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Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                   THE OTHER GWENWYNWYN
                                         By Darrell Wolcott
         Virtually all secondary sources tell us that the man for whom Powys Gwenwynwyn (pronounced wen-UN-wen) was named was the son of Owain Cyfeiliog and was succeeded by a son, Gruffudd.[1]  The medieval genealogists assign him 2 wives: Marged ferch Lord Rhys [2] and Margaret, daughter of Robert Corbet of Caus. [3]  They say he died about 1218[4], leaving a single legitimate son who was yet a child.  Older manuscripts make Owain Cyfeiliog a son of Gruffudd ap Maredudd ap Bleddyn ap Cynfyn by Gwerfyl ferch Gwrgeneu ap Hoedliw[5], the same lady who was the mother of Cadfan ap Cadwaladr ap Gruffudd ap Cynan.[6]
         Since the Brut records the obit of Gruffudd ap Maredudd in 1128, Owain Cyfeiliog could not have been born later than 1129.  But Owain had a younger brother, Meurig, so his own birth must have been somewhat earlier.  We would fix it near 1125 and Meurig near 1127 since the brothers were jointly granted the cantref of Cyfeiliog in 1149 (probably when the youngest of them turned 21).[7]  Owain Cyfeiliog married Gwenllian ferch Owain Gwynedd[8], a lady born c. 1134.  This marriage likely occurred near 1150 soon after Owain first acquired any lands of his own.
          Gwenwynwyn was the eldest son of this marriage, probably born near 1155.  He had at least 6 sisters and 4 brothers, and would have been in his early 60's when he died.  One cited wife, the daughter of Lord Rhys, was probably born c. 1169 and was age-appropriate for him.  The other cited wife, the daughter of Robert Corbet of Caus, was born nearer 1195[9] and was the mother of Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn.  That son is first noted in the records in 1224 when King Henry III granted him a half-mark.[10]  In this grant, he was called "Griffen filio Wenhunweni infirmio".  It is unclear whether this signified that Griffen or his father was "infirmio", i.e. weak and feeble.  During his boyhood, all the Welsh lands he stood to inherit were in the custody of Llewelyn Fawr of Gwynedd...first taken by force in 1216 and later confirmed as the custodian for the heirs of Gwenwynwyn.  Due to contention between the sons of Llewelyn Fawr, these lands were withheld from Gruffudd until 1241 when Henry III ordered them restored.[11]
         In 1200, King John had granted to Gwenwynwyn the manor of Ashford in Derbyshire[12] which was later placed in the custody of the king's retainer, Brian de Insula.[13]  In 1232, this man was ordered to deliver custody of Ashford to Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn, except for the 1/3 dower right previously released to Gruffudd's mother.[14]  Thus, we assume Gruffudd turned 21 in 1232, having been only 13 when he first appeared in the records.  He would have been about 30 when he finally obtained his Powys lands.  He died about 1286 at an advanced age.[15]
           Thus far, our chronology assumes that every entry in the official records which names "Gwenwynwyn filio Owain Cyfeiliog" or "Gwenwynwyn Cyfeiliog" or "Gwenwynwyn Walensis" all refer to a single man.  If that is true, the family chart would look like this:
            1065  Maredudd ap Bleddyn, ob 1132
              1095  Gruffudd, ob 1128
             1125  Owain Cyfeiliog, ob 1197
            1155  Gwenwynwyn, ob 1218, married Margaret Corbet born
                            l                                                    c. 1195
              1211  Gruffudd, ob c. 1286
           We immediately become sceptical of the chronological timeline of the family.  Even should we accept a man taking a wife some 40 years younger than himself, it remains unusual that his only legitimate son was born when he was past age 55.  The typical Welsh prince got about the task of producing sons to continue his dynasty when in his late 20's or early 30's.  Our first thought is that an entire generation is missing from the chart: a man also named Gwenwynwyn and born c. 1183, thusly:
          1125  Owain Cyfeiliog
          1155  Gwenwynwyn=====Marged f. Lord Rhys  1169
                 1183  Gwenwynwyn Cyfeiliog===Margaret Corbet  1195
                                             1211  Gruffudd
          While we accept that every Brut entry (the last in 1216) is consistent with a single Gwenwynwyn...one active as a warrior between 1187 and 1212...we are less certain about the evidence provided by the Patent Rolls.  Eyton cites one entry dated 1209 where King John gives Robert Corbet 20 marks to convey to "Woenwnoen Walensis".[16]  Was this money meant for a Prince or Baron having considerable wealth, or perhaps for an invalid who was in Corbet's care?  We note that Gwenwynwyn's ancestor, Gruffudd ap Maredudd, had died from unknown causes about age 35.  And that either young Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn or his father was called "infirmo" in 1224.  Was there perhaps a gene in this family which predisposed the men to some fatal illness?
          We suggest the following scenerio which would account for each of the oddities noted.  It was the elder Gwenwynwyn who married a daughter of Lord Rhys about 1180 and had a son about 1183 named after his father.  That son was frail as a child and as a young man; he was sent as a hostage to King John in 1208 who placed him in the care of Robert Corbet at Caus Castle.  In 1209, he was given a daughter of Corbet for his wife; the 20 marks sent him by the king might have been a wedding gift, conveyed by his new father-in-law.  But his illness worsened, so that by 1218 when the elder Gwenwynwyn died, he was not mentally fit to take seisin of even the English manor of Ashford.  We suggest he lingered until 1222 or 1223 before he finally died.  It was in 1223 when his widow was given her dower interest in Ashford[17], the remainder held until her son turned 21.  If Margaret Corbet had been a very young wife of the elder Gwenwynwyn (who died in 1218), we suggest she would not have waited 5 years to claim her English dowry...particularly since her Welsh dowry was then in the hostile hands of Llewelyn Fawr.
