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Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
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Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys
                      THOMAS ap RHODRI, FATHER OF OWAIN "LAWGOCH"
                                          By Darrell Wolcott
           We shall leave to others the question of whether or not Owain ap Thomas ap Rhodri was ever, in his lifetime, actually called "Lawgoch".  Instead we wish to inquire into the ancestry assigned to Thomas by modern historians.  The entries in Dictionary of Welsh Biography [1] claim he was a lineal descendant of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn Fawr of Gwynedd.  Those notices date Thomas as born c. 1295 and died in 1363, while Owain is dated as born c. 1330 and died in 1378.  If that identification were correct, the family chart would look like this:
                                    1169  Llewelyn Fawr, obit 1240
                                       1194  Gruffudd, obit 1244
                                       1235  Rhodri*, query as to obit
                                      1295  Thomas, obit 1363
                                       1330  Owain, obit 1378
          *Youngest of 4 brothers, including Owain, Llewelyn and Dafydd.  The latter two men styled themselves Prince of Wales; Llewelyn was killed in 1282 while Dafydd was executed in 1283, both casualties of Edward I's conquest of Wales.  The query as to his obit will be addressed presently
           It is immediately apparent this chart is suspect...we should expect one additional generation to span the 161 years from Llewelyn Fawr to Owain ap Thomas.  We know that Rhodri ap Gruffudd was born no later than 1237/38, and perhaps 5 years earlier, because his mother, in 1241, offered him as a child as hostage to Henry III who held her husband and oldest son in the Tower of London[2].  Thus, we are asked to believe Rhodri was 60-plus years old when he had a son.  Our inquiry will examine various original sources to determine if this is a reasonable assumption.  And it should be borne in mind that none of the extant source documents ever mention the name which follows Gruffudd when speaking of Thomas ap Rhodri ap Gruffudd.  Perhaps he was Gruffudd ap Llewelyn Fawr, but perhaps not[3].
          The first appearance of Rhodri ap Gruffudd in the sources (after the 1241 mention when he was a toddler) occurs in 1272 when he quit-claimed all his paternal interest in lands in Gwynedd (and all Wales) to his brother Llewelyn for 1000 marks.  He took no part in the subsequent wars with Edward I and moved to Cheshire.  Then in 1278, he filed a petition seeking his rightful share of Gwynedd on the grounds that he had never been paid the promised 1000 marks.  In a hearing at the king's court at Rhuddlan attended by his brothers, Llewelyn and Dafydd, and by King Edward I, Rhodri admitted that 50 marks had been paid to him but nothing more.  Both his brothers acknowledged the unpaid debt and Dafydd offered his English lands as security for payment of the 950 marks due.  The king then agreed that Rhodri had no claim to any land except as collateral for the debt[4].
           It isn't known exactly when, but after 1272, Rhodri married Beatrice, daughter of John de Malpas of Cheshire[5].  This lady was born c. 1245 and had a daughter, Isabella, from a previous marriage.  Beatrice owned several manors and other tracts of land in Cheshire[6], and there is nothing to indicate that she and Rhodri acquired other lands during their marriage nor had any children.  At Beatrice's death in 1290, Isabella was 30 years old and married to Richard de Sutton[7].  Subsequent records indicate that Beatrice's lands had been bequeathed to Isabella since they were either held by, or had been sold off by, various de Sutton descendants[8].  Where Rhodri lived after her death is not known, but he likely was allowed to remain as a tenent in one of his widow's manors.  In 1294, he petitioned the crown for financial aid and was granted an annuity of 40 pounds annually[9]. 
           At some date after 1282 but prior to 1307, Rhodri's brother Owain died without children.  Owain had held the Welsh cantref of Llyn as his share of his paternal inheritance[10], so Rhodri filed a petition claiming he was the brother of Owain and only near kin still living and thus entitled to inherit his lands.  Although his claim appears undeniably valid, he died before a judgement was rendered[11].
           With that, no more is known about the Rhodri ap Gruffudd who can be positively identified as the brother of Dafydd, Owain and Llewelyn ap Gruffudd and grandson of Llewelyn Fawr.  It is not known if he ever received the 950 marks owed him, but he seems to have died as a man in his 60's owning no lands and existing on a stipend from the king.
