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The Ffair-rhos Brwcsod

Mary Thomas (1905-83)

Well, it was the Brwcsod who were in Ffair-rhos, mainly, in those days. There was a fair in Ffair-rhos, the Rood Day Fair....people would come over the mountain from Rhaeadr and from England in those days, driving the animals over the mountain to sell in Ffair-rhos. Well, then, the Brwcsod knew that they had money as they came over the mountains, they used to go up to Nant y Bedde ['The Brook of the Graves'], between Pontrhydfendigaid and Rhaeadr, to watch them coming back, then kill them and steal their money, and the fair had to be moved from Ffair-rhos to Pontrhydfendigaid, because the Brwcsod were murdering people. And there's a farm here, Llidiart y Ffair, that's where the gate was, you'd come in to the fair and you had to pay to come in to the fair...yes, and then there's a field up there called Ca Ceffyle. That's where the horse fair was, and [say now] you would have bought something and had a bag in your hand, and put it on the floor, people would shout: 'Tibit' and you'd have to pay because you'd put your bag on the floor, you had to pay.

Well! Well!

And they murdered people, and I heard my grandfather say: by the lead-mine in Esgair-mwyn there was a grave, and he said that a man from the Cwmystwyth area had been selling [his stock] at the Fair, and that they'd watched him returning and had killed him, and buried him, and that the grave was near the mine. And they tell me - I haven't been to Nant y Bedde - that there are still a number of graves in Nant y Bedde, people who had been murdered by these Brwcsod from Ffair-rhos.

[WT] There's a place called Nant y Bedde up on the mountain, you see.

Yes, there is, between Bont and Rhaeadr. And they moved the fair because of that.

About when was the Fair moved?

I've no idea when, but there were five fairs in Ffair-rhos and in Pontrhydfendigaid after that: Ffair Calan Mai - on the thirteenth of May; Ffair Rhos Gynta, the first Ffair-rhos Fair - I think that was in May; Ffair Rhos Ganol, the middle Ffair-rhos Fair, in June or July: Ffair Gŵyl Grog, the Rood Day Fair, on the twenty-fifth of September, and Ffair Rhos Fach, the little Ffair-rhos Fair, on the thirteenth of October - five fairs...

To come back to these Brwcsod, how would you use the term 'Brwcsod' today, then? What is the meaning of the word to you today?

Oh, well, the meaning of the word to me, then, is that there'd be contention between me and them, something between you and them. Now then, if you said: 'Go away you old Brwcsyn'. You know, something like that, that you'd reproach them with the thing, in the same way as they'd call me a 'Coel', [you'd] reproach them with being a Brwcsyn. And originally the Brwcsod were a man from Cornwall who'd come to work in the lead-mine and who married and stayed in Ffair-rhos, he was Mr Brooks, and his descendants are the Brwcsod who live in Ffair-rhos... yes, Brooks, he was Mr Brooks. So his relations are called 'Brwcsod'.

Well, had this Mr Brooks done anything wrong, to be called...?

Oh, not at all, he'd done nothing wrong.

[WT] They were cruel men, you know.

Cruel men who weren't respected in the area...Well, having to move the fair from Ffair-rhos to Bont because of the Brwcsod...

So it was his relations who used to attack -

It was his relations - this Brooks - who used to attack people.

And it was the drovers who got it worst?

Oh, yes. Those who'd been to the fair. Those whom they knew had money.

Who told you this story?

Oh, I've heard plenty from my mother and father about the Brwcsod. And there are plenty of Brookses, [members] of the Brooks family, living here now.

Do they have the same characteristics today, or have they intermarried?

Oh, they've intermarried with other people. Oh, they're all right now.


The Ffair-rhos Brwcsod

More information


MWL 6450. Recorded 4.v.1979.


This story was told while discussing the epithets given to the inhabitants of the surrounding areas. Mary Thomas was a descendant of Cadwgan, 'yr hen Goel', and this was why some people pulled her leg and called her an 'old Coel'. A common saying was, 'You won't get the better of her, she's one of the old Coelied.' Mary Thomas also talked of 'The Ravens of Cwm Ystwyth' and 'The Thieves of Tregaron'. William Thomas, Mary Thomas's husband, commented: 'There was this old boy who used to come and visit us after the mart and if he heard Mary saying 'the Thieves of Tregaron' he'd turn very nasty, you know... Years ago, you see, people used to go and sell down in Tregaron - selling animals and so on - at the monthly market, and there were men watching them coming back at night, in the fields on the other side of the hedges between Tregaron and Bont, and then they'd steal their money on the road back from Tregaron to Bont, you see.'