages, and, for the 1891 census, whether they spoke Welsh.

Other heavily used sources for tracing information are the parish registers of the Anglican church, which record baptisms, marriages and burials. In Carmarthenshire the parish registers go back, in some instances, to the sixteenth century. However, the further you go back the more difficult they can be to read with a lot of them in Latin. This just adds to the fun and intrigue of researching your family's history.

Other useful sources include probate and wills records, electoral registers and their predecessors poll books, and some estate records, such as rentals. All these sources can be invaluable when undertaking family history.

Carmarthenshire Council has a comprehensive family history service at Carmarthen and Llanelli’s Library. With digital archiving and technology information is now easier to access.

Researchers can browse the many collections of documents and have free access to both and websites.

One-to-one appointments with library and archive staff are available on a Wednesday at Llanelli and Thursday at Carmarthen for those who might need help with more specific needs or searches. These one-hour sessions are ideal for both those new to Family History and those who are more experienced. During these sessions, you will be signposted to the relevant collections and services that the council has to offer. Assistance will be offered to access information on genealogical websites as well as being able to view other related collections such as maps, newspapers, local collections and other databases already mentioned.

For further information or to arrange a one-to-one appointment, please book in advance by contacting the council’s library service at one of two sites:

  • Llanelli Library
    Tel: 01554 773538   email:
  • Carmarthen Library
    Tel: 01267 224824   email: