NameRhys ap Thomas FitzUryan
Birth1449, Maenordeilo, Cantref Mawr, Carmarthenshire, Wales
DeathFeb 1525, Carmarthen Friary
Misc. Notes
Sir Rhys ap Thomas became the founder of the English House of Rice; he was of Elmalin in Carmathanshire and looked
upon as a prince in his own country, and known as a brave, gallant knight. He hurried his choicest soldiers to the aid of
Henry VII at Bosworth Field and was thus created a Knight of the Garter, and later a Knight of the Bath. During the
reign of Henry VIII, he held a captain's commission in the Light Horse and served with distinction at the Battle of
Therouenne at the seige of Tourney 1513.

1496: Appointed Justice of the the Southern Principality of Wales.

Acceded: 1506, Dynevor

A controversial character in Welsh history, Rhys ap Thomas was born in 1449 and on his father's death inherited the
wealth of the Dinefwr estates. Although his family were Lancastrian supporters he prudently served the House of York
and vowed to Richard III words to the effect that Henry Tudor would land in Wales only over his dead body.

"Whoever ill-affected to the state, shall dare to land in those partes of Wales, where I have anie
employment under your majestie, must resolve with himself to make his entrance and irruption over my bellie."

The story is told that after Henry Tudor's return to Britain (at Dale, Pembrokeshire, in 1485) Rhys eased his
conscience by hiding under Mullock Bridge, Dale, as Henry marched over, thus absolving himself of his oath to

Whatever his motives, the fact that Rhys made a major contribution to Henry's victory at Bosworth in 1485 is
undisputed. Rhys may well have entertained Henry at Carew Castle before they split up on their way north, recruiting
men along the way. When they met up again at Welshpool, Rhys had a large army of levied Welshmen with him. Many
of there were Rhys' men for he had raised 500 trained cavalry to support the young Tudor - stout hearted men from the
tenant farms of the Carew estates in South Pembrokeshire and all expert horsemen.

The Battle of Bosworth, on 22 August, 1485, was a turning point in British history and Richard III's death was
supposedly at the hands of Rhys. Rhys was knighted on the battlefield and made Governor of Wales. After Bosworth,
Rhys helped rid the king of two royal pretenders, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. For these and other services
Henry bestowed upon Rhys the Order of Knight of the Garter.

Such a singular honour deserved a celebration, and the events staged by the new Knight were on a scale never before
seen in Wales. Sir Rhys organized a Great Tournament for April, 1507, held at Carew Castle. Spread over five days this
spectacular was attended by over 600 nobles and celebrated not only the Knighthood but honored St. George, patron
saint of the Order as well.

Rhys continued his allegiance to the Tudor dynasty, taking part in Henry VIII's invasion of France in 1513. It is said that
both Tudor kings, Henry VII and VIII, placed implicit trust in Rhys who was allowed to rule his corner of Wales like a
king and to die a natural death. The last years of Rhys' life were clouded in sorrow, and included the death of his son
Griffith in 1522. With his last illness he left Carew for the Carmarthen Friary where he died in February 1525. At the
dissolution of the monasteries his tomb was removed from the Friary and taken to St. Peter's Church, Carmarthen,
where it can still be seen.
ChildrenGruffydd ap Rhys (~1474-1522)
Last Modified 12 Aug 1999Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh