The Cambrian Index is the kind of online database that genealogists dream about finding. It contains nearly 400,000 abstracts from the first newspaper in Wales, which started publication in 1804. A single entry in the index may contain the names of several persons as well as relationships, addresses, social events or other pertinent data, making it a rich source of information on its own as well as a guide to articles in the newspaper.
A search on the surname POOLE yields 340 entries, more than a quarter of which pertain to my husband’s family, starting in 1835 with a paid advertisement for his 2nd great-grandfather’s textile-dyeing business and ending in 1918 with a death notice for his great-grandmother. Although not covering every significant event, it still provides a capsule history of the POOLE family in Swansea.
Two death notices are especially noteworthy because they provide critical information for further research.
The first notice is for the 1856 death of Elizabeth POOLE, whose given name was previously unknown.
|Cambrian||C10||DEATHS, DEATH NOTICES||14 March 1856||ELIZABETH, WIFE OF CHARLES POOLE,TAILOR,LITTLE WIND ST. SWANSEA AGED 74.|
Although the notice gives Charles as the name of Elizabeth’s husband, a closer look at her age and at other documents indicates that this is an error and that she was the mother of Charles, dyer, and the wife of William, tailor, my husband’s 3rd great-grandfather. Advertisements show that the address at which she died is the location of Charles’s business, where she and William likely lived at the time.
Elizabeth’s death is not listed in the online index for England and Wales Deaths at Ancestry.com, although it’s likely that the information printed in The Cambrian’s notice came from her death record. However, with a name and specific month and year of death, it is now possible to order her death certificate.
The widowed William, 76, appears in the 1861 Swansea census as a lodger in the household of his younger son, Edwin POOLE, a dyer, and his wife, Ann [ROE]. His occupation is listed as tailor, and his birthplace as Uffculme, Devon, England.
However, previous attempts to find William in the 1841 and 1851 censuses of both England and Wales had failed. With the addition of his wife’s given name, I was able to locate the couple under the surname POOL in the 1841 census for Barnstaple, Devon.
William’s occupation is tailor, and both he and Elizabeth were born in the county of Devon as indicated by Y in the next-to-last column. Ages were to be rounded down to the nearest age divisible by five and are consistent with their ages as found in Swansea.
Extensive searching has not yet located the couple in the 1851 census either in England or Wales.
Edwin POOLE’s 1866 death notice gives Manley as his middle name; he is listed only as Edwin or Edwin M. on the indexes to his marriage and death records. Patrice, my husband’s third cousin in Cardiff, who’s been invaluable in sharing her research and analyzing my findings, suggests that MANLEY might have been Elizabeth POOLE’s maiden name. This opens a new avenue of inquiry since several children in the next generation bear middle names that are likely to be surnames.
Newspapers are one of the most valuable resources for researching a family’s history, often revealing vital information that would never be found in civil records. The Cambrian Index gives more information than most such documents, and even its obvious errors provide tantalizing clues for further research.