Guest-written Papers
Reference Abbreviations
Guidance Articles for Researchers
Single Family Analysis
Families of Mixed Origin
Family Pedigrees
Mis-identified Same-Named People in Wales
Battles and Historical Events
Ancient Welsh Territories
Welshmen in Llydaw, Brittany
The Men of the North
Legendary History Prior to 1st Century BC
Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees
Papers Related to Maxen Wledig
Bartrum's "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs"
Britain's Royal Roman Family
The Royal Family of Powys
2nd Powys Royal Dynasty
The Royal Family of Gwynedd
Men Descended from Tudwal Gloff
Royal Family of Gwent/ Glamorgan
Royal Family of Brycheiniog
15 Noble Tribes of Gwynedd
The 5 Plebian Tribes of Wales
Glast and the Glastening
Papers about Rhiryd Flaidd and Penllyn
The Men of Collwyn ap Tangno of Lleyn
Edwin of Tegeingl and his Family
Ednowain Bendew in Welsh pedigrees
Ithel of Bryn in Powys
Idnerth Benfras of Maesbrook
Tudor Trefor and his Family
Trahaearn ap Caradog of Arwystli
The Family of Trahaearn ap Caradog
Cadafael Ynfyd of Cydewain
Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
Sandde Hardd of Mortyn
The Floruit of Einion ap Seisyllt
The 5 Dafydd Llwyds of Llanwrin Parish
Cowryd ap Cadfan of Dyffryn Clwyd
Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
Bradwen of Llys Bradwen in Meirionydd
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys
                             WHO WAS SIR ROBERT POUNDERLING?
                                          By Darrell Wolcott
           Cited as the founder of several Denbighshire and Flintshire families and the ancestor of Madog Rwth of c. 1295, the traditional identification of this Norman knight is summed up by J.Y.W. Lloyd in these words:[1]
           "Sir Robert Pounderling, Knight Banneret, Captain of Englefield (Tegeingl), and Constable of Diserth Castle, temp Edward II, lived at Siambr Wen, a house yet known by that name in the parish of Diserth....His recumbent effigy in complete armor is still to be seen on his stone monument at the west end of Tremeirchion Church, and is in excellent preservation.  An anecdote is preserved of him, to the effect that having had one of his eyes knocked out by a Welsh gentleman, on being asked why he had not challenged another Welshman who had insulted him at Court, he replied that he had no wish to lose his other eye."
        When we look to the various sources which Lloyd used in 1885 to paint his biography, it becomes clear most of it is either heresay, conjecture, or both.  The earliest mention of this knight was by John Leland in the manuscripts he wrote during his "Itinerary in England and Wales in or about the years 1535-1543."  Here, we are told[2]:
        "Salisbyri, knight of Denbigh land[3], told me that emong other thinges was a conestable of Dissart Castelle caullid Syr Robert Pounderling[4] knight, a man of great p... there and yn his Prince fa...and of so valiaunt corage that...there ordenid thereby the...a tylte for justes.  And at this place yn a certen chalenge one Theodore, a gentilman of Wa...did streek out one of Pounderlinges yes: and after this Theodore cumming to the King of Englandes courte, and not thoroughly knowen but seen to be a man of a right goodly stature, and be likelihod of strenkith: and to provoke him feates of armes, they...knowing that it was he that had streken owt Syr Robert Pounderlinges [eye] brought the same Pounderling to chalenge hym at feates of armes; but when he saw Theodore he saide that he entended that he should not strilke out his other yee".
         Perhaps by the time this version of Leland's manuscript was published in 1964, it had become illegible in places, accounting for the missing words designated by "..." in the above paragraph.  But Thomas Pennant recites the same tale in 1781[5] and says his information came from Edward Llwyd's 1696 "Itinerary of Wales" and from Leland's manuscript.  Pennant's version says:
         "In a field a little to the south of the castle (Diserth) is a ruinous building called Siamber Wen.  This is said to have been the seat of a Sir Robert Pounderling, once constable of the adjacent castle, a knight valiant and prudent, who had one of his eyes knocked out by a gentleman of Wales in the rough sport of tournament; but being requested to challenge him again to "feates of armes" on meeting our countryman at the English court, declined the combat, declaring that he did not intend that the Welshman should beat out his other eye".
