Ceredigion men and their families were attracted by the promise of work and wealth in London and the ironworks of South Wales, and further afield in Canada Australia, South America and especially Pennsylvannia and Ohio in the USA. Tour the coastal and countryside communities of Ceredigion, spot some of the ruined farmsteads they left behind, and enjoy the serene beauty of the landscape that compelled some to return home.
Migration to New Worlds
The Triton left Cardigan for Canada in 1802, followed by the Albion in 1815 and the Triton again in 1836; The Friendship sailed for the United States from New Quay in 1817. The Tamerlaine, Credo and Elizabeth set sail from Aberystwyth for Canada and the USA in the 1840s. There were 58 passengers in total on the Credo and Elizabeth, but 462 men, women, children and crew sailed on the Tamerlaine and 27 families travelled with the Albion to Canada in 1819. A year earlier six families decided to leave the Cilcennin area for America. After an adventurous jorney - a long voyage, a waggon ride and rafting down the great Ohio river, they settled in Jackson and Gallia County, Ohio. Today almost two centuries later the links remain as strong as ever between the two communities.
The coming of the railways in the 19th century enabled fresh produce like milk, cheese and eggs to be transported to London and other cities quickly and easily, and many Ceredigion families settled in London to run dairy businesses and other enterprises in the capital.
Some Ceredigion emigrants were
compelled to travel even further afield, as missionaries. Visit Neuaddlwyd near Aberaeron to learn of
the young men who gave everything, including their lives, to convert the people
of Madagascar to Christianity.
Most migrants remained and laid down roots away from
Ceredigion, but a surprising number chose to return, including Edward Jones,
who emigrated to Cincinatti in 1831. He returned to Ceredigion and published,
at Aberystwyth in 1837, 'Y Teithiwr Americanaidd' (the American Traveler), one
of the items in the National Library of Wales’s
vast collection of Americana.
Into the West
In the 1970's a "hippy revolution" took place in Ceredigion as a wave of young people moved into west Wales in search of an artistic, alternative way of life, to escape the urban rat race and be part of the back to the land/self-sufficiency movement. Several were active environmental and peace campaigners, linking the local to larger social and artistic movements. They came from varied backgrounds – some were academics, or were involved in the arts, social and community work, whilst others had backgrounds in the professions, business, and the retail industry.
Since the population of Ceredigion reached its peak in the census of 1871 it gradually declined as young people migrated to more urban areas. Many smaller holdings became abandoned as farming methods changed, the production of cereal and root crops declined and there was greater specialisation in livestock production. Land was lost to forestry and fewer people were employed on farms (a 70% drop between 1911 and 1991
The new arrivals moved into abandoned farmsteads, which were often without electricity or sometimes even a running water supply. They set about restoring the cottages using traditional techniques and materials. They also farmed the land, growing their own food, adopting traditional, non intensive and organic farming methods, and learning traditional skills such as dry stone walling and hedge laying.
Some developed new businesses including the first wholefood shop in Wales, selling grains, pulses, nuts, local organic vegetables, herbs and spices and books and magazines.
There was sometimes conflict, and terms such as ‘drop-out’, ‘hippy’ and ‘ideologist’ were used, but mostly there was acceptance, mutual respect and a recognition that it was “not what you look like, it’s how you are that matters.’
Image from 'Into the West' exhibition at Ceredigion Museum