Friday, May 25, 2012
Prince Madoc and the Welsh in America
The story of the emigration to America of Prince Madoc, or Madog, is told in the old Welsh books as follows:
About the year 1168 or 1169 A.D., Owen Gwynedd, ruling prince of North Wales, died, and among his sons there was a contest for the succession, which, becoming angry and fierce, produced a civil war. His son Madoc, who had “command of the fleet,” took no part in this strife. Greatly disturbed by the public trouble, and not being able to make the combatants hear reason, he resolved to leave Wales and go across the ocean to the land at the west. Accordingly, in the year 1170 A.D., he left with a few ships, going south of Ireland, and steering westward. The purpose of this voyage was to explore the western land and select a place for settlement. He found a pleasant and fertile region, where his settlement was established. Leaving one hundred and twenty persons, he returned to Wales, prepared ten ships, prevailed on a large company, some of whom were Irish, to join him, and sailed again to America. Nothing more was ever heard in Wales of Prince Madog or his settlement.
All this is related in old Welsh annals preserved in the abbeys of Conway and Strat Flur. These annals were used by Humphrey Llwyd in his translation and continuation of Caradoc’s History of Wales, the continuation extending from 1157 to 1270 A.D. This emigration of Prince Madog is mentioned in the preserved works of several Welsh bards who lived before the time of Columbus. It is mentioned by Hakluyt, who had his account of it from writings of the bard Guttun Owen. As the Northmen had been in New England over one hundred and fifty years when Prince Madog went forth to select a place for his settlement, he knew very well there was a continent on the other side of the Atlantic, for he had knowledge of their voyages to America; and knowledge of them was also prevalent in Ireland. His emigration took place when Henry II. was king of England, but in that age the English knew little or nothing of Welsh affairs in such a way as to connect them with English history very closely.
It is supposed that Madog settled somewhere in the Carolinas, and that his colony, unsupported by new arrivals from Europe, and cut off from with that side of the ocean, became weak, and, after being much reduced, was destroyed or absorbed by some powerful tribe of Indians. In our colony times, and later, there was no lack of reports that relics of Madog’s Welshmen, and even their language, had been discovered among the Indians; but generally they were entitled to no credit. The only report of this kind having any show of claim to respectful consideration is that of Rev. Morgan Jones, made in 1686, in a letter giving an account of his adventures among the Tuscaroras. These Tuscarora Indians were lighter in color than the other tribes, and this peculiarity was so noticeable that they were frequently mentioned as “White Indians.” Mr. Jones’s account of his experiences among them was written in March, 1686, and published in the Gentleman’s Magazine for the year 1740, as follows: