Lewis Jones' diaries, 1862-1863

Reference: NLW MS 12198-12199A

Diaries of Lewis Jones, 1862-1863, largely recording his exploratory visit to Patagonia, negotiations with Argentinian officials, British Consul, fears for his ill son. Includes details of public meetings addressed by Michael D. Jones to raise support for emigration.

 

Lewis Jones (1836-1904) was born in Caernarfon on 30 January 1836. He co-edited Pwnsh Cymraeg in Holyhead for a period before moving to Liverpool, where he became one of the leaders of the Emigration Movement. He was sent with Captain Love Jones-Parry to explore Patagonia in 1862 to see if the area was suitable for Welsh settlers. They managed to sign an agreement with Dr Rawson, the Buenos Aires government’s representative, ensuring 25 cuadra (about 100 acres) of land to each family. He returned with a favourable and exaggerated report to try to persuade the Welsh people to venture there. The flowery descriptions of the inhospitable desert of parched ground was so encouraging that they succeeded to persuade 153 Welsh people to turn their backs on the hardship and oppression in Wales and to migrate on the Mimosa.

These diaries record his visit to Patagonia in 1862-3, and are an important record of the negotiations with the Argentine officials and the British Consul. They also include the details of the public meetings where Michael D. Jones addressed the Welsh people to raise support for the emigration.

Lewis Jones went out with Edwin Cynrig Roberts to prepare the place for the first group but he quarreled with the migrants who complained that the country was unsuitable and left for Buenos Aires where he worked as a printer for eighteen months. He returned to Patagonia in 1867 to persuade the settlers to stay. He started two newspapers, Ein Breiniad in 1878 and Dravod in 1891, and published a book, Y Wladfa Gymreig in 1898. He was a governor for the Argentine government for a time, arguing with the government in the interests of Welsh, but he was also imprisoned for defending the rights of the Welsh. He died in November 1904.

Bibliography

  • Article on Lewis Jones in The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, viewed 16 December 2016;
  • Article on Lewis Jones in Wikipedia, viewed 16 December 2016;