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Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
Eunydd son of Gwenllian
Sandde Hardd of Mortyn
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Marchweithian, Lord of Is Aled, Rhufoniog
Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
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Ednowain ap Bradwen
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                THE 5 PLEBIAN TRIBES OF WALES
                                          By Darrell Wolcott
          The earliest extant manuscript which mentions this tribal grouping dates from 1531-1544 [1], but it can be found in 4 other sources written in the second-half of the 16th century. [2]  The 5 men named are consistent in all sources:
           1.  Y Blaidd Rhudd of Gest in Efionydd
           2.  Adda Fawr of Deheubarth [3]
           3.  Gwenwys of Powys
           4.  Alo of Powys
           5.  Heilyn Ysteilfforch [4]
           In his "Notes on Early Powys" printed in the 1879 volume of Archaeologia Cambrensis, Rev. D.R. Thomas mentions this group as "Five Plebian or Servile Tribes" which he translates from the Welsh phrase "Pump Kystadlwyth or Costawglwyth".  His explanation is "whom we may conclude to have been the descendants of a noble race, fallen through war or misfortune to an inferior position".
           While "pump" means "five", the key descriptive word is spelled "kostowglwyth", "kostowgllwyth" and "kosdoglwyth" in the medieval sources.  "llwyth" is Welsh for "tribe" while "costog" has the meaning of "cur" i.e. mongrel or inferior.  We shall return to Rev. Thomas' alternative word "kystadlwyth" momentarily.
           First, we should look at the men assigned to this group for any possible reasons why they might have been called "plebian", "inferior" or "common". 
        1.  Y Blaidd Rhudd of Gest in Efionydd was born c. 1010 and his daughter, Haer, married Powys king Bleddyn ap Cynfyn and was the mother of later Powys king Maredudd ap Bleddyn. [5]  One source [6] says this Haer was a daughter of Cyllin ap y Blaidd Rhudd, but Peter Bartrum would amend that by deleting the "ap" and making her father "Cyllin who was called the red wolf".  This assumption is questioned in Peniarth Ms 128, 62 where this c. 1565 manuscript of Edward ap Roger gives the pedigree of the men of Penllyn copied from the ancient lost Hengwrt 33 manuscript.  That pedigree, also copied by other medieval genealogists before Hengwrt 33 was lost, begins "Meirion ap Llenweu ap Koed" and traces back to the 5th century Pebid Penllyn.  Edward ap Roger added a gloss which says "this Meirion is the man called y Blaidd Rhudd of Gest". [7] Allowing for standard generational gaps for Welsh families, that Meirion might have been born c. 1010 [8].  However, it should be noted that the c. 970 manscript, Harleian 3859, cites a "Meiriaun map Loudogu" who must have been born no later than the mid-10th century.  Other copyists of Hengwrt 33 rendered the name of the father of its Meirion as "Llenoddeu" or "Lleuodeu" so whether or not the same Meirion in Hengwrt 33 also appears in Harleian 3859 is uncertain.  We suspect some of the 16th century copyists of Hengwrt 33 thought they were the same man, while others including Edward ap Roger did not. [9]
          Other pedigrees copied from the lost Hengwrt 33 manuscript say that the c. 1155 Rhiryd Flaidd of Penllyn was the maternal grandson of the c. 1100 Cynfyn Hirdref and his wife Haer ferch y Blaidd Rhudd. [10] Clearly this c. 1100 Cynfyn could not have married the same lady as the c. 1025 Bleddyn, but there is no reason why a grandson of the c. 1010 Blaidd Rhudd could not also have been called "the red wolf".  Also, the earlier Blaidd Rhudd could have had a son named Cyllin who was cited as "Cyllin ap y Blaidd Rhudd".  Thus:
                        1010  Meirion y Blaidd Rhudd
                        l                                        l
            1045  Cyllin                       1040  Haer===Bleddyn  1025
                        l                                               l
       1080  y Blaidd Rhudd                  1065  Maredudd
            1110 Haer====Cynfyn Hirdref  1100
                   1135  Haer=======Gwrgeneu  1125
                         1155  Rhiryd Flaidd
          With this construction, no emendment is needed for the text "Rhiryd Flaidd was the son of Gwrgeneu by a daughter of Cynfyn Hirdref, and that lady's mother was a daughter of y Blaidd Rhudd". [11]  Obviously, the female name "Haer" was a popular choice among the descendants of y Blaidd Rhudd during the 11th and 12th centuries.  The man we chart as Cyllin ap y Blaidd Rhudd may have also had a daughter named Haer who was mistaken for his sister of the same name in one pedigree of Maredudd ap Bleddyn.
