Ancestral Wales

Our Stories, Our History


Welsh Abroad: Ann Ellen Owen 1861 – 1897

I love everything about genealogy – the twists and turns that our family trees take, the ups and downs of dead ends, the excitement of finding something unexpected and sharing in someone elses excitement at their finds.  All of these things keep me absolutely hooked.

I’m also aware how lucky I am to be living in this age of computers and online access, because many of these surprises arrive that way.  I’m also lucky because I have a very easy life compared to many of my ancestors.  Technology and machines have made my life a very easy one, from doing laundry to cooking and more.  However I’m not convinced that they save me time…….especially the one I’m using to write this post!!

I did get a surprise last week though and I’d like to share it with you.  A gentleman sent me a photograph of a gravestone from a remote area in South Africa.  He wanted it to be available in case anyone might be searching for the person listed on the grave.  I was very moved by his thoughtfulness, the fact that he sent it to me via Ancestral Wales because “you never know who might be looking for family” was one of the coolest things that has happened since I launched the website, and so thanks for sending it!

It reads:  In Loving Memory of Ann Ellen beloved wife of Ellis Owen born in Carnarvon, Wales who departed this life at Pilgrim’s Rest Nov 1st 1897 aged 36 years. (Also their infant daughter).

If you have a connection to this family please feel free to contact me.  I haven’t posted the photo because it’s tagged with a different name than the person who sent it.

The photograph intrigued me and so I did a little bit of research, and found that the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941, shows that Ann Ellen Owen, wife of Ellis Owen had a will that was probated in 1898 and that Ellis Owen was a miner.

Pelgrimsrus (Pilgrim’s Rest) where Ann and Ellis lived is in Mpumalanga, South Africa and  was a gold rush town.  The cemetery where Ann is buried started during that time.  I can’t begin to imagine what kind of life people like Ann and others had, moving to remote areas of the world in search of a dream.  These days if we want to move around the world, we can look up just about any where we want to go on the internet, but I think it took much more courage to follow a dream as Ann and Ellis did.


When my Dad died, he left his family history research with me, but I haven’t really done much with it.  I think in part because the thought of researching Jones in Wales has always overwhelmed me and I have two of them (one on each side of the family)!!  With the release of the 1911 Census though, I’ve been updating family information.

Dad’s Mum was born in Llangefni, Anglesey and her birth certificate indicates the date she was born and says born in Poorhouse, Llangefni, which I immediately assumed meant workhouse.  However Mum remembered visiting Gran’s home in Anglesey just after she and Dad got married.

 I found the 1911 census listing this weekend and Gran’s parents are living in Llangefni, with 4 of their 10 children still at home.  It turns out that the home was a 5 room private house called Pwros (poorhouse).  I’ll probably never know why they called the house that, but interesting to imagine what it might have looked like - Mum told me a Welsh dresser was made to fit in the house by cutting a hole in the ceiling, so part of it stuck into the upstairs!

 I plan to spend a little more time researching this family now.  My gr gr Grandfather David Owen is listed as a horse jockey on Gran’s Mother’s marriage certificate and I believe that I found him on the 1911 census – occupation farmer and horse breaker.  I also noticed that someone else was researching the same line and I’m hoping to make contact with the family.

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