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The nobility is a class of people who had special political and social status. The noble class was a very small percentage of the Welsh population; at first most of them were English migrants.
Most noblemen did not emigrate, and few disowned family members for unacceptable behavior. Thus, most traditions of an ancestor’s being "erased" or "eliminated" from all records are unfounded.
Illegitimate children are not entitled to noble status and often do not appear on family pedigrees. They may, however, be granted a variation of the father’s coat-of-arms.
Noblemen were entitled to a coat-of-arms, and people so entitled were called armigers. The study of coats-of-arms is called heraldry. Because of frequent false claims to coats-of-arms, the king’s heralds required descents to be documented. These pedigrees are called visitations. Some visitations from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have been published in:
Dwnn, Lewys. Heraldic Visitations of Wales.2 vols. Llandovery, Wales: William Rees, 1846. (FHL 942.9 D23d; film 176668.)
For other visitation records, see the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
WALES - VISITATIONS, HERALDIC
The publications of Burke’s Peerage Limited, Debrett’s, and others are widely used sources of information on noble families. Many titles and editions have been published. Most of Burke’s publications have been indexed in:
Burke’s Family Index. London, England: Burke’s Peerage Limited, 1976. (FHL book 942 D53b.) This work indexes the many pedigrees published by the company. It is available in most major libraries.
A discussion of heraldic terms, their use in Wales, and some of the families who held coats-of-arms are discussed in:
Siddons, Michael Powell. The Development of Welsh Heraldry. 3 vols. Aberystwyth, Wales: The National Library of Wales, 1991–93. (FHL book 942.9 D6s.)
Records of peerage creations and related documents are kept at:
College of Arms
Queen Victoria Street
London EC4V 4BT
The Family History Library has many records of noble families other than family histories. These records are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
GREAT BRITAIN - NOBILITY
WALES - NOBILITY
WALES - HERALDRY
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