Our 75th accession in 2005 was the papers of Thomas Harry of Patagonia (ref.: D376).
Thomas Harry was the son of David Harry of Tranch, near Laleston, Bridgend. He lived briefly in Mountain Ash before emigrating to Patagonia in about 1865.
A Welsh settlement, known as ‘Y Wladfa’, was established in Patagonia during the mid-19th century. The first Welsh settlers, 153 in number, set sail for Patagonia in 1865 on board the clipper Mimosa. Today there are some 50,000 Patagonians of Welsh descent, a small number of whom are still Welsh speakers.
By 1876, Thomas Harry had established a new life in Patagonia as the farmer of 200 acres in ‘Chupat Colony’, otherwise known as Chubut. His papers comprise one letter, in which he asks for news of his family back home in Wales. He writes to Anne Jenkins, ‘ever since I came to this place about 11 years ago I have not heard a word from any of my relations’.
The letter also gives details of Thomas Harry’s new life in Patagonia, where he lived at Tan y Castell, still a single man, the owner of 30 head of cattle – 9 of which were milking, 6 horses, and 40 acres of corn. Despite his apparent success, he writes that ‘I have lived here four years and have not received the reward for my labour yet…’ and states that ‘If my brothers should feel like coming out I should not advise them to come…’
It seems that life was hard in Patagonia for those early Welsh settlers. We have no further details of Thomas Harry here at Glamorgan Archives; we don’t know if he stayed and thrived in his adopted country or whether he returned to Wales. If anyone does know what became of him, we would very much like to find out.