THE LEWIS FAMILY (THE SIMONITES)

The Lewis Family was also called "the Simonites" in the records. However before going into detail with regard to the my ancestors it is important to mention the naming conventions that were used in Wales. Surnames were not widely used until the Tudor period.

PATRONYMIC NAMES:
Previously, a person was identified by describing him as "son of" his father ("ab" before a name beginning with a vowel, "ap" before a consonant or consonantal "i"), as in Dafydd ap Gwilym, Hywel ab Owain, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth. The later surnames were for the most part formed in one of two ways. The "ab" or "ap" could be fused with the father's name: "ab Owain", "ap Hywel", "ap Rhys", etc. became "Bowen", "Powel(l)", "Prys" (Preece, Price). Or more commonly the English possessive "s" was added to the father's name, as in Roberts, Williams, etc. Older "ap Ieuan" and "ap John" have given us not only "Johns" but in far too many instances "Jones". Medieval appellations which were not, strictly speaking, surnames - such as "Gwyn" or "Llwyd" have frozen into surnames - "Lloyd", "Gwyn(n)", "Gwynne", "Wyn(n)", "Wynne".

BARDIC NAMES:
By long established and still prevalent custom, poets and sometimes writers of prose as well, have adopted or have had conferred upon them "bardic names' or pseudonyms under which their works may be published, and which may be the most widely known name associated with the individual. Thus, a reference to an ancestor "Islwyn" may indeed be his bardic name, even though his real name was say the Reverend William Thomas.

The key item to note is that the Lewis family used the patronymic system of naming a son after his father. The generation of my grandfather x4 (David) was given the surname of either Lewis or Simon or in some case Lewis alias Simon. e.g. David's brother John was transported on the Atlantic to New South Wales under the name John Lewis alias Simon

For instance our first known ancestor Lewis JOHN was Lewis ap John - Lewis,son of John. His son Simon LEWIS JOHN Simon ap Lewis ap John followed by Morgan Simon LEWIS JOHN. David took the name of Lewis

For the origins of the Lewis name please use the link

The following article was sent to me by Mrs Margret Harvey who shares the same great great great great grandfather as me (David Lewis). Margaret has supplied much of the information on the Lewis family for which I am extremely grateful.

THE SIMONITES

In the text below David Lewis Wooding, a nineteenth century genealogist, explains that the term Simonites was applied to the descendants of Simon Lewis John of Llanafan Fawr (b abt 1655). Patronymic surnames were used in Wales for hundreds of years but when surnames began to be settled, most of this family were known as LEWIS (often with "alias Simon" attached), though in the locality the description "Simonites" remained. Wooding compiled a great deal of information about the Lewis's of Llanafan Fawr, during the years 1860-90, working from parish records and oral accounts from local people. He drew up Family Trees and Pedigrees of all the branches of the family in a tiny notebook which still exists in Cardiff Library. Under the title The Simonites, he first gave some background information about the family.

" THE SIMONITES
 

The Simonites from time immemorial until the fatal year 1789 were residents of Blaen-chwefri and Blaen-dulas; and from their rapid increase, and their proximity to the Hills had for many years been great sheep stealers, and the terror of the country, and if that horrid murder which eventually occasioned their dispersion had not come to light, it was thought they would ere long have had the Llanafan Hills for themselves.
There exists a tradition that the first of the tribe who came to this country was seen one morning making his exit out of a Bush in the parish of Llanafan, and that no-one was able to ascertain where he came from. Although Simon who probably died sometime prior to 1720, and whose notorious name has – during the last hundred years at least – been invariably applied to his descendants is generally supposed to have been the first; it appears that is such be the case he did not come alone, for we find (^Thomas Lewis John, buried 8 Nov 1686), a Lewis son of John Lewis John buried at Llanafanfawr March 29, 1722, and also (^Cath. (Cathrine) wife of John Lewis John buried 17th Jany? 1691), Eleanor widow of John Lewis John a pauper buried Nov 11 1748; & again that (^Cathrin & Margaret twins of Lewis ap John were baptised & buried Dec 1644). When it is considered that the following pages contain but the issue of one son only, it will at once appear that a great portion of the inhabitants of the eastern part of the Hundred of Builth must be descended from Simon Lewis John. It is well known that the issue of Evan? Thomas who died at Tyncoed Llanfechan about 1827 besides being Bounds & Badgers, are maternally of Simonian origin; as are also the progeny of Rees son of Isaac & Susannah Price of Llwyncus?, who died at Corrin about Feby. 4th 1814, and it is very probable they derive their origin from Simon, although there is a link wanting to connect them.

It is said the old Morgan was the most harmless of men and an exceedingly swift runner; his ancestors were designated by the appellation of “Y duon o’r Blwthiad”; and those of his Wife as “Y cochiaid o’r Gemriw”. This woman is said to be the daughter of Lizzy Yu-Meredith; & that one of her ancestors had taken refuge in this district in consequence of his having committed a crime in his own neighbourhood, the Forest of Dean: her blood it appears contaminated the whole race and her colour (coch) has already been transmitted in many of them to the fourth and fifth generation. Morgan Williams of Llanerchyfa used to say they (the tribe) were descended from a daughter of Gruffyd Gam or Gemriew; and if this be correct, the female here referred to must have been Elizabeth wife of Simon, who died a Widow and was buried at Llanafan Feby 9 1731; for Eleanor wife of Morgan their son is said both in the Register of their marriage & that of their children’s baptism to be a daughter of Rees Powell (coch) – (from whom through his daughter Elizabeth who md. Danl . (Daniel) (Howell) James Dec 31 1741 is paternally descended Morgan Evans (Price) Shoemaker of Troedrhiwdalar, who md. Jane the blind dau.r (daughter) of the late Thos Samuel, Tymawr, Llanvechan).

They have always been distinguished for their affability and agreeableness of manner (s). They also bear the character of being very faithful servants but when married they gradually become neglectful of their affairs and finally sink into poverty in which state they naturally fall into a nefarious course of life: they formerly had the repute of being irresistible wooers; warm in their friendships & very vengeful when offended, but lacking the requisite courage and daring to retaliate openly unless greatly prepondering in power, or numbers: it has been remarked that though they often marry into respectable families that their wives invariably become even more corrupt than themselves. As to physical peculiarities they have generally angular features, small heads, light or auburn hair & an early tendency to baldness: the movements of most of them betray a certain stiffness about the hips; nevertheless many of them are superior runners, and are distinguished by a well-formed leg and foot. They are a rather long lived race"

 

The Lewis Family have always been associated with the area surrounding small Welsh Town of Llanafan Fawr. I have pieced together a brief history of the village which I hope to elaborate on as I get more information

Recently there have been developments that have taken the family back even further to the beginnings of the seventeenth century and they centre around the person of Lewis ap Jon my great grandfather seven times removed

Return to the Morgan Lewis Page

Return to main Family History Page

"To be born Welsh Is to be born privileged,

Not with a silver spoon in the mouth But with a song in the blood and poetry in the heart"

 

This page was last updated on 07/08/07 12:43