         While Llewelyn Fawr was granted legal custody of Gwenwynwyn's lands later in 1218, and agreed to hold them "to the full age of the heirs of Gwenwynwyn" and to provide reasonable sustenance for said heirs and to pay the dower of his widow[18], those heirs were not called "sons"... perhaps because they were grandsons. That Llewelyn Fawr did not keep this agreement can be seen by (a) King Henry III having to grant young Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn 5 marks in 1229 "for sustenance of him and his men" and (b) the lands of Powys Gwenwynwyn were still in his hands when he died in 1240 even though Gruffudd had turned 21 long before then. We suggest that in 1218, Gwenwynwyn's only legal son lay at Caus Castle awaiting death, unaware even of his father's passing. 
          In addition to his only legal son named after himself, the original Gwenwynwyn ap Owain Cyfeiliog had two base sons.  Madog ap Gwenwynwyn is described as "born before the marriage of his father" [19] and all we know of him is he had a dauighter, Efa, born c. 1215. [20]  There is pedigree evidence that Gwenwynwyn also had a base son named Grufffudd, born c. 1190.  This Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn had two sons.  Llewelyn ap Gruffudd was born c. 1225, and married Marged ferch Maredudd Goch ap Maredudd ap Iorwerth Fychan ap Iorwerth Goch ap Maredudd ap Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, a lady born c. 1240. [21]  Dafydd ap Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn was born c. 1230 and he married Elen ferch Hywel ap Madog ap Gruffudd Maelor. [22]
       This Dafydd ap Gruffudd had two daughters:  Mary, born c. 1260, married Caradog ap Collwyn ap Sulien ap Caradog ap Collwyn ap Sulien ap Maredudd ap Cynan, a man born c. 1250; [23]  and Marged, born c. 1265, who married Hywel Grach ap Llewelyn ap Griffri ap Cadwgan, a man born c. 1265. [24]
       The younger Gwenwynwyn, who married the Corbet lady, had an eldest son, Gruffudd, who was his sole heir under English law.  But Gruffudd did have two younger brothers, Owain and Madog,  An "Owain son of Gwenwynwyn" was, in 1225, given a royal grant of 2 marks to buy himself a "runcinum". [25]  This was a woodworking tool likely needed by the young man to practice a trade.  This Owain thereafter disappears from the record, and may have died early.
        It was Madog ap Gwenwynwyn who was given a life estate in the Lordship of Mawddwy by his brother, Gruffudd. [26]  This man occurs in official records in 1245 and 1258 and apparently lived a full life.  We think he had a son, Richard, born c. 1250, who was given the small Lordship of Dinas Certhin, and had a daughter, Gwladys, about 1285.  She married Rhiryd ap Cynddelw ap Iorwerth, and bore a son named Celynin. [27]  This was the 4th man of that name in an extended family descended from Llawr of Dyfed. [28]

[1] Examples include Montgomeryshire Collections, vol 1, pp 2-3 and J.Y.W. Lloyd's "History of Powys Fadog" vol v, pp 42-43
[2] Pen 131,47; Pen 127, 83 & 99; Pen 128, 133b
[3] Eyton's "Antiquities of Shropshire" vol vii, pp 22-23
[4] Text B of Annales Cambriae cites his obit in 1215 [recte 1216] but the treaty wherein Llewelyn Fawr agreed to hold Gwenwynwyn's lands for the benefit of his under-age heirs is dated 1218.  His last mention in the Brut was 1216, but says he fled to Chester with no mention of his dying.
[5] ABT 8g
[6] ABT 3a
[7] ByT 1149
[8] ABT 8g
[9] Sir Robert Corbet (c. 1155) son of William (c. 1120) son of William (c. 1090) son of Roger (c. 1060) son of Hugh of Pais de Caux in Normandy, who served with Roger of Montgomery at Hastings in 1066
[10] Rot Lit Claus, vol 1, p. 583
[11] ByT 1241
[12] Rot Chart 1 John, m 15
[13] Rot Claus, 16 John, m 10
[14] Rot Lit Claus, 16 Henry III, m 9
[15] Rot Lit Claus, 14 Edward I, m 6  This deed executed Feb 27, 1286 to his younger son Griffin is the last mention of Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn in the official records
[16] op cit Eyton, vol vii, p 17
[17] Rot Lit Claus, 7 Henry III, m 17
[18] Thomas Rymer's "Foedera", vol vi, p 150
[19] P.C. Bartrum's "Welsh Genealogies AD300-1400" on page "Bleddyn ap Cynfyn 29" makes Madog a base son "born before the marriage of his parents"; no mention at all is made of Owain
[20] Pen 129, 75; Pen 127, 25, 38 & 176; these sources impossibly say Efa married Iorwerth ap Owain Brogyntyn, a man born almost 50 years earlier than her.  We think she married Iorwerth ap Owain Fain ap Owain Brogyntyn, a man born c. 1205.  Dwnn ii, 307 says she also married Owain ap Bleddyn ap Tudir ap Rhys Sais II, a man born c. 1216.
[21] Pen 131, 137
[22] Pen 128, 148a
[23] BM Add 9864, 5
[24] Pen 128, 148a
[25] Rot Lit Claus, vol ii, p 13
[26] Hengwrt Ms 119
[27] Dwnn I, 294
[28} See the paper "Einion ap Celynin of Llwydiarth" at the link below: