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Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                            By Darrell Wolcott
          We first encounter Gwyn in 1198[1], but it is his mention in 1209 as a witness to Llewelyn's charter to Cymer[2] where we learn he was "Gwyn filius Eduyweyn senescallus noster" or "Gwyn ap Ednowain, our seneschal".  The seneschal or steward at the court of a Welsh king was much more than the "person who placed the crown on the king's head" for ceremonial occasions; he was the king's business manager, overseeing his far-flung holdings which often included dozens of leased manors, mills, woodlands and mines.  In that era, we are told the king's steward "held his position by hereditary right"[3]. 
          The earliest known pedigree to mention Gwyn is usually claimed to be in the section called "Hen Lwythau Gwynedd a'r Mars" from the now-lost Hanesyn Hen manuscript cataloged as Hengwrt Ms 33.  A number of men produced copies of the work before the original was lost, mostly in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The original is believed to date from c. 1400 or earlier (the latest men mentioned lived during the reign of Llewelyn Fawr who died in 1240 and it may have been written as early as the mid-13th century).  Gwyn is mentioned in pedigree 9, item g, but that entire item is absent from two of the earliest copies and suggests it may have been added by a 15th century copist who was not working from the original.  The item makes 3 claims:
        (1) Gwyn, the ddistain, ap Eginir ap Collwyn ap Tangno
        (2) A daughter of this Gwyn was the wife of Richard ap Calwaladr ap Gruffudd ap Cynan
        (3) The men of the parish of Beddgelert sprang from Gwyn ap Eginir ap Collwyn ap Tangno
        Since Collwyn ap Tangno was born c. 1010 and Gwyn Ddistain was born c. 1150, clearly this pedigree contains a gap of 75/80 years. Peter Bartrum would emend it to "Gwyn ap Ednowain ap Eginir"[4] to correspond with the 1209 charter he witnessed, but adding a single generation does not close the time gap.  
        The Richard ap Cadwaladr who is said to have married a daughter of Gwyn is actually a great-great grandson of the first Gruffudd ap Cynan and was born c. 1180[5]; the marriage does fit for a daughter of the c. 1150 Gwyn Ddistain whose father was Ednowain, not Eginir.
        The "men of Beddgelert" include the bard Rhys Goch Eryri (c. 1375-1445) who is buried there[6].  Located in the cantref of Arfon and the commote of Is Gwyrfai, Beddgelert is situated roughly between the straits of Menai and the Snowdonia mountains.  But the Gwyn ap Ednowain who was the seneschal was a man of Efionydd[7].  Both the chronological problem and the differing locations makes us wonder if two different men named Gwyn have not been confused....one whose father was named Eginir and one whose father was Ednowain.  That such is the case seems even more likely when we consider that Gwyn Ddistain's successor as seneschal to Llewelyn Fawr was Ednyfed Fychan.  The latter began his service c. 1215 (probably at the death of Gwyn) and was certainly not related to Gwyn.  The fact that no son or grandson of Gwyn succeeded him as seneschal seems to be clear evidence he had no son.  The "men of Beddgelert" must have descended from another Gwyn.
         The standard pedigree of Rhys Goch Eryri looks like this when you add estimated birthdates:
                                     1110  Eginir
                                   1140  Ednowain
                                     1175  Gwyn
                                    1210  Carwed
                                     1245  Rhiryd
                                  1275  Ieuan Lloyd
                                    1310  Iorwerth*
                                    1340  Dafydd
                                1375  Rhys Goch Eryri
        *most manuscripts omit this generation, but Pen. 139(2), 326 cites it and we agree with Bartrum that it belongs
         The Gwyn ap Ednowain in this chart could chronologically have been identical to Gwyn Ddistain, but the fact that none of his descendants ever held the "hereditary" office of seneschal to the king argues against that identification[8].  And a Gwyn of 1175 probably could not have a daughter born early enough to marry a man born c. 1180.  Note also that the Eginir at the top of the chart could not be a son of Collwyn ap Tangno, born 100 years earlier.
