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Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys
                                    THE ENIGMATIC ELYSTAN GLODRYDD
                                                By Darrell Wolcott
          Said to have been "Prince of Fferlys" in the era of Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd and Bleddyn ap Cynfyn of Powys, Elystan was included as one of the five founders of "Royal Tribes of Wales" when that list was compiled in the 12th century. He is wholly absent from the chronicles and annals of Wales, where not even his obit is recorded.  His only mention in John Lloyd's classic "History of Wales" is a note on page 406 where he says "of whom nothing is recorded on any good authority".
           After reading what various medieval writers say about Elystan, one can certainly agree they were anything but "good authority".  His bogus biography can be summed up as[1]:
           "Elystan Glodrydd, King of Gloucester and Hereford, and by conquest King of Fferlix, which is the territory between the Wye and the Severn.  This district Elystan won from Dryffin ap Hwgan, King of Brecknock....He was born in the castle of Hereford, AD 933, and was named after the Saxon king Athelstan, who was his godfather.  He was living in AD 1010 but was killed in a civil broil at Cefn Digoll in Powys".
           It is only in early pedigree manuscripts where we learn a man named Elystan and called Glodrydd was a son of Cuhelyn ap Ifor ap Seferus ap Cadwr and descended from Tegonwy ap Teon.  His father apparently held the cantref of Buellt; it is only men descended from Elystan who we find holding the former Fferlys lands later called Radnor (comprising Ceri, Maelienydd and Elfael).   His ancestry is shown in this chart[2]:
                                        700  Teon
                                      735  Tegonwy
                                 765  Iorwerth Hirflawdd
                                       795  Idnerth
                                    830  Gwenwyn
                                       865  Cadwr
                                      900  Seferus
                                         930  Ifor
                                      960  Cuhelyn
                                    990  Elystan Glodrydd
          Since our dating is wholly inconsistent with an AD933 birth for Elystan, let's first look at some marriage matches cited for the earlier folks in his pedigree:
                                      820  Rhodri Mawr
                                 l                                   l
                    850  Anarawd                  865  Nest(a)===Owain  855
                                 l                                           l
                    880  Idwal Foel                     885  Morgan Hen
                                 =                                         l
          895  Mereddon ferch Cadwr(b)            915  Lleuci
                                                         900  Seferus ap Cadwr(c)
         (a) This marriage is cited by Mostyn 212b, 58 and Llfyr Baglan, 95
         (b) This marriage is found in Dwnn ii, 100
         (c) This marriage is cited in Dwnn i, 297 & 313; Dwnn ii, 152
             The three marriage matches shown in this chart confirm that Cadwr was born c. 865, with a daughter and son born c. 895/900.  In the following generation, we find:
                                         865  Cadwr
                                        900  Seferus
                              _____________l______        Tudor Trefor  900
                              l                                 l                 l
                   930  Ifor(a)                940  Sissely(b)===Dyngad  930
        (a) Dwnn i, 297 & 313 say Ifor ap Seferus married Isabel ap Tryffin ap Cadell, king of Powys, or Tryffin descended from Cadell.  While this identifies the lady as a part of the First Powys Dynasty, insufficient lineage data is given to date her. 
          (b)  Dwnn ii, 307 cites this marriage, calling the lady "Cecily", the English spelling of her name.
          While some comfort in our dating is provided by the sister of Ifor ap Seferus, we find confirmation with the next generation:
                             900  Seferus         Tudor Trefor  900
                                        l                       l
                               930  Ifor                Gronwy  932
                                        l                       l
                            960  Cuhelyn(a)=====Gwen  970
                                   990  Elystan Glodrydd
           (a)  Pen. 138, 359; Pen. 128, 69; and Pen. 142, 108 say that Gwen ferch Gronwy ap Tudor Trefor was the mother of Elystan Glodrydd, thus the apparent consort of Elystan's father, Cuhelyn ap Ifor.
           It was this identification of Elystan's mother as only legitimate child and heiress of Gronwy ap Tudor Trefor, which gave rise to the false claims that Elystan was born in Hereford and became "king" of Hereford and Gloucester.  As we showed earlier[3], the notion that Tudor Trevor's lands extended south to Hereford and Gloucester came from misidentifying the mother of Tudor Trefor as a lady from that region.  His mother was Rienigar ferch Lluddoca ap Caradog Freich Fras of Rhos, not the 6th century Caradog Freich Fras of southeast Wales[4].  Not only did Tudor Trefor not own any lands south of the Severn, his son Gronwy predeceased him and thus never held any of his father's lands.  The tale that Tudor's "Hereford lands" went to his granddaughter was concocted to explain why no such lands were found in possession of his surviving sons.  But if Rienigar inherited any land from her father, it was in Rhos....not near Hereford.