           The records trail now picks up with a "Rotheric, son of Griffin and Katherine his wife" who purchased several tracts of land in Cheshire between 1299 and 1305[12].  This was probably the "Roderic fitz Griffin, lord of the manor of Tatesfield"[13] who in 1309/10 presented to the rectory in Surrey, the shire in which Tatsfield is located.  Modern historians assume this was the same Rhodri ap Gruffudd found in the 1241 to 1292 documents, the brother of Llewelyn the Last...and a man, if still alive in 1310, well past his 70th birthday.  The Rhodri who was married to Katherine and held Tatsfield died in 1315/16[14], leaving a son, Thomas.  Was this the same Rhodri ap Gruffudd profiled in the opening paragraphs above?
            The single extant document yet unearthed which seems to answer that question says no.  In 1330 following several unsuccessful petitions, a "Sir Thomas Rotheryk" filed a claim[15] for the cantref of Llyn, asserting that he was the "nearest heir" to Owain ap Gruffudd who had held Llyn but died childless.  In response to his claim, representatives of the crown found that:
           "after his [Owain's] death, Edward I took the cantref into his own hand because it was held from him in chief.  Roderick, brother and heir of Owain, sought by petitions to have seisin of the same but before it was adjudged to him, he died, wherefore the cantref was in the hand of Edward, grandfather of the king, and afterwards of Edward his father and is now in the hands of the present king [Edward III]"[16]
           Neither the date of Owain's death, nor of Rhodri's petition are recorded.  But the 1330 document states that Rhodri outlived Owain and that Edward I was still living when Rhodri died.  Accordingly, Rhodri died sometime before 1307, the date of Edward I's death.  He could not, then, have been the Tatsfield "Roderic fitz Griffin" in 1309/1310 nor the "Rotheric son of Griffin" who married Katherine and died in 1315/16. Our original suspicion about the 60 year generation gap in the traditional pedigree appears well-founded:  there were 2 separate men called "Rhodri son of Gruffudd" found in official records between 1241 and 1316.
          We admit it tempting to assume the 1330 "Sir Thomas Rotheryk" must have been the son of the same Rhodri ap Gruffudd who was the brother of Owain, but the extant copy of his writ does not say that.  In fact the document is damaged and in some spots illegible; whatever relationship which Thomas claimed existed between himself and Owain is missing.  To assert that Thomas was the nephew of Owain is mere conjecture, based upon the historian's question "Why else would this Thomas claim Llyn if he were not Owain's nephew?"  Perhaps because he was financially pressed, knew that he descended from a branch of the 12th century Gwynedd Royal Family, and further knew that no men descended from Gruffudd ap Llewelyn Fawr were still alive and free to press a claim.  In such a case, he would have been some degree of cousin to Owain and entitled to lodge a claim as "nearest heir". We would pose this additional question: "If Thomas the petitioner WAS the nephew of Owain, why had all his claims for Llyn been rejected?"  This was not a case where men's memories had been dimmed by the passage of time. Owain (and his brother Rhodri) had died little more than a generation ago.  And the fate of all the men directly descended from Gruffudd ap Llewelyn Fawr was well-known[17].
          Many extant records cite a Sir Thomas Roderic of Tatsfield, indicating that he was the son of the 1309/10 "Roderic fitz Griffin, lord of the manor of Tatesfield" and not the man of that name who died prior to 1307.  This Thomas of Tatsfield occurs in various records dated from 1320 to 1358, with several of those citing him jointly with wife Cicely dating from 1333 forward.  He had received his father's estates in 1315/16 in the ordinary course (without any trustee or wardship) so we assume he was 21 or over by that date.  His mother, Katherine, put her dower rights to certain lands in Newton, Cheshire on record in 1316.[18]
          A case could be argued that Thomas was a prodigal young knight[19] raised by fairly wealthy parents; they left him the manor at Tatsfield, another in Cheshire and probably one at Dinas in Mechain.  We know that in 1333, he held Dinas in-chief and solely in his own name but had it regranted that year jointly to himself and his wife Cecily[20].  One might guess that was the year they married.  He also owned small tenements in Mechain which were leased out.  The fact that John de Cherleton entered and took possession of those lands in 1338 may indicate Thomas either bought them from de Cherleton and failed to pay in full, or had pledged them as collateral for a loan which was not repaid[21].  Several London merchants loaned money to Thomas and recorded their claims[22] and he sold off the Tatsfield lands piecemeal[23].  In 1341, he gave (sold?) John de Cherleton a future interest in Dinas, reserving only a fee-tail estate in that manor for himself and his heirs[24].  The Cheshire lands which his parents had assembled into the Maesfen manor were, during the lifetime of Thomas, reduced to a single residence called Althurst[25]. All these transactions might allow one to believe Thomas was living above his means and squandering his father's wealth. 
