William Vaughan and New Cambriol
Sir William Vaughan (1575-1641) was a Welsh lawyer, scholar and poet. Deeply
concerned about poor economic conditions in Wales, he became interested in
overseas colonization. He decided to try and plant a colony in Newfoundland
because it was easily accessible and possessed an established fishery.
In 1616 he purchased from the Newfoundland Company the Avalon Peninsula south
of a line from Caplin Bay (now Calvert) across to Placentia Bay. He called
the area "New Cambriol" - a "little Wales" in the New World.
The following year he sent out a few ill-prepared colonists to the harbour of
Aquaforte, where they spent the winter huddled in cabins built by migratory
fishermen for summer use. In 1618 Vaughan hired the experienced fishing master
Richard Whitbourne to bring colonists and provisions to the precarious
settlement, and appointed him governor. Whitbourne did his best to reorganize
the colony by moving it to better quarters in Renews. Unfortunately, he had
to deal with a piratical attack on one of his ships by deserters from Sir
Walter Raleigh's Guiana fleet. In the end only six colonists spent the
winter of 1619 at Renews and they abandoned the settlement the following year.
In 1617 Sir William Vaughan sent a few ill-prepared colonists to Aquaforte.
Drawing by Rev. William Grey. From William Grey, Sketches of Newfoundland and Labrador (Ipswitch, Eng.: S.H. Cowell, Anastatic Press, 1858).
Vaughan retained his property south of Renews, after selling off the Ferryland
area to Sir George Calvert and the Fermeuse lot to Henry Cary, Lord Falkland.
There is no evidence that he made any further attempts at colonization, though
some sources claim he set up a short-lived settlement near Trepassey.
Vaughan promoted Newfoundland settlement in an unusual, fanciful book, The Golden
Fleece (1626). He purports to have written it in Newfoundland, but it is doubtful
that he was ever actually on the island. In the end the Welsh poet produced more
publications than colonies. His governor, Whitbourne, was also a writer, and in
1620 published the useful and detailed Discourse and Discovery of Newfoundland.
Image updated July, 2005.