THE ROYAL FAMILY OF CEREDIGION
By Darrell Wolcott
When we think of the Welsh
kingdom of Ceredigion, it is usually as those lands existed in the 11th century: ten commotes lying along the west coast of
Wales between the Dyfi and the Teifi rivers. But were those its bounderies back in the 5th century when it became the
eponym of Ceredig ap Cunedda?
Professor John E.
Lloyd observed that in the 6 commotes north of the Aeron valley, the influence of St. Padarn is strong; his base at Llanbadarn
Fawr held wide authority as the mother church of all Northern Ceredigion. But south of the Aeron, one moves into another
region which knows nothing of Padarn but is part of the realm of St Dewi. Most will recognise Dewi as St David, generally
identified as the bishop seated at Menevia in Dyfed. Both holy men claim descent from Ceredig ap Cunedda, although Padarn
was related only via his mother. His father, Petrwn ap Emyr Llydaw, married Gwen ferch Ceredig ap Cunedda and we
may assume it was this marriage which brought Padarn to Ceredigion. The two saints can be charted as:
_________________l____ Emyr Llydaw* 400
445 Cedig Draws** 450
470 St Padarn
510 St David/Dewi
the earliest of the men called Emyr Llydaw, being a great-great grandson of Cynan Meriadog. This Emyr's grandson
is also called Emyr Llydaw in the old pedigrees.
** This generation
is missing from many early pedigrees of St David, but can be found in Bonedd y Saint, 1
We suggest that
the lands first named Ceredigion were those 6 commotes north of the Aeron, and that the 4 commotes south of that river were
then a part of Dyfed. Much historical conjecture is made of an 8th century king of Ceredigion named
Seisyll conquering certain adjacent lands to form a territory called Seisyllwg. We think this was when the lands
south of the Aeron were added to the original kingdom of Ceredigion. The whole may have been called Seisyllwg during
his lifetime, but within a generation all 10 commotes were simply "Ceredigion". It continued to exist as a separate
kingdom until being merged into Deheubarth by Hywel Dda in the 10th century. It's royal family, however, did not
become extinct in the male line until 4 generations later in the second half of the 11th century.
Ceredigion had few
natural harbors along its coast, so was generally accessible only overland. Neither the Romans nor the pre-Cunedda occupants
built any notable forts there, nor have remains of any regal-appearing manors of that age been seen. One would expect
that it had been sparsely populated in the days of Ceredig. Later, its geographic features served to protect it from
both Saxon invasions and Danish raiders. Its enemies in the 9th to 11th centuries were primarily its neighbors to the
north and south.
Nothing at all is
known of the reign of Ceredig; by the year 600, only men descended from his son Iusay/Usai are found in the ancient pedigrees. And the
descent of those men from Ceredig is missing two generations. For our charts, we shall assume there were two pairs of
men called "Serwyl/Serguil ap Usai" simply to have a name to fill each generational slot, but the gaps may occur anywhere
between c. 450 and c. 600. Thus:
415 Ceredig ap Cunedda
630 Eiddon Ddu
Arthen, ob 807
830 Gwgan, ob 872 Angharad===Rhodri Mawr 820
the family on the left in our chart was the senior branch of the Royal Family, since the obits of both Arthen and Gwgan
cite those men as kings of Ceredigion. The traditional historians of Wales claim that Rhodri Mawr added Ceredigion to
his Gwynedd kingship when Gwgan ap Meurig drowned in 872 with no known sons. We have previously shown that to have been not
only unlikely, but pure medieval conjecture. Instead, we posit the Ceredigion Royal Family continued its rule after
872 through the cousin line descended from Eiddon Ddu:
630 Eiddon Ddu
730 Cloddien Frych
890 Gwriad 890 Teithwalch 895 Meirchion
chart) (later chart) (later chart)
that after Gwgan ap Meurig of the senior line died, the kingship was conferred upon Einion ap Meurig of this junior branch,
who was followed by his son, Owain. The eldest son of Owain ap Einion was Gwriad, who held the kingship until about
932. Others have suggested that Hywel Dda of Deheubarth probably added Ceredigion to his kingdom after Gwriad disappeared
from the Athelstan charters witness lists. His obit is not recorded, but Gwriad was survived by sons Anarawd and Gwgan.
Both the male
names Gwriad and Anarawd occur here for the first time in the Ceredigion family, having previously been known
primarily in the Gwynedd family descended from Merfyn Fyrch. This suggests
a marriage between the two families such as posited in this chart:
Gwriad, Isle of Man
790 Merfyn Frych
820 Rhodri Mawr
830 Gwriad* Einion 825
870 daughter====Owain 860
* Most ancient
texts say the Gwriad who was killed in 878 was the brother of Rhodri, not his son as modern historians claim.
If, as we suspect, Hywel Dda
had taken the kingship of Ceredigion about 932, the sons of Gwriad ap Owain would have been sub-teenaged boys. Ten years
later, upon the death of Idwal Foel, Hywel Dda also took over Gwynedd. But when Hywel died in 949, the sons of Idwal
Foel successfully reclaimed Gwynedd as their patrimony. We suspect the sons of Gwriad likewise attempted to reclaim
Ceredigion as their patrimony. The Brut says that Anarawd ap Gwriad was slain in 954 and Gwgan his brother was killed
in 957. It thus would appear that Owain ap Hywel Dda successfully held onto Ceredigion, while the more remote kingdom
of Gwynedd slipped from his grasp.
While the lineage of Gwriad
of Ceredigion became extinct in 957, that royal family survived in the families descended from the younger brothers of Gwriad.
The eldest of those brothers was Teithwalch whose lands lay in the far north of Ceredigion:
950 Morfydd====Eunydd ap Pyll 935
This family branch ended with
a heiress, who married a man from Meirionydd and carried much land in north Ceredigion to her son, Einion ap Eunydd.
Her grandsons were Peredur Beiswrydd and Peredur Beisgwyn, from whom descended both Gwaithfoed of Meirionydd and Gwaithfoed
of Ceredigion as well as other notable families. There is no indication that Odwin ap Teithwalch contested Owain ap
Hywel Dda for rule in Ceredigion after his first-cousins were slain, perhaps being content with a lordship north of the
We now turn to Meirchion,
the youngest brother of Gwriad, who held lands in far south Ceredigion. After the death of Odwin ap Teithwalch, the
family of Meirchion was the last surviving cadet of the old Ceredigion royal family.
995 Llywarch Llwyd
Again, no males of this
family appear to have contested Owain ap Hywel Dda, or his descendants, for the kingship of Ceredigion. But the
line ended an 11th century heiress. The pedigrees
cite Morfydd as "Morydd, king of Cardigan AD 830" ab Llywarch Llwyd", but we think both the dating and gender are incorrect.
It is our view that she was the daughter of Llywarch Llwyd and that she married a Dyfed man. Men
named Llawr and Assur/Alser descended from her, names found almost exclusively in the Dyfed families descended from Tudwal
Gloff. Thus, we would identify her husband as the c. 1020 Uchdryd ap Aleth ap Llawr ap Aelan ap Alser ap Tudwal, and
make him the ancestor of Llewelyn, Lord of Iscerdin, ap Hoedliw ap Llawr ap Assur ap Dyfnfarch ap Morfydd ferch Llywarch Llwyd.
It was, we suggest, with
this 11th century heiress that the Royal Family descended from Ceredig ap Cunedda became extinct. That family's rule
over Ceredigion, however, likely ended with the earlier death of Gwriad ap Owain c. 932 and certainly ended with the death
of his sons in the decade of the 950's.