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Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys
                                                By Darrell Wolcott
       In our paper "The Enigmatic Elystan Glodrydd", we discussed a Powys man named Elystan, who had a son named Cadwgan, born a full generation earlier than the well-known Elystan Glodrydd of Buellt.  Although the 13th century heralds assigned wholly different coats of arms to these men, virtually everyone who compiled Welsh pedigree manuscripts has conflated them into a single man.  We now have completed sufficient research to construct a speculative scenario related to the first of these men.
        We suggest the Powys Elystan was born c. 955 and lived in the commote of Gorddwr.  The arms later assigned to him [1] suggest the early heralds believed he descended from the same ancestors as Ednowain Bendew ap Neiniad.  He is probably NOT identical to Elystan ap Gwaithfoed of Powys, the man who had brothers Gwerystan and Ednowain.  We think he WAS a son of Gwrydr Hir ap Caradog, the man who was also the father of Gwaithfoed of Tegeingl.  That extended family can be charted as:
                                    855  Lles Llyddog of Powys [2]
                        l                                                       l
           890  Caradog                               885  Gwynnog Farfsych
                        l                                                       l
          920  Gwrydr Hir                          915  Gwaithfoed of Powys
                        l                                                       l
           955  Elystan (a)                                   955  Elystan (b)
         (a)  Known sons of Gwrydr Hir include Gwaithfoed of Tegeingl, grandfather of Ednowain Bendew, and the base son, Idnerth Benfras of Maesbrook.  The arms assigned to both those men include boar's heads as a main device.  There are, however, no known citations which mention an Elystan ap Gwrydr Hir
        (b)  This Elystan is cited as the ancestor of Einudd ap Morien (Einudd son of Gwenllian) and he was a brother of Gwerystan, the father of Cynfyn.  A third brother was Ednowain, father of Rhun.  The arms assigned to this branch of the family feature a lion rampant
        The earliest citation disclosing a c. 955 Elystan is found in Jesus College Ms 20, item 31.  The text recites the maternal ancestry of a "Gronwy ap Cadwgan ap Elystan" as follows:
                         820  Rhodri Mawr
               l                                               l
 865  Tudwal Gloff                         851  Cadell
               l                                               l
    895  Alser                               879  Hywel Dda
              l                                                l
    930  Aelan                                906  Owain
              l                                                l
              l                                   950  Maredudd
              l                                                l
   960  Llawr==================Lleuci  975    Elystan  955
                                      l                                              l
                         995  Angharad==============Cadwgan  985
                                               1020  Gronwy
        The citation does not give the ancestry of Llawr; that man in our chart is sometimes called Llawfrodedd Farfog. [3]  Item #30 of this same pedigree mentions a Hywel ap Gronwy ap Cadwgan ap Elystan, but continues with "ap Cuhelyn ap Cadwr" etc....these being men in the ancestry of Elystan Glodrydd of Buellt (Actually, the citation omits "Ifor" as father of Cuhelyn and "Seferys" as father of Ifor).  We believe both citations (with the noted omissions excepted) are accurate standing on their own, but that these were two different families which included men named Hywel ap Gronwy ap Cadwgan ap Elystan.   We further believe the two citations were linked by the manuscript's author, who wrongly believed both referred to the same family.
         We have shown, in other papers on this site, the propensity of early Welsh families to repeat long strings of male names which had previously been used by a cousin branch.  The practice occurs far too frequently to have been coincidental.  It was done on purpose, likely to honor some noble achievement by the earlier man or men. Even so, you might be thinking, those were all cousins in a single extended family.  Are you suggesting that Elystan Glodrydd occurs in a "cousin" line with Elystan of Powys?  Actually, yes we are!
