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Quaker Studies

Abstract

The establishment of the North American Association for the Study of Welsh Culture and History (NAASW CH) in the mid 1990s has informed the work of historians on both sides of the Atlantic, and yet the important early history of Welsh emigration to America and reverse migration has still to be fully addressed. Research on Welsh migratory patterns and the impact of America on Wales in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, notably by Gwyn Alf Williams, Barry Levy, and Bill Jones, has made an important contribution to our understanding of the experiences of Welsh-Americans. However, further research is needed if we are ever to achieve a full understanding of the causes of emigration, and the migratory and settlement patterns of these communities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in America, notably in New England and at Nantucket for an example of reverse migration. Since the mid 1950s there has been but a handful of research articles written. The significance of early modern Welsh pioneers has received some attention in the works of Elwyn Ashton and C. W Holt,2 but a more systematic investigation of the origins of Welsh emigration and communities from the seventeenth century onwards has not been attempted. Scholars have hitherto been left to search the pioneering works of the Welsh historian Thomas Mardy Rees, and British and American scholars from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, notably J. J. Levick, T. A. Glenn, and C. S. Browning. The publication of Marcella Biro Barton's recent survey on Welsh/ American emigration and settlement has provided a scholarly foundation upon which studies that are more extensive can be built. My early work on Welsh Quakerism, especially my doctorate, addressed some key aspects of their migration. New postdoctoral research has developed some of these themes, including the experiences of Welsh Friends emigrants to Pennsylvania and the reverse migration of Nantucket Quaker-whalers to Milford Haven in the 1790s. The purpose of this research paper (and the wider project to which it relates) is to build upon the work already undertaken, and to explore the causes of emigration, the patterns of settlement, and some of the early experiences of these Welsh emigrants.

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