Monday, 21 April 2014

A Trip to Cambriol

Just before I set off for Newfoundland I was contacted by Newfoundlander Cabot Martin who had seen the article about the ride in the Telegram.  It transpired he was deeply interested in Sir William Vaughan of Gelli Aur (Golden Grove) near Llandeilo who had owned a large tract of land (which he called Cambriol) on the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland in the seventeenth century.  Cabot had in fact only just come back from a research trip to Carmarthenshire!  It did not take much arm twisting to accept his offer to take me on a tour of the relevant historical sites. So at 8am this morning Cabot picked me up to drive through the snowy landscape and along the west coast of Avalon to the south of St John's.  According to the little I had read about Sir William, his attempts to start a Welsh colony at Trepassey had failed miserably after he had extolled the supposed virtues of Newfoundland without ever having been there.  Cabot was able to put a different spin on the story, as research carried out by the Sir William Vaughan Project  suggest an altogether more positive picture.  In fact it seems that the role of the Welsh in the development of Newfoundland in the early modern period has been considerably underrated.
First stop was Bay Bulls, were there is a community of Williamses reputedly descended from the Welsh settlers brought over by Sir William.  And here I am with one of them - with the good Welsh name David Williams - in front of a boat he built himself! 
Next stop was Ferryland, where Lord Baltimore established a colony on land purchased from Sir William.  The adverse climate proved too much for him and he moved south to found Maryland, but the colony survived.  The site of his mansion has recently been rediscovered and is being excavated - the mansion was apparently built by Welshmen, as was the outbuilding wall behind me in the photo, and also the dark trench which was a privy flushed out by the tide - it seems the first flush loo was built by the Welsh.
And here is Cabot himself at Sir William Vaughan's settlement of Trepassey.  He is standing in front of the site of a ruin which he likes to fancy could be the site of Sir William Vaughan's house, on a sheltered west facing slope overlooking the entrance to the harbour.

No trip to a Newfoundland outport could be complete without a meal of cod's tongues and chips which Cabot treated me to.

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