The Welsh family in the Nambucca Valley is said to be one of the biggest family groups rivalling the clan of their Scottish compatriots the McKays.
Many comparisons can be made between the two families with their colonial founders both leaving Scotland for better lives.
The McKays came from Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands, almost at the northern most point of the country with the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west.
The first Welsh family settlers were David and Eliza Welsh. David was born at Moffat in the Scottish Lowlands in 1825 in the southernmost part of Scotland.
For romance novel lovers I will point out that Moffat is just north of Gretna Green on the Scottish-English border. Gretna Green is the often cited destination for eloping English couples seeking speedy marriages.
David was born to comparative luxury compared to Angus McKay who lived in a windblown stone cottage shared with cattle.
David's father was a successful farmer and church elder and his reasons for emigrating circa 1851 are less apparent than Angus's economic ones. As he was the fourth son perhaps he was destined to leave and find his fortune elsewhere. The gold rush years of the colony may have beckoned.
David's future wife Eliza was born at Shotts, Lanarkshire, south of Glasgow in 1842.
Described as "the emerging industrial heartland of Scotland" it was a polluted, poverty-stricken area battered by chilly winds from the moors with the environment taking its toll on residents' health.
Eliza's mother Mary died of tuberculosis. Her father John Smith quickly remarried and took advantage of assisted passage to New South Wales with his second wife Janet and five young children in 1848.
In the 19th century education was held in great regard in Scotland and often said to be of a much higher stand than in England.
David with his advantage of birth would have been well educated and it is also apparent that Eliza was highly literate even with a less prosperous upbringing.
Welsh family histories have no confirmed date of David's arrival. What we do know is that it was during the gold-rush years when hundreds of thousands of people arrived likely overwhelming the compilation of immigration records.
Eliza and her family arrived earlier than David on the Charlotte Jane in 1848 on a voyage of a hundred days.
With her father's trade as a bootmaker he would have easily found work, but little is recorded of their first years in the colony as by 1851 her father John and stepmother Janet were dead. Their death certificates do not survive but John may have died from tuberculosis like his first wife. He may well have had this disease before the voyage.
Eliza at the age of nine was therefore left an orphan with three older sisters. The eldest sister, Jane was eighteen and a domestic servant who likely took on the responsibility of looking after her sisters along with the help of any other family in Sydney.
By 1860 Eliza was living with an uncle at Uralla in New South Wales. David was there too, still on the gold fields.
How they met is not known, but I would like to believe a family account which quotes a relative saying, "David had seen the young Eliza in the garden of the home where she lived as he walked by and said to himself that when she was a little older he was going to marry her because he was taken with her beauty."
David and Eliza were married in the Church of Scotland at Uralla in January 1860 with Eliza's uncle as a witness. David was thirty-five and Eliza just seventeen. David's occupation on the marriage certificate was stated as gold digger.
After the marriage David worked as a manager in Eliza's uncle's business. In 1861 he was granted a publican's licence for the Commercial Hotel in Uralla. This situation did not last with the lure of gold once again being too strong for David and he and Eliza went to goldfields on the Upper Hunter.
Their residency at the gold fields produced four daughters but no great bonanza in gold. David owned a country lot at Moonan Brook which no doubt housed his family.
David's obsession with gold digging may have turned to the lure of red gold or cedar cutting because the family set out for the Nambucca in 1868. Part two of their adventures continues with: The Welsh family pioneering the Nambucca.
This article was resourced from the records of the Nambucca Headland Museum, the Bowraville Folk Museum and Welsh family histories by Jennifer Hume MacDougall and H. G. Welsh. Thanks also to Joy Lane.