My Grandfather Thomas John Jenkins passed away when I was only three years old, so unfortunately I did not have time to talk with him.Â Nanna tended to spend time talking about her side of the family so I grew up not knowing much about the Jenkins side of the family.
The Jenkins family lived in various places around South Wales from Bridgend to Pontypridd in the Rhondda Cynon Taff (link to google map). John Jenkins and Kathleen (Kate) McCarthy were married in 1905. John Jenkins worked in the mines as a Hewer who’s job was to dig the coal.Â
According to family folklore, John Jenkins had quite a good knowledge of mining law possibly a union man. He foughtÂ for a year to gain a satisfactory result of striking due to his effort.Â At the end of WWI there was a decline in the demand of Welsh Antracite Coal resulting in mass unemployment. John could not get work anywhere and his family were starving so he had to ask his cousins for food to feed his family of four children.Â John left Wales to find work in Nova Scotia Canada 1922-23 and was eventually reunited with his family in Adelaide Australia in 1924.
To this day, there are many Jenkins living in the South of Wales but it very hard to trace relatives because it is a common name.Â Recently I found a living relative who lives in Southern Wales and we have been collaborating in this research with another cousin from South Australia.
Using census, birth death and marriage, and parish records we have verified that John Jenkins father was Richard Jenkins a Mason and Mother Mary West.Â His Grandfather Daniel a Shoemaker and Grandmother Mary Morgan.Â Using Parish records the family can be traced back to Daniel’s baptism in 2nd April 1804 at St Illtyds Church Bridgend. John’s Great Grandparents were David Jenkins and Great Grandmother Eleanor Jenkin
John’s wife Kathleen (Kate) McCarthy’s family originally came from County Cork in Ireland (possibly Youghal) lived in Cardiff in South Wales.Â Kate’s father Thomas McCarthy was a Shipwright and mother Hannah Barrett. When Kate’s father died of Tuberculosis in 1888, Kate and her brother were sent to an orphanage possibly Ely Schools Orphanage (a Kate McCarthy is listed on the 1891 census). This is currently being verified with the Glamorgan Records Office who hold Ely School’s records.Â
It has been an amazing journey to learn about the Jenkins and McCarthy families in Wales. Obviously the families hardship and survival is paramount to where we are today.Â
Background information (websites)
Pontypridd TownÂ - Â http://www.pontytown.co.uk/history.html
Â Rhonda Valley – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RhonddaÂ
County Cork – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/County_Cork
Please note some of this story is a personal account handedÂ down in the family.Â