John Rhys.

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Oxford, who heard it from the late sexton of the
parish of Dollar, in the county of Clackmannan. The
sexton died some twelve years ago, aged seventy : he
had learnt the tale from his father. The following are
Mr. Clark's words :

' Glendevon is a parish and village in the Ochils in
County Perth, about five miles from Dollar as you come
up Glen Queich and down by Gloomhill. Glen Queich
is a narrowish glen between two grassy hills at the
top of the glen is a round hill of no great height, but
very neat shape, the grass of which is always short and
trim, and the ferns on the shoulder of a very marked
green. This, as you come up the glen, seems entirely
to block the way. It is called the " Maiden Castle."
Only when you come quite close do you see the path
winding round the foot of it. A little further on is
a fine spring bordered with flat stones, in the middle
of a neat, turfy spot, called the " Maiden's Well." This
road, till the new toll-road was made on the other side


of the hills, was the thoroughfare between Dollar and

The following is the legend, as told by the ' Bethrel' :-
' A piper, carrying his pipes, was coming from Glen-
devon to Dollar in the grey of the evening. He crossed
the Garchel (a little stream running into the Queich
burn), and looked at the " Maiden Castle," and saw
only the grey hillside and heard only the wind soughing
through the bent. He had got beyond it when he heard
a burst of lively music : he turned round, and instead of
the dark knoll saw a great castle, with lights blazing
from the windows, and heard the noise of dancing
issuing from the open door. He went back incautiously,
and a procession issuing forth at that moment, he was
caught and taken into a great hall ablaze with lights,
and people dancing on the floor. He had to pipe to
them for a day or two, but he got anxious, because he
knew his people would be wondering why he did not
come back in the morning as he had promised. The
fairies seemed to sympathize with his anxiety, and
promised to let him go if he played a favourite tune of
his, which they seemed fond of, to their satisfaction.
He played his very best, the dance went fast and
furious, and at its close he was greeted with loud
applause. On his release he found himself alone, in
the grey of the evening, beside the dark hillock, and no
sound was heard save the purr of the burn and the
soughing of the wind through the bent. Instead of
completing his journey to Dollar, he walked hastily
back to Glendevon to relieve his folk's anxiety. He
entered his father's house and found no kent face there.
On his protesting that he had gone only a day or two
before, and waxing loud in his bewildered talk, a grey
old man was roused from a doze behind the fire ; and
told how he had heard when a boy from his father that


a piper had gone away to Dollar on a quiet evening, and
had never been heard or seen since, nor any trace of
him found. He had been in the "castle " for a hundred

The term Plant Rhys f)wfn has already been brought
before the reader : it means 'the Children of Rhys )zvfn,'
and Rhys f)wfn means literally Rhys the Deep, but the
adjective in Welsh connotes depth of character in the
sense of shrewdness or cunning. Nay, even the English
deep is often borrowed for use in the same sense, as
when one colloquially says un dip iawn yw e, ' he is
a very calculating or cunning fellow.' The following
account of Rhys and his progeny is given by Gwyn-
ionyct in the first volume of the Brython, p. 130, which
deserves being cited at length : ' There is a tale current
in Dyfed, that there is, or rather that there has been,
a country between Cemmes, the northern Hundred of
Pembrokeshire, and Aberdaron in ILeyn. The chief
patriarch of the inhabitants was Rhys Dwfn, and his
descendants used to be called after him the Children of
Rhys Dwfn. They were, it is said, a handsome race
enough, but remarkably small in size. It is stated that
certain herbs of a strange nature grew in their land, so
that they were able to keep their country from being
seen by even the most sharp sighted of invaders. There
is no account that these remarkable herbs grew in any
other part of the world excepting on a small spot, about
a square yard in area, in a certain part of Cemmes. If
it chanced that a man stood alone on it, he beheld the
whole of the territory of Plant Rhys f)wfn ; but the
moment he moved he would lose sight of it altogether,
and it would have been utterly vain for him to look for
his footprints. In another story, as will be seen pre-
sently, the requisite platform was a turf from St. David's
churchyard. The Rhysians had not much land they


lived in towns. So they were wont in former times to
come to market to Cardigan, and to raise the prices of
things terribly. They were seen of no one coming or
going, but only seen there in the market. When prices
happened to be high, and the corn all sold, however
much there might have been there in the morning, the
poor used to say to one another on the way home, " Oh !
they were there to-day," meaning Plant Rhys f)wfn.
So they were dear friends in the estimation of Sion
Phil Hywel, the farmer ; but not so high in the opinion
of DafycT, the labourer. It is said, however, that they
were very honest and resolute men. A certain
Gruffyd ab Einon was wont to sell them more corn
than anybody else, and so he was a great friend of
theirs. He was honoured by them beyond all his con-
temporaries by being led on a visit to their home. As
they were great traders like the Phoenicians of old,
they had treasures from all countries under the sun.
Gruffyd, after feasting his eyes to satiety on their won-
ders, was led back by them loaded with presents. But
before taking leave of them, he asked them how they
succeeded in keeping themselves safe from invaders, as
one of their number might become unfaithful, and go
beyond the virtue of the herbs that formed their safety.
"Oh !" replied the little old man of shrewd looks, "just
as Ireland has been blessed with a soil on which
venomous reptiles cannot live, so with our land : no
traitor can live here. Look at the sand on the sea-
shore : perfect unity prevails there, and so among us.
Rhys, the father of our race, bade us, even to the most
distant descendant, honour our parents and ancestors ;
love our own wives without looking at those of our
neighbours; and do pur best for our children and
grandchildren. And he said that if we did so, no one
of us would ever prove unfaithful to another, or


become what you call a traitor. The latter is a wholly
imaginary character among us; strange pictures are
drawn of him with his feet like those of an ass, with
a nest of snakes in his bosom, with a head like the
devil's, with hands somewhat like a man's, while one
of them holds a large knife, and the family lies dead
around the figure. Good-bye ! " When Gruffyd looked
about him he lost sight of the country of Plant Rhys,
and found himself near his home. He became very
wealthy after this, and continued to be a great friend of
Plant Rhys as long as he lived. After Gruffyd's death
they came to market again, but such was the greed of
the farmers, like Gruffyd" before them, for riches, and so
unreasonable were the prices they asked for their corn,
that the Rhysians took offence and came no more to
Cardigan to market. The old people used to think that
they now went to Fishguard market, as very strange
people were wont to be seen there.' On the other
hand, some Fishguard people were lately of opinion
that it was at Haverfordwest the fairies did their
marketing : I refer to a letter of Mr. Ferrar Fenton's,
in the Pembroke County Guardian of October 31, 1896,
in which he mentions a conversation he had with a Fish-
guard woman as to the existence of fairies : ' There are
fairies,' she asserted, ' for they came to Ha'rfordwest
market to buy things, so there must be.'

With this should be compared pp. 9-10 of Wirt
Sikes' British Goblins, where mention is made of sailors
on the coast of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire,
' who still talk of the green meadows of enchantment
lying in the Irish Channel to the west of Pembroke-
shire,' and of men who had landed on them, or seen
them suddenly vanishing. The author then proceeds to
abstract from Howells' Cambrian Superstitions., p. 119,
the following paragraph : ' The fairies inhabiting these


islands are said to have regularly attended the markets
at Milford Haven and Laugharne. They made their
purchases without speaking, laid down their money and
departed, always leaving the exact sum required, which
they seemed to know without asking the price of any-
thing. Sometimes they were invisible ; but they were
often seen by sharp-eyed persons. There was always one
special butcher at Milford Haven upon whom the fairies
bestowed their patronage instead of distributing their
favours indiscriminately. The Milford Haven folk
could see the green Fairy Islands distinctly, lying
out a short distance from land; and the general
belief was that they were densely peopled with fairies.
It was also said that the latter went to and fro between
the islands and the shore, through a subterranean gal-
lery under the bottom of the sea.'

Another tale given in the Brython, ii. 20, by a writer
who gives his name as B. Davies l , will serve to show,
short though it be, that the term Plant Rhys f)wfn
was not confined to those honestly dealing fairies,
but was used in a sense wholly synonymous with that
of Tyhvyth Teg, as understood in other parts of Wales.
The story runs as follows, and should be compared
with the Dyffryn Mymbyr one given above, pp. 100-3 :
' One calm hot day, when the sun of heaven was brilli-
antly shining, and the hay in the dales was being busily
made by lads and lasses, and by grown-up people of
both sexes, a woman in the neighbourhood of Emlyn
placed her one-year-old infant in the gadcr, or chair,
as the cradle is called in these parts, and out she went
to the field for a while, intending to return, when her

