(CNN)Morgan Jones was close to starving. It was 1660 and he and his boat crew had been stranded at Oyster Point, in modern-day South Carolina, for almost eight months, running low on food with no hope of rescue.
The racist origins of the myth a Welsh prince beat Columbus to America
Eventually, Jones and five others set out "through the wilderness" for British colonies in the north, but were detained as they passed through the territory of a local indigenous tribe.
"That night they carried us to their town and shut us up close to our no small dread," Jones wrote in an account of his journey published years later.
Told they were to be executed, Jones cried out in his native language, Welsh: "Have I escaped so many dangers and must I now be knocked on the head like a dog?"
One of his captors then approached him and said, "in the British tongue" that Jones "should not die." Instead, he took him to his home, where Jones happily conversed "with them familiarly in the British (Welsh) language and did preach to them three times a week in the same language."
After almost a month, Jones returned to his home in New York and wrote to a fellow clergyman, Thomas Lloyd of Pennsylvania, promising to "conduct any Welshman" to the place he had met their American co-linguists.
Jones' account reignited interest in a more than half-a-century-old story popular on both sides of the Atlantic that Christopher Columbus had been beaten to the Americas by almost 300 years by a Welsh prince, and that therefore the New World belonged not to the Spanish crown but to the English. The rights of indigenous people who had been there for millennia not deemed worth considering.
Proof of this account was purported to be found in existence of Welsh-speaking communities living in America. The hunt for these so-called "white Indians," who looked and spoke like Europeans, was an obsession for many early settlers,