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Description

This letter relates to the ship 'Myfanwy', which was purchased by the Welsh Colonising and General Trading Company in 1869.

In 1869 the Company decided to buy a ship for the use of the Welsh Settlement. Lewis Jones and Edwin C. Roberts had been trying to persuade the Company to take this step for some time, with the aim of securing the vessel for commercial use in Argentina. Members of the Company were not in favour of this idea, however, and opted instead to use the ship to carry passengers from Wales to Patagonia.

A 300-ton ship was secured and named 'Myfanwy' after Lewis Jones's young daughter. A price of £2,700 was agreed, and the financial arrangements were made in the name of Michael D. Jones. £1,800 was paid in cash, with the remaining £900 to be paid within the year. It was necessary to adapt the ship for carrying passengers and a price of £300 was agreed with a company from Newport to undertake the work.

In the meantime, work got underway to collect the names of potential emigrants for the ship's first voyage. The aim was to sail during the autumn of 1869, arriving in Patagonia in time to assist with the harvest in late January and early February 1870. However, the ship was not ready in time. Indeed, the work was not completed until February 1870. A further blow was dealt to the plans when it became evident that the ship was not licensed to carry more than 11 passengers. In the end, therefore, the 'Myfanwy' sailed for Patagonia with only a handful of people on board. Among the passengers were Lewis Jones, his wife Ellen, and their four-year-old daughter, Myfanwy. During the voyage, Ellen gave birth to a baby girl, namely Eluned Morgan (1870-1938), who would later become one of Patagonia's most well-known writers.

Back in Wales, the new maritime enterprise was fast turning into a nightmare for the Colonising and Trading Company - but worse was to follow. As a result of the delays and problems, the ship had not generated enough income to pay her way. The ship company demanded the money that was still owed, and as the ship had been bought in Michael D. Jones's name, the financial responsiblity rested firmly on his shoulders. Unable to pay the debt, Jones was declared bankrupt on 13 July 1871.

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