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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces an article in
The Gentleman's Magazine
Vol. 10, Mar. 1740, pp103‑105

The text is in the public domain.

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 p103  The Crown of England's Title to America
prior to that of Spain

Sir, — That the vast Continent of America was first discovered by Britons, above Three hundred Years before the Spaniards had any Footing there; and that the Descendants of that first Colony  p104 of Britons who then seated themselves there, are still a distinct People, and retain their original Language, is a Matter of Fact, which may be indisputably proved, by the concurrent Account of several Writers and Travellers. I shall first quote a Letter of Mr Morgan Jones, Chaplain to the Plantations of South-Carolina, sent to Dr Thomas Lloyd of Pensylvania, by whom it was transmitted to Charles Lloyd of Dol-y‑fran in Montgomeryshire, Esq. and afterwards communicated to Dr Robert Plott, by the Hands of Mr Edward Lluid, A. M. Keeper of the Ashmolean Musaeum in Oxford. It is as follows:

"These Presents may certify all Persons whatsoever, that in the Year 1660, I being then an Inhabitant in Virginia, and Chaplain to Major-General Bennet of Manseman County, the said Major Bennet and Sir William Berkley sent two Ships to Port-Royal, now called South Carolina, which is 60 Leagues to the Southward of Cape Fair; and I was sent therewith to be their Minister. Upon the 8th of April we set out from Virginia, and arriv'd at the Harbour's Mouth of Port-Royal the 19th of the same Month, where we waited for the rest of the Fleet that was to sail from Barbadoes and Bermuda with one Mr West, who was to be Deputy-Governor of the said Place. As soon as the Fleet came in, the small Vessels that were with us sail'd up the River to a Place called the Oyster-Point. There I continued about eight Months; all which Time being almost starved for want of Provisions, I and five more travel'd thro' the Wilderness til we came to the Tuscorara Country: There the Tuscorara Indians took us Prisoners, because we told them we were bound for Roanok: That Night they carried us into their Town, and shut us up close by ourselves, to our no small Dread. The next Day they enter'd into a Consultation about us; which after it was over, their Interpreter told us, that we must prepare ourselves to die next Morning. Whereupon being very much dejected, and speaking to this Effect in the British Tongue, "Have I escaped so many Dangers, and must I now be knocked on the Head like a Dog?" Then presently an Indian came to me, which afterwards appear'd to be a War‑Captain belonging to the Sachim of the Doegs (whose Original I find must needs be from the Old Britons) and took me up by the Middle, and told me in the British Tongue, I should not die: And thereupon went to the Emperor of Tuscorara, and agreed for my Ransom and the Men that were with me. They then welcomed us to their Town, and entertained us very conventionally and cordially four Months; during which Time, I had the Opportunity of conversing with them familiarly in the British Language; and did preach to them three Times a Week in the same Language; and they would usually confer with me about any thing that was difficult therein; and at our Departure they abundantly supply'd us with whatever was necessary to our Support and Well-being. They are seated upon Vontigo River, not far from Cape‑Atros. This is a brief Recital of my Travels among the Doeg Indians.

Morgan Jones, the Son of John Jones of Basaleg, near New Port, in the County of Monmouth.

New‑York, March 10th, 1685‑6.

P. S. I am ready to conduct any Welshman or others to the Country."

I shall next make some Remarks on the above Letter.

It appears by this Narrative, that the Author, Mr Morgan Jones, was probably unacquainted with the History of his own Country. He was surpriz'd (and well he might) to hear the Doeg Indians talk the British Language; and concludes (and indeed very justly) that they must be descended from the Old Britons; but when and how, our Author seems to be at a Loss. But the Welsh History (first wrote by Caradoc Abbot of Llancarvan, and since published by Dr Powell) sets the whole Matter in a clear Light, and unravels the Mystery. For it informs us, yt in the Year 1170 Madoc ap Owen Gwyneth (to avoid the Calamities and Distractions of a Civil War at Home) took a Resolution to go in Quest of some remote Country to live in Peace. And so having directed his Course due West, he landed in some Place of that vast Continent now called America. There being charmed with the Fertility of the Soil (after having built some slight Fortifications for the Security of his People) he returns Home to North Wales, leaving 120 Men behind. There reciting his successful Voyage, and describing the fruitful and pleasant Land he found out, he prevailed with many of his Countrymen, Men and Women, to return with him, to enjoy that Tranquillity in a remote Country, which they could not in their own. The brave Adventurers put out to Sea in ten Barges, laden with all manner of Necessaries, and by God's Providence landed safely in the same Harbour they arrived at before: It is very probable it was about Mexico, since there Prince Madoc was bury'd, as his Epitaph since found there, does make evident beyond all Contradiction.

 p105  Madoc wyf mwydic ei wedd

Jawn geuan Owen Gwynedd;

Ni fynnwn dir, fy awydd oedd

Na ða mawr ond y Moroedd.

It is indeed the common Opinion, that in the Course of a few Generations, Madoc and his Men incorporated with the Natives, and made one People with them; whence proceed the various British Words that the Europeans found among the Mexico Indians, such as "Pen‑Gwyn, Groeso, Gwenddwr, Bara, Tad, Mam, Buwch, Cluglar, Llwynoc, Coch y dwr" with many more recited in Sir Thomas Herbert's Travels, p222. But by this Narrative it is evident, that they keep as yet a distinct People, at least in the Year 1660, when our Author was amongst them. For Mr Jones says, he not only conversed with them about the ordinary Affairs of Life, but preached to them three Times a Week in the British Language; and that they usually consulted him when any thing appeared difficult in the same Language; which evidently demonstrates, that they still preserve their original Language, and are still a Colony or People unmixed.

Now if a primier Discovery confers a Right (as it seems it is a Maxim in Politicks) then the Crown of England has an indisputable Right to the Sovereignty of those Countries in America; for the Spaniards had no Footing there 'till the Year 1492, 322 Years since the First Discovery by Prince Madoc. Some Statesmen indeed would fain have persuaded Q. Elizabeth to insist on this Title (as is mentioned by Dr Heylin, p1000 Ed. 3 of his Geography.) But they had only an obscure Tradition then, that was thought would not bear Proof: But this Narrative sets off the whole Matter beyond Dispute; whereby our Author writes with such Simplicity and unaffected Style, and without any studied Eloquence, as 'tis plain he had nothing in View, but to relate the naked Truth. And since this is a Matter of Fact so well attested, backed with such Variety of Incidents, let not the proud Dons any more assume the Glory of this noble Discovery; but let our most Puissant Monarch of Great Britain claim his most just Rights.

— Britons strike home.

Theophilus Evans, Vicar of St David's in Brecon.

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