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Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                                By Darrell Wolcott  
           Born c. 1011, Gruffudd ap Llewelyn became king of Powys by birthright in 1039; king of Gwynedd that same year by conquest; king of Deheubarth in 1044 by conquest; and king of all the other territories which comprised Wales in 1056, also by conquest.  While he had maternal ties to the Gwynedd and Deheubarth royal families, his father had also ruled those kingdoms.  Taking Gwent, Morgannwg and Brycheiniog was unprecedented and accomplished solely by force.  At his death in 1063, his empire did not survive intact.  Whether it might have if his sons had been old enough to succeed him is debatable; they weren't and it didn't.
            It is not our purpose here to rehash the birth, reign or death of Gruffudd, but to examine his immediate family: his wives and children.  Our discussion will begin with his known, or suspected, children.  In 1069, his sons Ithel and Maredudd brought a kingship claim to the battlefield at Mechain against Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn, who was aided by his younger brother, Bleddyn.  In the battle, Ithel was slain as was Rhiwallon.  Maredudd fled the field and was pursued by Bleddyn into the mountains, where he subsequently died of thirst and exposure to the elements. [1] We are not told which of Gruffudd's two sons was staking a claim, but think it was Ithel for these reasons:
          Ithel appears to have been the primary target of the Cynfyn sons just as Rhiwallon was the primary target of Gruffudd's sons.  The latter was true because it was Rhiwallon who held the kingship of Powys [2], the kingdom which was the only birthright of the sons of Gruffudd.  Gwynedd had been taken by conquest.  The fact that Maredudd fled the field after his brother was slain indicates that he wished to remain alive to pursue his own claim when he reached the required age.  There is considerable anecdotal evidence that a kingship claimant must have attained the age of 28, and indeed neither Ithel nor Maredudd lodged such a claim in 1063 when their father was killed.  We believe Ithel turned 28 in 1069 and his younger brother came to the Mechain battle to support his claim.  Thus we would date the birth of Ithel ap Gruffudd to the year 1041, with Maredudd being born a year or two later.
          Ten years earlier, the Brut recorded the death of Owain ap Gruffudd.  No such man (who could have died in 1059) is found among Peter Bartrum's charts or indexes, nor is such a man identified by any of the standard histories of Wales.  But Kari Maund (the brilliant Welsh historian who quit academia to become the noted writer Kari Sperring) makes Owain another brother of Ithel and Maredudd. [3] We agree with her identification; this Owain was clearly a man of importance since the Brut does not cite obituaries for ordinary men.  We further think he was the eldest son of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn whose early death around age 20 was mentioned by the Brut author since he had been the favored heir to the powerful king.  We would thus date his birth near 1039.
         Gruffudd also had a daughter, Nest, who married Trahaearn ap Caradog. [4] This man, in 1075, succeeded Bleddyn ap Cynfyn as king of Powys, and probably also king of Gwynedd. [5] Born c. 1035, Trahaearn had sons Owain and Llywarch (among others) who were born c. 1065/1070.  These dates point to c. 1050 as the birthdate of Nest, with the marriage taking place shortly after Gruffudd's death in 1063.
          Gruffudd had a second daughter, also named Nest, about 1056.  It is known that this second Nest was the mother of a daughter, also named Nest, who married the Norman knight Bernard Newmarch. [6] The husband of this c. 1056 Nest is widely cited by modern authors as the Saxon baron, Osbern fitz Richard.  There are, however, no ancient or even medieval manuscripts which confirm that marriage.
          The identification is made by inference alone.  The 1086 Domesday Book for Warwickshire notes that Binley (located just east of Coventry) was held by the Cathedral Priory, and that 3 hides of that land had been acquired from Osbern.  And before the Conquest, those 3 hides were held by Ealdgyth wife of Gruffudd.  One assumes, but cannot be certain, that Osbern had owned the land "et uxor" as the husband of the heiress daughter of Ealdgyth.
          This assumption is strengthened a bit by a c. 1100/20 entry in the Cartulary of Worchester Cathedral Priory wherein Hugh fitz Osbern confirms a grant made by his father "for the souls of his father Osbern and his mother Nest".  Accordingly, the wife of Osbern was named Nest ferch "unknown". 
          Finally, in his 1188 Journey Through Wales, Gerald of Wales said about Bernard Newmarch "He married Nest, the daughter of Nest, herself a daughter of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn."  While Peter Bartrum cites this passage as his authority for a marriage between Nest ferch Gruffudd and Osbern fitz Richard, it nowhere mentions the father of Newmarch's wife.
          By assuming such a marrriage, the other sources we mentioned above seem to dovetail.  Ealdgyth (the daughter of Earl Aelfgar) owned some land in Binley, Warwickshire.  She married Gruffudd ap Llewelyn and had a daughter named Nest, her only child by him.  After the death of Ealdgyth (sometime after 1066), this land descended to her daughter Nest.  Nest married Osbern c. 1070 and he, likely late in life, gave it to the Cathedral Priory in Coventry.  Of course, there are other ways in which Osbern might have acquired that land and other ladies named Nest he might have married.  Thus, we label the marriage as quite possible but unproven.  If true, the chart would appear as:
    979  Llewelyn        Aelfgar  1017
                l                    l
  1011  Gruffudd====Ealdgyth(a) 1041  Richard 1010
                l                                              l
     1056  Nest(b)==============Osbern 1045
                         1071  Nest==============Newmarch 1058
            (a) This marriage would have been about 1055 when Gruffudd and Aelfgar were known to be allies
               (b)  She would have been yet a child when her father was killed in 1063, and likely married at age 14 c. 1070
        1010  Richard le Scrob/Scrope (a)
           1045  Osbern (b) ===========Nest 1056 (c)
                                1080  Hugh (d)
       (a)  Built Richard's Castle in Herefordshire about 1048 as a baron of King Edward the Confessor
       (b)  Held Stanage in Herefordshire according to the 1086 Domesday Book
       (c)  The wife of Osbern who was probably, but not certainly, a daughter of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn
       (d)  About 1110, confirmed to the monks of Worchester Priory, his father's grant of Boraston and the church at Dodderhill "for the souls of his father, Osbern, and his mother, Nest."  She is not further identified. It was common for a son to confirm grants made by his father when the father died
          We also should mention the liklihood that Gruffudd ap Llewelyn had a base son named Cynyn or Cynid.  An early source says that while Cynfryd ferch Rhirid Mawr was a hostage, she had a son by Gruffudd before later marrying Trahaearn ap Maelog Dda:
                                980 Rhiryd Mawr       Maelog Dda 955
                                             l                        l
  1011 Gruffudd=======Cynfryd======Trahaearn  995
                            l                 1015    l
                1029  Cynyn                   Brochwel  1030
          If the above chart is an accurate portrayal of the c. 1200 source [7] which says "A Ririt hwnnw a wystlws Keinvryt y ferch Ruffudd ap Llewelyn.  Kynyn oedd un mab yddaw ena, ag yn y wystledigaeth honno y mynnws Trahayarn ap Maelawg hi", then it would appear that Rhiryd Mawr of Caerwedros had been required to give his daughter as a hostage to Llewelyn ap Seisyll c. 1022 and that the lady was still being held by interim king Cynfyn ap Gwerystan (at whose manor Gruffudd lived after his father died); that a teenaged Gruffudd seduced the young lady who likely took the resulting child with her when she was later released to marry Trahaearn.  Clearly, the child was never acknowledged by Gruffudd as his legitimate son. No one knows, or cares, what became of him.
          We turn now to the wives/consorts of Gruffudd.  Since we have suggested elsewhere that he and other members of the Powys Royal family had taken refuge in Ireland in 1033 when Iago ap Idwal came to power in Gwynedd, this tends to support the oral tradition that Gruffudd married an Irish lady.  One writer [8] names her as Nest daughter of "Alfred".  By the description given, this was an error for "Amlaib" otherwise known as "Olaf", son of Sitric Silkbeard.  This author then immediately conflates this lady with Ranulf (actually Rhanillt) ferch Olaf who was mother to the first Gruffudd ap Cynan.  Such a Nest would have been born c. 1024, might have married Gruffudd ap Llewelyn about 1038 and been the mother of Owain ap Gruffudd in 1039:
                                 960  Sitric Silkbeard
                                 995  Olaf/Amlaib
                         l                          l                          l
              1025  Nest (a)    1026  Rhanillt (b)     1030  Sitric (c)
            (a) Possible first wife of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn, married shortly before his rise to power in Powys and Gwynedd
            (b) Wife of Cynan ap Idwal, the man who fled Gwynedd in 1039, and the mother of the first Gruffudd ap Cynan c. 1041
            (c)  Married Nest ferch Tewdwr of Deheubarth, sister of king Rhys ap Tewdwr, and was father of Eidio Wyllt
           The Brut account for 1041 says that during a battle with King Hywel ap Edwin of Deheubarth, Gruffudd ap Llewelyn seized Hywel's wife and:
                 a.  Took her for his own [9]
                 b.  Took her as his own wife [10]
                 c.  Took her and controlled her [11]
            The 3 principal versions of the Brut differ as to what Gruffudd had in mind when he took the lady.  Version (a) above implies he took the lady as his mistress, while version (b) claims he married her.  Verson (c) might describe his simply taking the lady hostage, a common occurrence in warfare during that era.  Since we believe he already had a wife, and knew the lady was a daughter of Earl Leofric [12], we suspect she was taken as a barganing chip in the event Mercia interferred with his plans to take Deheubarth and, indeed, all of Wales. While this doesn't preclude Gruffudd from having later seduced the lady, we doubt he disposed of his wife to marry her.  In our timeline of events, his wife was then pregnant with his son, Ithel, and later had another son, Maredudd, and a daughter, Nest.  She likely died after bearing Nest about 1050, leaving him free to take a new wife.  We suspect the daughter of Leofric was reunited with her English siblings after 1055 when Gruffudd entered into a military alliance with her brother, Aelfgar.  It was, we think, through this lady that those two men first became acquainted.  As described in another paper [13], we also believe the lady had one, and perhaps two daughters who were under the age of 5 in 1041 when Gruffudd took her, and that those daughters were with their mother when the expedition returned to Powys. 
