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10 July 2014
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Myths and Legends
The town of Tregaron today
© BBC
Twm Sion Cati – The Welsh Robin Hood

Separating the man from the myth is a difficult task, as more stories survive about his youthful adventures, than factual records of elements of his real life. However, his life was documented by playwrights and biographers alike, so we do have access to a few facts. Twm Sion Cati’s real name was Thomas Jones, who was actually a Welsh bard and genealogist. He lived from 1530 to around 1620, and was born at a house called Porth y Ffynon, or Fountain Gate, near Tregaron, Cardiganshire.

Whilst the story insists that Jones was the illegitimate son of a local squire - Sir John Wynn of Gwydir, his father was actually John, son of David ap Madog ap Howel Motheu. His mother was Catherine, daughter of Meredydd ap Ieuen, which is where the ‘Cati’ part of his name came from.

In his early years, Jones developed a reputation as Twm Sion Cati, the highwayman, supposedly only robbing the rich, although there is little evidence of him regularly giving to the poor. In 1833, Samuel Lewis wrote, in his book 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' 1833 that, “he enjoyed, according to tradition, a less enviable distinction, from his practice of plundering his neighbours, being represented, as an expert and dexterous robber”.

It is known that Jones received some formal education, and was reputed as being clever and crafty; a trickster who was capable of deceiving farmers and lords alike. In most of the stories about Twm, he is perhaps best remembered for his kindness to his victims. Wishing to avoid severely hurting or killing them, he avoided maiming his enemy by placing a well shot arrow that pinned his nemesis to his saddle.


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– A short film about Llandovery featuring Twm Sion Cati
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