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Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys
                                     OSBWRN WYDDEL OF CORS GEDOL
                                               By Darrell Wolcott
          While called "the Irishman", Osbwrn is said to have descended from the Norman man Gerald of Windsor and his wife, the infamous Nest ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr.  This ancestry was suggested by Sir William Betham, Ulster-King-At-Arms and perhaps the foremost authority on the Geraldine family.  Sir Betham believed that Osbwrn was a son of John fitz Thomas fitz Gerald.  It is less clear, however, whether he meant the grandfather of John was named Gerald or simply that John fitz Thomas bore the surname "FitzGerald".
         The traditional pedigrees of Osbwrn [1] make him 4th after Gerald of Windsor, a construction which is immediately suspect.  Gerald was clearly born c. 1070/75 while the known descendants of Osbwrn point to about 1235 for his birthdate.  One should expect 4 intervening generations, with Osbwrn 5th after Gerald.  The citations all agree he descended from Maurice, son of Gerald.  That son was yet a child in 1109 when Owain ap Cadwgan ap Bleddyn took him, his siblings and his mother hostage in a raid on Gerald's castle[2].  Probably born between 1100 and 1105, Maurice is later identified as the man who accompanied Richard Strongbow to Ireland in 1169/70 as a "key supporter" of that invasion. 
         This Maurice is assigned two sons, Gerald fitz Maurice and Thomas fitz Maurice who died about 1205 and 1215, respectively.  It is the younger son, Thomas, who supposedly was the father of the John fitz Thomas identified as Osbwrn's father.  That John came "of full age in 1229" and was made Baron of Desmond in 1259.  Both he and his eldest son, Maurice, were slain in battle in Ireland in 1260.  This yields the following chart:
               1070/75  Gerald of Windsor
                1100/05    Maurice [3]
                     ?         Thomas, died c. 1215
                     1208     John, died 1260
                 1235   Osbwrn Wyddel
            Any chart which spans 100 years with only 2 generations is less than credible.  We suspect the individual citations on which this construction was based contained the same problem we mentioned with Sir Betham's pedigree:  a man was called Maurice fitz Gerald, but his father's name was NOT Gerald...his surname was FitzGerald.  We would recast the pedigree as:
                               1070  Gerald of Windsor
                                  1100   Maurice (a)
                    l                         l                             l
     1140  Maurice (b)   1130  Gerald (c)    1135  Thomas (d)
                    l                         l
     1170  Thomas      1165  Maurice (e)
        1208  John  (f)
      1235  Osbwrn
         (a) Was already married in 1130 when he and wife Edgidia made a gift to Norwich Cathedral
         (b) The Maurice FitzGerald who was among the fighting men of Richard Strongbow for his 1169/70 Irish invasion
           (c)  The eldest son of Maurice, son of Gerald of Windsor, who also went to Ireland in 1169 and became its Lord Justiciary and 1st Baron of Offaly, dying in 1205
           (d)  The middle of 3 brothers, who died c. 1215 in Ireland
           (e)  Eldest son of the eldest son who inherited his fathers titles and was ancestor of the Dukes of Leinster in Ireland
           (f)  Senior representative of a junior branch of the family, made Baron of Desmond in 1259 and slain in battle in 1260 with his eldest son, Maurice.  His younger son, Osbwrn, moved to Wales.
           Whatever his true ancestry, Osbwrn was born and raised in Ireland and spoke the Goidelic version of the Celt language and was thus called "Wyddel" or "Irishman".  His coming into Wales is noted by several conflicting medieval writers.  Gutyn Owen of the late 15th century claims that Osbwrn came to Gwynedd with Gruffudd ap Ednyfed Fychan.  His story holds that this Gruffudd was involved in some scandal regarding the wife of King Llewelyn ap Iorwerth and left Gwynedd until it blew over.  When he felt it safe to return, he brought Osbwrn with him together with "a troop of 100 men well-mounted upon grey horses" to serve Llewelyn, thus obtaining his king's forgiveness.
