"The County of CARNARVAN is 93 Miles in Circumference, contains about 307000 Acres, 6 Market Towns, and only one Borough [viz. Carnarvan which is the County town] 68 Parishes & about 2765 Houses. The Air is sharp & Cold for ye Country rises into very high Mountains, which are full of Lakes & Rocks, ye highest in Wales; & not improperly called ye British Alps. yet there are many fruitfull Bottoms, & pleasant Valleys. It is plentifull in Cattle, Fowl, Fish & Wood." [Emanuel Bowen, Britannia Depicta, 1720]


Archives & Libraries

Many archives serve the old county of Caernarvonshire.  The region now comprises Gwynedd and Conwy County Council. 

Gwynedd County Council is composed of three regions: Arfon (North/ Central Caernarvonshire), Dwyfor (West Caernarvonshire) and Meirionnydd (Southern Caernarfonshire) - under the Local Government Act 1994 a majority of Merionethsire/ Sir Feirionnydd became a part of Gwynedd with the exception of the Glyndwr region that is now a part of Denbighshire. Conwy County Council covers Eastern Caernarvonshire.

Parish registers (among other region specific records) will, in most cases, reside in the modern county which contains the ancient parish. Conwy County Council has a single records office in Llandudno which covers the entire region. Gwynedd County Council has two record offices, one in Caernarfon that serves North Gwynedd and another in Dolgellau that serves South Gwynedd. The archives at Prifysgol Bangor/ Bangor University house many special collections which are likely to be of use to Genealogists.

  • Gwynedd Archives Service - Includes Gwynedd Archives' On-line Catalogue service. Currently (2019) , 12,000 pages from their catalogues have been loaded into the online database.  Additionally, 2,000 images have been added to the on-line collection. There is also a growing section relating to their Collections.  Email: archifau[at]gwynedd.llyw[dot]cymru.  (Note - opening times differ between the two record offices):
    • Caernarfon Record Office, Gwynedd Archive Service, Gwynedd Council, Caernarfon, LL55 1SH. Tel: 01286679095
    • Meirionnydd Record Office, Gwynedd Archive Service, Gwynedd Council, Ffordd y Bala, Meirionnydd, Dolgellau, LL40 2YF. Tel.: 01341424682
  • Conwy County Archives - **Currently no address. The archives are currently closed as they move to a new building at the Conwy Culture Centre, Town Ditch Road, Conwy during early 2020. **  Enquiries can be made by - Tel. 01492577550, Email: archifau.archives[at]conwy.gov[dot]uk 
  • Archifau Prifysgol Bangor / Bangor University ArchivesArchives and Special Collections, The Main Library, Bangor University, College Road, Bangor, Gwynedd , LL57 2DG. Tel: 01248382966, Email: archives[at]bangor.ac[dot]uk. 
  • The National Library of Wales
  • The National Archives - has details of many archive repositories in the UK with links to their web sites, if any.


A Caernarfonshire Bibliography - Books of General Interest for Family Historians

It is acknowledged that the principal source of the details of books etc included on these pages is the online catalogues of the National Library of Wales

Gwynedd Family History Society have an online listing of their extensive library of books



Gwynedd Family History Society have published a selection of Memorial Inscription indexes



The UK BMD web site has  2558 links to websites that offer on-line transcriptions of UK births, marriages, deaths and censuses. A wide range of other indexes and transcriptions are also available for most counties, these may include parish records, wills, monumental inscriptions etc

There are census transcriptions on the following parish pages;- Abergwyngregin 1851; Bangor 1851 ; Betws Garmon 1851 ; Llanddeiniolen 1851 ; Llandegai 1851 ; Llandwrog ; LlanfaglanLlanfair Is Gaer 1851 ; Llanllechid 1851 ; Llanrug ; Llanwnda

There are 1861-1891 census transcriptions for many parishes on the Llyn Peninsula on the Rhiw.com site

Gwynedd Family History Society have published a selection of census indexes

Carry out initial searches on all censuses 1841-1911  on  LDS Family Search  - using basic data supplied by Find My Past (subscription site) and all follow up searches are directed there


Church History

Church Plans Online - the Lambeth Palace Library holds a database of the Incorporated Church Building Society's images of the plans of various churches (use the onsite search facility)

Welsh Chapels & Churches

Gwynedd Family History Society  have a map of the ecclesiastical parishes of Caernarvonshire (Publications) on which there are links to photographs of some parish churches.


Church Records

Parish Register/ BT Lists for Record Offices

Joyce Hinde has supplied a list of Parish Registers held at the Caernarfon Area Record Office

See Caernarvonshire Bishop's Transcripts for a list of those available from The National Library of Wales / Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru.  They also provide an online searchable index of Marriage Bonds and Allegations. It contains details of some 90,000 marriages by license which took place in Wales between 1616 and 1837. In early 2016 the NLW made changes in its online catalogue and now the only apparent method of finding these bonds is to search the main catalogue.

Parish register copies (Caernarvonshire) in the library of the Society of Genealogists.

Online Resources


Civil Registration

The UK BMD web site offers links to over 400 web sites that provide on-line information for UK births, marriages and deaths and censuses.

Brett Langston has provided details of the Registration Districts in Caernarvonshire for the period 1837 to 1930.

North Wales BMD  Births, Marriages and Deaths on the internet. Clwyd and Gwynedd Family History Societies, and Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society are collaborating with the local Registration Services to make the indexes to these records freely searchable via the Internet. Although the indexes are not yet complete for all years and districts, it is hoped that the database will eventually cover all North Wales births, marriages and deaths for the years 1837 to 1950.


Description & Travel

A Vision of Britain Through Time. "This site contains information about your home area from the 2001 census -- and from every earlier British census back to 1801. It can present this information both as maps of the whole country and as graphs showing change over time in your area. It truly offers a Vision of Britain through time"

Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516. The Gazetteer compiled by Dr Samantha Letters is a catalogue of markets and fairs in medieval England and Wales. This is the first comprehensive national survey.

Caernarfonshire - on wikipedia


Emigration & Immigration

See Gwynedd Family History Society publication - Emigrants from Gwynedd to USA (A01 Part 2).



The section of The National Gazetteer (1868) relating to Caernarvonshire - transcribed by Colin Hinson.

Tallis's Topographical Dictionary of England and Wales, published in 1860 in six vols, editor E. L. Blanchard.  
See Welsh Family History Archive   for all the excellent county maps (showing the hundreds) and the alphabetical gazetteer 
From the preface;
"In the following pages will be found fully described the past history and present aspect of every place of any significance in England and Wales, forming a work of permanent importance to the commercial world, of ready service to the tourist of the day, and of constant interest to the general reader, who may derive from this source a large supply of entertainment, as well as of information for the amusement and instruction of a leisure hour."



Here are details of the Genealogy Mailing Lists serving the Welsh counties

John Ball's Welsh Family History Archive provides some very useful material and links for those with Welsh ancestry.

Timeline of genealogically interesting dates by Gareth Hicks

Caernarfonshire County Library Papers and Miscellanea 1883-1973 - details of extant records on Archives Network Wales.



Gwynedd Family History Society  have a history of Wales feature on their site (Publications)

Castles Wales site - Medieval Gwynedd and The Early Welsh Kingdoms, Gwynedd


Land & Property

Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions, private papers  - details of extant records on Archives Network Wales
"Miscellaneous Papers being mainly Wynne, Spicer, and Robinson Papers and Papers of the Tre'r dafarn Estate found among the Quarter Sessions Records........."

See Caernarvonshire Land Tax for a list of records held at Gwynedd Council Caernarfon archives.


Language & Languages

Wales has two official languages : Cymraeg (Welsh) and English. The 2011 census recorded that Gwynedd (the current county covering most of Caernarfonshire) had the highest percentage of individuals that could read, speak and write in Welsh - 56%.

The first census to record the language spoken by residents was 1891, this recorded that 85.6% of Caernarvonshire inhabitants could speak Welsh. As such, a substantial proportion of records are only available in Welsh with the exception of parish records that are either in Latin or English. In many cases projects to transcribe or index records only ever do so in the language in which they were written meaning many records are solely available in Welsh. A substantial proportion of memorial inscriptions in Caernarvonshire are also likely to be in Welsh.

Many online forums have Welsh sections with members that are willing to provide translations for short paragraphs of text such as Rootschat.com.  Welsh Genealogy groups on Facebook, especially for the Gwynedd area, are usually happy to assist with translation queries. All Gwynedd Family History Society memorial transcription publications contain a list of translations for common terms.


