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18 June 2014
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Myths and Legends
Twm Sion Cati – The Welsh Robin Hood

Many stories of his life – some more true than others – were collected together by the historian Meyrick, in his ‘History of Cardiganshire' 1810, and were developed further, increasingly out of context, by W.F. Deacon, in a sketch called 'Twm John Catty, the Welsh Robin Hood', included in the 'Innkeeper’s Album', 1823, and in a play by the same author, entitled 'The Welsh Rob Roy'. Twm’s adventures also featured in what has been described as the "first Welsh novel in English" – 'The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shon Cati' by T. J. Llewyln Pritchard in 1828, which was popular enough to have been pirated in the mid-19th century.

After his adventures, it is said that Twm fled to Geneva in 1557, returning two years later to receive a Royal Pardon on 15th January, 1559, which excused all of his previous misdeeds and criminal activities. Whilst it is accepted by most historians that the stories surrounding his youth are embellishments on a past that included banditry, man and myth divide after Twm’s pardon in 1559.

The later years of Jones’s life were devoted to the study of Welsh history and literature. He appears to have been employed by the chief Welsh Gentry in Cardiganshire to draw up their pedigrees or family trees. Heraldry, was a little known science and seen as somewhat occult, often resulting in Jones being described as a powerful magician. The ability to research and produce pedigrees would have put him in an influential position, as a pedigree was a document of great importance for those families who wanted to prove their heritage and status.

A number of his works on heraldry and family pedigrees have survived, preserving a detailed history of the families of Cardiganshire and forming a notable contribution to Welsh Tudor history in general. Many of his poetic works were published, copies of which are held at the British Library, and he is said to have been present as an ordained bard at an Eisteddfod held at Llandaff in 1564.

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– A short film about Llandovery featuring Twm Sion Cati
–Find out more about the village of Rhandirmyn
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