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Home > Learning > Emigration: transcript of digital story (1)

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Emigration: Leaving Wales

A great number of Welsh emigrants sailed from Liverpool to New York or Philadelphia but of course for those who had never left their immediate locality, reaching Liverpool was something of a challenge in the first place.

Some travelled cross country but many went to the Welsh ports in the first place and then they would take one of the small ships that carried emigrants to larger ports like Liverpool. Ships left Cardigan, New Quay and Aberystwyth, for example, on their way to Liverpool and that was the beginning of a long and troublesome journey for the emigrants.

Careful preparation was necessary before leaving home, but handbooks were available for emigrants that gave advice on how to go, where to go and when to go. After reaching Liverpool they had to find lodging, choose a suitable ship, and buy tickets. Here is the advice in one of the handbooks on what to do next:
"After getting a ship, you had better get everything on board promptly. Put the luggage and food safe before setting off it's best for the Welsh to prepare bread, and oatmeal, butter, cheese and meat, before leaving home. Tea, coffee, sugar, treacle and salt can be obtained in Liverpool. Food for 6 or 8 weeks needs to be prepared; too much is better than too little, but the remainder will be useful after reaching New York".

No-one needed to wear their best clothes on the ship, after all there was no means of washing or drying them easily and by the time they reached the end of the journey, they would be filthy with mud and tar and salt from the sea would have started to ruin them.

A great many of the emigrants were naive and inexperienced in trying to find their way so they were often cheated in the early years, but later help was available for them in Liverpool from emigration officers. The most famous officer who used to help the Welsh was called N M Jones, but everyone called him y Cymro Gwyllt (the Wild Welshman). He had people helping him all over the country to secure tickets for the emigrants, provide lodging for them, take them to the quayside and make sure that they had the best places on the ship.

Emigration: Leaving Wales - Digital story | Exercise 1 | Exercise 2