HENRY, THE FORGOTTEN SON OF CADWGAN AP BLEDDYN
By Darrell Wolcott
When Cadwgan ap Bleddyn returned
from a brief exile in Ireland in 1099, he returned to "the king's peace" by pledging fealty to William Rufus and was
restored to his portion of Powys. He was also given local rule over Ceredigion and, we suspect, required
to take a Norman wife.
His first wife, Gwenllian ferch
Gruffudd ap Cynan nephew of Iago, had died some years earlier after producing sons
Owain and Madog. Cadwgan had taken a series of mistresses who gave him sons Einion, Morgan and Maredudd, but was probably
a 44 year old widower when he married a daughter of Picot de Say, Lord of Clun and a baron serving Roger de Montgomery,
Earl of Shrewsbury. The pedigree of that family is notoriously corrupt, but its timeline suggests this chart:
1040 Picot de Say(a) ob c. 1098
1065 Henry(c) 1070 daughter
1095 Helias(e) Cadwgan ap Bleddyn
l (c. 1055-1111)
William fitz Alan 1130
(a) Lord of Clun at the time of the
Domesday Book, 1086
(b) Inheirited the Clun manor and
(c) Inheirited the Stokesay manor
and others, some of which he gave to Shrewsbury Abby in 1131 when he was an old man
(d) Heiress of Clun which went to
her son, William fitz William fitz Alan
(e) The Helias de Say active during
the Anarchy of Stephen's reign, 1135-1154
(f) The Isabel daughter of Helias
de Say who married Geoffrey de Vere and William Boteler; she was no heiress, her brother Hugh inheirited Stokesay
We would surmise that in 1099, Picot
de Say had recently died leaving, beside sons Henry and Helias, a daughter nearing 30 years of age. Perhaps widowed
or divorced, this lady was in possession of some lands when Cadwgan ap Bleddyn married her. We are told two sons resulted from this marriage: Henry and Gruffudd. Nothing further is known
of Gruffudd and he may have died young.
Cadwgan fell into disfavor with
King Henry I when, in 1109, his son Owain kidnapped the wife of Gerald of Windsor, the king's constable at Pembroke Castle.
To regain favor, he sought peace on "whatever terms he could". King Henry
I "received him and left him in a township which he had had from his wife, who was a Frenchwoman, daughter of Picot de Say".
Cadwgan probably had to give the king hostages, including his young son Henry, because we are told a year later that the
boy was released upon payment of 100 marks.
Probably born about 1100, Henry
ap Cadwgan and his mother likely resided at one of the 29 manors
her father had held near Clun in Shropshire. It would have been here that Cadwgan hid when his nephew Madog ap
Rhiryd ap Bleddyn sought to kill him. When Cadwgan went to Welshpool in 1111, hoping to stay and build a castle, Madog
did kill him. His wife and child, we believe, continued
living at the family manor in Shropshire until her death about 1132, with Henry in the service of a de
Some modern sources
say that a Henry de Say married one of the illegitimate daughters which King Henry I sired by Sybil Corbet. Sybil, later
married to Herbert fitz Herbert, was a daughter of Robert Corbet whose brother Roger was Lord of Caus...both men being sons
of Corbet of Pais de Caux who fought under Roger of Montgomery at Hastings. This points to her date of birth near 1090.
She bore several children by Henry I, probably during the period 1105/1115. If one of her daughters married a "Henry
de Say", it could not have been the man of that name who was the son of Picot de Say; that Henry was a generation older than
Sybil herself. The only other Henry in the de Say family was the son of Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, and he did live at
the right time to marry such a lady. It is reasonable to think that, following his mother's death, Henry did take a
Shropshire lady as his wife. We believe they had a son c. 1135 whom they named Thomas.
The pedigree cast by Sir John
Wynn of Gwydir in the late 1500's deduces his ancestry from a Gruffudd ap Caradog ap Thomas. Sir John identified that
Thomas as a son of Rhodri ap Owain Gwynedd, but the marriage matches he cites make that impossible. His says his Thomas
married Marged ferch Einion ap Seisyllt and the son of that union, Caradog, married Efa ferch Gwyn ap Gruffudd. Those
two ladies were born c. 1150 and 1185, respectively. No son of Rhodri ap Owain Gwynedd could have been born earlier
than c. 1160; while he did have a son named Thomas, that man was born about 1165 and was a generation too young to have married
Marged. This chart shows the timeline for his family:
Owain Gwynedd 1100
1180 Maredudd Hen
1210 Llewelyn y Moelwyn**====Sian 1225
*Lord of Buellt, son
of Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd
**Marriage cited in Harl. 2291,
part 1, pp 42; Peter Bartrum dates Sian c. 1230 and Llewelyn y Moelwyn c. 1200
It is another, earlier, Thomas
who is portrayed in Sir John Wynn's pedigree:
1080 Seisyllt Beli*
1110 Einion** Gruffudd 1115
1150 Gwyn 1150
1170 Caradog============Efa 1185
*ap Selyf III (1045) ap Brochwel III (1005)
ap Aeddon III (975) ap Selyf II (945)Brochwel II (910) ap Aeddon II (880) ap Selyf I (850) ap Brochwel (820) ap Aeddon (785)
ap Cyngen (750) ap Brochwel (715) ap Eliseg (685) ap Gwylog (655), the latter of Pillar of Eliseg fame
**His wife was Nest (1125) ferch Madog (1090) ap Cadwgan
(1055) ap Bleddyn (1025)
of c. 1135 was not a Gwynedd man; the marriages shown above mark him as a Powys man closely allied with its royal families.
