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Teiliwr Bach Dihewyd (Little Tailor of Dihewyd) (1815-1893)

Teiliwr Bach DihewydJohn Harries, 'Teiliwr Bach Dihewyd', was born in 1815 at Meillionen, Dihewyd, the son of Simon Harry, Trawsgoed, Dihewyd. He grew to be 3ft 8' high and weighed 65lbs, his sister, a servant at the Feathers Hotel, Aberaeron was only half an inch taller than him.

He married a Henfynyw girl, Margaret who was 5ft 5 and tipped the scales at 195lbs. They had nine children, all of average height. The 1881 and 1891 census records lists John Harries, living at Feillionen situated on land belonging to Sychbant Farm, Aberaeron.

According to his obituary in the Herald, he was a handsome man, proud and with high self esteem. Local children were fond of him and would follow him around when he visited nearby villages.

He was not frightened to stand up for himself, once at a fair, when a drover told him to be quiet, threatening to put John in his pocket if he wasn't, John answered back, 'good, because there would be more sense in your pocket than in your head!'

The family became local celebrities and even sold postcards depicting the family to visitors and commercial travelers. They sometimes sold the postcards at Aberystwyth's November fair for one shilling.

There are many amusing stories relating to John. He would frequent local hostelries, get drunk and Margaret would carry him home over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

Even though John and his sister resisted offers from traveling showmen to become exhibits, the family made a tour of Glamorganshire and other counties, selling photographs of themselves.

In January 1898, he died and the Rev. T. Gwilym Evans officiated at his funeral. An obituary that appeared in the Cambrian News reads, 'John was remarkable for his diminutive stature. This was exhibited by the greatest advantage by means of contrast for his wife who survives him.'

Eight of his children survived him and one, Henry; the youngest was employed as a caretaker by Dr H. Jones, Bronwylfa, New Quay. He lived in a cottage at Maenygroes and died in the 1970s.One of John's granddaughters was a housekeeper at Sychbant Farm, another at Bronaeron. There is a picture of a verger from New Quay called Henry Harries who was also very short. Could he have been Henry, John's son who lived at Maenygroes?

The poet Isfoel, (Dafydd Jones) wrote a poem about John -

'Mae teiliwr bach Dihewyd
Yn fachgen digon diwyd
Mae ganddo wraig fel eliffant
A saith o blantos hefyd.

Os yw yn yfed gormod
A baglu yn ei ddiod
Fe ddaw ei wraig i'w godi i'r lan
Heb ffwdan yn ei ffedog.'

'Dihewyd's little tailor
Is a very busy man
He has a wife like an elephant
And seven children.

If he drinks too much
And falls over in his drink
His wife would come and pick him up
Without a problem, in her apron.'

Another anonymous poem reads -

'Teiliwr Bach Dihewyd,
Yn cerdded yn slic,
Fe gwrddodd a chwanen,
A rhois iddi gic,
Fe gododd y chwanen,
Ar ben ei thraed ôl,
Diflanodd y teiliwr,
Heb edrych yn ôl.'

'Little tailor of Dihewyd
Was walking one day,
He met a flea,
And kicked it,
The flea got up,
On its hind legs,
The tailor disappeared,
Without looking back.'

Bibliography:

Andrews, Rob; Tales of the Teiliwr Bach, Cambrian News, 1/7/1999
Anon; Teiliwr Bach - a short story, Cambrian News 22/7/1999
Guto, Dafydd; Teiliwr Bach Dihewyd, Llafar Gwlad, 34, 1991-1992
Herald Cymraeg, 24/1/1893
Jones, T. Llew; Cyfoeth Awen Isfoel, Gwasg Gomer, 1981.