Cardigan’s geographical location on the banks of the river Teifi leading to Cardigan Bay, the Irish Sea, the Atlantic and beyond, means that the sea has always had an influence on its history. Wandering through the burial records and reading the gravestones of those buried in the Church cemetery, reveals the hopes and aspirations of Cardigan’s youth and the tragedies that occurred in so many families.
The river has always been a dangerous place for young children to play.
- David William, 11 years old and the 3rd son of John ac Elizabeth drowned in July 1844.
- In June 1890 William Henry Smith, Mwldan drowned in the river.
Some drowned by crossing the bar.
- George Jefferson, 17 years old, and John Pratt, 22 years old, both drowned when the brig Active sank, in June 1825.
Cardigan Bay was the last place for some to see daylight.
- Richard Finch, the 27 year old son of Mary, drowned in March 1827.
- Thomas Thomas, 15 years old drowned in October 1843.
- David Davies, Parc Llwyd, Aber-porth, 70 years old drowned in 1851.
- John Evans, 30 years old drowned in November 1866.
A little further afield, William Phillips, a second mate on board SS Cyfarthfa drowned when he fell into the East Bute Dock, Cardiff October 1897. He left a widow and 2 children.
The following were drowned on various sea voyages where the ship’s destiny is not revealed.
- Morgan Morgan, 45 years old, in December 1846.
- William Miles, 19 years old, son of John and Dorothy, in December 1847.
- William James, 29 years old in April 1853.
- John Charles, 31 years old, son of David in August 1893.
When places are mentioned the distances travelled by Cardigan sailors are revealed. It is clear that Cardigan was not “the land that time forgot” and Cardigan people could be found in all corners of the globe well before the opening of the Cardigan to Carmarthen railway, the coming of the motor car and bus trips, or the building of Cardiff airport!
Here is a small sample of the evidence:
- Rowland Rowlands, 20 years old, died on 25 April 1796 in the West Indies.
- James Evans, 26 years old, master of the schooner Nymph died near Cape Clear, February 1833.
- Daniel Davies, 40 years old, died near Cape Clear [off the Irish coast], November 1838.
- James Owens, 25 years old, son of David and Diana, died near Crow Head, North West Ireland, November 1838.
- John Roberts, 20 years old, died near the Cape of Good Hope, September 1848.
- William Davies, 38 years old, master of the schooner Harmony died in Tralee, May 1849.
- Thomas Jones, 19 years old drowned and all the crew of the Pomona, on the Scottish coast February 1850.
- Isaac Griffiths, 23 years old, drowned near the African coast, June 1850.
- David Morris, 23 year old son of Evan and Margaret, died in San Fransisco December 1850.
- George Lord, 10 month old, born at sea and died in Valparaiso [Chile] 1851.
- John Mathias, 26 year old died of cholera in Rotterdam September 1854.
- David Owens, 52 years old, died on board the schooner Master De Carri sailing from Pomeron, December 1854
- John Griffiths, sailmaker, 59 years old, died in Malta May 1855.
- John W. Jones, 16 years old on the brig Hope in 1856.
- John White, 44 years old died died in Rio de Janeiro March 1857.
- Capten William Finch, 37 years old, died in Rio de Janeiro May 1857.
- William White, 28 years old, son of George and Sarah died in Quebec October 1860.
- Mary Runnegar, 35 years old, died in Richmond, Australia May 1861.
- James Timothy, 20 years old, fell overboard the barque Jone of Sunderland February 1863 on route from Mauritius to London.
- David Thomas, died on board the schooner William Edward from Gloucester in the Bay of Biscay June 1863.
- Phillip Phillips, 39 years old died on board the brig Harmony of Cardiff near the Scottish coast December 1865.
- John Stephens, 45 years old died in Cuba, 1867.
- David Davies, 27 years old, died on board the Sclavonica, by Leith in 1867.
- David Sambrook, 52 years old, died on board the Harlech Castle near Cape Horn, August 1868.
- William Tudor Davies, son of Tudor and Elizabeth, 23 years old and chief officer died on board the Almora, on route from Bombay to Liverpool September 1868.
- Captain William Jones, 41 years old, drowned on route from Philadelphia to Plymouth 17 September 1869.
- John Owens, 23 oed, died on route from the Mediterranean December 1870; and his brother James, 35 years old died on route from Shields to Mollendo [Southern Peru] December 1871.
- William Jenkins, 21 years old, son of David died near Cape Horn, September 1872.
- John Lloyd 26 years old died of yellow fever in Rio de Janeiro June 1873.
- John Thomas, 45 years old, died while managing the barque Maggie of Swansea. He died in Plymouth and was buried there in May 1874.
- Evan Thomas, ship master, William St., 36 years old, died in St Helena, 16 October 1875.
- Thomas Harries Griffiths, 40 years old died on board the brig Leading Star on route from Shields to Folkestone November, 1875.
- Stephen James, 49 years old died in Geddes November 1876.
- Thomas Owens, 37 years old, died on route from Bombay to London, on board the Flora August 1877.
- Captain John Morgan, 56 years old, died in Quebec Hospital, 1881 and was buried in Quebec.
- Henry Greenhill Trollip, second son of Jacob, 19 years old died on board the ship Easterhill April 1886.
- Thomas Morgan, 35 years old, died in Pera Hospital, Brazil January 1887.
Tragedy struck some families across more than one generation.
- Thomas and James, sons of Owen and Elizabeth Thomas, drowned at sea as well as their grandson John Lloyd
- David Davies, Parc Llwyd drowned in Cardigan Bay in 1851 and his son David died from burns on board the ship Amazon, January 1852.
- David Williams, 11 years old, and 3rd son of John and Elizabeth, drowned by the Quay in Cardigan in 1844; their 4th son William, 16 years old was washed overboard the Susannah on the North West coast of Ireland in December 1844.
- William Williams, 52 years old, master of the brig Jane of Cardigan died in Limerick, October 1825; Lewis, his 23 years old son drowned in February 1833; another son John, 18 years old drowned off the coast at Holyhead in the Mary of Cardigan in October 1838; and a third son Thomas, 34 years old died in New York in July 1847.