RULERS OF BRYCHEINIOG - THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
By Darrell Wolcott
Our discussion will center around
those families known to have ruled Brycheiniog, or parts thereof, after the mid-7th century and will not focus upon its reputed
founder, Brychan, a 5th century man. When conquered by the Norman knight Sir Bernard Newmarch in 1093, we are told
that it was then ruled by Bleddyn ap Maenyrch ap Dryffin...a man NOT paternally descended from Brychan.
The pedigree for Bleddyn traces
his ancestry to the 5th century Caradog Freich Fras, a man from Ewias believed to have descended from the clan of Bran ap
Llyr Llediath. No satisfactory explanation has been offered by historians as to how and when the rule of Brycheiniog
was transferred from the family of Brychan to that of Caradog. Some claim that Caradog's father married a daughter of
Brychan, but no early evidence is found to support this assertion. In fact, direct male descendants of Brychan can
be found as late as 610, making it quite unlikely any earlier heiress could have carried the lands to another family.
One group of medieval
pedigrees appear to say that even in 1093, a family living in Brycheiniog represented an unbroken line of males reaching
back to Rhain ap Brychan. But when examined in more detail, the Rhain in those pedigrees can be dated to c. 685 and
is probably the Rhain ap Cadwgan of the Deisi tribe of Dyfed. However, that Rhain WAS maternally descended
from Brychan since his male ancestor, Cloten ap Noe, had married Ceindrec ferch Rhiwallon ap Idwallon; she appears to have
been the heiress of Brycheiniog when the family of Brychan became extinct in the male line. Men of several different
families descended from this Cloten are described as kings or lords of Brycheiniog in ancient documents and medieval pedigrees.
But none of those were male ancestors of the 1093 Bleddyn ap Maenyrch.
Before considering how
and when Bleddyn's family obtained a claim to Brycheiniog, we present a chart showing how it passed from Brychan's family
to the Deisi dynasty, and follow the latter family until it began to divide Dyfed and Brycheiniog between subsequent brothers:
430 son(a) Aircol Lawhir
Dremrudd(b) Vortepir(c) 465
610 Ceindrec(d)=======Cloten 600
680 Rhain(e) 685
Tryffin(f) 687 Tewdos(g)
The estimated birthdates in our chart yield a standard generational gap shorter than we apply to Welsh families, but both
charted families were Irish in origin and likely did not adhere to the Welsh laws and customs which delayed a man's marriage
until he was near 30 years old. Primary source for the Brycheiniog family is Jesus College Ms 20, 8; Harleian
Ms 3859, 2 is our source for the Deisi family.
(a) Peniarth Ms 131, 299 traces the
c. 1095 Trahaearn Fawr, lord of Cantref Selyf, Brycheiniog to a Rhain dremrudd (Rhain who looks red) ap a son of Brychan.
Possibly that unnamed son of Brychan (who Peter Bartrum would delete) was the "Rein ap Brychan" of De Situ Brecheniauc, 11(2)
and his same-named son was called "dremruddd" to distinguish him from his father. A single "Rein" separates Brychan
from Rigeneu in J.C. 20, 8 and is there called Rein dremrud, but the timeline appears to require both men.
(b) Peniarth Ms 131, 299 omits all the names
between this Rhain and the c. 685 Rhain ap Cadwgan. Rather than consider that the pedigree writer simply assumed both
Rhains were a single man, Bartrum proclaims it "grossly deficient in generations" thus casting doubt on the entire citation.
(c) One of the few men in either family who can
be dated by contemporary records, Vortepir was alive about 540 when Gildas wrote his De excidio et conquestu Britanniae, and
was described as nearing the end of his days thus an old man.
(d) No other families known to have descended
from Brychan survived to the 7th century, so this lady was almost certainly the heiress of Brycheiniog.
(e) Probably the eldest son, he appears
to have ruled over much of both Dyfed and Brychieniog. His family is shown in our next chart
(f) ABT 18(b) conflates this Tryffin with
the c. 405 Tryffin ap Aeda Brosc, and makes him the ancestor of the c. 1030 Cadifor Fawr of Ystrad Tywy. We think the
same family might have produced the Gwaithfoed of Ystrad Tywy of c. 975
(g) Jesus College Ms 20, 12 cites his son
as "Maredudd ap Tewdos" while Peniarth Ms 131, 269 & 296 makes "Sawl Felyn ap Meurig ap Maredudd, king of Dyfed" the ancestor
of the c. 1075 Llewelyn ap Gwrgan of Cydwili. The chronology points to a birthdate of c. 715 for that Maredudd, so we
suggest he was Maredudd ap Tewdos ap Cadwgan
eldest son of Rhain ap Cadwgan was Tewdos, born c. 710, who inherited his father's portion of Dyfed. That family
ended with an heiress, Tangwystl ferch Owain ap Maredudd ap Teudos, who carried those lands to her son, Hyfaidd ap Bledri.
