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much more popular in the Principality than they are
now : in fact, I do not feel sure that Leisa Bela is
not bodily a corruption of Isabella. As to sUi ffrit,
one might at first have been inclined to render it by
small fry, especially in the sense of the French 'de
la friture' as applied to young men and boys, and
to connect it with the Welsh sil and silod, which mean
small fish ; but the pronunciation of silli or slli being
nearly that of the English word silly, it appears, on
the whole, to -belong to the host of English words
to be found in colloquial Welsh, though they seldom
find their way into books. Students of English ought
to be able to tell us whether frit had the meaning
here suggested in any part of England, and how
lately ; also, whether there was such a phrase as ' silly
frit ' in use. After penning this, I received the following
interesting communication from Mr. William Jones,
of ILangotten : The term sUi ffrit was formerly in
Use at Bedgelert, and what was thereby meant was
a child of the Tylwyth Teg. It is still used for any
creature that is smaller than ordinary. ' Pooh, a silly
frit like that ! ' (Pw, rhyw slli ffrit fel yna /). ' Mrs. So-
and-So has a fine child.' ' Ha, do you call a silly
frit like that a fine child ? ' (Mae gan hon a hon blentyn
braf. Ho, a ydych chwi 'n galw rhyw sili ffrit fel hwnnan



RHVS



66 CELTIC FOLKLORE [en.

bmf?} To return to Leisa Bela and Belene, it
may be that the same person was meant by both
these names, but I am in no hurry to identify them,
as none of my correspondents knows the latter of
them except Mr. Hughes, who gives it on the authority
of the bard Gutyn Peris, and nothing further so far
as I can understand, whereas Bela will come before
us in another story, as it is the same name, I presume,
which Glasynys has spelled Bella in Cymru Fu.

So I wrote in 1881 : since then I have ascertained
from Professor Joseph Wright, who is busily engaged
on his great English Dialect Dictionary, that frit 1 is the
same word, in the dialects of Cheshire, Shropshire,
and Pembrokeshire, as fright in literary English ; and
that the corresponding verb to frighten is in them
fritten, while afrittenin (= the book English frightening)
means a ghost or apparition. So sili ffrit is simply
the English silly frit, and means probably a silly sprite
or silly ghost, and sili ffrit Leisa Bela would mean
the silly ghost of a woman called Liza Bella. But the
silly frit found spinning near Corwrion Pool will come
under notice again, for that fairy belongs to the
Rumpelstiltzchen group of tales, and the fragment
of a story about her will be seen to have treated
Silly Frit as her proper name, which she had not
intended to reach the ears of the person of whom
she was trying to get the better.

These tales are brought into connexion with the
present day in more ways than one, for besides the
various accounts of the bwganod or bogies of Corwrion
frightening people when out late at night, Mr. D. E.
Davies knows a man, who is still living, and who

1 My attention has also been called to fret t,frete,freet, fret, ' news, inquiry,
augury,' corresponding to Anglo-Saxon freht, ' divination.' But the disparity
of meaning seems to stand in the way of our ffrit being referred to this
origin.



i] UNDINE'S KYMRIC SISTERS 67

well remembers the time when the sound of working
used to be heard in the pool, and the voices of children
crying somewhere in its depths, but that when
people rushed there to see what the matter was, all
was found profoundly quiet and still. Moreover, there
is a family or two, now numerously represented in
the parishes of ILandegai and ILanftechid, who used to
be taunted with being the offspring of fairy ancestors.
One of these families was nicknamed ' Simychiaid '
or ' Smychiaid ' ; and my informant, who is not yet
quite forty, says that he heard his mother repeat
scores of times that the old people used to say, that
the Smychiaid, who were very numerous in the neigh-
bourhood, were descended from fairies, and that they
came from ILyn Corwrion. At all this the Smychiaid
were wont to grow mightily angry. Another tradition, he
says, about them was that they were a wandering family
that arrived in the district from the direction of Conway,
and that the father's name was a Simwch, or rather
that was his nickname, based on the proper name
Simwnt, which appears to have once been the prevalent
name in JLandegai. The historical order of these
words would in that case have been Simwnt, Simwch,
Simychiaid, Smychiaid. Now Simwnt seems to be
merely the Welsh form given to some such English
name as Simond, just as Edmund or Edniond becomes
in North Wales Eniwnt. The objection to the nick-
name seems to lie in the fact, which one of my
correspondents points out to me, that Simwch is
understood to mean a monkey, a point on which
I should like to have further information. Pughe
gives simach, it is true, as having the meaning of
the Latin sinria. A branch of the same family is said
to be called 'y Cowperiaid' or the Coopers, from an
ancestor who was either by name or by trade a cooper.

F a



68 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

Mr. Hughes' account of the Smychiaid was, that
they are the descendants of one Simonds, who came
to be a bailiff at Bodysgatlan, near Deganwy, and
moved from there to Coetmor in the neighbourhood
of Corwrion. Simonds was obnoxious to the bards, he
goes on to say, and they described the Smychiaid as
having arrived in the parish at the bottom of a caweff,
'a creel or basket carried on the back,' when chance
would have it that the cawett cord snapped just in that
neighbourhood, at a place called Pont y ILan. That
accident is described, according to Mr. Hughes, in the
following doggerel, the origin of which I do not know

E dorai 'r arwest, ede wan, The cord would snap, feeble yarn,

Brwnt y tte, ar Bont y ILan. At that nasty spot, Pont y ILan.

Curiously enough, the same cawett story used to
be said of a widely spread family in North Cardigan-
shire, whose surname was pronounced Massn and
written Mason or Mazon : as my mother was of this
family, I have often heard it. The cawett, if I remember
rightly, was said, in this instance, to have come from
Scotland, to which were traced three men who settled
in North Cardiganshire. One had no descendants,
but the other two, Mason and Peel I think his name
was Peel, but I am only sure that it was not Welsh
had so many, that the Masons, at any rate, are ex-
ceedingly numerous there ; but a great many of them,
owing to some extent, probably, to the cawett story,
have been silly enough to change their name into
that of Jones, some of them in my time. The three
men came there probably for refuge in the course of
troubles in Scotland, as a Frazer and a Francis did
to Anglesey. At any rate, I have never heard it
suggested that they were of aquatic origin, but, taking
the cawetf'mto consideration, and the popular account of



i] UNDINE'S KYMRIC SISTERS 69

the Smychiaid, I should be inclined to think that the
cawett originally referred to some such a supposed
descent. I only hope that somebody will help us
with another and a longer cawett tale, which will make
up for the brevity of these allusions. We may, however,
assume, I think, that there was a tendency at one
time in Gwyneot, if not in other parts of the Principality,
to believe, or pretend to believe, that the descendants
of an Englishman or Scotsman, who settled among
the old inhabitants, were of fairy origin, and that
their history was somehow uncanny, which was all,
of course, duly resented. This helps, to some extent,
to explain how names of doubtful origin have got
into these tales, such as Smychiaid, Cowperiaid, Fellings,
Penelope, Leisa Bela or Isabella, and the like. This
association of the lake legends with intruders from
without is what has, perhaps, in a great measure
served to rescue such legends from utter oblivion.

As to a church at Corwrion, the tradition does not
seem to be an old one, and it appears founded on one
of the popular etymologies of the word Corwrion,
which treats the first syllable as cor in the sense of
a choir ; but the word has other meanings, including
among them that of an ox-stall or enclosure for cattle.
Taking this as coming near the true explanation, it
at once suggests itself, that Creuwyryon in the Mab-
inogi of Math ab Mathonwy is the same place, for
creu or crau also meant an enclosure for animals, in-
cluding swine. In Irish the word is cro, an enclosure,
a hut or hovel. The passage in the Mabinogi 1 relates
to Gwydion returning with the swine he had got by
dint of magic and deceit from Pryderi, prince of Dyfed,
and runs thus in Lady Charlotte Guest's translation:
' So they journeyed on to the highest town of Artlech-

1 The Oxford Mabinogion, p. 63 ; Guest, iii. 223.



70 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

wed", and there they made a sty (creu] for the swine,
and therefore was the name of Creuwyryon given to
that town.' As to wyryon or wyrion, which we find
made into wrion in Corwrion according to the modern
habit, it would seem to be no other word than the usual
plural of wyr, a grandson, formerly also any descendant
in the direct line. If so, the name of an ancestor must
have originally followed, just as one of the places called
Bettws was once Betws Wyrion Itfon, ' the Bettws of
Idon's Descendants'; but it is possible that wyrion
in Creu- or Cor-wyrion was itself a man's name,
though I have never met with it. It is right to add
that the name appears in the Record of Carnarvon
(pp. 12, 25, 26) as Creweryon, which carries us back
to the first half of the fourteenth century. There it
occurs as the name of a township containing eight
gavels, and the particulars about it might, in the hand
of one familiar with the tenures of that time, perhaps
give us valuable information as to what may have been
its status at a still earlier date.



VI.

Here, for the sake of comparison with the North-
walian stories in which the fairy wife runs away from
her husband in consequence of his having uninten-
tionally touched or hit her with the iron in the bridle,
the fetter, or the stirrup, as on pp. 35, 40, 46, 50, 54, 61.
I wish to cite the oldest recorded version, namely from
Walter Mapes' curious miscellany of anecdotes and
legends entitled De Nugis Curialium Distindiones
Quinque. Mapes flourished in the latter part of the
twelfth century, and in Distinctio ii. n of Thomas
Wright's edition, published in the year 1850, one reads
the following story, which serves the purpose there of



r] UNDINE'S KYMRIC SISTERS 71

giving the origin of a certain Trinio, of whom Mapes
had more to say :

Aliud Jion miraculum sed portentum nobis Walenses
referunt. Wastinum Wastiniam secus stagnum Brek-
einauc [read Brecheinauc\, quod in circuitu duo miliaria
tenet, mansisse aiunt et vidisse per tres claras a luna
nodes choreas fceminarum in campo avence suce, et secutum
eum eas fuisse donee in aqua stagni submergerentur,
unam tanien quarta vice retinuisse, Narrabat etiam
ille raptor illius quod eas noctibus singulis post submer-
sionem earum murmurantes audisset sub aqua et dicentes,
' Si hoc fecisset, unam de nobis cepisset' et se ab ipsis
edoctum quomodo hanc adepta [read -us] sit, quce et consensit
et nupsit ei, et prima verba sua hcec ad mrum suum,
' Libens tibi serviam, et tota obedientice devotione usque
in diem ilium prosilire volens ad clamores ultra Lenem
[read Leueni] me freno tuo percusseris.' Est autein
Leueni aqua vicina stagno. Quod et factum est ; post
plurimce prolis susceptionem ab eo freno percussa est, et in
reditu suo inventam earn fugientem cum prole, insecutus
est, et vix unum ex filiis suis arripuit, nomine Triunem
Uagelauc.

' The Welsh relate to us another thing, not so much
a miracle as a portent, as follows. They say that
Gwestin of Gwestiniog dwelt beside Brecknock Mere,
which has a circumference of two miles, and that on
three moonlight nights he saw in his field of oats
women dancing, and that he followed them until they
sank in the water of the mere ; but the fourth time
they say that he seized hold of one of them. Her
captor further used to relate that on each of these
nights he had heard the women, after plunging into the
mere, murmuring beneath the water and saying, " If he
had done so and so, he would have caught one of us,"
and that he had been instructed by their own words,



72 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

as to the manner in which he caught her. She
both yielded and became his wife, and her first words
to her husband were these : " Willingly will I serve
thee, and with whole-hearted obedience, until that day
when, desirous of sallying forth in the direction of the
cries beyond the ILyfni, thou shalt strike me with thy
bridle " the ILyfni is a burn near the mere. And this
came to pass : after presenting him with a numerous
offspring she was struck by him with the bridle, and on
his returning home, he found her running away with her
offspring, and he pursued her, but it was with difficulty
that he got hold even of one of his sons, and he was
named Trinio (?) Faglog.'

The story, as it proceeds, mentions Trinio engaged
in battle with the men of a prince who seems to have
been no other than Brychan of Brycheiniog, supposed
to have died about the middle of the fifth century. The
battle was disastrous to Trinio and his friends, and
Trinio was never seen afterwards ; so Walter Mapes
reports the fact that people believed him to have been
rescued by his mother, and that he was with her living
still in the lake. Giraldus calls it lacus ille de Brecheniauc
magnus et famosus, queni et Clanwsum dicunt, ' that
great and famous lake of Brecknock which they
also call Clamosus] suggested by the Welsh JLyn
E^efni, so called from the river ILcfni, misinterpreted as
if derived from ffcf a cry.' With this lake he connects
the legend, that at the bidding of the rightful Prince of
Wales, the birds frequenting it would at once warble
and sing. This he asserts to have been proved in the
case of Gruffud:, son of Rhys, though the Normans
were at the time masters of his person and of his
territory 1 . After dwelling on the varying colours of
the lake he adds the following statement : Ad hccc

1 See the Itinerarium Kambrioe, i. 2 (pp. 33-5), and Celtic Britain, p. 64.



i] UNDINE'S KYMRIC SISTERS 73

etiam totus cedificiis consertus, culturis egregiis, hortis
ornatus et pomerus, ab accolis quandoque conspicitur,
' Now and then also it is seen by the neighbouring
inhabitants to be covered with buildings, and adorned
with excellent farming, gardens, and orchards.' It is
remarkable as one of the few lakes in Wales where
the remains of a crannog have been discovered, and
while Mapes gives it as only two miles round, it is
now said to be about five ; so it has sometimes l been
regarded as a stockaded island rather than as an
instance of pile dwellings.