          While the ancestries cited for y Blaidd Rhudd, Cynfyn Hirdref and Rhiryd Flaidd ap Gwrgeneu are all less than certain [12], these men were all accepted as Welsh noblemen by their contemporaries who freely married into their families.   
          2. Adda Fawr was probably the Deheubarth man born c. 1235 who had a son, Ieuaf, and whose descendants married into noble families in South Wales, mainly those in the Dyfed/Ystrad Tywy area. However, there were other men called Adda Fawr who various modern sources identify as the one included in this list.  Typically, Peter Bartrum's charts roll them all into a single man.  But the Adda Fawr of c. 1245 who had a son called Einion Felyn was a man of Anglesey whose known descendants all resided in the commote of Llifon.  We exclude him since we are told the Adda Fawr who numbers among the 5 "Plebian Tribes" was from Deheubarth.  Another Adda Fawr is cited as "Adda Fawr ap Adda ap Gwrgan ap Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr" [13] and should therefore be expected to reside in Deheubarth, the territory ruled by Rhys ap Tewdwr.  Based on that pedigree (and he is unknown to other pedigree manuscripts), this man would have been born c. 1125 and be contemporary with Lord Rhys.  No families are known to descend from him, although Bartrum conflates him with the two other men named Adda Fawr born nearly a century later.  If we assume the pedigree given for him has missing generations between Adda Fawr and Rhys ap Tewdwr, then it is possible he is the same Adda Fawr of c. 1235 who had a son, Ieuaf. [14]  Marriage matches cited for that family were predominately with spouses descended from Tudwal Gloff's Dyfed families and we noted none at all with spouses descended from either Rhys ap Tewdwr or any of the Deheubarth families descended from Hywel Dda.  While not conclusive, we suggest there is no good reason to believe the Adda Fawr said to descend from Rhys ap Tewdwr was born 100 years later than his pedigree would indicate.  As to which man was intended to be "honored" by inclusion on the list of 5, there is simply insufficent information to answer that question.  However, 3 of the other men in the list were probably born c. 1240/1270 and the c. 1235 Adda Fawr seems a better fit than a c. 1150 man.  (Why the c. 1015 Blaidd Rhudd was grouped with 4 much later men is puzzling.)
          3.  Gwenwys of Powys [15] was born c. 1250 and was paternally descended from the First Powys Royal Dynasty (who bore the arms of Brochwel Ysgithrog).  His great-great grandson was Sir Gruffudd Fychan (obit 1447) who was believed to represent the senior line of the Powys Dynasty. [16]  He clearly was not of "common" or "inferior" breeding or status during his lifetime. 
          4. Alo of Powys was born c. 1270 and descended from Morgan Hir of Gwent.  While Bartrum declined to chart his ancestry any earlier, he does note that some sources [17] cite him as "Morgan Hir ap Iestyn ap Gwrgan" and labeled that as "impossible".  We date Morgan Hir to c. 1015 and suggest his father was named Iestyn, but not Iestyn ap Gwrgan.  The c. 1075 Iestyn ap Gwrgan did have a grandson named Morgan, but he would have been born four full generations after the Morgan Hir in the pedigree of Alo.  Like the previous men on the "list of 5", the families descended from Alo (ap Rhiwallon Fychan) of Powys had no difficulty obtaining spouses from the Welsh gentry in Wales.
          5.  Heilyn Ysteilfforch (of the steel fork) has not been positively identified and is the least well-known man in the list. While Peter Bartrum suggests he was the c. 1150 (our estimate is 1170) Heilyn of Fron Goch ap Cyfnerth ap Iddon descended from Mael, one source [18] says he was identical to Heilyn ap Ieuan ap Adda ap Meurig ap Cynwrig ap Pasgen ap Gwyn.  That man, also descended from the First Powys Royal Dynasty, was born c. 1240 and no known family descended from him. 
