Vicar Pritchard was the author of many works, the most famous being “Cannwyll y Cymry (The Welshman’s Candle).
Rhys was believed to have been born in his parents house, number 33 High Street Llandovery and was educated in Latin and Greek at the Languages College Brecon, graduated from Jesus College Oxford in 1602, ordained as a priest at Witham in Essex and was appointed Vicar in Llandingad and Llanfair-ar-y-bryn.
There is a well-known story that in his teens he was converted from the ways of sin to be a faithful follower of Christ. Apparently he had a goat which accompanied him everywhere, both were involved in a drinking session resulting in the animal becoming drunk! Following this incident Rhys never frequented any hostelry and became teetotal.
One of the Vicar’s most noteworthy parishioners was Sir George Deveraux who resided at Llwynybrain. Sir George was related to the Earl of Essex who had an affair with Queen Elizabeth I. The Earl was beheaded in 1601 and Sir George became guardian of the Earl’s son. Deveraux married Joan, daughter of Sir John Price of Brecon, and after Deveraux’s death she married Thomas Jones from The Mountain Gate near Tregaron, the infamous highwayman Twm Sion Catti. The Vicar became acquainted with the young Earl and was appointed to be his Chaplain. This allowed him to accept the living of the Rectorial Parish of Llanedi in 1613 which was granted to him by King James and by permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Later, he also became Chancellor of St. David’s in 1626.
Later in life he built a larger house on the plot of land where he had grown up (33 High Street). This was a large mansion house that must have dominated the High Street.
Vicar Prichard was married to Gwenllian and had a son Samuel who was murdered by Francis Lloyd (a member of the Lloyd family of Maesyfelin near Lampeter) in 1643. Francis Lloyd was in an adulterous affair with Bridget, daughter of Oakley Leigh, one of the forefathers of Edmund Leigh, curate of Llanedi between 1762 and 1812. Apparently, the story goes that the Vicar set a curse on the Lloyd family and their estate at Maesyfelin.
Sadly in later years the Vicars house was left to go to ruin and was eventually demolished in the mid-20th Century. David Lloyd George visited the house, and below is an extract from the Cambria Daily Leader 12th September 1913
The book of homely poems by the Vicar “Cannwyll y Cymry was published after the Vicars death. It has been reprinted many times and had a deep and abiding influence on Welsh People. A small snapshot from one page can be found below :-
There is some conjecture on where he was buried. Dr. D. Gwenallt Jones author of a book on the Vicar states that he is buried at St David’s Cathedral and not in Llandingad churchyard as previously believed.