         Accordingly, the "biography" of Elystan Glodrydd falsely places him in Hereford and Gloucester.  It is also untrue that was was born during the reign of Saxon king Athelstan, who died in 942 and could not have been his godfather.  This tale owes its origin to the similarity between the names "Elystan" and "Athelstan"...the men were wholly unconnected.  The territory called Fferlys had been owned by Elystan's paternal ancestors for over 500 years[5].  If it were in the hands of the Brecknock kings at Elystan's birth, he did no more than recover a part of his patrimony which had been seized earlier by outsiders. But no early sources confirm this tale[6].
            The claim that Elystan was killed in 1010 in a civil broil is found in a footnote in Dwnn i, 139 written by it's editor, Sir Samuel Meyrick.  He gave no source for the claim, but other late manuscripts[7] say he lived until 1067.  We would reject the 1010 obit outright (although some man named Elystan may have been killed then) since his son and heir, Cadwgan, was not born until c. 1020.  While the 1067 obit sounds reasonable, it is little more than a medieval writer's guess.
           What we can say with some certainty is that we don't know of a single event in the life of Elystan Glodrydd.  Evidence that he once existed is confined to the pedigree manuscripts.  Even there, we find evidence of two men called Elystan, each having a son named Cadwgan.  One was born c. 955 in Powys, the other born c. 990 in south Wales...probably in Buellt.  The latter is probably the one who was given the nickname "Glodrydd" or "the illustrous" for unknown reasons.
         That two men were conflated by the genealogists can be seen by the wives assigned to Elystan and his son Cadwgan.  Numerous Dwnn citations say Elystan married Gwenllian ferch Einion ap Owain ap Hywel Dda, while two of those same sources say he also married Gwladys ferch Rhun ap Ednowain[8].  Gwenllian was born c. 970, while we date Gwladys to c. 1005.  Also, two separate coats of arms are assigned to a father-son pair named Elystan and Cadwgan: Argent 3 boar's heads couped sable, and Gules a lion rampant reguardent or.  The first coat is very similar to the arms of Ednowain Bendew of Tegeingl, which inserts a chevron between the boar's heads.  We suggest the Elystan and Cadwgan who are assigned these arms shared common ancestors with Ednowain Bendew.  The other coat, we think, belongs to the Buellt/Fferlys men who lived a generation later than the Powys men with the same names.
          Cadwgan ap Elystan is assigned 3 wives: Angharad ferch Llawr born c. 995; Jane ferch Brochwel ap Aeddan born c. 1035; and Efa ferch Gwrgan, half-sister of Iestyn, born c. 1036.  The first wife is consistent with a c. 985 Cadwgan, son of a c. 955 Elystan.  The other wives are consistent with a c. 1020 Cadwgan, son of a c. 990 Elystan. 
                                         FAMILY 1
                       879  Hywel Dda
                         906  Owain
                        l                                              l
              935  Einion                           950  Maredudd
                        l                                              l
           970  Gwenllian(a)==Elystan 955  975  Lleuci==Llawr 960
                                 l                                          l
                     985  Cadwgan(b)==========Angharad  995
     (a) Several Dwnn citations say Elystan married this Gwenllian.  See Note 8
     (b) Jesus Coll Ms 20, 30/31 says the mother of Gronwy ap Cadwgan ap Elystan was Angharad ferch Llawr, and that the mother of Angharad was Lleuci ferch Maredudd ap Owain ap Hywel Dda.  It also makes Elystan a son of Cuhelyn, but that Elystan was born a full generation too late to be the man in this chart
         Maredudd ap Owain (obit 999) had a younger daughter, Angharad[9], who was mother to both Gruffudd ap Llewelyn, born c. 1011, and Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, born c. 1025.  We would identify Llawr as the son of Aelan (c. 930) ap Alser (c. 895) ap Tudwal Gloff (c. 865) ap Rhodri Mawr (c. 820); this Llawr is cited in Pen. 142, 101 and Pen. 177, 135 but neither of those manuscripts mention his wife or daughter.