                 990  Leofrig(a), ob 1057                    Edwin  963
                    _______l_____________                    l
                    l                                   l                    l
       1017  Aelfgar, ob 1062   1015 Ealdgyth(b)===Hywel  997
                    l                                                 l
      1041  Ealdgyth(c)===Gruffudd 1011      daughter(d) ?
         (a) Earl of Mercia and husband of Lady Godiva
           (b) Lady taken in battle in 1041 by Gruffudd ap Llewelyn
           (c)  Married Gruffudd ap Llewelyn about 1055, had one child by him about 1056, a daughter named Nest.  After Gruffudd was killed in 1063, she was taken to wife by Harold Godwinson and bore him one or more children before 1066
           (d)  Possibly born c. 1039 and taken with her mother to Gruffudd's fortress at Rhuddlan.  She may have also had a sister a year or two older.  These children are nowhere recorded and are only our conjecture
           When Gruffudd was beseiged by Harold Godwinson in 1063, and killed by the Welsh to appease Harold, he left a widow called Ealdgyth whom Harold took to wife.  Most suppose this was the same lady he had taken from Hywel in 1041, but the chronology does not fit.  The lady widowed in 1063 bore 2 sons to Harold before 1066, but the lady taken from Hywel would have been in her mid or late 40's by then.
          Historians are divided on the matter, with some reporting that Gruffudd married a sister of Aelfgar, and others claiming she was Aelfgar's daughter.  We suspect these were two different ladies, it being a sister of Aelfgar who had been married to Hywel, and a daughter of Aelfgar who was Gruffudd's widow.  The latter would have been born c. 1041 and only in her early 20's when she remarried Harold.   
          To recap, the following born-in-wedlock children should probably be credited to Gruffudd:
          1.  son Owain, born c. 1039, died in 1059
          2.  son Ithel, born c. 1041, killed in 1069
          3.  son Maredudd, born c. 1043, died in 1069
          4.  daughter Nest, born c. 1050, married Trahaearn ap Caradog c. 1063
          5.  daughter Nest, born c. 1056, married Osbern fitz Richard c. 1070; had a daughter, Nest, born c. 1071 who married Bernard Newmarch c. 1085
           We would assign the first 4 children to the Irish lady, who may have died during the final childbirth.  The 5th child, and second named Nest, was by the wife who survived Gruffudd, Ealdgyth the daughter of Earl Aelfgar of Mercia.  We do not think the lady Gruffudd took from Hywel ap Edwin bore him any children, and question if she was even his mistress.                

[1] Brut y Tywysogyon entry for 1069
[2] As the eldest son of Cynfyn, Rhiwallon received Powys while Bleddyn was given rule in Gwynedd. We think Bleddyn was only present at Mechain to support his brother, and may not have arrived until after Rhiwallon had been slain
[3] K.L. Maund, "Ireland, Wales and England in the Eleventh Century", 1991, p. 63, 137
[4] Dwnn ii, 107; LB 7
[5] The first cousin of Trahaearn, Cynwrig ap Rhiwallon ap Gwyn, may have originally ruled in Gwynedd after Bleddyn's death in 1075, but was killed later that same year
[6] Gerald's "Journey through Wales", Book 1, Chapter 2
[7] HLG 1(k)
[8] Mrs Matthew Hall, "Queens Before the Conquest", 1854, vol ii, pp 386/387
[9] Brut y Tywysogyon, Peniarth Ms 20 version
[10] Brut y Tywysogyon, Red Book of Hergest version
[11] Brenhinedd y Saesson version
[12] We make this identification in the paper "The 1039 Battle at Rhyd y Groes" at the link below:
[13] See the paper "The First Wife of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn" at the link below: