The Maid of Cefn Ydfa

This is the story of Ann Maddocks, the Maid of Cefn Ydfa, her forlorn love for the bard Wil Hopcyn remembered forever in a folk song we all know so well.
You can read the full story in my new book Grave Tales from Wales. There are details below about how to buy a copy 

William and Catherine Thomas had two children, a son who died in infancy and a daughter Ann. When William died unexpectedly in 1706, three year old Ann suddenly became a desirable heiress…




You can read the rest of this famous story in my new book, Grave Tales of Wales, which was published by Cambria in July 2021. The book explores the stories represented by thirty gravestones from across the whole of Wales, from Anglesey to Cardiff, from Llangrannog to Newport. The grave of Wil Hopkyn is amongst the most notable.
To find out more about the book use the menu or click here
Or go to the How to Buy page. Use the menu or click here,
The RRP is £15 but I am selling them here on the website for £12.50, to include delivery and packing

Click in the box below to buy a copy of Grave Tales From Wales now –

In the book you will find the complete version of the Maid of Cefn Ydfa as well as 29 other unexpected stories.
If you would like a copy of the book, until 30 September 2021 I have a special offer available.
Just type in the discount code MAID when prompted in the Shopping Cart and you will receive a 10% discount on any purchase. All prices of course include packing and postage

The stories are about the surprising lives of the people who still lie beneath those stones, who still lie beneath your feet, and who still have something to say.
There are stories of anguish and sorrow, stories of courage and achievement and these tales from the past that can still speak to us today. There are great events here – the Titanic, the sinking of  The Royal Charter, the execution of a King, the exploration of the Antarctic  – but there are also terrible murders and tragic deaths.

Through these graves you can explore fascinating and sometimes unexpected stories from Welsh History
The book is 188 pages long and is illustrated throughout with full colour photographs

Here is a sample from the book, in which I narrate the story of the Robber’s Grave in Montgomery, Powys


Offers and Book News


  1. I read a story about the maid of Cefn Ydfa when in school over 55 years ago. It was set after the 2nd world war when an American was tracing relations (I think). It then when back in time to the story of Ann and Wil. The book was in the school library but I don’t know who wrote it. I have been trying to find the book but no luck.
    It made a big impression on a teenage girl.

    1. Thank you Jeanie. I hope you manage to track the book down! I did most of my research into the story in nineteenth century newspapers that were happy to wring every last drop out of the original!
      Best wishes

    2. I think the book is called “White Wheat” by Gareth Llewellyn. The only copy I have been able to source recently is a first edition selling for £90 – outside my means I’m sad to say. I too read it in the 60s and loved it, foolishly lending my copy to a “friend”

  2. I read this book when I was living in Wales as my family are supposed to be related to Will Hopkyn (??) Also my friends parents are buried in the cemetery there, so managed to visit the Church and see Ann and Will’s graves (pure coincidence that I should meet someone in Wales who’s parents where also buried in the same village!!) My family are doing our family tree at the moment so we’ll be seeing if we are related to him! Interesting stuff and a wonderful Love story!!

  3. There is a book called The Maid of Cefn Ydfa. My parents had it and I remember reading and loving it in the sixties.
    I’m particularly interested to find it as we are related to Wil Hopkin on my maternal grandfather’s side, Noah Hopkin. And love Bugeilio’r Gwennith Gwyn.
    There is a book in Welsh about the Hopkin family I’d also like to track down called Hopkiniaid Morgannwg by L Hopkin James. Any information gratefully received.

  4. My father named me Anne Thomas after the Maid of Cefyn Ydfa. I have a copy of the book ‘White Wheat’, a gift from him and I treasure it.

  5. My 6th great grandfather, Jenkin Williams (1650-1728), lived at the same time as the Maid, in the nearby Gilfach farm (now Gilfach Ganol). As he died the year after her he was probably buried near, but certainly would have known her and Wil. In any case, his stone is now next to hers inside the church tower, so his grave was probably also disturbed in the 19th century refurb. He is my oldest known ancestor.

    1. Thank you for your comment – I always enjoy seeing a story develop through the addition of new information!

  6. Thank you for this. It is one of the most accurate and beautifully written records I have read. One point though. Would it not be Catherine who pushed for the marriage of her daughter to Anthony? The Maddocks were a suitable match and family freinds. It was Catherine who banned Anne from meeting Will and Catherine who had everything to lose when her daughter reached 21. There is no evidence that Anthony Senior was implicit in this. Could Anthony Jnr not have been oblivious to Anne’s love for Will until the marriage, hidden from him by Catherine, again some contemporary evidence points to this when the myth is stripped away. Could it also be that Anne hid her love for Will from Anthony until the marriage, only agreeing to marry him to be set free by her mother. There is an account of a meeting between will and Catherine after Anne’s death in Bridgend that points to Will blaming Catherine for the situation. My feeling is that both Will and Anthony jnr were played by Catherine and were both innocent parties, Anne was simply stuck in the middle, in love with one man but being forced by her mother to marry another. A different take on the tragic story.

    1. Thank you for your comment and kind words. It is good of you to find the time. It is hard, isn’t it, to disentangle the facts from the myth. Motivations are always so hard to determine though the things that drove our ancestors are often no different to our own.

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