In the Brython for 1863, pp. 114-15, is to be found
what purports to be a copy of a version of the Legend
of IL.yn Syfadon, as contained in a manuscript of
Hugh Thomas' in the British Museum. It is to the
effect that the people of the neighbourhood have a
story that all the land now covered by the lake
belonged to a princess, who had an admirer to whom
she would not be married unless he procured plenty
of gold : she did not care how. So he one day
murdered and robbed a man who had money, and the
princess then accepted the murderer's suit, but she
felt uneasy on account of the reports as to the murdered
man's ghost haunting the place where his body had
been buried. So she made her admirer go at night
to interview the ghost and lay it. Whilst he waited
near the grave he heard a voice inquiring whether the
innocent man was not to be avenged, and another
replying that it would not be avenged till the ninth
generation. The princess and her lover felt safe
enough and were married : they multiplied and became
numerous, while their town grew to be as it were
another Sodom ; and the original pair lived on so

1 As for example in the Archceologia Cambrcnsis for 1870, pp. 192-8 ; see
also 1872, pp. 146-8.



74 CELTIC FOLKLORE

astonishingly long that they saw their descendants of
the ninth generation. They exulted in their prosperity,
and one day held a great feast to celebrate it ; and
when their descendants were banqueting with them,
and the gaiety and mirth were at their zenith,
ancestors and descendants were one and all drowned
in a .mighty cataclysm which produced the present
lake.

Lastly may be briefly mentioned the belief still
lingering in the neighbourhood, to the effect that there
is a town beneath the waters of the lake, and that in
rough weather the bells from the church tower of that
town may be heard ringing, while in calm weather the
spire of the church may be distinctly seen. My infor-
mant, writing in 1892, added the remark : ' This story
seems hardly creditable to us, but many of the old
people believe it.'

I ought to have mentioned that the fifteenth-century
poet Lewis Glyn Cothi connects with Syfadon 1 Lake an
afanc legend ; but this will be easier to understand
in the light of the more complete one from the banks
of the river Conwy. So the reader will find Glyn
Cothi's words given in the next chapter.

1 Howells has also an account of ILyn Savadhan, as he writes it : see his
Cambrian Superstitions, pp. 100-2, where he quaintly says that the story of
the wickedness of the ancient lord of Syfadon is assigned as the reason why
' the superstitious little river Lewenny will not mix its water with that of
the lake.' Lewenny is a reckless improvement of Mapes' Leneni (printed
Lenem") ; and Giraldus' Clamosum implies an old spelling E^efni, pro-
nounced the same as the later spelling JLyfni, which is now made into
JLynfi or TLynvi : the river so called flows through the lake and into the
Wye at Glasbury. As to Safa&an or Syfa&on, it is probably of Goidelic
origin, and to be identified with such an Irish name as the feminine
Samthann : see Dec. 19 in the Martyrologies. To keep within our data, we
are at liberty to suppose that this was the name of the wicked princess in
the story, and that she was the ancestress of a clan once powerful on
and around the lake, which lies within a Goidelic area indicated by its Ogam
inscriptions.



CHAPTER II
THE FAIRIES' REVENGE

In th'olde dayes of the king Arthour,

Of which that Britons speken greet honour,

Al was this land fulfild of fayerye.

The elf-queen, with hir joly companye,

Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede ;

This was the olde opinion, as I rede.

I speke of manye hundred yeres ago.

CHAUCER.

I.