          It boggles the mind to call this group of men plebian, inferior or common; they appear to have freely mingled and married with the Welsh nobility, a group loath to intermarry with men (or their daughters) considered not as noble and socially-correct as themselves.  Perhaps the key word in the grouping's title has suffered from spelling corruption from the unknown ancient sources used by the authors of the 16th century manuscripts.  He did not say where he found the form "kystadlwyth", but Rev. Thomas thought it conveyed the same meaning as "kostawglwyth". 
          Since "tribe" is "llwyth" and not "lwyth", perhaps the 5 men were not being called any sort of tribe, but another word which ends with that sound.  We suggest the suffix "leuaeth" is phonetically identical to "lwyth".  Could they have been described as five "cystadleuaeth" in the unknown pre-16th century manuscript?  Although that word literally means "competition", a single competitor is a "cystadleuwrydd" and perhaps the original author used a form he thought was plural.  Certainly "The Five Competitors of Wales", whatever else it denotes, would be a more suitable and non-demeaning....even honorable.... grouping than what the 16th century copyists gave us; the men were NOT curs, commoners, nor inferiors. [19]
         If our translation is correct, what might these men have competed for?  We suggest they each may have competed among their own cousins for the status of "senior branch of the family", a distinction once thought highly important to many Welsh noblemen.  See the anecdote in the Appendix following the footnotes below.

[1]  Peniarth Ms 127, part ii, page 286 penned by Sir Thomas ap Ieuan ap Deicws which was originally catalogued as Hengwrt Ms 443.
[2] Pen. 75, 79; Pen. 177, 209; Pen. 138, 35; Dwnn ii, 27
[3] Some, but not all, sources place him in Genau'r-glyn, the northmost commote in Ceredigion.  Marriages cited for his immediate descendants were mainly with the gentry of Dyfed and Ystrad Tywy
[4] Some sources add "of Powys"
[5] ABT 1d says the mother of Maredudd ap Bleddyn was Haer ferch Blaidd Rhudd
[6] ABT 8b says Maredudd's mother was Haer ferch Cyllinn ap y Blaidd Rhudd
[7] Edward ap Roger indicated that the source of his gloss was the book of John Wynn of Peniarth, born c. 1512
[8] If we assume the "Pebid Penllyn" of this pedigree is also the "Tegid ap Cadell" of ByS 30 & 31, the latter man was born c. 420.  Since Meirion is listed in the 19th generation after Pebid, he should have been born c. 1010.  Also see the paper on Pebid Penllyn at this link:
[9] The authors of Pen. 75 (c. 1570) and Pen, 129 (c. 1500) both rendered the father of Meirion as "Llenweu" (as did Edward ap Roger), a form quite distinct from the "loudogu" of Harleian 3859 which appears to have influenced other copyists of Hengwrt 33.
[10] HLG 3c; HLG 13a,b
[11] This text appears in Welsh in HLG 3f
[12] If y Blaidd Rhudd was NOT Meirion ap Llenweu, then no sources cite the name of his father nor any earlier ancestors.  No sources cite the ancestry of Cynfyn Hirdref beyond "ap Grffudd ap Llewelyn/Llywarch".  We suggest his grandfather was a son of Collwyn ap Tangno which accounts for his residence in the area near Eifionydd.  The cited pedigree of Rhiryd Flaidd extend back 8 generations to a man named "Araudr", supposedly a man of Pennant Melangell of Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr, who would have been born c. 890.  Others seek to identify this Araudr with Arddur ap Mor ap Tegrin ap Aelan descended from Gwron ap Cunedda, but that Arddur was born c. 1040.  We suggest Araudr descended from Cassanauth Wledig, whose descendants held most of the lands later called Powys Gwenwynwyn, and would assign him as a brother of Bleddyn ap Bledri ap Cynog Mawr.
[13] Pen. 128, 106, 711 & 719.  But those citations may have called a later Tewdwr "Mawr" and we chart this family as Adda Fawr (1210) ap Adda (1180) ap Gwrgan (1150) ap Rhys (1120) ap Tewdwr (1090) ap Cadell (1060) ap Rhys (1030) ap Tewdwr Mawr (995)
[14] This is the assumption made by Peter Bartrum which fails to be persuasive
[15] He was either the brother of, or some believe the same man as, Gwyn IV ap Gruffudd IV ap Beli IV ap Selyf IV ap Brochwel IV ap Aeddan IV ap Selyf III ap Brochwel III, etc. 
