The journey from Wales to London in the nineteenth century

My great-great grandparents John and Jane Evans (born in 1821) were London Welsh from Merioneth and Cardigan. They must have arrived in the capital in the early 1840s and they were married in Chelsea in 1849.  They lived in London until 1874 and then, Jane being very unwell, returned to Dinas Mawddwy for " a more peaceful life" leaving their 18 year old daughter in service in Hampstead.  She married my great-grandfather there 2 years later.

Dinas Mawddwy is about 220 miles from London.

I have already bought "The Welsh in London 1500-2000" Emrys Jones (Ed) 2001, which is very interesting, and I gather that cattle drovers covered about 15 miles per day thus taking 2 weeks to cover the distance.

Presumably my ancestors travelled by coach in the 1840s, but perhaps by rail in the 1870s ? Does anyone know a book that describes the journey?  I will be pretty hard work to look at coach stages en route in individual directories, but maybe that's what I need to do! 

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I am very envious that you know what part of Wales your London Welsh ancestor came from! I also have a London Welsh ancestor by the surname of Evans, but been able to find out nothing about him, alas. My 2xgreat-grandmother, Catherine Emma Strudwick, born in Marylebone in 1842, was the daughter of Evan Evans and a woman called Jane Strudwick. The two never married, however, and I can find no other reference to him. The place where Catherine was born is just round the corner (literally) from where the Welsh Church now stands in Eastcastle St, but it wasn't there at the time, so no use looking in their records, I guess.  What part of London did your Evans ancestors live in and what sources did you use to find information about them?  I would _so_ like to break through this brick wall!  

In terms of your own quest for information, have you seen the TV series by Griff Rhys Jones about Britain's Lost Routes?  I'm fairly sure one episode was about the Welsh cattle drovers - and presumably it wasn't only drovers who used the route they took. That said, though, I think they were from South Wales, so possibly not much use if your ancestors were from North Wales!

Another book about the Welsh in London is City Mission: The Story of London's Welsh Chapels by Huw Edwards. It is more likely to provide context than details about individual families. The first two chapters will probably be the most help.

You may enjoy the book Stage Coaches in Wales by Herbert Williams. It contains a lot of good information. Apparently the first trains from Chepstow to Swansea ran in 1850. This book includes fares and other details that will help you understand how people traveled and how that changed.

Fantastic!  Thank you so much.  :-)

I forgot to mention that a surprising number of London relatives of people in Wales are mentioned in pre-1858 probate records. The Welsh probate abstracts make this as simple as possible to search and most of those are available on It is not the place to start searching as census and other records should be examined first.

Do you have the birth certificate and marriage certificate for Catherine? Those would be starting points since the fathers occupation should be included if he is named. The occupation can make a world of difference when searching for a common name.


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