> The Cornish in Latin America
Cornish-Mexican Cultural Society plan re-enactment of the 'Great Trek' of the Transport Party
Cultural Society was established in 2006 with the objectives of fostering
and promoting the historic cultural ties between Cornwall and Mexico, and,
in particular, the State of Hidalgo and the municipalities of Pachuca and
Real del Monte enabling the re-establishment of cultural links between the
two great mining districts. Building upon an agreement signed between the
towns of Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall and the municipalities of
Pachuca and Mineral del Monte, Hidalgo State, Mexico, a visit is being
planned for July 2008 that will follow the route of the Transport Party of
1825-26, arriving at Real del Monte on Miner's Day.
To make matters worse, the party of miners from the Melpomene was decimated by vůmito prieto (swamp fever) a terrifyingly swift illness characterised by black vomit in its final stages, which carried away one third of the party soon after disembarkation and a further four en route to the mines of Real del Monte. At least three Cornishmen were repatriated due to frailty, one dying on the way home. It was noted by a nineteenth century commentator that upon arrival in Mexico, of forty four Cornish migrants, twenty six died of fever almost immediately after setting ashore. They were buried on Mullan beach, Vera Cruz, eight of them in one grave.
Progress to the mines was further impeded by the lack of a proper road, the routes being mere mule tracks. The Cornish and their Mexican helpers had therefore to construct the road they were to traverse in appalling conditions caused by torrential rains and floods, through mud swept ravines, swampy terrain and lofty mountains. Thirty six hundred weight of iron was washed away, many mules were drowned and the cost to life was shocking. In all, it took the party a year to travel the 250 miles to Real del Monte, a feat of endurance that is remembered with pride in the history books of Mexican school children today.
The Cornish Mexican Cultural Society wish to walk symbolic parts of this route, with a memorial stone laying ceremony at the beach at Moncamba and the English Cemetery at Real del Monte to commemorate this important milestone in the shared mining heritage of both nations. The twin silver mining settlements of Pachuca and Real del Monte in the State of Hidalgo are being marketed as 'Mexico's Little Cornwall' by the Mexican Embassy in London and represent the first attempt by the Spanish speaking part of the Cornish Diaspora to establish formal links with Cornwall through town twining initiatives.
If you wish to find out more about the Great Trek, or about the Cornish Mexican Cultural Society, visit our website.
The Cornish in Latin America
The significance of Cornish migration to
Latin America lay not in numbers: far fewer people migrated there than
to the USA, South Australia, England and Wales or South Africa, but in
the fact that the mines of Latin America were among the first to attract
significant Cornish labour outside the British Isles and continued to
recruit Cornish labour right into the 1930s. Many of the defining
features of overseas Cornish migration during what has been dubbed the
'Great Migration' (c1815-1920) have their roots in Latin America. These
include the system of home pay (remittances) that were to become so
important to the Cornish economy in the late nineteenth century, the
rise of transnational communities, and more importantly the emergence of
the reputation of Cornish miners, also known as 'Cousin Jacks' , as the
world's finest hard rock miners. Yet little research has focused on this
important part of Cornish history. It is hoped that this website will
begin to address this lack of scholarship.
The 1820s marked the beginnings of
significant British capital investment in Latin American mining and led to the
migration of thousands of Cornishmen and their families. Click here to
find out more about the 'New World order'.