         Once we chart both families side by side, it becomes clear that by positing a single marriage not found in the available sources, not only would the two families be in-laws of each other, but the c. 1020 Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd would be the maternal great-grandson of the c. 955 Elystan of Powys.  Also, the c. 1020 Idnerth ap Cadwgan ap Elystan of Powys would be the first-cousin of Gwladys, mother of the c. 1020 Cadwgan.  We show that posited marriage in red in this chart:
 930  Ifor of Buellt    915  Gwaithfoed of Powys    920  Gwrydr Hir
              l                               l                                      l   
 960  Cuhelyn            945  Ednowain              955  Elystan of Powys
              l                               l                  ___________l___ 
              l                               l                  l                         l
              l                    975  Rhun=====Sian 990     985 Cadwgan (a)
              l                                         l                                 l
990  Elystan Glodrydd========Gwladys  1005    1020  Idnerth (b)
                              l                           l
                 1025  Sian (c)      1020  Cadwgan (d)
                                            1050  Idnerth (e)
    (a)  He married Angharad ferch Llawr as shown in the chart which immediately precedes this chart
    (b)  Dwnn ii, 307 cites his grand-dauighter, Annes ferch Llewelyn ap Idnerth, married Bleddyn ap Tudor ap Rhys Sais of Maelor.  Bleddyn was born c. 1085 and Annes was born c. 1095, far too early to have been a grand-daughter of the c. 1050 Idnerth ap Cadwgan 
    (c)  As cited by Pen 140, 347, she married Cadifor ap Gwaithfoed, a great-grandson of Gwrydr Hir born c. 1010.  We added her to the chart to show that both men named Elystan had one son and one daughter, both bearing the same names, respectively
    (d  He married twice, both being ladies born c. 1035.  For their names and sources for the marriages, refer to the paper mentioned in Note 1 below
   (e)  He is found in many sources as the ancestor of the men of Ceri in the 12th century
        The c. 1018 marriage of Gwladys ferch Rhun [4] to Elystan Glodrydd was not the first time the families of the two Elystans had inter-married.  Return with us to the young family of Gwrydr Hir about the year 971.  He had married Arddun ferch Tudor Trefor [5] and his sons were now teenagers.  Their uncles (brothers of their mother) were Gronwy, Dyngad and Llyddoca, sons of Tudor Trefor (who was now in his low 70's, but still alive).
        While not yet 40 years old, Elystan's uncle Gronwy died. [6]  He had married Tangwystl ferch Dyfnwal, a lady of Strathclyde whose father brought her to Gwynedd, and they had a daughter, Gwen, about 1 year old.  Her mother was perhaps 24 years old and living far from most of her own birth family. [7] We believe Tangwystl and her infant daughter were taken in by Gronwy's sister, Arddun, and that baby Gwenllian grew up in the household of Gwrydr Hir, and came to regard his sons as more like uncles than first-cousins. Some 15 years later, Gwenllian married Cuhelyn ap Ifor of Buellt, and about 990, bore him a son whom they named Elystan [8].  We also think his namesake, Elystan of Powys, became the child's godfather. [9]  What was so special about Elystan of Powys for this young couple to name their son after him?  Let us follow him over the next dozen years as he grew into manhood.
        Elystan's great-grandfather had been Lles Llyddog, the leader of an army which had expelled a colony of Danes from northeast Wales barely three generations earlier. [10]  This trait had resurfaced frequently in the men who descended from Lles [11] and we suggest young Elystan excelled at war games and battle tactics.  We also think he was an unnamed participant in the action cited in the Brut entry for 983:
         "Brycheiniog and all the lands of Einion ap Owain were ravaged by the Saxons, with Aelfhelm their leader, and Hywel ap Ieuaf; and Einion slew many of their hosts."
         Einion ap Owain ap Hywel Dda was acting for his aged father, the King of Deheubarth.  The Saxon man was Earl of Mercia and his ally, Hywel ap Ieuaf ap Idwal Foel, was King of Gwynedd.  We suggest Einion had sent emissaries to Buellt and Powys seeking military assistance.  Powys king Cadell ap Brochwel ap Aeddan declined to interfere officially since both Mercia and Gwynedd were his next-door neighbors, and neither had threatened his lands.  Instead, we think he sent for Elystan ap Gwrydr, a young warrior who's reputation was known to him.  He asked Elystan to assemble a group of his cousins and other close friends and go to the aid of Einion….not as a Powys army, but simply as young adventurers seeking the spoils of battle. Elystan was then about age 28 and unmarried.  The men he recruited were mostly his unmarried cousins and other boyhood friends.

          As Elystan's little warband journeyed toward the action in Deheubarth, it reached Buellt where they joined up with a group of locals who had also volunteered to help Einion fight Saxons.  Among these men was a 23 year old Cuhelyn ap Ifor.  When they finally engaged the enemy, Elystan positioned his men and led the charge.  During the battle, he noticed that Cuhelyn was facing multiple Saxons who had backed him into a no-win position and, ignoring those with whom he was sparring, sprang to the aid of Cuhelyn.  His furious defense of the young Buellt man inspired his little army to emulate his bravery, and very soon the battle was over with not a single Saxon left standing. 