          A different story is told in an 18th century volume of pedigrees by John Ellis of Tai Croesion.  This writer dates the coming of Osbwrn to Wales as c. 1200 and says nothing of Gruffudd ap Ednyfed Fychan.  Instead, he claims that Osbwrn had slain, in a personal encounter, another "Irish Earl" and sought refuge in Wales.
           The noted Robert Vaughan of Hergest fixed the date of Osbwrn's coming to Wales as 1237 and repeated the story about bringing 100 horsemen to serve Prince Llewelyn.  Vaughan continues by saying that Llewelyn accepted this offer, and gave him as wife the daughter and heiress of Cors Gedol who was the king's ward.  The final word was offered by the historian, W.W.E. Wynne of Peniarth, who believed it was "somewhat later than 1237" that Osbwrn came to Wales.
           Our own belief is that Osbwrn came to Gwynedd nearer to 1260 (when in his mid-20's) and it was Llewelyn ap Gruffudd to whom he offered his services.  The earlier Llewelyn ap Iorwerth died in 1240 when we think Osbwrn was yet a small child.  And we would reject both tales which claim some scandal in either Gwynedd or Ireland was involved in his coming to Wales. 
          As the younger son of an Irish peer, Osbwrn had no future titles as his inheritance and could expect no more land nor honors than those his elder brother might choose to give him.  We suggest he was aware of some distant kinship with the kings of Gwynedd and received his father's permission to become "his own man" over in Wales rather then spend his life in the shadow of his older brother. We would also date his emigration a bit prior to 1260, because if his father and older brother had already been killed in battle, he would have become the new Baron of Desmond since his brother's son was yet an infant.
           Thus we can accept the young man, bringing 100 horsemen provided by his father, approaching Llewelyn ap Gruffudd with an offer to join his army as a loyal adherent to his cause.  And since his family clearly held the large manor of Cors Gedol in Ardudwy, Meirionydd, it is reasonable to believe that Llewelyn ap Gruffudd gave him the young heiress of that manor to be his wife. 
           The lady is not named, but the land was within the Lordship of men descended from Asser ap Merwydd Goch, son of Collwyn ap Tangno.   Her father likely died as a young man with no sons or brother which required the Gwynedd king to make both the young heiress and her lands temporary wards of the crown.  She was probably age 13 or 14 when Llewelyn rewarded his new ally with her hand in marriage.  This marriage brought two sons, Cynwrig and Einion, who shared the lands called Cors Gedol.  Osbwrn appears on the Meirioneth Lay Subsidy Roll of 1292/93 where he was the second-largest landowner listed in Lanaber, Ardudwy. [4]
           There was also a young lady called a sister of Osbwrn who, by her marriage, must have been born near 1265, and was probably a daughter of Osbwrn.  Her name isn't recorded [5], but she married Cynwrig ap Llewelyn...that Llewelyn being a base son of Dafydd ap Llewelyn Fawr.   NOTICE:  Subsequent research indicates she WAS a sister of Osbwrn born c. 1240, but the man she married was Cynwrig (1235) ap Dafydd (1206) ap Llewelyn Fawr,  We posit that Dafydd ap Llewelyn Fawr had two base sons, Llewelyn and Cynwrig, and that both men named Cynwrig had a son named Dafydd Llwyd.
           Not much is known of Einion ap Osbwrn, except he had 4 sons who inherited parts of the original Cors Gedol manor.  A number of medieval sources claim that the portion received by Gronwy Llwyd ap Einion was called Cae Gronwy Llwyd and was forfeited.  Land was only subject to forfeit for treason, but none of the sources offer any such incident.  The single source [6] which includes an explanation says that his Cors Gedol lands were "forfeited" but instead he was given Cae Gronwy Llwyd, a larger tract of land.  This could simply mean that he gave up his alloted share of Cors Gedol to his brothers in return for a larger tract nearby, possibly having been granted to Osbwrn later in his career of service to the king.
          Osbwrn's other son, Cynwrig, apparently received the portion of Cors Gedol which contained his father's living quarters and he was usually described as "of Cors Gedol".  Born c. 1265, Cynwrig married Nest ferch Cynwrig ap Madog ap Cadifor ap Genillin ap Gwaithfoed of Meirionydd [7], a lady born about 1275.  Their only known son was Llewelyn ap Cynwrig, born about 1295. 
           Two wives are cited for Llewelyn ap Cynwrig.  Marged ferch Madog y Athro of Maelor [8] was born c. 1310, while Nest ferch Gruffudd ap Adda ap Gruffudd ap Cadifor ap Genillin [9] was born near 1300 and was probably his second wife.  Near the end of his life, Llewelyn was honored with a 1 year appointment as High Sheriff of Meirionydd for 1373. The only known son of Llewelyn was Gruffudd, born c. 1325. 
            Gruffudd ap Llewelyn ap Cynwrig married Efa ferch Madog ap Elisse ap Iorwerth ap Madog ap Gruffudd ap Owain Brogyntyn ap Madog ap Maredudd ap Bleddyn ap Cynfyn [10], a lady born c. 1335.  Like his father, Gruffudd served a term as High Sheriff of Meirionydd in 1391.  Beside two daughters [11], he was survived by a son named Einion. 
           Among other families [12], Einion ap Gruffudd was the ancestor of Dr. David Yale born c. 1550 and holder of Plas Grono in Ial.  His grandson, David Yale son of Thomas, emigrated to America in 1637.  A son of that David Yale was named Elihu, a merchant who became wealthy as Governor of the British East India Company.  While Elihu was born in America, he spent the majority of his life in India and England.  When Cotton Mather asked Elihu Yale for a contribution to support a struggling new school in Connecticut in 1718, Elihu sent a carton of goods which were sold for 800 pounds sterling.  It was said to be the largest single gift the school received in its first 100 years of existence, and the Collegiate School of Connecticut changed its name to Yale University in his honor. [13]

[1] Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1886, pp 56/59
[2] ByT 1109
[3] Maurice was a son of Nest ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr who, as a child, was abducted in 1109 by Owain ap Cadwgan, along with an unnamed sister.  That sister married Robert de Hastings and they had a son Ralph c. 1110.  A 1155 charter of Henry II refers to "Maurice de Windsor, maternal uncle of Ralph de Hastings".  Another sister, not yet born in 1109, was the mother of Gerald of Wales, the 1188 cleric who wrote of his journey through Wales.  A brother of Maurice, Dafydd, also a child in 1109, became the Bishop of Minevia. The fourth abducted child was William, not a son of Nest, but a base son of her husband.  All 4 children were later reunited with their father
[4] The single largest landowner in Lanaber appears to be the cleric representing the church lands in Meirionydd
[5] Peniarth Ms 128, 282b
[6] Pen. 128, 618a
[7] Dwnn ii, 71
[8] Pen. 128, 131a
[9] Pen. 129, 61, 64 & 121; Pen. 127, 34 & 184
[10] Pen. 131, 72; Pen. 127, 177
[11] Pen. 131, 102 cites Angharad ferch Gruffudd ap Llewelyn ap Cynwrig who married Dafydd ap Gronwy ap Iorwerth descended from Sandde Hardd; Harleian Ms 1977, 80 cites Gwen ferch Gruffudd ap Llewelyn ap Cynwrig who married Gronwy ap Hywel y Gadair descended from Rhiryd Flaidd
[12]  Other families descended from Einion ap Gruffudd ap Llewelyn were the Wynn family of Peniarth and the Vaughan family of Cors y Gedol.  Pedigrees of those families are found in J.Y.W. Lloyd's History of Powys Fadog, vol vi, pp 153/165
[13] It should be noted that some say the success of the school was actually due to the generousity of one Jeremiah Dummer, but it didn't want to be called Dummer College.