Collection of manuscripts relating to Patagonia

Migrating to Patagonia

During the 19th century a large number of Welsh people emigrated in the hope of a better life – there was no work, and many live in poverty. The attraction of new life and a brighter future was strong. Many flocked to the industrial areas of America, where Michael D. Jones established societies to help them maintain their identity, but they were under pressure to learn English and to adopt American culture. Michael D. Jones felt that the only way to safeguard the Welsh language and culture was to established a colony and he turned his attention to Patagonia. He realized that Patagonia was an ideal location to build a Welsh settlement as the isolation would protected them from outside influences. He worked diligently in Wales to try to recruit potential migrants and sent Lewis Jones and Captain Love Jones-Parry to Buenos Aires in 1862 to negotiate with the government of Argentina. They succeeded in securing 25 cuadra (about 100 acres) of land for each family. On May 28, 1865, 153 Welshmen sailed on the Mimosa, but on landing on the wasteland on 28 July 28 1865 they quickly realized that the country was not as ideal as had been suggested, with no water, almost no food or shelter. The situation gradually improved as the settlers worked hard to build the foundations of society. They constructed simple homes, learnt to hunt like the natives, planted crops and built canals to bring water from the river Camwy to irrigate and fertilize the land. A railway was later built to connect the town of Gaiman, Chubut and Puerto Madryn.

The Welsh population increased to around 700 and by 1883 the Welsh turned their attention to the Andes in search of farmland. They discovered Cwm Hyfryd in 1885 and established a new colony there in 1891.

By the late 19th century there were around 4,000 people of Welsh descent living in Chubut and the last major migration from Wales took place just before the First World War. The Welsh language declined gradually as the settlers increasingly assimilated with Argentine life, through mixed marriages and as they move to find work. Spanish became the main language of the younger generation. Nevertheless, the language and the relationship between Wales and Patagonia strengthened again with the founding of the Wales-Argentina Society in 1939 and following the centenary celebrations of the first landing in 1965.

The manuscripts

This is a selection of the 25 most important manuscripts relating to Patagonia housed at the National Library. There are of course many more manuscripts in the collection and we hope to digitized more items to add this page in the future. A complete list of materials can be found on our Patagonia resources page:

The Library's collection of material relating to Patagonia is varied and reflects virtually every aspect of life in the colony through correspondence, diaries and travel books, newspaper cuttings and council, church and business records.

This selection offers an insight into the plans to create a colony, the migration and the establishment of the Welsh settlements:

Planning

Migration

Settling

Correspondence and diaries of visitors in the early years

Records of business and industry

Manuscripts in chronological order

1861-1881         NLW MS 7254D Papers relating to the Welsh Settlement

1862-1863         NLW MS 12198A Lewis Jones' diaries

1862-1892         NLW MS 12204E Lewis Jones correspondence

1863                   NLW MS 12199A Lewis Jones' diaries

1865                   NLW MS 18197B Joseph Seth Jones' letters

1865-1866         NLW MS 18176B Joseph Seth Jones' diary

1865-1889         NLW MS 7255E Papers relating to the Welsh Settlement

1866                   NLW MS 18206C Letters from the founders of the Welsh colony

c.1866-1868      NLW MS 18177C Joseph Seth Jones' letters

1871-1873         NLW MS 4617E Welsh Colonising Company shareholders register

1871-1911         NLW MS 4616B Letters and papers

1877                   NLW MS 18181B Letter from Michael D. Jones

1879-1900         NLW MS 18427C Letters addressed to H. Tobit Evans

1885-1891         NLW MS 18184C Minute books of the Gaiman council

1888                   NLW MS 7257A Llwyd ap Iwan: 'Ymchwildaith i'r Andes'

1891                   NLW MS 18953B Manuscripts of the Rev. William Phillips, Gwalchmai

1891-1892         NLW MS 16956E Records of Welsh Patagonian Gold Fields Syndicate Ltd

1891-1894         NLW MS 21199D Letters from David Richards in Patagonia to his wife

1892-1894         NLW MS 17525A Letters from Eluned Morgan, Patagonia

1893-1894         NLW MS 8783C The Welsh Patagonian Gold Fields Syndicate

1893-1894         NLW MS 8784C The Welsh Patagonian Gold Fields Syndicate

1902-1921         NLW MS 20549E Articles relating to Patagonia by W. Casnodyn Rhys

1902                   NLW MS 10816E Welsh settlers in Patagonia

1955                   NLW MS 19101E The Rev. Tudur Evans' record book

1960                   NLW MS 18183C An account of the irrigation in Patagonia

 

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