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Family History

Would you like help researching your family history? Before visiting Conwy Archives, take a look at this handy guide to our resources.

These are some of the collections of records we have which may help you...

Census Returns

The census began in 1801 and is usually taken every 10 years, though not much information survives from before 1841. There was no census in 1941, but there is a very useful record called the 1939 Register which has similar information to a census.

You can search the census between 1841 and 1911 on websites like Ancestry and Findmypast. We have free access to both of these in Conwy Archives and Libraries. Census information is open to the public after 100 years - FindMyPast has recently digitised the 1921 census but unfortunately they are not yet allowing free access via library and archive accounts.

Parish Registers

These are a good source of information on baptisms, marriages and burials before 1837. They are available on microfilm for the whole of Conwy County. You can also see the original volumes for many parishes, starting from 1541 for the town of Conwy.

Bishop’s Transcripts

Bishop’s Transcripts are the Bishop’s own copies of Parish Registers. We have some copies on microfiche, which may help to fill in gaps where Parish Registers are missing or illegible.

Chapel Records

The records of non-conformist chapels haven’t survived as well as those of church parish records. However, the ones which did survive often include useful Registers of Members and Sunday School records. We also have microfilms of Non-parochial Baptism Registers up to 1837.

School Records

We don’t have Admission Registers for all the schools in the county, but the ones which have survived are very useful for family history. School Log Books rarely mention pupils, but they can be worth checking. Most school records for the former Caernarfonshire parts of Conwy County are available, and some for former Denbighshire schools, including Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy in Llanrwst.

Newspapers

We have lots of newspapers, including The Original Llandudno Directory (1866 to 1909), Llandudno Advertiser (1885 to 1998), North Wales Weekly News (1889 to present), Pioneer (1898 to 2020), The Pilot (1902 to 1936), Conwy Free Press (1948 to 1954), Abergele Visitor (1915 to 2008) and Denbigh Free Press (1997 to 2003).

You may find useful obituaries and personal announcements, and the early Llandudno newspapers listed principal residents and visitors. We have free access on site to the British Newspaper Archive, where you can search online through many national newspapers. You can also search at home for free on Welsh Newspapers Online, which has newspapers from 1804 to 1919.

Rate Books

These give a list of owners and occupiers of all rateable properties in a local authority area. We have a fuller series for the former Aberconwy area than for the former Colwyn area.

Graveyard Records

We can search burial records for you for the civil cemeteries overseen by Aberconwy Borough Council up to 1996. Our records cover civil cemeteries in Llandudno, Conwy, Llanfairfechan, Llanrwst, Llangwstennin and Penmaenmawr.

We have copies of Monumental Inscriptions for many churches and some chapels in Conwy County. These include plans of graveyards as well as the text on gravestones and memorials. They are useful for checking dates and family connections as well as for finding a particular grave.

Poor Law

The survival of records is rather patchy, but some Parish Council records contain Poor Rate Assessment books, Overseers’ Accounts, Settlement Certificates and Removal Orders. Llanbedr-y-cennin contains a particularly good series of these.

Quarter Sessions and Petty Sessions

These court records are rich in references to people, although the handwriting can be difficult to read. They are on microfilm for Caernarfonshire from 1611 to 1876, and on CD-ROM for Denbighshire Quarter Sessions papers from 1706 to 1800. The Petty Sessions records include witness statements, and the names of court officials including police, as well as details of the accused.

Land Tax

We have land tax records for part of the county on microfilm from 1746 to 1812, and in book form from 1910 to 1956. They list the owners and occupiers of assessable properties.

Tithe Records

These are maps and schedules which show historical land ownership, occupation and use. We have some originals, and paper copies for all of Conwy County. You can also search information for the whole of Wales here.

Directories

These books list the inhabitants and tradespeople in larger towns and villages. We have street directories for various years and areas from 1844 to 1974 (with gaps). North Wales Directories 1818 to 1936 are also available in the Archives on CD.

Electoral Registers

These began in 1832, but the right to vote was only gradually extended to include women in 1928. We have microfilm copies for the former Caernarfonshire Wards from 1921 to 1956 (with gaps), and we have the original registers from 1938 onwards for electoral wards within both Aberconwy and Colwyn Boroughs (with gaps). These boroughs now form Conwy County Borough Council.

Online Catalogue

There are lots of other records to discover - have a look at our online catalogue. You may be lucky enough to find family information in sources such as old title deeds and mortgages in solicitors’ records. We also have thousands of photographs, including some of sports teams and school classes.