          To demonstrate how such tales evolve with subsequent tellings, Thomas Griffith in his 1830 "Gwyneddion: An Account of the Royal Denbigh Eisteddfod, Sept 1828" relates it thusly:
          "I must not pass by without noticing a curious circumstance that took place in the neighborhood, between Sir Robert Pounderling, Constable of this castle, and a valiant Welshman called Theodore.  Sir Robert was celebrated for his prowess at tournaments, not only in brandishing a sword or handling a lance, but particularly so in the pugilistic art.  Notwithstanding all this, at a tournament held in this county, the gallant Welshman accepted his challenge, and in the combat struck out one of Sir Robert's eyes.  When a similar fete was proclaimed to be held at the English court, our countryman attended and challenged his old antagonist.  Sir Robert, profiting by past experience, declined the combat, which showed that he not only possessed valor but prudence, alleging as a justifiable apology, that he felt no inclination, nor indeed had the least desire, to run the risk of having his other eye knocked out by a Welshman." 
          Quite obviously, it is only oral lore around Diserth, Tegeingl that a Sir Robert Pounderling (a) was a constable of Diserth Castle, (b) resided at ruins near that castle now known as Siambr Wen (the white chamber), or (c) lost an eye to a Welshman during a tournament.  His earliest mention in pedigree materials was in Peniarth Ms 127[6] written perhaps 10 years before Leland's work.  The families said to descend from him point to a birthdate c. 1180 and is consistent with him having been knighted during the reign of King John (1199-1216).  If he lost an eye as a young knight, he might have been given a non-combat position in his middle years by Henry III, but he would have been long dead before the birth of Edward II.  Lloyd's description of him as a Knight Banneret and Captain of Tegeingl is nowhere supported in other sources. And his version of the events after the injury to Sir Robert does not agree with the earlier sources.
          The first assertion we shall examine is that Sir Robert Pounderling lived at Siambr Wen near Diserth Castle.  In the October, 1847, volume of Archaeologia Cambrensis, the founder and editor of that journal, Harry Longueville Jones, wrote an article after personally examining the ruins known as Siambr Wen.  It was his conclusion that it was impossible to date when the structure was built, but that it had no characteristics which were consistent with it ever having been a residence.  In its interior was a 6' x 6' pool apparently once a well but now its waters were barely discernible.  Jones surmised that this was once a holy fountain fit for the purposes of immersion and the remainder of the structure had a decidedly ecclesiastical form which might have been a chapel.  He added that the gables and arches which formed the northern and southern T-shaped ends appeared to be styles from the mid-1400's. 
          One might suppose that the constable of a castle would have a chamber within it for his living quarters, and we suggest that neither Sir Robert, nor anyone else, ever lived at Siambr Wen.  And we have only the word of "Sir Salisbury" that he was even connected with Diserth Castle.
          We now turn to the claim that his effigy lies at Tremeirchion Church some 4 miles southeast of Diserth.  It is true that the effigy of a knight is located in this church, but not in "excellent preservation".  The feet were missing and the carving on the mail was worn away by 1890 when Stephen W. Williams examined it and submitted a drawing of it to Archaeologia Cambrensis.  In his article[7], Williams said he submitted the drawing and his discriptions of the effigy to the Baron de Cosson, an authority on armour, who dated it to the late 13th century c. 1270/80 with one feature previously unknown until 1311.  The effigy is wearing a shield bearing a lion rampant within a border (carved in stone and uncolored), arms that none of the descendants of Sir Robert claimed.[8]
          It is our belief that the effigy depicts an unknown knight which local lore has identified as Sir Robert Pounderling to enhance the tales told of him.  It appears to date 100 years later than his birth[9] and over 200 years before the "Salisbury" to whom Leland spoke.
          The strong possibility that he neither resided at Siambr Wen nor had a stone effigy made of him does not mean the entire oral tale is a legend.  There might have been a young knight, skilled at tournaments, who lost an eye and was later given a royal job at Diserth Castle.  But was his surname Pounderling?  Outside of the material quoted above, no such family name is found in Burke's General Armory, Landed Gentry, or Peerage.  Colin Gresham, in his 1968 "Medieval Stone Carving in North Wales" claims this was a Cheshire Family, but it is wholly absent from the Herald's Visitations of that shire.  Michael Siddons, in his 1993 "The Development of Welsh Heraldry" says that a Robert Pounderling occurs as witness to a deed of c. 1280 but gives no source for the statement.  There was a Robert, grandson of Sir Robert, born c. 1235 but the citations[10] do not say he used a surname....merely Robert ap Hywel.
         Perhaps Sir Robert's initial employment at Diserth Castle was not as constable, but as "pounder".  That person was in charge of the pinfold where stray livestock was held until its owner claimed it and paid a fine for it grazing on public lands or lands of a neighbor.  Adding the suffix "ling" denotes either (a) pertaining to or concerned with; or (b) a younger version of the noun to which it is attached.  He might have been a lad who assisted the official pounder, and forever remembered by the Welsh as "Robert the pounderling" even after attaining manhood and knightship.  Whether he later was made constable of the castle is unproven, but possible.
         If our guess were correct, his family might well have been from Cheshire, but we don't know their surname.  The ancestors of Sir Robert could be well-known; we just don't know which family he came from.
         We should not end his story without trying to guess the identity of the Welshman, Theodore, whose prowess at tournament sports put out one of his eyes.  If we assume Sir Robert competed as a young knight, our timeline for his ensuing family would place the injury c. 1205/10.  Not many noble Welshmen of that era were named Tewdwr or Tudor (their equivalent of Theodore).  One of these, Tudor ap Ednowain ap Bradwen, was born c. 1185 and a member of a prominent North Wales family which might be expected to attend Royal Tournaments.  And if Sir Robert had been a bit older when injured, say c. 1220/25, we'd suggest his opponent was Sir Tudor ap Ednyfed Fychan born c. 1200.  That man was the son of the seneschal of Llewelyn Fawr, king of Gwynedd, and virtually certain to attend such tournaments.
        The fact that none of his descendants appear to have adopted surnames, Pounderling or otherwise, for the ensuing 200 or more years but were given Welsh names, strongly suggests his wife was a Welsh lady.  She was also of noble birth else we would not find his grandson, and subsequent generations, married to daughters of Welsh noblemen. In fact, she may not have married Sir Robert at all; he may have simply fathered her child and walked away, leaving her to name and raise the boy.
        The early generations of the family are incorrectly charted by Peter Bartrum in his "Welsh Genealogies AD300-1400", partly because some (but not all) of his sources refer to two different men as "Madog Rwth". We believe the early generations were:
                                   1180  Sir Robert ?
                                     1205  Hywel
                     l                                                     l
      1235  Iorwerth(a)                              1235  Robert(b)
                     l                                                     l
        1265  Robert                                  1265  Madog(c)
                     l                                                     l
     1295  Madog Rwth(d)                                 1295  Hywel(e)
                     l                                                     l
       1325  Hywel(e)                                1330  Iorwerth
     1355  Hywel Goch
         (a)  Pen. 133,32 and Pen. 134, 113/115 cite "Madog Rwth ap Robert ap Iorwerth ap Hywel ap Sir Robert"
           (b)  Pen. 127, 64 cites "Robert ap Hywel ap Sir Robert" married "Gwladys ferch Bleddyn ap Madog ap Mabon", a lady born c. 1245.  Bartrum thought the citation had omitted Iorwerth, but the timeline shows this was a different branch of the family.  Thus by attaching this marriage to the Robert ap Iorwerth ap Hywel, Bartrum dates Sir Robert a full generation too early
           (c)   Pen. 134, 107 and 110 identify a "Madog ap Robert" of this family which confirms that both men named Robert had sons called Madog, but some citations incorrectly called both "Madog Rwth".  The c. 1265 Madog, in addition to a son Hywel, had sons Bleddyn and Ieuan and a daughter Marged.