                                          FAMILY 2
   900  Seferus
     930  Ifor             Ednowain  945
              l                      l                                               
  960  Cuhelyn            Rhun  975          Aeddan  975      Ithel  980
              l                     l                           l                     l
  990  Elystan(a)===Gwladys  1005     Brochwel 1005  Gwrgan 1008
                         l                                     l                      l
         1020  Cadwgan(b)===========Jane  1035          l
                              (c)=====================Efa 1036
       (a) This marriage is cited in Dwnn i, 139 and Dwnn ii, 152
         (b) This marriage is cited in Dwnn i, 313 and Dwnn ii, 152.  It also occurs
               in Dwnn i, 139 where the lady is called "Elen"
         (c)  This marriage is cited in Dwnn 1, 271, 313 & 332; and Dwnn ii, 152
        Gwladys ferch Rhun ap Ednowain (who is usually incorrectly called Ednowain Bendew, a man born c. 1020) appears to be a lady of north Powys and probably from the same ancestry as Ednowain Bendew of Tegeingl.  Some modern sources would extend her ancestry to Rhun ap Ednowain ap Gwaithfoed, and while there is no ancient authority we can find to confirm it, it is chronologically possible this Ednowain was a brother of Gwerystan ap Gwaithfoed (grandfather of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn) and of Elystan ap Gwaithfoed (ancestor of Eunydd ap Morien):
                              915  Gwaithfoed of Powys
              l                               l                              l
945  Ednowain           950  Gwerystan          955  Elystan (a)
              l                               l                              l                       
   975  Rhun               985  Cynfyn                   Morgeneu 985   
              l                              l                               l                          
1005  Gwladys         1025  Bleddyn                     Morien  1015
             =                                                             l
990  Elystan of Fferlys                                       Eunydd (b) 1045
       (a) This is probably NOT the same Elystan as shown in the Family 1 chart above, whose father we would identify as Gwrydr Hir,  See our paper "The Unofficial History of Elystan of Powys" at the link below:
       (b) This pedigree of Eunydd of Dryffin Clwyd is cited in Pen. 134, 349; Pen. 138, 126 & 169; and Pen. 178(1), 61)  The ancesty of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn is well-known from many sources.
         Returning to the families shown in our Family 2 chart, we identify Jane ferch Brochwel ap Aeddan as a lady of the First Powys Dynasty, daughter of the 3rd man named Brochwel ap Aeddan[10]:
                                  685  Eliseg (a)
                                715  Brochwel    
                                 750  Cyngen (b)
                                785  Aeddan I
                                820  Brochwel I
                                  850  Selyf I
                                880  Aeddan II (c)
                                910  Brochwel II
                         l                                          l
              940  Cadell                           945  Selyf II
                         l                                          l
               965  Nest (d)                        975  Aeddan III (e)
                                                    1005  Brochwel III
                                                      1035  Jane
         (a)  Son of Gwylog ap Beli, he is the man for whom Eliseg's Pillar was erected in Ial c. 810/20 by his descendant, Cyngen ap Cadell.
         (b)  Brother of Cadell, whose son Cyngen erected Eliseg's Pillar.  That Cyngen died in 856 without heirs.  The kingship of Powys was continued through his first cousin. Aeddan ap Cyngen ap Brochwel.
         (c)  His younger brother, Beli ap Selyf, was the first of four families to use the string of male names "Gwyn ap Gruffudd ap Beli ap Selyf ap Brochwel ap Aeddan".
         (d)  This lady married Gwerystan ap Gwaithfoed and was mother to Cynfyn, father of Bleddyn.  It was her bloodline as daughter to a Powys king by which Cynfyn was later named interim king of Powys in 1023 when no male heirs of the Royal Family were yet old enough to become king. 
         (e)  His younger brother, Beli II ap Selyf II, continued the naming sequence begun 100 years earlier, resulting in the second string of men named "Gwyn ap Gruffudd ap Beli ap Selyf ap Brochwel ap Aeddan".
         The final family shown in our Family 2 chart was the Royal Family of Glamorgan which descended, through Morgan Hen[11], from the ancient Caradog ap Bran ap Llyr Llediath[12]. 
