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Home > Themes > Voyages

The Voyage

A selection of materials from the Digital Library describing the voyage to America

Edward Jones, Y Teithiwr Americanaidd: Neu Gyfarwyddyd i Symudwyr o Gymru i America (The American Traveler: or guidance to those moving from Wales to America) (Aberystwyth, 1837)

"The best way of coming over here is on one of the ships called 'Liners', because they have been built to be more suitable for the journey, the captains and sailors are better, and the ships are better prepared to face the tempests."
digital library documentY Teithiwr Americanaidd, p.35
This small volume is a typical example of the type of guidebooks published for prospective emigrants to America from the 1840s onwards. He gives advice about the best areas to settle in and he also offers guidance instructions to travelers regarding the voyage.

digital library documentGo to 'Chapter 9: Traveling Instructions' to read Edward Jones's advice >> (Only available in Welsh)

B.W. Chidlaw, Yr American ... (Llanfair, 1839)

Yr American
This is another guidebook for prospective emigrants.

In the first chapter, we are given an account of Chidlaw's voyage from New York to Britain on board the Columbus. He describes digital library documentthe conditions on board ship and a shipwreck he saw. He also notes that he took part in a service to bury a child who died at sea.

In Chapter 4 he gives digital library documentadvice on how to prepare for the journey - how to arrange accommodation and choose a ship after arriving in Liverpool, how much it would cost to sail in the cabin and steerage, which food to prepare before leaving, how to avoid feeling depressed, how to conduct oneself generally on the ship and what to expect in New York.

R. D. Thomas, Hanes Cymry America (A History of the Welsh in America) (1872)

This is the first attempt to chronicle the history of the Welsh people in the United States. The volume also includes information about the Welsh press and its publications in America, as well as useful information about the voyage.

digital library documentTurn to page 412 to read the advice given by R. D. Thomas >>

The Letter of George Roberts (from the archive of J Luther Thomas - Box 2)

"We then made a second start toward America with 50 pasengers all Welsh except 3 Cabin pasengers soon the most of us was taken with the sea sickness I had but a slight touch of it but my wife was troubled pretty severely with it during the passage ..."
digital library documentGeorge Roberts
The first group of settlers from Wales went to Ohio in 1795 and George Roberts, the author of this letter, was one of them.

Over half a century later, George Roberts remembered that long and arduous journey from Llanbryn-mair to America, and recorded them in a letter.

digital library documentOriginal letter (English) >>

One family's voyage in 1832 (NLW 6426D)

A letter dated 2 September 1832 describes a voyage, which lasted 9 weeks and 3 days, from Liverpool to New York made by a family from the Llanwenog district, Cardiganshire.

digital library documentOriginal letter (Welsh; English translation) >>

Ann Peat's letter on board the France (NLW 14111D)

Edward Peat and his family left their home in Braichodnant, Llanbryn-mair, and emigrated to America in 1868. Ann, the daughter, wrote a letter to her uncle when they were "in great distress" on board the France.

digital library documentOriginal letter (Welsh; English translation) >>

The letter of Humphrey Bromley (Jones, Rees Jenkin - Family Papers)

In his letter, Humphrey Bromley chronicles his and his family's experiences on their journey from Wales to north Ohio. He and his wife, his mother and their five children spent around two and a half months traveling from Liverpool to Cleveland during the summer of 1833.

Waterloo Dock (1864)(By permission of Liverpool Records Office)

Waterloo Dock (1864)
(By permission of Liverpool Records Office)
At the beginning of the letter, we are given an account of the voyage: there is a description of the ship colliding with another ship, the "islands of ice" they saw, the method used to share the water at the beginning of the journey and how the food and water became scarce during the journey. Because of this shortage, they had to land in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to buy more supplies. Even though they didn't come across bad weather as such, the journey was a long one and he said that he had to be part of five funeral services during the voyage.

After anchoring in New York and being examined by a doctor and custom officers, they were taken to the city itself. As his wife and eldest daughter were ill at the time, Humphrey Bromley did not get much of a chance to explore New York but he still managed to note a few of his impressions in his letter.

The second part of their journey started when they left New York for Albany in a tugboat and then in a barge to Buffalo. They were taken from Buffalo in a steamboat to Cleveland where Humphrey and his son found work. By the time he had written this letter, the family had bought land and moved a short distance south, to Norwalk, Huron County. Their work and wages are described and an extract from the Ohio Gazetteer is quoted which describes the county they are moving to, Seneca. He notes details about the price of supplies and land and also details about educational institutions in Ohio, in order to try and entice more of the Welsh to come to the country.

digital library documentOriginal letter (Welsh; English translation) >>

The letters of John and Hugh Pugh (NLW 19331E)

This manuscript includes letters from John and Hugh Pugh, two brothers from Castell Hen, Bala, from 1843 to 1852.

"The Welsh are all together in the Second Cabin. I'm going to sleep on the ship tonight and we will be turning out at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning if they do as they have promised" (31 May 1844)
John emigrated to the United States in 1844, and he stayed mainly in Ohio - in Columbus, Cincinnati and Portsmouth. He sent a letter dated 31 May 1844 from Liverpool to his parents and friends, the day before he was set to sail.

digital library documentTranscript of letter (Only available in Welsh) >>

"the wind blows from the east today, and it is raining heavily and we are making every effort to catch the rainwater as the water crossing is so sparse".
John sailed to New York in the company of 51 other Welshmen. He wrote another letter describing the conditions on board the ship and his experiences at sea.

digital library documentTranscript (Only available in Welsh) >>

"... thousands are coming here and are having to return without a place - I had a hard time sending people from Llanuwchllyn away as the ship was full and many had to go on the next ship ..."
Hugh was a tobacco seller in Wrexham until he moved to Liverpool and by 1852 he had gone over to Cincinnati. In one of his letters, he describes the emigrating problems in Liverpool in April 1847: the Welsh people who had come there from Meirionethshire to cross over to America, the difficulty in finding enough ships for them, the disappointments and the bitter words.

digital library documentTranscript of letter (Only available in Welsh) >>

Daniel Evans' Letter (The Papers of Mrs D. Davies, Aberystwyth)

Emigration Poster, 1839

Emigration Poster, 1839
A letter dated 12 May 1840 from Daniel Evans in Liverpool to his brother and sister. (The letter was sent to Mr James Davies, Glanrhyd, Cribin [sic], Lampeter Post, Cardiganshire, S.W.) It seems that Daniel was traveling in the company of another Welshman called John and as there is a reference to children at the end of the letter, we can assume that they had taken their families with them to Liverpool.

The group traveled on a steamer from New Quay to Liverpool. John fell ill, and they had to wait for him to get better before embarking on the great voyage. In the meantime, "the other people" had sailed to Philadelphia ahead of them. New York was the destination of Daniel and John and when this letter was written they were intending to sail that night on board a ship called Almira of Portland.

"The worst men I have ever seen are in Liverpool. They do not think of anything apart from robbing men of their money through every dishonest trickery and deception possible..." digital library documentDaniel Evans
Daniel was amazed at the men deceiving prospective emigrants in Liverpool and, according to his account, the ones who had taken him from New Quay to Liverpool had tried to swindle him as well.

digital library documentOriginal letter (Welsh; English translation) >>

The Letter of Rowland Brees (CMA 22297)

A letter dated 3 October 1852 sent by Rowland Brees to his mother and brothers and sisters after he and his family reached their journey's end in Columbus, Ohio. At the beginning of the letter he relates the journey to Welshpool and then to Liverpool and their efforts to find a suitable ship there. He notes the price of a "second cabin" and "lower loft" ticket and also notes that they had to be examined by a doctor before traveling.

The family embarked on the journey a week later and it seems that they had an agreeable journey on the whole. The worst thing, according to Rowland, was the facilities to prepare food on the ship - there were only 12 places to prepare food for 900 passengers!

After landing in New York the family traveled to Erie Lake before proceeding to Columbus.

digital library documentOriginal letter (Welsh; English translation) >>