Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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MARGED vch IFAN ’ ( Margaret Evans ; 1696 - 1801? ), a ‘character’ .

She is first heard of in the Nantlle Vale, Caerns. ( W. R. Ambrose , Hynafiaethau Nant Nantlle , 59), as the keeper of Telyrniau tavern , Gelli , in the heyday of the Drws-y-coed copper-workings in the mid-18th cent. ; we are told that she could make a fiddle and a harp, and play upon either while her customers danced. Afterwards she moved to Penllyn at the foot of lake Padarn ( Llanberis ); there, she ferried the copper-ore from the foot of Snowdon to Penllyn . Thomas Pennant visited her house in 1786 , but she was not at home. Pennant ( Tours in Wales , 1883 edn., ii, 320-1) recounts marvellous tales about her. She kept, says he, a dozen hounds or more , and could catch more foxes in a year than the hunts could catch in ten ; she knew old airs and played them on the fiddle ; she was a good carpenter and built her own boats ; she was a smith , and shod her own horses ; and she was a shoemaker . At 70, she could throw any other wrestler . Pennant ends with: ‘ finally, she gave her hand to the most effeminate of her admirers .’ W. J. Gruffydd ( Hen Atgofion , 88), on traditional evidence in his family, states that the bridegroom was one Richard Morris , and that Margaret had given him two fearful bastings — after the first, he m. her, and after the second he became a Methodist , indeed, ‘ one of the chief leaders of Methodism in the parish .’ But Ambrose (loc. cit.) gives this hero's name as William Richards . Ambrose says, too, that she d. in 1788 , aged 92. But according to the Cambrian Travellers Guide (quoted in Hobley , Hanes Meth. Arfon , iv, 22), she d. in 1801 , aged 105 — it will be noted that both accounts agree (and agree with Pennant ) on the year of her birth.

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959