1 B. Davies, that is, Benjamin Davies, who gives this tale, was, as I learn
from Gwynionyd", a native of Cenarth. He was a schoolmaster for about
twelve years, and died in October, 1859, at Merthyr, near Carmarthen : he
describes him as a good and intelligent man.



neighbour, an old woman overtaken by the decrepi-
tude of eighty summers, should call to her that her
darling was crying. It was not long before she heard
the old woman calling to her ; she ran hurriedly, and
as soon as she set foot on the kitchen floor she took
her little one in her arms as usual, saying to him,
" O my little one ! thy mother's delight art thou !
I would not take the world for thee, &c." But to her
surprise he had a very old look about him, and the
more the tender-hearted mother gazed at his face, the
stranger it seemed to her, so that at last she placed him
in the cradle and told her trouble and sorrow to her
relatives and acquaintances. And after this one and
the other had given his opinion, it was agreed at last
that it was one of Rhys -Dw/n's children that was in the
cradle, and not her dearly loved baby. In this distress
there was nothing to do but to fetch a sorcerer, as fast
as the fastest horse could gallop. He said, when he
saw the child, that he had seen his like before, and that
it would be a hard job to get rid of him, though not
such a very hard job this time. The shovel was made
red hot in the fire by one of the Cefnarth 1 boys, and held
before the child's face ; and in an instant the short little
old man took to his heels, and neither he nor his like
was seen afterwards from Aber Cuch to Aber Bargoed
at any rate. The mother, it is said, found her darling
unscathed the next moment. I remember also hearing
that the strange child was as old as the grandfather of
the one that had been lost.'

As I see no reason to make any profound distinction
between lake maidens and sea maidens, I now give
Gwynionyd's account of the mermaid who was found

1 This is ordinarily written Cenarth, the name of a parish on the
Teifi, where the three counties of Cardigan, Pembroke, and Carmar-
then meet.


by a fisherman from ILandydoch or St. Dogmael's 1 ,
near Cardigan : see the Brython, i. 82 :

' One fine afternoon in September, in the beginning of
the last century, a fisherman, whose name was Pergrin -,
went to a recess in the rock near Pen Cemmes, where
he found a sea maiden doing her hair, and he took the
water lady prisoner to his boat. . . . We know not what
language is used by sea maidens . . . but this one, this
time at any rate, talked, it is said, very good Welsh ;
for when she was in despair in Pergrin's custody, weeping
copiously, and with her tresses all dishevelled, she called

1 The name ILan Dydoch occurs in the Bruts, A. D. 987 and 1089, and is
the one still in use in Welsh ; but the English St. Dogmael's shows that it
is derived from that of Dogfael's name when the mutation consonant/ or v
was still written m. In Welsh the name of the saint has been worn down
to Dogwel, as in St. Dogwell's near Fishguard, and ILandogwel in ILanrhud"-
lad parish in Anglesey: see Recce's Welsh Saints, p. 211. It points back to
an early Brythonic form Doco-maglos, with doco of the same origin as Latin
dux, ducis, 'a leader,' and maglo-s = Irish trial, ' a lord or prince.' Dogfael's
name assumes in ILan Dydoch a Goidelic form, for Dog-fael would have to
become in Irish Doch-mhal, which, cut down to Dock with the honorific
prefix to, has yielded Ty-doch ; but I am not clear why it is not Ty-ctoch.
Another instance of a Goidelic form of a name having the local preference in
Wales to this day offers itself in Cyfdach and ILan Gyfelach in Glamorgan-
shire. The Welsh was formerly Cimeliauc (Reece, p. 274). Here may also
be mentioned St. Cyngar, otherwise called Docwinnus (Reece, p. 183), but
the name occurs in the Liber Landavensis in the genitive both as Docunn-i
and Docguinni, the former of which seems easily explained as Goidelic for
an early form of Cyngar, namely Cuno-caros, from which would be formed
To-chun or Do-clntn. This is what seems to underlie the Latin Docunnus,
while Docguinni is possibly a Goidelic modification of the written Docunni,
unless some such a name as Doco-vindo-shas been confounded with Docunnus.
In one instance the Book of ILan Dav has instead of Abbas Docunni or
Docguinni, the shorter designation, Abbas Doc/ion (p. 145), which one must
not unhesitatingly treat as Doc/ion, seeing that Doc/ion would be in later
book Welsh Dochau, and in the dialect of the district Docha ; and that this
occurs in the name of the church of ILandough near Cardiff, and ILandough
near Cowbridge. The connexion of a certain saint Dochdwy with these
churches does not appear at all satisfactorily established, but more light is
required to help one to understand these and similar church names.

2 This name which may have come from Little England below Wales, was
once not uncommon in South Cardiganshire, as Mr. Williams informs me,
but it is now mostly changed as a surname into Davies and Jones \ Compare
the similar fortunes of the name Mason mentioned above, p. 68.

M 2


out : ' Pergrin, if thou wilt let me go, I will give thee
three shouts in the time of thy greatest need.' So, in
wonder and fear, he let her go to walk the streets of the
deep, and visit her sweethearts there. Days and weeks
passed without Pergrin seeing her after this; but one
hot afternoon, when the sea was pretty calm, and the
fishermen had no thought of danger, behold his old
acquaintance showing her head and locks, and shouting
out in a loud voice : ' Pergrin ! Pergrin ! Pergrin ! take
up thy nets, take up thy nets, take up thy nets ! '
Pergrin and his companion instantly obeyed the message,
and drew their nets in with great haste. In they went,
past the bar, and by the time they had reached the
Pwll Cam the most terrible storm had overspread
the sea, while he and his companion were safe on
land. Twice nine others had gone out with them, but
they were all drowned without having the chance of
obeying the warning of the water lady.' Perhaps it is
not quite irrelevant to mention here the armorial bear-
ings which Drayton ascribes to the neighbouring county
of Cardigan in the following couplet in his Battaile of
Agincoiirt (London, 1631), p. 23 :

As Cardigan the next to them that went,
Came with a Mermayd sitting on a Rock.

A writer in the Brython, iv. 194, states that the people
of Nefyn in ILeyn claim the story of the fisher and the
mermaid as belonging to them, which proves that a
similar legend has been current there : add to this the
fact mentioned in the Brython, iii. 133, that a red mer-
maid with yellow hair, on a white field, figures in the
coat of arms of the family resident at Glasfryn in
the parish of ILangybi, in Eifionyd or the southern
portion of Carnarvonshire ; and we have already
suggested that Glasynys' story (pp. 117-25) was made


up, to a certain extent, of materials found on the
coasts of Carnarvonshire. A small batch of stories
about South Wales mermaids is given by a writer
who calls himself Ab Nadol \ in the Brython, iv. 310,
as follows :

' A few rockmen are said to have been working, about
eighty years ago, in a quarry near Forth y Rhaw, when
the day was calm and clear, with nature, as it were,
feasting, the flowers shedding sweet scent around, and
the hot sunshine beaming into the jagged rocks.
Though an occasional wave rose to strike the romantic
cliffs, the sea was like a placid lake, with its light
coverlet of blue attractive enough to entice one of the
ladies of Rhys f)wfn forth from the town seen by
Daniel Huws off Trefin as he was journeying between
Fishguard and St. David's in the year 1858, to make
her way to the top of a stone and to sit on it to dis-
entangle her flowing silvery hair. Whilst she was
cleaning herself, the rockmen went down, and when
they got near her they perceived that, from her waist
upwards, she was like the lasses of Wales, but that,
from her waist downwards, she had the body of a fish.
And, when they began to talk to her, they found she
spoke Welsh, though she only uttered the following
few words to them : " Reaping in Pembrokeshire and
weeding in Carmarthenshire." Off she then went to
walk in the depth of the sea towards her home.
Another tale is repeated about a mermaid, said to have
been caught by men below the land of ILanwnda, near
the spot, if not on the spot, where the French made
their landing afterwards, and three miles to the west of
Fishguard. It then goes on to say that they carried
her to their home, and kept her in a secure place for

1 I have not succeeded in discovering who the writer was, who used this


some time ; before long, she begged to be allowed to
return to the brine land, and gave the people of the
house three bits of advice ; but I only remember one
of them,' he writes, ' and this is it : " Skim the surface
of the pottage before adding sweet milk to it : it will be
whiter and sweeter, and less of it will do." I was told
that this family follow the three advices to this day.'
A somewhat similar advice to that about the pottage
is said to have been given by a mermaid, under similar
circumstances, to a Manxman.

