A Secret Land
The Voyages of the Brig ‘Albion’
and the Founding of the First Welsh Settlement in Canada
Usually bringing the cows from
pasture was a simple task but tonight things didn’t go well. One of the
heifers refused to follow the bossy cow to the barn. Cliff and I had to
a halter and make a second trip to the back pasture. As we led her
she kept stopping and mooing at the top of her lungs.
We were sure some glad to see Dad and Gramp coming up over the hill to
Gramp inquired, “Do you understand the language the heifer is speaking
When we shook our heads, he continued, “You should make a sign that
‘Welsh-Not’ and put it on her halter.”
Once again, I didn’t have a clue what that man was talking about. But
I had lived in Wales and had been attending school there in 1847 or
and had spoken the mother tongue in the classroom or the schoolyard, I
have been punished by being made to wear a cow’s halter on my
with an attached sign ‘Welsh-Not’. It was the official policy to
the Welsh language which was the only language known by most of the
The dream of many a Welshman was to make his escape from poverty by
to America. For one group, from the area of Cardigan, this became a
in 1819 when they sailed on the Albion to Saint John, New Brunswick
Llewelyn Davies as master. But for some, the dream became close to
When the vessel was out to sea for only a few days, death from
claimed the two-year-old daughter of Iona Morgan, of Llangoedmore.
Jenkin of Trelech was next to meet a watery grave, followed by the
daughter of William Richard of Clydau.
In the late afternoon of 11 June 1819, sixty days after leaving
Town, the Albion anchored in the harbour of Saint John. Three days
on Sunday evening, the emigrants held a church service, conducted
their native Welsh language at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk.
Twenty-six families chose for a settlement, a rich tract of land, 10
eastward of Fredericton, between the Madame Keswick and the Nashwaak.
Fredericton became a temporary home to the families of the men who set
to clear this land and build their cabins in Cardigan Settlement.
Not being able to speak the English language, along with being sickly,
and with the women dressing in the strange costume of high hats and
difficulties were created with the townsfolk in understanding and
this group, as well as helping to provide for their needs. Yet, the
of Fredericton along with others throughout New Brunswick,
to the cause, by forming the Cardigan Society. They collected
to help care for these people while they established themselves. By
13, the Society had assisted 18 Welsh families who had a total of 33
and 29 girls. But many of the settlers were still on the verge of
By the Fall of 1820, the settlers were on their own with a parting gift
a load of potatoes having been made in May by Jarvis Ring.
Fortunately their spiritual needs were met by David James, a Welsh
missionary, who discovered them. For the next seven years, he
to them in their native language.
Over the years the Cardigan settlement grew. The early settlers and
descendants prospered. Some stayed while others sought a life in
pastures. Many of the old ways were dropped.
In the cemetery beside the church at Cardigan a reminder of a
keeping her maiden names after marriage is recorded on the tombstone of
Nickles, a native of Pembrook, who died at age 47 in 1847, the wife of
On the morning of July 26, 1977, a chance visit to this cemetery by
Thomas, sent him on a nine-year journey of searching for details of the
of the settlers who founded this first Welsh settlement in Canada.
His 318 page publication, “Strangers From A Secret Land”
- The Voyages of the Brig ‘Albion’ and the Founding of the First
Settlement in Canada provides detailed information on not only the
of the group who came to New Brunswick but on the events that
the years leading up to their departure from the homeland as well as
who for one reason or another, chose to stay in Wales.
copy of the book “Strangers From A Secret Land”
available for purchasing at http://www.rubycusack.com/Book-STRANGERS-WELSH.html
Clarke: Colin Campbell Clarke, son of Alexander
Clarke, was born 27 November 1876 and died 13 May 1963. He is
in Fernhill Cemetery in Saint John. He had two sons and seven
Who was his wife? I am looking for his descendants to whom I am
152 Wedgewood Drive
Williamsville, N. Y.