Efa ferch Gwyn ap Gruffudd was a lady of Cegidfa descended from the 1st Powys Dynasty, while Marged was a granddaughter of
Madog ap Cadwgan of the 2nd Powys Dynasty. We would identify Thomas as a son of Henry ap Cadwgan and present the following
conjectural scenerio to explain why this might well be the case:
By the time Henry ap Cadwgan
reached marriagable age, the only one of his half-brothers still alive was Madog. That man seems to have stood aloof
from the inter-family wars between the grandsons of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn and their cousins and uncles. We posit that when
the de Say lady died, her lands were reclaimed by her Norman cousins and Henry went to Madog ap Cadwgan seeking a place to
live. Denied any part of Cadwgan's Powys estate, Madog did offer to lease one manor on his own lands to Henry and
his bride in return for his services. Madog was at least 15 years older than Henry and had a young daughter still living
at home: Nest, aged about 7 in 1132.
When this niece of Henry turned
13, she was married to Einion ap Seisyllt who resided just across the Dyfy River from Powys in Meirionydd. Henry and
his wife had a son they named Thomas about 1135; when the boy turned 14, he was sent to the court of Einion ap Seisyllt
about the time his first-cousin Nest gave birth to Marged. When Thomas' required apprenticeship ended in 1163, Marged
was then 13/14 years old and was given to Thomas as his wife. Still with no lands of his own, Thomas and Marged remained
at the court of Einion as a tenant of his father-in-law. His father, Henry ap Cadwgan, died about this time.
In 1170, Owain Gwynedd
died. He was a maternal cousin of Einion ap Seisyllt, their mothers being sisters, and Einion had held his lands
free of taxes and other renders. The cantref of Meirionydd was inheirited by Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd, who immediately
demanded that Einion acknowledge him as his lord and begin paying everything due to a lord. Einion refused on the grounds
that he had inheirited his lands as a direct paternal descendant of Meirion ap Cunedda of the fifth century. When Cynan
sought to impose his demand by force, Einion went to Owain Cyfeiliog, the king of neighboring Powys Gwenwynwyn, and offered
him his personal fealty and his lands for protection from Cynan. Owain Cyfeiliog's daughter was married to Einion's
son and agreed to the offer. Cynan dropped his demands, not only in fear of Einion's protector, but because he was having
his own problems with his siblings as they jockeyed to control the kingdom left by their father.
Thomas and Marged had
a son, Caradog, about the same year that Einion brought his lands to Powys. While Caradog was still an infant, his father,
Thomas died, His mother remarried Owain Brogynton c. 1171 who was also recently widowed. Marged agreed to raise
Owain's baby son, Bleddyn, along with her own toddler son, Caradog.
By the time Caradog turned 14 in 1184, both
Einion and Owain Cyfeiliog were either dead or very aged men. Caradog was sent to serve Gwenwynwyn ap Owain Cyfeiliog,
now king of south Powys. Near the year 1200, the still-landless Caradog completed his mandatory apprenticeship and entered
into the service of one of Gwenwynwyn's barons, the Lord of Cegidfa. It was at this time he took Efa ferch Gwyn ap Gruffudd
to wife. His foster brother, Bleddyn ap Owain Brogyntyn, married Marged, a sister of Efa.
It was the son of
this marriage to Efa, Gruffudd ap Caradog, who finally married an heiress. Lleuci ferch Llywarch Fychan ap Llywarch
Goch (descended from Llywarch Hwlbwrch of Rhos) had received a manor in Ceinmarch; when Gruffudd married her c. 1235 he left
Powys and settled on her land near the town of Denbigh. That manor was passed down to their son, Dafydd, with whom
we shall end this story.
Although we cannot state
it as a fact, everything we have learned of the son and grandson of the Thomas in the Gwydir Family pedigree is consistent
with him having been the son of Henry ap Cadwgan ap Bleddyn ap Cynfyn. And is wholly at odds with calling him the son
of Rhodri ap Owain Gwynedd.