Talk given at the Guild Conference 2013

The Guild defines a one-name study as 'research into the genealogy and family history of all persons with the same surname and its variants.' The theme of this talkis the difficulty of knowing what in a record is a surname or a variant when dealing with a patronymic system in a process of flux. Rather like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland, surnames seem to appear and disappear leaving only a malevolent grin behind them.

The presentation begins with a brief overview of the historical context in which surnames developed in Welsh areas, including the importance of the patriarch's bed. It may make you think twice about what may happen in your Gwely a Brecwast (B&B).

It then moves on to look at the formation and usage of surnames and patronymics and the problems stemming from the ignorance of non- Welsh scribes and one-namers like the speaker, who adds "should anyone still be listening, the ending might be on a positive note about ways to approach things and useful resources!"

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Peter Badham

About the Speaker
Peter Badham graduated from the University of Wales, Cardiff in 1960 having read Education, Biological Science and Philosophy with special emphasis on dinghy sailing, acting, stage management and old cars. His early career began in public administration in hospitals and local government but later he retrained twice, firstly in social work and finally as a counselling psychologist. Therefore, he has no relevant qualifications to talk to the Guild unless you count lecturing to nurses on psychology!

His interest in family origins was probably first triggered when, after his parents signed him up for elocution lessons at about age seven, he was ill-advised enough to carefully pronounce the 'h' in his surname in front of his grandfather Badham only to be roundly told off and lectured on the Welsh origins of the name. Juvenile eczema made skiving off school swimming trips a perfect opportunity to disappear into the wonderful atmosphere of the Edwardian architecture of the then Birmingham Reference Library. Here he discovered that Badhams had written books and that there was a history to be discovered. His first step on that road was a copy of the birth certificate of his admonishing grandfather which was issued on 7 February 1955.

Nearly six decades later, he remains obsessive about the history that can be revealed by following a surname study. His first book on the surname arrived after over 50 years, so the follow-up is due about 2060. Peter's book Badham Delvings took first place in the book category of the Guild competition in 2009 and he is a member of the first group of individuals to receive the Guild Award of Excellence.

Interested in becoming a Guild Speaker? Contact our Education Liaison Officer to discuss.

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