THE best living authority I have found on the folk-
lore of Bedgelert, Drws y Coed, and the surrounding
district, is Mr. William Jones, of ILangotten. He has
written a good deal on the subject in the Brython, and
in essays intended for competition at various literary
meetings in Wales. I had the loan from him of one
such essay, and I have referred to the Brython ; and
I have also had from Mr. Jones a number of letters,
most of which contain some additional information. In
harmony, moreover, with my usual practice, I have asked
Mr. Jones to give me a little of his own history. This
he has been kind enough to do ; and, as I have so far
followed no particular order in these jottings, I shall
now give the reader the substance of his letters in
English, as I am anxious that no item should be lost or
left inaccessible to English students of folklore. What
is unintelligible to me may not be so to those who have
made a serious study of the subject. Mr. Jones' words
are in substance to the following effect :

' I was bred and born in the parish of Bedgelert,



76 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

one of the most rustic neighbourhoods and least
subject to change in the whole country. Some of
the old Welsh customs remained within my memory,
in spite of the adverse influence of the Calvinistic
Reformation, as it is termed, and I have myself wit-
nessed several Knitting Nights and Nuptial Feasts
(Neithiorau], which, be it noticed, are not to be con-
founded with weddings, as they were feasts which
followed the weddings, at the interval of a week. At
these gatherings song and story formed an element of
prime importance in the entertainment at a time when
the Reformation alluded to had already blown the blast
of extinction on the Merry Nights (Noswyliau ILawen)
and Saints' Fetes * (Gwyliau Mabsant] before the days of
my youth, though many of my aged acquaintances
remembered them well, and retained a vivid recollection
of scores of the amusing tales which used to be related
for the best at the last mentioned long-night meetings.
I have heard not a few of them reproduced by men of
that generation. As an example of the old-fashioned
habits of the people of Bedgelert in my early days, I may
mention the way in which wives and children used to be
named. The custom was that the wife never took her
husband's family name, but retained the one she had as
a spinster. Thus my grandmother on my mother's side
was called Ellen Hughes, daughter to Hugh Williams,

1 These were held, so far as I can gather from the descriptions usually
given of them, exactly as I have seen a kertness or kirchmesse celebrated at
Heidelberg, or rather the village over the Neckar opposite that town. It
was in 1869, but I forget what saint it was with whose name the kermess
was supposed to be connected: the chief features of it were dancing and
beer drinking. It was by no means unusual for a Welsh Gzvyl Fabsant to
bring together to a rural neighbourhood far more people than could readily
be accommodated ; and in Carnarvonshire a hurriedly improvised bed is to
this day called gwely gTabsant, as it were ' a bed (for the time) of a saint's
festival.' Rightly or wrongly the belief lingers that these merry gatherings
were characterized by no little immorality, which made the better class of
people set their faces against them.



n] THE FAIRIES' REVENGE 77

of Gwastad Annas. The name of her husband, my
grandfather, was William Prichard [ = W. ab Rhisiart,
or Richard's son], son to Richard William, of the Efail
Newyd. The name of their eldest son, my uncle
(brother to my mother), was Hugh Hughes, and the
second son's name was Richard William. The mother
had the privilege of naming her first-born after her own
family in case it was a boy; but if it happened to be
a girl, she took her name from the father's family, for
which reason my mother's maiden name was Catharine
Williams. This remained her name to the day of her
death : and the old people at Bedgelert persisted in
calling me, so long as I was at home, William Prichard,
after my grandfather, as I was my mother's eldest
child.

' Most of the tales I have collected/ says Mr. Jones,
' relate to the parishes of Bedgelert and Dolwydelen.
My kindred have lived for generations in those two
parishes, and they are very numerous : in fact, it used
to be said that the people of Dolwydelen and Bedgelert
were all cousins. They were mostly small farmers, and
jealous of all strangers, so that they married almost
without exception from the one parish into the other.
This intermixture helped to carry the tales of the one
parish to the other, and to perpetuate them on the
hearths of their homes from generation to generation,
until they were swept away by another influence in this
century. Many of my ancestors seem to have been
very fond of stories, poetry, and singing, and I have
been told that some of them were very skilled in these
things. So also, in the case of my parents, the memory
of the past had a great charm for them on both sides ;
and when the relatives from Dolwydelen and Bedgelert
met in either parish, there used to be no end to the
recounting of pedigrees and the repeating of tales for



78 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

the best. By listening to them, I had been filled with
desire to become an adept in pedigrees and legends.
My parents used to let me go every evening to the
house of my grandfather, William ab Rhisiart, the clerk,
to listen to tales, and to hear edifying books read. My
grandfather was a reader " without his rival," and " he
used to beat the parson hollow." Many people used to
meet at Pen y Bont in the evenings to converse together,
and the stories of some of them were now and then
exceedingly eloquent. Of course, I listened with eager
ears and open mouth, in order, if I heard anything new,
to be able to repeat it to my mother. She, unwilling to
let herself be beaten, would probably relate another like
it, which she had heard from her mother, her grand-



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