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Cayman Islands searching for Welsh descendants - calling all Walters/Watlers!

26 Jun, 2018

Search your family records - there could be a trip to the Cayman Islands in it for you and your family.

We launched a campaign on Tue 26th June to begin the search for the descendants of one of the original founders of the Cayman Islands, who was Welsh. Welcoming Eric Bush (Cayman Islands Representative to the UK) along with officials from the Cayman Islands Government office, we hosted the delegation at the home of Welsh rugby - Principality Stadium, exchanging signed rugby shirts from our small nations, traditional cakes - and tales of our ancestors. 

In 1658, a Welshman called Walters and a Cornishman called Bawden were the first known people to step foot on the islands. Eventually, their names morphed into Watler and Bodden and following the Cayman officials’ journey to Cornwall in 2017 to find the Cornish ‘Bodden’ descendants, the Cayman delegation were today welcomed in the Welsh capital, where they visited Cardiff Bay landmarks and the Glamorgan Archives as part of their search.

The campaign to reunite ancestors of Bodden and Walter is part of a campaign to raise awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the relationship that exists between the Cayman Islands, Wales and Britain. 

Commenting on the Welsh-Cayman links, Eric Bush, Cayman Islands Representative to the UK said:

"Just like the Welsh, we are immensely proud of our national identity, culture and history. Cayman has a rich and diverse population today, but it all began with these two settlers. It would be great to find a family or persons from Wales that may have a connection with the Watler who settled in the islands ”

GlobalWelsh founder Walter May added:

“GlobalWelsh understands the importance of roots and however distant - the ties that bind us. Being or feeling Welsh isn't just about a surname, a language or being born in Wales....everyone is welcome to be a part of our global family. Our ancestors wandered to every corner of the planet. It's this pioneering spirit that allowed Wales and the Welsh to overcome the odds and maintain its culture and language for hundreds of years.

"We've heard from many American community members that though they've never set foot in Wales, it lives within them and they feel a keen sense of Welsh identity. It’s important that Wales forges new connections with her descendants, expats, and countries with a shared history so that we can benefit from trade, investment links and knowledge transfer opportunities. So, it's apt that the Cayman delegation is fostering these links with both Wales and Cornwall - we are delighted to be involved.”

For further information on the campaign, visit the Cayman Islands Government Office website