Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thomas ab Ieuan ap Rhys

THOMAS ab IEUAN ap RHYS (d. 1617?), Welsh bard, was, according to the traditional account, the son of Ieuan ap Rhys Brydydd of Glamorgan. In a stanza popularly attributed to him he makes the incredible statement that in January 1604 he will be a hundred and thirty years old, which would place his birth in 1474 and his age at his death at a hundred and forty-three years. As a boy he was employed at Margam Abbey, but became a zealous protestant, and it was perhaps for his faith he was imprisoned by Sir Mathew Cradock (1468–1531) in Kenfig Castle. He lived as a small farmer at Llangynwyd, Tythegston, and elsewhere in Glamorganshire, and died about 1617. His poems were of the ballad order. The only one printed, that in the ‘Cambrian Quarterly Magazine’ (v. 96–7), is predictive, Thomas having a great reputation as a prophet. It was perhaps his prophecies which won him the title of ‘Twm gelwydd teg,’ i.e. Tom the plausible liar.

[All that is known of Thomas comes from two notices from ‘the book of Mr. Lewis of Penlline’ and ‘the book of John Bradford’ (d. 1780), printed in the Iolo MSS. pp. 200–3. The accounts in Malkin's South Wales (1807) and vol. v. (1833) of the Cambrian Quarterly Magazine are probably drawn from these or similar sources.]

J. E. L.