        We would emend the item (g) in HLG 9 to show that two different men named Gwyn are mentioned, as follows:  First, we would strike "ddistain" in the first statement and would NOT insert "ap Ednowain" after Gwyn as Bartrum did.  Secondly, we would substitute "Gwyn Ddistain ap Ednowain" for "this Gwyn" in the next statement. The third statement we would leave as is, with no emendation inserting "ap Ednowain".  This would result in the following chart which is chronologically possible:
                                   980  Tangno
                      l                                              l
        1010  Collwyn(a)                                 Meurig(b)  1015
                      l                                              l
          1045  Eginir(a)                                  Collwyn  1045
                      l                                              l
          1075  Gwyn(a)                                   Eginir  1080
                     l                                               l
          1110  Eginir(c)                                 Ednowain  1115
                     l                                               l
       1140  Ednowain                              Gwyn Ddistain(d) 1150
         1175  Gwyn                                     (Eifionydd family
                                                               extinct c. 1215)
    (men of Beddgelert)
         (a) The Gwyn cited in HLG, 9g as written, a man of Beddgelert
           (b) The son of Tangno cited in HLG 9c, but given the wrong sons in that citation
           (c) The Eginir at the top of the pedigree of Rhys Goch Eryri
           (d) Seneschal to Llewelyn Fawr until 1215, father to a daughter but no son
         In our earlier paper[9], we showed chronologically that the only brothers Asser, Gwgan and Meirion found in other pedigree material must have been sons of Merwydd ap Collwyn ap Tangno; HLG 9c assigns sons of those names to a Meurig ap Tangno.  By our making a Collwyn his son[10], the pedigree of Gwyn Ddistain is now chronologically stable; it would have been easy to confuse one Collwyn with the other by men who cast pedigrees with no regard to a timeline.
        We will end this paper with the suggestion that Gwyn Ddistain did inherit his office from his father.  When the second Gruffudd ap Cynan (the one born c. 1070) expanded his ruled territory beyond the island of Anglesey in 1124, we suggest he named Eginir ap Collwyn ap Meurig ap Tangno as his seneschal.  Since this Gruffudd did not succeed a father king, no hereditary line of seneschals existed for Gwynedd. (It had been ruled by Powys men since 1039.)  Eginir probably outlived Gruffudd and served Owain Gwynedd until his own death c. 1145.  His son, Ednowain took the office and continued to serve Dafydd ap Owain Gwynedd after the later died in 1170.  Ednowain would have been followed by Gwyn about 1180, who served Dafydd and then Llewelyn Fawr.  When Gwen died without sons around 1215, a new and non-hereditary seneschal was chosen: Ednyfed Fychan.
[1] Record of Caernarfon pp 148
[2] ibid pp 201
[3] J.E. Lloyd "A History of Wales", 1912, vol ii, pp 622, note 54
[4] P.C. Bartrum, "Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts", 1966, pp 118
[5] See our paper "The Children of Gruffudd, Nephew of Iago" for the identification of this Richard, at the link below:
[6] Dict of Welsh Biography, pp 842
[7] Record of Caernarfon, pp 39/40
[8] One might argue the Gwyn ap Ednowain of 1175 may have died around age 40 when his son was too young to perform the office, but we think an interim appointment would have been made until the son came of full age.  Ednyfed Fychan was no interim replacement, his sons and grandsons succeeded to the office.
[9] See the paper "The 'Betrayal' by Meirion Goch Revisited" at the link below:
[10] The citation reads "Asser and Gwgan and Meirion were sons of Meurig ap Tangno and nephews of Collwyn".  We suspect the original said "Collwyn was the son of Meurig ap Tangno and his cousins were Asser, Gwgan and Meirion sons of Collwyn ap Tangno".  Thus, we make Collwyn ap Meurig a nephew of Collwyn ap Tangno.  A copyist of the lost manuscript may have rearranged the relationships to conform with the History of Gruffudd ap Cynan claim that the three brothers were adult men in 1075; in fact they were infants under 5 years old on that date.