After putting the foregoing bits together, I was
favoured by Mr. Benjamin Williams with notes on the
tales and on the persons from whom he heard them :
they form the contents of two or three letters, mostly
answers to queries of mine, and the following is the
substance of them : Mr. Williams is a native of the
valley of Troed yr Aur 1 , in the Cardiganshire parish of
that name. He spent a part of his youth at Verwig, in
the angle between the northern bank of the Teifi and
Cardigan Bay. He heard of Rhys Dwfn's Children
first from a distant relative of his father's, a Catherine
Thomas, who came to visit her daughter, who lived not
far from his father's house : that would now be from
forty-eight to fifty years ago. He was very young at the
time, and of Rhys Dwfn's progeny he formed a wonderful
idea, which was partly due also to the talk of one James
Davies or Siams Mocyn, who was very well up in folk-
lore, and was one of his father's next-door neighbours.
He was an old man, and nephew to the musician, David

' This name as it is now written should mean ' the Gold's Foot,' but in the
Demetian dialect aur is pronounced oer, and I learn from the rector, the
Rev. Rhys Jones Lloyd, that the name has sometimes been written Tref
Deyrn, which I regard as some etymologist's futile attempt to explain it.
More importance is to be attached to the name on the communion cup,
dating 1828, and reading, as Mr. Lloyd kindly informs me, Pocnlum Eclyseye
de Tre-droyre. Beneath Droyre some personal name possibly lies concealed.


Jenkin Morgan. The only spot near Mr. Williams'
home, that used to be frequented by the fairies, was
Cefn y Ceirw, 'the Stag's Ridge,' a large farm, so
called from having been kept as a park for their deer
by the Lewises of Aber Nant Bychan. He adds that
the late Mr. Philipps, of Aberglasney, was very fond
of talking of things in his native neighbourhood, and of
mentioning the fairies at Cefn y Ceirw. It was after
moving to Verwig that Mr. Williams began to put the
tales he heard on paper : then he came in contact with
three brothers, whose names were John, Owen, and
Thomas Evans. They were well-to-do and respectable
bachelors, living together on the large farm of Hafod
Ruffyct". Thomas was a man of very strong common
sense, and worth consulting on any subject : he was
a good arithmetician, and a constant reader of the
Baptist periodical, Seren Gotner, from its first appearance.
He thoroughly understood the bardic metres, and had
a fair knowledge of music. He was well versed in
Scripture, and filled the office of deacon at the Baptist
Chapel. His death took place in the year 1864. Now,
the eldest of the three brothers, the one named John,
or Sion, was then about seventy-five years of age,
and he thoroughly believed in the tales about the
fairies, as will be seen from the following short
dialogue :

Sion: Williams bach, mcCn rhaid i bod nhwi gal:
yr .w fn cofio yn aniser Bone fod marchnad Aberteifi
yn ttawn o lafir yn y bore digon yno am fis ond tin
pen hanner awr yr 6d y cwbwl wedi darfod, Nid act
possib i gweld nhwi: md gida nhivi faint a fynnon
nhwi o arian.

Williams : Siwt na fyse dynion yn i gzveld nhwi
ynte, Sion?

Sion : O md gida nhwi dynion fcl ninne yn pryni


drostyn nhwi ; ag y ma nhwi fel yr hen sidwmin yna yn
getti gneid pob trie.

John : ' My dear Williams, it must be that they exist :
I remember Cardigan market, in the time of Bonaparte,
full of corn in the morning enough for a month-
but in less than half an hour it was all gone. It was
impossible to see them : they have as much money as
they like.'

Williams: 'How is it, then, that men did not see
them, John?'

John : ' Oh, they have men like us to do the buying for
them ; and they can, like those old showmen, do every
kind of trick.'

At this kind of display of simplicity on the part of his
brother, Thomas used to smile and say : ' My brother
John believes such things as those;' for he had no
belief in them himself. Still it is from his mouth that
Mr. Williams published the tales in the Biython, which
have been reproduced here, that of ' Pergrin and the
Mermaid,' and all about the ' Heir of ILech y Derwyd",'
not to mention the ethical element in the account of
Rhys Bwfn's country and its people, the product pro-
bably of his mind. Thomas Evans, or as he was really
called, Tommos Ifan, was given rather to grappling
with the question of the origin of such beliefs ; so one
day he called Mr. Williams out, and led him to a spot
about four hundred yards from Bol y Fron, where the
latter then lived : he pointed to the setting sun, and
asked Mr. Williams what he thought of the glorious
sunset before them. ' It is all produced,' he then
observed, 'by the reflection of the sun's rays on the
mist : one might think,' he went on to say, ' that there
was there a paradise of a country full of fields, forests,
and everything that is desirable.' And before they had
moved away the grand scene had disappeared, when

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