[16] The Second Powys Royal Dynasty headed by Bleddyn ap Cynfyn took rule in Powys in 1063 with the consent of the Saxon King, and in 1069 Bleddyn killed the rightful heirs of the First Dynasty.  Sir Gruffudd Fychan was descended from the senior surviving line of the First Dynasty and his belief that he was the legitimate "Lord of Powys" may have contributed to his death at the hands of Henry Gray.  Gray was the incumbent "Lord of Powys" by virtue of his descent (via female ancestors) from Bleddyn.  Gray gave other reasons for executing Sir Gruffudd Fychan, but that may have been necessary in legally justifying his action.
[17] Those sources include Pen. 131, 286; Pen. 129, 50 & 93; Pen. 127, 198
[18] B.M. Add. 9867, 160  This source includes "ap Jon" between Adda and Meurig which we would delete (as did Bartrum when he mentioned this citation)
[19] While Peter Bartrum made no attempt to translate "pump kostowglwyth", he did comment in his National Library of Wales Journal article "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs" that "very little significance can be attached to (the list), and in fact the very meaning remains obscure"

        A noble Welsh family which descended from the eldest son of a common ancestor deemed itself as "senior" to all its cousins.  The current "eldest son of the eldest son" insisted upon being recognized as "head" of the entire extended family.  To illustrate how seriously some families took this honorific, the following anecdote was related by William Coxe in his 1801 book "An Historical Tour in Monmothshire", pp 316/317, which I have paraphrased:
        Mr. Proger, dining with a friend in Monmouth, proposed riding to Wern-ddu that evening.  (Wern-ddu was the home of Mr. Proger)  His friend objected because it was late and likely to rain.  Mr. Proger told him they would have moonlight, and should it happen to rain, Perthur is not far from our route and I'm sure my cousin Powell will give us a night's lodging.  They accordingly mounted up and set off for Wern-ddu, but were soon overtaken by a violent shower.  They detoured to Perthur where the entire Powell family had retired for the night.  Proger shouted to his cousin, who arose from bed and opened the window to see what this noise was all about.  Powell asked who was there, to which Proger replied "It is I, your cousin Proger of Wern-ddu, and have come to your door for shelter from the inclement weather.  I hope you will be so kind as to give me and my friend a night's lodging".
         Powell replied, "Oh is it you, cousin Proger?  You and your friend will be instantly admitted, but upon one condition.  That you allow, and never hereafter dispute, that I am the head of the family".  Proger could not believe cousin Powell made that request, so replied "What did you say?".  Powell repeated "If you expect to pass the night in my house, you must allow that I am the head of the family".
         Proger replied "No sir, I would never admit to that; were it to rain swords and daggers, I would ride this night to Wern-ddu rather than lower the consequence of my family".  Proger continued saying "you descended from the fourth son of Wern-ddu, whereas I descended from the eldest son.  Indeed cousin Jones is of an older branch than you, and he never disputes that I am the head of the family".  Powell responded, "I have nothing more to say, so good night to you" and he prepared to shut the window and return to bed.
         When Proger's friend then asked for lodging just for himself and promised not to dispute Powell's family claim, he was told "No sir, you must suffer for the obstinacy of Proger, and so a pleasant ride to you both".
         The cousins in this anecdote were men descended from Gwilym ap Jenkin of Wern-ddu.  Gwilym had several sons, with John being the eldest and Thomas the youngest.  The Proger family descended from John while the Powell family descended from Thomas.  There is no question that Proger was "head of the family" if that distinction goes to the most senior line as measured in the usual manner.  But another family which had descended from Thomas, through his son William, was that of Herbert.  Since William Herbert, eldest son of Sir William ap Thomas, was made Earl of Pembroke and a peer of the realm, Powell thought that made the descendants of Thomas the superior family line.  And he had descended from the eldest son of Thomas while even the Herberts had descended from a younger son of Thomas.
          This contesting for status within the extended family was not limited to the Progers and Powells.   Sir John Wynn, in his "History of the Gwydir Family", presents similar and voluminous arguments as to why his was the senior line of that extended family.  One must assume that in medieval times, this was a matter of great social importance.