                                    885  Morgan Hen
                                   915  Morgan (a)
           945  Collwyn      945  Idwallon       Gwerystan  950
                        l                       l                     l
            975  Gwyn          980  Ithel              Cynfyn  985
                        l                       l                     l
           1020  Nest=======Gwrgan(b)===daughter 1026
                                   l         1008         l          
                       1036  Efa(c)        1045  Iestyn(d)
        (a) In other papers on this site, we posit this man is the Morgan who died in 974 and had a brother named Owain.  See the papers at the links shown below:
        (b) This marriage is cited in Mostyn Ms 212b, 117; the lady was a daughter of Cynfyn and sister to Bleddyn ap Cynfyn
        (c) She married the c. 1020 Cadwgan ap Elystan of our Family 2 chart
        (d) King of Glamorgan when it was seized by Robert fitz Hamo, probably after 1091,  He married Constance Wen ferch Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd, a lady born c. 1055
         While the cited marriages clearly point to an Elystan born c. 955 and an Elystan born c. 990, Bartrum conflates them in his charts by portraying a single c. 970 Elystan and a single c. 1000 Cadwgan....dates which fall about half-way between the two separate men.  He omits the Elystan marriage to the c. 1005 lady, but shows a single c. 1000 Cadwgan marrying ladies born c. 995 and c. 1035.  He also omits the Sian ferch Elystan born c. 1025 who married Cadifor ap Gwaithfoed[13].  We identify this man, born c. 1010, as a brother of Cydrich and son of Gwaithfoed of Ystrad Tywy.[14]
          Since the conflation of the two families continues with the children assigned to Cadwgan ap Elystan, a follow-up paper titled "Children of Cadwgan ap Elystan" will attempt to separate them.

[1]  Our quote is from J.Y.W. Lloyd "History of Powys Fadog", Vol II, p. 322.  Elements of the "biography" are also cited in Montgomeryshire Collections, Vol I, p. 235.  The entry in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, pp. 215/216 admits nothing is really known about the life of Elystan, so the author uses his entry to discuss some of his early descendants
[2] The pedigree is given as "Seferus ap Kadgwr gwenwyn ap Idnerth" in ABT 11, while Jesus Coll. 20, 30 says "Cadwr ap Gwenneuuen".  The timeline requires two generations here, so Bartrum calls them "Cadwr ap Cadwr Wenwyn" in his charts
[3] See the paper "The Clan of Tudor Trevor" at the link below:
[4] A full discussion of the two same-named men is founded in the paper "Ynyr Gwent and Caradog Freich Fras" at the link below:
[5] See the paper "Ancient Powys" at the link below:
[6] Dryffin ap Hwgan was born c. 980; his reign as king of Brycheiniog would have been about 1010 to 1040.  Elystan Glodrydd of Buellt/Fferlys would have been in his prime during this period
[7] G.T.O. Bridgeman "The Welsh Lords of Kerry and Arwystli" in Montgomeryshire Collections, Vol I, pp 235/236, Note 4 says the 1067 obit date is found in a manuscript of Jones of Tregaron, a herald who lived in the time of Elizabeth I
[8] The marriage to Gwenllian ferch Einion is cited in Dwnn i, 139, 271, 288, 313 & 332 and Dwnn ii, 152.  Dwnn i, 139 and Dwnn ii, 152 also cite the marriage to Gwladys ferch Rhun, but Gwladys is wholly omitted from Bartrum's charts
[9] ByT 1116
[10] This family is treated at length in the paper "Powys Dynastic Family 945-1385 under "The Royal Family of Powys" at the link below:
[11] The pedigree of Morgan Hen is presented in segments in these papers elsewhere on this site:  BC60 - AD238 "Beli Mawr and LLyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees;
 AD 238 - 415 "Ynyr Gwent and Caradog Freich Fras";
AD 415 - 885 "Rethinking the Gwent Pedigrees";
[12] This descent, however, may be maternal.  See our paper "Another Look at Teithfallt of Gwent":
for the possibility that the Gwent Dynasty descended from Tewdrig ap Teithfallt, a Goth warrior, and not from a Tewdrig ap Llywarch.  The mother of Tewdrig was a daughter of Peibo ap Erb who did descend from Caradog ap Bran
[13] Dwnn i, 313 mentions this daughter of Elystan, but wrongly identifies her grandfather as Gwaithfoed "of Powys".
[14] For the two possible ancestries of this Gwaithfoed, see the paper "Sorting out the Gwaithfoeds" at the link below: