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Parents and Children of the Lord Rhys

                          "MEUTER FAWR", SON OF HEDD AP ALUNOG
                                           By Darrell Wolcott
 
          The earliest extant manuscripts which mention the children of Hedd[1] cite "Meudy" as the first of three sons and say his children were the men of Llanfair Talhearn.  This territory in Rhufoniog had been granted to Hedd's ancestor, Tudwal Gloff, after being wounded in the 881 battle to avenge the death of Rhodri Mawr.
 
          Later copies of these pedigrees by 15th and 16th century men have added an "r" to this name, and we find it rendered variously at "Meudyr", "Meuder", "Meutur", "Mettyr", "Muttur" and even "Neutur".  In his modern work[2], Peter Bartrum standardizes his choice to "Meuter" and adds the nickname "Fawr".  Most of the same genealogists who added an "r" to the end of the name also attached either "Vwr" or "Vawr" as a descriptive byname.
 
          Nowhere else in the entire body of early Welsh pedigrees does such a male name occur.  Bartrum dates his birth near 1100, but the earliest descendant which is capable of dating occurs (according to Bartrum) c. 1230.  His chart, which simply accepts the late 15th/early 16th century pedigrees as they read, is chronologically impossible and looks like this:
 
                         1070  Hedd ab Alunog
                                         l
                          1100  Meuter Fawr
                                         l
                            1100  Llewelyn
                                         l
                             1130  Iarddur
                                         l
                            1170  Perfarch                   Iorwerth  1100
                                         l                              l
                            1200  Cowryd                    Dolffyn  1130
                                         l                              l
                  1200  Cynwrig Ddweis Herod*     Llewelyn  1170
                                         l                              l
                          1230  Iorwerth[3]=====Tangwystl  1200
 
            *the nickname means "to select heraldic arms" and may designate this Cynwrig as one involved in the assignment of coats of arms to earlier Welshmen
               
           All the dates shown in this chart are the estimates of Bartrum and even those dates (1) show there are two extra names in the list of Iorwerth's ancestors, and (2) assume Iorwerth married a lady a generation older than himself.  In our own work, which extends the family down to 1400, we place the birth of Iorwerth c. 1215 and that of his wife Tangwystl at c. 1220.  So while we consider the cited marriage to be correct and between spouses near the same age, we still have too many generations forming the link from "Meuter Fawr" to Iorwerth.
 
           When we examine the oldest versions of the name (Meudy), we think it may have been a slightly corrupted rendering of the word "meudwy", with no ending "r".  Thus, a recluse or hermit.  We would suggest it was Llewelyn who earned this epithet, and an original "Llewelyn Meudwy" was recast as two men by the insertion of a superfluous "ap" by copyists.  This emendation would delete one of the extra generations in the pedigree, but a second is required.
 
           There is also no other male name "Perfarch" to be found in the body of early Welsh pedigrees, and we suspect it too was a nickname.  With standard soft mutations common in Welsh, "per" becomes "ber" and means "short" or "brief".  Likewise "farch" becomes "march", a horse.  We suggest that Cowryd was first cited as "Cowryd Perfarch" which epithet denoted he either owned a horse for a very short time, or perhaps acted like a horse briefly.  Thus, when we remove the "ap" between the words, our revised chart of the ancestry of Iorwerth ap Cynwrig looks like this:
 
                         1050  Hedd ap Alunog          Llewelyn[4] 1065
                                         l                              l
                        1085  Llewelyn Meudwy*        Madog  1095
                                         l                              l
                            1115  Iarddur                   Iorwerth  1125
                                         l                              l
                        1150  Cowryd Perfarch           Dolffyn  1155
                                         l                              l
                   1185  Cynwrig Ddewis Herod      Llewelyn  1185
                                         l                              l
                           1215  Iorwerth=======Tangwystl  1220
 
          *the late addition of Fawr, making him the great recluse, is optional; we elect to omit it
 
              All the above birthdate estimates are ours and are both chronologically stable and follow our timeline for later generations of the family.
 
NOTES:
[1]  HLG 10a.  These pedigrees, originally compiled c. 1225, were from manuscripts now lost but copied by various men and later the copies were lost, but not until after later men had made copies of all or parts of them.  Deciphering another's handwriting is not an exact science and parts of the material being copied was likely faded or torn away; for all these reasons, the extant manuscripts are not identical even apart from the tendency of each copyist to substitute his own spelling orthography for proper names
[2] Welsh Genealogies, AD 300-1400 on the chart "Hedd 1" in vol 3
[3] Pen. 127, 63/64 and Pen. 128, 272a cite this marriage
[4] The citations in Note 3 make Tangwystl a daughter of "Llewelyn ap Dolffyn ap Iorwerth ap Llewelyn Aurdorchog" which is about 3 generations deficient.  Dwnn ii, 300 cites a "Llewelyn ap Dolffyn ap Iorwerth ap Madog ap Llewelyn ap Ithel Hen"; we think Ithel Hen was a son of Llewelyn Aurdorchog.