          (d)  Pen. 127, 64 cites "Madog Rwth ap Robert" married "Gwenllian ferch Rhys ap Ednyfed Fychan".  Such a lady would be born c. 1235 and not fit as a spouse of either Madog in this family.  We believe "Gwenllian ferch Rhys ap Ednyfed ap Rhys ap Ednyfed Fychan" was meant, a lady born c. 1295.  This Madog Rwth had no known children except the son Hywel.
          (e)  Bartrum charts these Hywels as a single man born c. 1300, but marriages shown for their descendants date them a full generation apart. Hywel Goch was NOT a brother of Iorwerth.
      One other glaring error in construction on Bartrum's chart is found among the descendants of the c. 1265 Madog ap Robert, where two separate ladies named Mali ferch Bleddyn ap Ieuan ap Madog are conflated:
                                           1265  Madog
                             l                                              l
               1295  Bleddyn (a)                      1300  Ieuan(a)
                             l                                              l
               1325  Madog                           1330  Bleddyn(b)
                                     l                                              l
                 1355  Ieuan                             1365  Mali
               1390  Bleddyn
                 1420  Mali
        (a)  Bleddyn and Ieuan were brothers of the Hywel ap Madog of c. 1295 in our first chart
          (b)  Pen. 134,107 cites "Bleddyn ap Ieuan ap Madog" married "Mali ferch Ednyfed ap Rhys ap Rhys ap Llewelyn ap Ednyfed Fychan", a lady born c. 1340
           The earliest Mali (on the right above) married Tudor ap Ithel ap Rhys ap Maredudd[11] descended from "Ednowain Bendew II", a man born c. 1360.  She also married Deicws Llwyd of Faenol ap Llewelyn ap Ednyfed, a man born c. 1365.  The 2-generations younger Mali married Maredudd ap Dafydd ap Meilyr[12] descended from Llywarch Hwlbwrch , a man born c. 1410.

[1]  History of Powys Fadog, vol V, pp 323-324
[2]  Leland's Itinerary in England and Wales, 1964 edition edited by Lucy T. Smith, vol 4, p. 84
[3]  There was a noted Salisbury family seated at Lleweni near Denbigh in the Vale of Clwyd as early as the 13th century.  Exactly which knight conferred with Leland in unknown
[4]  The editor rendered his name "Mounderling", probably because the manuscript was faded and indistinct by the time she handled it.  All the men who saw the same manuscript in more ancient days read the name as "Pounderling"
[5] A Tour in Wales, vol II, published 1781, pp 7-8
[6]  Pen. 127, 64 cites his marriage and calls him "Robert ap Hywel ap Sir Robert Pounderling"
[7] Arch Cam 1880, pp 178-182
[8] Madog Rwth, great-great grandson of Sir Robert, according to UCNW Bangor Ms 5943 (c. 1570), bore "Vert, a butterfly arg, crowned or, between 3 roses arg".  About 100 years later, Gruffudd Llwyd ap Iorwerth ap Hywel bore "arg, on a bend az 3 fleur-de-lys arg"  NLW Ms 20898E (c. 1590-1604) depicts the arms of Sir Robert as similar to that of Madog Rwth, but with the field argent and the butterfly, crown and roses all gules.  It may or may not be coincidental that a second effigy in Tremeirchion Church (that of Dafydd ap Hywel ap Madog) includes a second shield in addition to that of Dafydd, which represents the Virgin Mary.  It depicts a winged heart surmounted by a crown between 3 quatrefoils
[9] Peter Bartrum dates Sir Robert to c. 1130, a full generation too early by ignoring the sources which say Iorwerth ap Hywel had both a brother and a son named Robert.  He assumed the source citing his brother was corrupt and inserted Iorwerth as the father of the Robert we date c. 1235
[10] Pen. 127, 64 and Pen. 135, 116
[11] See "The Pedigree of Ednowain Bendew II", name #80, at the link below:
[12] Pen. 133, 32 and Pen. 134,107  The complete pedigree is Maredudd ap Dafydd ap Meilyr ap Cynan ap Pyll ap Cynan ap Dafydd ap Meilyr ap Cynan ap Pyll ap Cynan ap Llywarch Goch ap Llywarch Hwlbwrch