The other sons of Rhain appear to have divided Brycheiniog among themselves; men from each of their subsequent families are
cited as "king", but more likely were only lords of cantrefs or commotes:
680 Rhain ap Cadwgan
715 Naufedd Hen(a)
715 Tewdwr(b) 720 Elisse(c)
He received the lordships of Cantref Selyf and probably Talgarth, the north and eastern parts of Brycheiniog
(b) We think he received
the lordship of Cantref Mawr, the south part of Brychieniog which lies west of Talgarth
(c) He probably received
his father's manor plus scattered manors within the lordships of his brothers.
the Elisse in our chart is cited in Jesus College Ms 20, 8 as having a daughter, Sanant, his father is not identified.
Most, including Bartrum, assume he was also the Elisse ap Tewdwr ap Rhain cited in the same source. But Sanant married
Noe of Powys who was born c. 735 and herself must have been born no later than c. 750 or just 2 generations after Rhain.
A Sanant ferch Elisse ap Tewdwr ap Rhain could not have been born earlier than c. 780. Sanant and Noe had three sons:
Cathen, Gruffudd and Tewdos. The opening pedigree in JC 20, 8 appears to be the family of Gruffudd son of Sanant.
Harleian Ms 3859, 15 confirms
some of these relationships by telling us that Gruffudd, Tewdos and Cathen were 3 sons of Noe by Sanant ferch Elisse.
But the JC 20, 8 citation is less clear:
segment 1 - Tewdwr m. Griffri
m. Elisse m. Tewdwr m. Gruffudd
segment 2 - Gruffudd and Tewdos
and Cathen were sons of Noe, king of Powys, and Sanant ferch Elisse was their mother
(The suggestion here is that
this Gruffudd is the same man as the Gruffudd which ends segment 1, That reading is chronologically possible and likely
segment 3 - Elisse mab Tewdwr
m. Rhain m. Cadwgan m. Caten m. Ceindrec ferch Rhiwallon m. Idwallon m. Llowarch m. Rigeneu m. Rein drumrudd m. Brychan
(The suggestion here is that this
Elisse is the father of Sanant in segment 2. That is NOT chronologically possible. Either this segment identifies
a family wholly different from the one in the first 2 segments, or the "mab Tewdwr" should be deleted
text is in some disarray as to the placement of Noe and his title; the above shows Bartrum's emendation concerning Noe, with
which we concur, Bartrum has also deleted ""ferch Neuue hen" who is included in the original citation as the father
of Elisse in segment 3. We concur, but perhaps the "mab Tewdwr" which follows in the text should also be deleted)
When we date and chart
this family, we find:
750 Sanant=====Noe(a) 735
770 Gruffudd 770
(a) Noe was
in the 9th generation after Cassanauth Wledig, from his son Cynan. We date Cassanauth to c. 440 and Noe to c. 735
(b) According to Asser's
'Life of King Alfred', section 80, Elisse ap Tewdwr, King of Brycheiniog, was harrassed by the sons of Rhodri Mawr and turned
to Alfred the Great for protection. The active floruit of Rhodri's sons was c. 875-900 which accords with our dating
of Elisse as perhaps 10 years older than Anarawd ap Rhodri Mawr
We now turn to Tewdwr ap Rhain
ap Cadwgan of c. 720. We would identify him as the father of Elisse in segment 3 of the pedigree shown above.
That Elisse would date to c. 750; since we would chronologically argue he could not be the father of Sanant, no family is
known to have descended from him. Thus, we think this is the most logical place where the family descended from Caradog
Freich Fras obtained a "kingship" in Brycheiniog. If this Elisse ap Tewdwr ap Rhain had an only daughter, she might
have married Tangwydd ap Tegid and carried her father's lands to her son Anarawd. In fact, in his "History of Brecknock",
page 52, Theophilus Jones calls Tangwydd and Anarawd "regulus of Brecknock" while earlier men in that family are called kings
of Radnor, Buillt and Fferlys...lands north and east of Brycheiniog.
Our suggested connection
is shown in the following chart:
475 Caradog Freich Fras
670 Cyndegg Rhain 680
705 Teithwalch Tewdwr 715
740 Tegid Elisse
775 Tangwydd=======dau 785
875 Hydd Hwgan, killed 914
1045 Bleddyn, ob 1093
NOTE: The basic
pedigree of this family is given in Llyfr Baglan 120 and Jones' "History of Brecknock", pp 51-56. The former omits the
pair "Hydd Hwgan ap Gwenddy" while the latter omits "Hwgan ap Gwynngy", both assuming there was a single Hwgan and that Gwenddy
was identical to Gwynngy. The marriage shown is conjectural and all the birthdates are our estimates. This family
lost Fferlys when Elystan Glodrydd (born c. 985) took it from Dryffin ap Hwgan c. 1020 
We repeat our previous caveat
that there are no credible citations which explain how this family obtained a "kingship" in Brycheiniog; our suggestion seems
reasonable but awaits the production of an alternate solution by other scholars.
