Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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RHYS CAIN (d. 1614 ), a herald bard .

The older biographical dictionaries make him a native of Trawsfynydd , but it is more probable that he took his bardic name from another river Cain , in Mechain Iscoed . His pedigree is traced from Edwin (q.v.) , king of Tegeingl . His father was Rheinallt ap John Wynn , and his paternal grandmother was a daughter of Thomas Ireland of Oswestry , in which town he also resided for the greater part of his life. His younger children were christened there — Ann in 1579 , Dorithie in 1587 , Roger in 1589 , and Elizabeth in 1592 . There, too, his wife, Gwen , was buried 19 April 1603 . He m. again, Catherine verch Dafydd , who survived him. His bardic teacher , Wiliam Llŷn (q.v.) , left him, by the name of ‘ Rice ap Rinald alias Kain ’, his books and rolls in his will, 1580 , and Rhys composed an elegy upon his death in the form of a dialogue, as Wiliam Llŷn himself had done when his own teacher , Gruffudd Hiraethog (q.v.) , died. It is said that he was a painter , and that a picture of the Passion painted by him met with the disapproval of his fellow-townsmen. As a herald bard , who compiled pedigree charts for his clients, he had some knowledge of the art of painting , though his work was somewhat crude. His great visitation book, in which he entered his genealogical poems, was lost in the Wynnstay fire, 1859 , but a considerable body of his work for the period 1574-90 survives in holograph ( Pen. MSS. 68-9 ), and a collection of his elegies in ( N.L.W. MS. 433 ). Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt regarded him as his mentor in genealogy . Ten letters written to him are preserved in Pen. MS. 327 and in MS. 178 in the same collection is an interesting record of the profits (£23 2s. 6d.) of one of his bardic itineraries. He was buried at Oswestry , 10 May 1614 , and was succeeded in his profession by his son, Siôn Cain (q.v.) .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Williams Enwogion Cymru. A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen (1852) ;
  • R. Williams Montgomeryshire Worthies (1894) ;
  • Reports on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language (1898–1910) ;
  • Shropshire Parish Register Society. Publications ;
  • A History of the Diocese of St. Asaph , iv;
  • N.L.W. Peniarth Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth) 68-9, 117, 139, 141, 149, 161, 178, 269, 288, 327, and NLW MS 433;
  • pedigree rolls in Peniarth, Plas Nantglyn, and Aberglaslyn collections.


Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959