Law & Legislation

Records of the Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions, 1546-1795 - on the People's Collection Wales site

A selection of Caernarfonshire Quarter Session records are available to view (fully indexed and searchable) using the National Archives Discovery Catalogue. The original records are available to view in the Gwynedd Record Offices. 



Map of Caernarfonshire in 1833 - Copied from the original in "A Topographical Dictionary of Wales" by Samuel Lewis 1833

Map of Carnarvonshire from the Report of the Boundary Commissioners for England and Wales. Printed by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1885.

Gwynedd Family History Society have a diagram of the ecclesiastical parishes of Caernarfonshire - under Parishes. Some publications for specific parishes contained detailed maps of the local areas with individual house and street names. 

Welsh county maps on the UK Genealogy Archives site

Report of the Boundary Commissioners for England & Wales - Map of Carnarvonshire 1885

Maps of Carnarvonshire on the Carnarvon Traders site

Tithe maps covering all of Wales have been digitized and indexed by the Cynefin Project. They can now be searched for free by Place/parish, occupier, landowner or field name using NLW Welsh Tithe Maps.


Merchant Marine

The Llyn Peninsula and the Sea  - on the Rhiw.com site

Survey of 20th century Welsh Seafarers for North-West Wales Papers - details of extant records on Archives Network Wales. "The Welsh Seafarers for North-West Wales project recorded the careers of twentieth century seafarers. Forms were distributed via the Caernarfon, Dolgellau and Anglesey Record Offices, with help from local maritime museums and individuals" Caernarfonshire Shipping Registers 1786-1918; 1960 - details of extant records on Archives Network Wales
"Beaumaris, Angelsey, was the principal port of North Wales until the Port of Caernarfon was established. Pwllheli was a sub-port of Beaumaris between 1840 and 1844 and a sub-port of Caernarfon after 1844. The ports were responsible to the Crown for the registration of shipping and the collection of duties on imports; their shipping registers record details of vessels including the owner, the master, changes of owner, and the eventual fate of the vessel...."

Lighthouse Personnel in England and Wales and the Channel Islands 1841-1910. Includes;- Table of  Keepers; Table of Stations by county; Location map of the lighthouse sites.

Welsh Mariners  by Dr Reg Davies---includes a searchable database of over 17,000 Welsh born (or Wales resident) Master mariners, mates and engineers who held certificates of competency or service; in practice it is an index of men active from 1850 to 1945 in the merchant navy.



For general Welsh newspaper searches the NLW Newspapers site provides free online access to a selection of newspapers covering the Caernarvonshire region. NLW Journals (Beta) has a wide range of Welsh journals from 1735-2007 with over 450 titles and 1.2 million pages available to view online - these frequently contain detailed obituaries or descriptions of major events in local inhabitants lives.

Gwynedd Archive Services have a substantial collection of the following publications:

Yr ArweinyddBaner ac Amserau CymruCaernarfon & Denbigh HeraldCaernarfon - Llyn Chronicle
Cambrian NewsY CymroY DyddY Ddraig Goch
Eco'r WyddfaY Genedl GymreigGoriadYr Herald Gymraeg
Illustrated London NewsLlais OgwanNorth Wales ChronicleNorth Wales Weekly News
Y RhedegyddY TystYr Udgorn 

The following publications are available to view online:

PublicationAvailable DatesSource
Yr ArweinyddVarious dates for different regionsNLW Journals
Baner ac Amserau Cymru1857-1910; 1914-1919NLW Newspapers
Caernarfon & Denbigh Herald1836-1910)NLW Newspapers
Cambrian News1890-1907; 1914-1919NLW Newspapers
Y Cymro1890-1907; 1914-1919NLW Journals, NLW Newspapers
Eco'r Wyddfa1976 - PresentEco'r Wyddfa
Y Genedl Gymreig1877-1900NLW Newspapers
Yr Herald Gymraeg 1901-1910; 1914-1919NLW Newspapers
Illustrated London News1842-2003British Newspaper Archive
Llais Ogwan2012 - PresentLlais Ogwan
North Wales Chronicle1827-1900 , 1914-1919NLW Newspapers
North Wales Weekly News1909-1910NLW Newspapers
Y Rhedegydd1878-1879; 1886">1878-1879; 1886; 1889; 1893-1910NLW Newspapers
Y TystTyst Cymreig 1867-1870, Tyst 1892-1910; 1914-1917NLW Newspapers
Yr Udgorn1913-1918NLW Newspapers
  • Eco'r Wyddfa covers Bethel, Brynrefail, Caeathro, Ceunant, Cwm-y-Glo, Deiniolen, Dinorwig, Llanberis, Llanrug, Nant Peris, Penisarwaun and Waunfawr
  • Llais Ogwan covers the Dyffryn Ogwen/Ogwen Valley region - typically Llanllechid and Llandegai parishes. The publication frequently contains detailed historical descriptions and references to local residents


