The Cambrian Benevolent Society of Chicago

founded by and for Welsh citizens of Chicago in 1853

  • Founding
  • Dissolution
  • Addresses

Tha Cambrian Benevolent Society was founded on January 31st, 1853. It was originally called the Ancient Britons' Benevolent Society but quite soon thereafter adopted its current name.

The first President of the society was Owen Owens, a brass founder from North Wales. Although William Bebb is listed as the first President of the society (see page of first minutes book below) he never attended a meeting and subsequently relinquished the title. 

The original aim of the society was to assist Welsh citizens of the city who were in need and, in particular, to ensure that they had a decent burial if they died in indigent circumstances. 

They held their first St David's Day celebration on March 1, 1853 and have continued this tradition up to the present day - the 163rd was celebrated in Oak Park, Illinois on February 27th, 2016. 

In 1870, an annual summer picnic was announced. It became a much-anticipated family event and continues to this day.

The present Board continues to plan for both of these much-loved events. In addition, they arrange for a Christmas tree to be decorated with Welsh-themed ornaments at the Museum of Science and Industry's Festival of Trees during November and December of each year. A program of Welsh music and dance is also planned for the cultural holiday program at the Museum. 

In recent years the Society has taken on the responsibility of planning an annual Gymanfa Ganu (Welsh hymn singing festival) which was previously organized by the Chicago Gymanfa Ganu Association. This is most often held in Oak Park in the Spring.

For more information visit the society's site at