          Owain ap Thomas was probably born at Tatsfield about 1330/35; he left England to reside at the court of King Philip VI of France as a young teen, sometime prior to Philip's death in 1350.  When his father died in 1363, an inquest was held to determine who was entitled to receive his manor at Dinas in Mechain.  After interviewing local officials and the tenants who occupied Dinas, it was held that Thomas had died without heirs[26].  Since his interest in Dinas had been reduced to that of a fee-tail estate in 1341, it was adjudged to remainderman John de Cherleton Jr.  While this decision was overturned in 1365[27] when Owain returned from France to claim his father's estate, it does show that he was wholly unknown in Powys.  This should not be a surprise, his father and grandfather had long resided in England and considered themselves more English than Welsh[28].
          We shall leave Owain's story for another paper, but when England and France went to war in 1369 he fought on the side of France.  In 1370, England adjudged him a traitor and confiscated his lands.  Much of what we know about his father's estates comes from the records of how those lands were subsequently regranted by the crown.
          If our suggestion is correct that Thomas ap Rhodri was only a distant relative of Rhodri and Owain ap Gruffudd ap Llewelyn Fawr, what might this relationship have been?  When we consider that (a) both Thomas and his son, Owain, believed themselves descended from the Gwynedd royal family and that (b) we find many cases where the noble families of Wales repeated name sequences which had been used by earlier cousin branches, we suggest the following is the correct chart:
                                     1100  Owain Gwynedd
                          l                                                  l
             1145  Rhodri                               1128  Iorwerth
                          l                                                  l
            1170  Thomas                           1169  Llewelyn Fawr
                          l                                                  l
            1200  Caradog                             1194  Gruffudd
                          l                              ___________l_____
                          l                              l                            l 
            1230  Gruffudd          1225 Owain(1)         1235  Rhodri(2)
                                l                                                      ob < 1307
           1265  Rhodri, ob 1315/16
       1295  Sir Thomas(3) ob 1363
            (1) Eldest brother of Llewelyn the Last, Dafydd and Rhodri and the holder of the cantref of Llyn when he died childless
            (2) Surviving brother of Owain who claimed Llyn but died before his petition was adjudicated
            (3) Father of Owain ap Thomas and unsuccessful claimant of Llyn in 1330
            In his charts of this family[29], Peter Bartrum attaches Thomas to Rhodri ap Gruffudd ap Llewelyn Fawr, thus following the single pedigree source to mention him.[30] To obscure the fact that Thomas was born two generations after that Rhodri, he has assigned Thomas's birth as "generation 8" (defined by him as c. 1270) even though he admits the man was born c. 1295.  He places Owain ap Thomas in "generation 9" (defined by him as c. 1300) but dates his obit correctly as 1378.  Even Bartrum could not have believed Owain was about 78 years old when John Lamb assassinated him.  Was he asked to gloss over this chronological gap because it would expose a flaw in the genealogy of Thomas and Owain which is being asserted by Welsh academia?  Or was Bartrum merely careless in dating his chart?[31]  Clearly Rhodri ap Gruffudd ap Llewelyn Fawr belongs in Bartrum's Generation 7 (c. 1230, and correctly assigned) while Thomas and Owain belong in his Generations 9 and 10, respectively. 