Victorian Professional Photographers in Wales 1850-1925 - a county based database compiled by Mari Alderman, includes sources and a bibliography

Slatesite - history, communities, photographs etc

The Slate Industry of North and Mid Wales - by David Sallery

The Railways of North Wales -  by David Sallery


Poor Houses, Poor Law

The Workhouse  - on Peter Higginbotham's site


Probate Records

Wills and Probate 1576-1858 : Caernarvonshire falls in the diocese of Bangor. Most wills from are available to view for free online at NLW Wills and are searchable using NLW Catalogue. Those that aren't available to view online (typically older records) can be viewed at the National Library of Wales / Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru in Aberystwyth. 

Wills and Probate 1858- Present : Available to order on Gov.uk website. A year of death and surname are required.


Public Records

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

  • Caernarfonshire County Architect's Plans : 1860-1973
  • Caernarfonshire / Gwynedd County Councils Social Services Department Records 1918-1983
  • Caernarfonshire County Council Archives, Papers of the Air Raid Precautions and Civil Defence Departments 1935-1970
  • Caernarfonshire County Council archive, Clerk's Department records 1833-1983
  • Caernarvonshire County Council, Land Agent's Records and Caernarfonshire Rivers Catchment Board Records 1898-1979
  • Caernarvonshire War Agricultural Committee Maps 1900-[ c.1944] (accumulated 1917-1944)
  • Caernarfonshire Land Tax assessment records 1746-1956
  • Caernarfonshire Official Maps and Plans 1774-1949
  • Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions Records 1541-1901   "The Court of Quarter Sessions in Caernarfonshire sat four times a year, attended by the Justices of the Peace of the county. Quarter sessions courts began in Wales after the Acts of Union, 1536-1543.
  • Caernarvonshire Quarter Sessions County Gaol Records    "Caernarfonshire Court of Quarter Sessions was responsible for maintaining the County Gaol, re-built in the 1780s............"
  • Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions Licensing Records 1626-1945
  • Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions, Gamekeepers' Deputations 1812-1888
  • Caernarfonshire County Council, Caernarfonshire War Agricultural Executive Committee papers 1917-1922
  • Caernarvonshire and Anglesey Infirmary, records 1811-1969    "The Loyal Dispensary, Bangor was opened in 1810, primarily to provide vaccines for smallpox. In 1845, the institution moved premises to Upper Bangor, and was re-named the Caernarvonshire and Anglesey Infirmary (C. & A. Infirmary)......"
  • Caernarvonshire Constabulary records 1857-1969  "The Caernarvonshire Constabulary was formed in 1857....."
  • Caernarvonshire Motor taxation records 1904-1977  "Under the Motor Car Act 1903, all motor vehicles and motor cycles had to be licensed by their local county for use on public roads, and were assigned a unique registration number. Drivers of motor vehicles were also licensed by their local authority....."
  • Records of the National Farmers' Union in Caernarfonshire 1937-1978  "The National Farmers' Union was formed in 1908 and represents farmers and growers in England and Wales........."


Conwy Schools (Ysgolion Conwy) records 1838-1998 -  details of extant records on Archives Network Wales
"Records of school within Conwy County Borough Council....."

The Blue Books of 1847.  An inquiry into the state of education in Wales - on the NLW's Digital Mirror site

Day Schools in Caernarfonshire in 1847. This database consists of day schools which existed in 1847 included here within an alphabetical list of parishes 
It contains the names and types of day schools listed in the Reports of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales published in 1847



  • Gwynedd FHS - A collection of local expertize. The society also have a research centre (see their website for opening times), an impressive library collection, and produce a wide range of publications including memorial inscriptions, birth/baptism, marriage/banns and death/burial records, among others. 
  • Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
  • Bangor Civic Society - contains a multitude of useful resources for local historians etc