remaining son of Rhain was Naufedd Hen whose pedigree is cited in Peniarth Ms 131, 299. His family definately ruled
Cantref Selyf and probably the cantref of Talgarth. We chart it as:
715 Naufedd Hen(a)
875 Gruffudd 870 Tewdwr(b)
970 Maenyrch========Elen(d) 980
(a) The citation actually reads
"Nauvedd ap yr ail Nauvedd" (yr ail = the second). Alternate pedigrees in Peniarth Ms 132, 126 and Pen. 136, 350 call
these two men "Neinied ap Nevved" and "Ysteiniaid ap Neved" respectively
(b) A Tewdwr ap Elisse, king
of Brycheiniog, is mentioned in a charter in the Book of Llan Dav, page 237, which scholars date c. 927/928. Bartrum
makes him a son of the c. 835 Elisse ap Tewdwr ap Gruffudd descended from Noe and Sanant, but he fits as well as
a son of Elisse ap Gwylog. Either identification could be correct but neither is certain
(c) Some 17th century pedigrees
mention an Einion ap Gwynngy (Gwngudd/Gwage are alternate spellings) as the ancestor of Rhys Goch of Ystrad Yw. This
Gwynngy fits chronologically as the son of Anarawd in the family descended from Caradog Freich Fras. We suggest, however,
that the Einion in the pedigree of Rhys Goch ap Maenyrch might well have been the Einion ap Selyf in our chart; the late pedigrees
may have simply attached Rhys Goch to the Caradog line since it also contained a man named Maenyrch
(d) This marriage is cited in many sources,
all of which confuse Elen's spouse with the c. 1015 Maenyrch ap Dryffin ap Hwgan who was father to Bleddyn
(e) He was lord of Cantref Selyf.
Bartrum dates him c. 1100 but charts him as a brother of Elen ferch Einion, a lady born 120 years earlier. But his entire
chart of this family prior to the year 1100 is in total disarray
We shall conclude our look at the Brycheiniog families with the pedigree of Rhys Goch of Ystrad Yw, which shows the uncertainty
of his ancient ancestry. Ystrad Yw was a commote in the cantref of Talgarth in southeast Brychieniog:
FROM FAMILY DESCENDED FROM
FRAS RHAIN AP CADWGAN
910 Gwynngy ap Hydd Hwgan
910 Selyf ap Gruffudd ap Elisse
1070 Rhys Goch(b)
(a) Harleian Ms 3525, 81/82 cites a Rhys Goch ap Ifor ap Einion, omitting Richet. This man, a brother of
Maenyrch, was born c. 1045 and married Sian ferch Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd, a lady born c. 1055/60 He was NOT the
Rhys Goch who was lord of Ystrad Yw. Cardiff Ms 2.30, page 63 cites the names "Richert ap Einion" among the ancestors
of Rhys Goch, so we would insert Richert into the pedigree
(b) Lord of Ystrad Yw, his father is often
confused with other men named Maenyrch...particularly the one who was father to Bleddyn.
Most authorities would
attach Rhys Goch to the Einion ap Gwynngy descended from Caradog Freich Fras, but they rely on late citations. If our
suggestion that Selyf ap Gruffudd ap Elisse ruled both Cantref Selyf and the cantref of Talgarth is valid, then the Einion
in the ancestry of Rhys Goch was probably a son of Selyf and thus descended from the Deisi dynasty of Dyfed.
 Jones "History of Brecknock", p 60; Llyfr Baglan, 227
 Llyfr Baglan, 120
 This bogus marriage is discussed in our paper "Ynyr Gwent and Caradog Freich
Fras" at the link below:
 those of Trahaearn Fawr; see Journal of National Library of Wales, Vol XIII,
 JC Ms 20, 8 makes Ceindrec the mother of Cathen, while Harleian Ms 3859,
2 makes Cloten the father of Cathen. No sources specifically say that Cloten married Ceindrec
 Tewdos ap Rhain ap Cadwgan is cited in Harleian Ms 3859, 2
 For the pedigree of the new Dyfed kings, see our paper "The Legendary Kingdom
of Seisyllwg" at the link below:
 The full pedigree is found in JC Ms 20, 16
 This man was attacked by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great.
He fled to Derby but died there in battle about 914 when Ethelfleda pursued him. See Jones "History of Brecknock", p 54
 It is not known how the Brychieniog family obtained Fferlys since it was
anciently among the lands of Elystan Glodrydd's ancestors. It may have been earlier taken by the Saxons, wrested from
them by the ancestors of Dryffin and finally recovered by Elystan.
 Llyfr Baglan 166 & 215; Mostyn Ms 212b, 131; Cardiff Ms 2.30, 63
 Bartrum's "Welsh Genealogies AD 300 - 1400", chart Trahaearn Fawr 1
 Llyfr Baglan 10, 141. 235 & 257 cite the marriage of Gwladys ferch Rhys
Goch ap Maenyrch with Ynyr Fychan ap Meurig ap Ynyr; most of those call Rhys "lord of Ystrad Yw" but only one adds "Goch"
to his name. Harleian Ms 2414, 31 cites Rhys Goch ap Maenyrch as the father of Cynillyn