The wanderlust of the Scots is well-documented and the Irish are notorious emigrants: indeed, sometimes the impression is given that there is a townland somewhere in the south of Ireland which breeds nothing but American presidents. However, the international movements of the Welsh tend to be overlooked when emigration from the British Isles is discussed. Wales so often gets subsumed with the legal jurisdiction of England.
For example, many of the pre-printed forms used in the earliest years of the Board of Trade passenger lists in The National Archives’ BT27 record series blithely ask the shipping line to record whether passengers on its voyages are English, Scotch, Irish or “Foreigners”: the Welsh are to be recorded under English. Needless to say, Welsh surnames, no less than Scottish or Irish, have been transplanted across the world. Blackstone QLD and Ballarat VIC in Australia, and Scranton PA in USA, for example, have very strong Welsh immigrant communities.
However, the most well-known and fascinating, if perhaps not the most successful, community is that in Patagonia (in Argentina), which was established in 1865. Unlike many Welsh immigrant communities, that in Patagonia was founded on farming rather than mining. Patagonia continued to attract fresh groups of migrants from Wales until 1911, although throughout the same period there was also a counter movement from Patagonia back to Wales and an onward movement of the disillusioned to, for example, Canada and Australia.
Today, the descendents of the pioneers live in towns such as Gaiman, Rawson and Trelew in Argentina (called yr Ariannin in Welsh) and speak Spanish with a Welsh accent and Welsh, when they still do, with a Spanish lilt. Those with an interest in the Welsh in Patagonia should read the excellent article in issue 8 (June/July 2002) of Ancestors magazine, which also gives suggestions for further reading.
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