[1] Dictionary of Welsh Biography Down to 1940, pp 934 and 690
[2] Littere Wallie, pp 52/53
[3] The earliest historian to claim this ancestry for Thomas was Angharad Llwyd in her 1827 revised edit of Sir John Wynn's History of The Gwydir Family.  However, in the c. 1480 manuscript, Peniarth 131, page 81, Guttun Owen cited "Owain ap Thomas ap Rhodri ap Gruffudd ap Llewelyn ap Iorwerth Drwyndwn"; no other early pedigree manuscripts mention Thomas ap Rhodri at all
[4] Calendar of Close Rolls, 1272-1279
[5] George Ormerod "History of Cheshire", vol ii, p 598 of the 1882 edition cites this marriage.  In various inquisitions and grants, she is only identified as "Beatrice, wife of Rhodri ap Gruffudd"
[6] Her lands are identified in the inquest post mortem following her death which is abstracted on page 34, Transactions Soc of Cymmrodorion, 1899/1900 issue
[7] ibid note 5 for Isabella's age in 1290 and her marriage
[8] ibid note 6, pp 34/35 quotes from Chester Plea Rolls 1329-1330 which show John, son of Richard de Sutton disposing of much of the lands once held by Beatrice de Malpas
[9] Rot. Pat. (Patent Rolls) 20, Edward I, m. 5; August 1292
[10] See entry for 1277 in Brut y Tywysogyon
[11] Public Record Office: Ancient Petitions No. 6790 and 6791.  The petition by Thomas appears in French and the king's response was in Latin; both are reproduced in the 1899/1900 vol of Trans Cymm, pp 46-47.  An English translation of both appear in Calendar of Ancient Petitions Relating to Wales, 1975, pp 229-230, but the editor has inserted his own belief as to what the damaged/unreadable sections say
[12] ibid note 6, pp 35-36 cites 5 entries from the Plea Rolls where Rhodri and Katherine acquired land in Cheshire
[13] this is the manner in which he styled himself in his presentation to the rectory of Tatsfield, according to Edward Owen (antiquarian 1853-1943) author of the paper on Owain ap Thomas published in Trans Cymm 1899/1900.  He makes the statement on page 37 but failed to footnote his source
[14] His exact obit date is not recorded, but his widow Katherine filed her dower rights to lands in Newton, in the Cheshire Plea Roll of 9 and 10 Edward II, 1316
[15] refer to note 11 above, Writ No. 6790
[16] refer to note 11 above, Writ No. 6791
[17] Owain ap Gruffudd died childless before 1307; Llewelyn ap Gruffudd was killed in Brecon in 1282, survived by an infant daughter who was confined to a nunnery.    Dafydd ap Gruffudd was executed in 1283 and was survived by two sons who were imprisioned for life and one or more daughters who were confined to a nunnery.  We believe Rhodri ap Gruffudd also died childless before 1307
[18] refer to note 14 above
[19] Thomas is described variously as "Sir", "knight" and "King's Bachelor" in various writs still extant
[20] Rot. Pat. 7 Edward III, p. 1, m. 29, Jan 1333
[21] Calender of Ancient Petitions, writs 10310 and 11933 (1338-9).  These writs are cited in full in Trans Cymm 1899/1900, p 43 in their original language
[22] Five such debts are recited in Rot. Pat. from 1320 to 1329
[23] British Museum Harley Charters (56 H. 21) cites a 1324 grant by "Thomas filius Rethericus de Tatlesfelde" to John Stokete of certain lands in Tatlesfelde
[24] Rot. Pat. 15 Edward III. p. 2, m. 46; 4 June 1341
[25] This manor was the only Cheshire land held by Owain ap Thomas when his lands were confiscated in 1370; a life interest in it was regranted by the crown in 1380 to a Roger atte Gate according to Rot. Pat. 4 Richard II, p. 1. m. 17
[26] Inquisition post mortem, 37 Edward III, No. 59 (1364).  The full text appears in Trans Cymm 1899/1900, pp 47/48
[27] Public Record Office: Placita de Cancellara No. 67 dated 39 Edward III; this inquiry established that Owain was the son of Thomas and the rightful heir of Dinas
[28] Rhodri used the English form of his name, Roderic fitz Griffin, while Thomas styled himself Sir Thomas Retherick/Rotheryk.  Neither man is known to have followed the Welsh patronymic naming convention.  No records with which we are aware indicate that either Thomas or his son, Owain, could write or speak Welsh but were fluent in French
[29] Peter C Bartrum "Welsh Genealogies AD 300-1400", 1974, Univ of Wales Press, chart Gruffudd ap Cynan 5
[30] Pen. 131, 81.  But Bartrum admitted that dozens of medieval pedigree citations were slightly corrupt, including many in this manuscript.
[31] There are literally hundreds of Bartrum's charts where he clearly indicates that his construction left one or more generational gaps between men portrayed as father and son; we find it curious he did not do so here