James Thomas; is Newland in Monmouthshire, Wales, ?? (Parish Records)

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Sunday, October 01, 2017, 17:50 (802 days ago) @ Debbielakin

Some time ago I posted on this site that I was trying to trace my FOD family and you lovely people gave me loads of help and advice and tips etc from which helped me so much so thank you all very much. I've found out so much about my family. James Thomas and Ann Jane Merriman are my 2x great grandparents and came from the forest. I know now that my James Thomas was born in East Dean and baptised in the parish church in Blakeney. His father James thomas was a Collier and was born in newland Monmouthshire Wales which confuses me. Was this still part of the FOD?

In short, YES, Newland village and parish was and has always been a part of the FoD. In fact it's fair to say that despite being situated on the very edge of the Forest, from a historical viewpoint it's almost it's "heart". Reading local history from say the 1600s Newland is often used as a general term for the whole Forest area, Newland village being very near St Briavels castle from which the Forest was administered since medieval times. This western side of the Forest is where the main iron ore deposits were found, which was important long before coal, so the "King's Forges" were built in that area using furnaces fed by charcoal made from local wood, prior to shipping their iron products down the River Wye and beyond. This map from this site's background pages, under heading "Forest of Dean" on top banner of homepage, shows the local parishes in early times - the date on each reflects the earliest available Parish Registers, and shows Newland as one of the very earliest, "1560".
http://www.forest-of-dean.net/joomla/index.php/resources/11-maps/89-early-map-of-the-pa...

For the definitive history of Newland, either see
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol5/pp195-231

or perhaps this is an easier read,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newland,_Gloucestershire

In medieval times Coleford was just a small hamlet within Newland parish, it's only in relatively recent times with the opening-up of the inner Forest c1800 with the Industrial Revolution that Coleford grew to become the larger town and centre of admin it is now, far outstripping Newland village. Hence people and census officials stopped using the term "Newland" to describe the area.
Like you and many other visitors to this forum, when I first took-up FH research I was also confused by mention of Monmouthshire and Wales for an area that I always thought of as in Gloucestershire England, albeit only-just given the traditional boundary was the River Wye. This forum's administrator and regular poster of years past was Slowhands, a knowledgable local historian & researcher, who wisely once said "So far as family history and this Board is concerned , as I have mentioned before, just be aware that whilst place names stay more or less the same, admin boundaries change periodically and your ancestors may be found in a division of the Census that at that time was labelled "Wales", or a BMD registered in Monmouth, Ross, or Chepstow - they are no less a Forester !"

Regarding parts of the western Forest apparently "moving" county if not country, such as Lydbrook or Newland, these old posts may be helpful
http://forum.forest-of-dean.net/index.php?id=41668
and hence these posts in the same thread
http://forum.forest-of-dean.net/index.php?id=41685
http://forum.forest-of-dean.net/index.php?id=41696
Also perhaps this one, as said you're not the first to ask these questions re Parish Boundaries etc,
http://forum.forest-of-dean.net/index.php?mode=entry&id=43024
Hoping this helps, J.


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