Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/77

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69
Sacred Wells in Wales.

The names in these lines present great difficulties: first comes that of Mererid, which is no other word than Margarita, 'a pearl', borrowed; but what does it here mean? Margarita, besides meaning a pearl, was used in Welsh, e.g., under the form Marereda,[1] as the proper name written in English Margaret. That is probably how it is to be taken here, namely, as the name given to the negligent guardian of the magic well. It cannot very well be, however, the name occurring in the original form of the legend; but we have the parallel case of Ffynnon Grassi or Grace's Well. The woman in question plays the rôle of Liban in the Irish story, and one of Liban's names was Muirgen, which would in Welsh be Morien, the earliest known form of which is Morgen, 'sea-born'. I conjecture accordingly that the respectable Christian name Margarita was substituted for an original Morgen, partly because perhaps Morgen was used as the name of a man, namely, of the person known to ecclesiastical history as Pelagins, which makes an appropriate translation of Morgen or Morien. I may point out that the modern name Morgan, standing as it does for an older Morcant, is an utterly different name, although Article IX in the Welsh version of the English Book of Common Prayer gives its sanction to the ignorance which makes the Pelagians of the original into Morganiaid. This accounts probably for what I used to hear when I was a boy, namely, that families bearing the name of Morgan were of a mysteriously uncanny descent. What was laid to their charge I could never discover; but it was probably the sin of heresy of the ancient Morgen or Morien—the name, as some of you know, selected as s ffugenw by the Arch-dderwydd, or the soi-disant chief of the Druids of Wales at the present day, whose proper surname is Morgan. But to return to the Bottom Hundred, nobody has been able to identify Caer Kencdyr, and I have nothing to say as to Mor Maurhidic, except that a person of that name

  1. See Y Cynnnrodor, viii, 88, No. XXIX, where a Marereda is mentioned as a daughter of Madog ap Meredydd ap Rhys Gryg.