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The Ystrad Legend


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

In a meadow belonging to Ystrad, bounded by the river which falls from
Cwellyn Lake, they say the Fairies used to assemble, and dance on fair
moon-light-nights. One evening a young man, who was the heir and
occupier of this farm, hid himself in a thicket close to the spot where
they used to gambol; presently they appeared, and when in their merry
mood, out he bounced from his covert and seized one of their females; the
rest of the company dispersed themselves, and disappeared in an instant.
Disregarding her struggles and screams, he hauled her to his home, where
he treated her so very kindly that she became content to live with him as
his maid servant; but he could not prevail upon her to tell him her name.
Some time after, happening again to see the Fairies upon the same spot,
he heard one of them saying, 'The last time we met here, our sister
Penelope was snatched away from us by one of the mortals!' Rejoiced at
knowing the name of his Incognita, he returned home; and as she was
very beautiful, and extremely active, he proposed to marry her, which she
would not for a long time consent to; at last, however, she complied, but
on this condition, 'That if ever he should strike her with iron, she
would leave him, and never return to him again.' They lived happily for
many years together, and he had by her a son, and a daughter; and by her
industry and prudent management as a house-wife he became one of the
richest men in the country. He farmed, besides his own freehold, all the
lands on the north side of Nant-y-Bettws to the top of Snowdon, and all
Cwmbrwynog in Llanberis; an extent of about five thousand acres or

Unfortunately, one day Penelope followed her husband into the field to
catch a horse; and he, being in a rage at the animal as he ran away from
him, threw at him the bridle that was in his hand, which unluckily fell
on poor Penelope. She disappeared in an instant, and he never saw her
afterwards, but heard her voice in the window of his room one night
after, requesting him to take care of the children, in these words:--

Rhag bod anwyd ar fy mab,
Yn rhodd rhowch arno gob ei dad,
Rhag bod anwyd ar liw'r cann,
Rhoddwch arni bais ei mam.

That is--

Oh! lest my son should suffer cold,
Him in his father's coat infold,
Lest cold should seize my darling fair,
For her, her mother's robe prepare.

These children and their descendants, they say, were called Pellings; a
word corrupted from their mother's name, Penelope.

Williams proceeds thus with reference to the descendants of this union:--

The late Thomas Rowlands, Esq., of Caerau, in Anglesey, the father of
the late Lady Bulkeley, was a descendant of this lady, if it be true that
the name Pellings came from her; and there are still living several
opulent and respectable people who are known to have sprung from the
Pellings. The best blood in my own veins is this Fairy's.

This tale was chronicled in the last century, but it is not known whether
every particular incident connected therewith was recorded by Williams.
Glasynys, the Rev. Owen Wynne Jones, a clergyman, relates a tale in the
Brython, which he regards as the same tale as that given by Williams,
and he says that he heard it scores of times when he was a lad.
Glasynys was born in the parish of Rhostryfan, Carnarvonshire, in 1827,
and as his birth place is not far distant from the scene of this legend,
he might have heard a different version of Williams's tale, and that too
of equal value with Williams's. Possibly, there were not more than from
forty to fifty years between the time when the older writer heard the
tale and the time when it was heard by the younger man. An octogenarian,
or even a younger person, could have conversed with both Williams and
Glasynys. Glasynys's tale appears in Professor Rhys's Welsh Fairy
Tales, Cymmrodor, vol. iv., p. 188. It originally appeared in the
Brython for 1863, p. 193. It is as follows:--

One fine sunny morning, as the young heir of Ystrad was busied with his
sheep on the side of Moel Eilio, he met a very pretty girl, and when he
got home he told the folks there of it. A few days afterwards he met her
again, and this happened several times, when he mentioned it to his
father, who advised him to seize her when he next met her. The next time
he met her he proceeded to do so, but before he could take her away, a
little fat old man came to them and begged him to give her back to him,
to which the youth would not listen. The little man uttered terrible
threats, but he would not yield, so an agreement was made between them
that he was to have her to wife until he touched her skin with iron, and
great was the joy both of the son and his parents in consequence. They
lived together for many years, but once on a time, on the evening of
Bettws Fair, the wife's horse got restive, and somehow, as the husband
was attending to the horse, the stirrups touched the skin of her bare
leg, and that very night she was taken away from him. She had three or
four children, and more than one of their descendants, as Glasynys
maintains, were known to him at the time he wrote in 1863.

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