          While it had been only a small foraging party which they had come upon, Elystan's men displayed the same valor a few days later when they linked up with Einion's army to confront the Earl's main army.  It didn't require very many clashes before Aelfhelm withdrew from the field and, mourning his dead, he and his men headed back to Mercia in full retreat.  When Hywel ap Ieuaf realized his ally had fled, he made swift tracks back toward Gwynedd.  As a reward for his role in the victory, Einion offered Elystan his daughter, Gwenllian, in marriage.[12]  And young Cuhelyn feted Elystan as the best warrior he'd ever seen and his personal hero.  Five years later, Cuhelyn wed Elystan's cousin, Gwenllian ferch Gronwy, and named his first son Elystan.
         We think, however, it was another event which lead Elystan of Buellt to name his son Cadwgan just as Elystan of Powys had done.  This event has been incorrectly attributed to Elystan of Buellt, but we believe it was the actual event that ended the life of Elystan of Powys.  One part of the bogus biography of Elystan Glodrydd states:
         "He was living in 1010, but was killed in a civil broil at Cefn Digoll in Powys."
        We know that Elystan Glodrydd of Buellt did not die in 1010, his son Cadwgan was not born until c. 1020.  The lady who married this Elystan was only about 5 years old in 1010.  If any such death actually occurred at Cefn Digoll, it happened to an earlier Elystan.  We now turn our attention to Cefn Digoll; what and where is this in Powys?
        In the commote of Gorddwr (now wholly within Shropshire) stands the elevated range called Long Mountain, on which there is a circular ridge known as Cefn Digoll, meaning "the ridge not lost".  Whether that name denoted that adjacent ground HAD been lost in some early battle, or simply that the ridge never ends because it is circular in shape, is a matter for individual speculation.  This ridge had been the site of a battle in 630 between Cadwallon ap Cadfan and Edwin of Northumbria, in which Penda of Mercia had sided with Cadwallon.  In 1295, it is the place where the army of Edward I finally captured Madog ap Llewelyn ap Maredudd, the last Welsh rebel taken in that king's war to conquer Wales.  In 1485, it was the place where Henry Tudor camped awaiting Welsh reinforcements as he was en route to Bosworth Field.  So Cefn Digoll was neither a manor nor a village.  Anyone who was killed there was not engaged in horseplay at the local tavern, he was engaged in military operations. The 1010 broil may have been "civil" in that its participants were all men of Powys and not foreign invaders, but we suggest it was more fiercely contested than the word "broil" connotes.  So what were Powys men fighting about in 1010?
          We think that was the year that Powys King Cadell ap Brochwel finally died at an age near 70.  The king had left an only child, a daughter named Nest.  She was married to the king's penteulu, Gwerystan ap Gwaithfoed, and had an eldest son named Cynfyn. But there was no reason to seek a new king that was only maternally related to the Royal Family, as King Cadell had two brothers who both had sons old enough to become king.  Seisyllt ap Brochwel had an eldest son, Llewelyn, who was then about age 31, and Selyf ap Brochwel had an eldest son, Aeddan, then about age 35.  Some of the leading men of Powys thought Aeddan had the best claim to be the new king since he was the eldest of the two cousins.  Others supported Llewelyn, on the grounds that his father had been King Cadell's next eldest brother while Aeddan's father had been the king's youngest brother. 
         When no agreement could be reached between these opposing groups, they decided to settle the issue in the usual Welsh manner....on the battlefield.  Both factions met in Gorddwr near Long Mountain.  The first objective of each side was to secure for themselves the favorable position at Cefn Digoll.  After the side supporting Llewelyn ap Seisyllt had gained that ridge, the other side soon acknowledged defeat and fled the field.  Casualties on both sides were not numerous, but the now 55 year old Elystan ap Gwrydr Hir had fallen, together with his son-in-law, Rhun ap Ednowain.  It is not known if Aeddan ap Selyf was also killed, but his victorious cousin was now the new king of Powys.
          Elystan's daughter, Sian, was now widowed at barely 20 years old, and she had a 5 year old daughter, Gwladys.  Sian's older brother, Cadwgan (and his new wife Angharad [13]) proposed taking his sister and her child into his own household.  His now-widowed mother, Gwenllian, suggested that both her children join her at Elystan's manor at Trelystan, where Cadwgan would now be "the man of the house"
          As Gwladys grew to maturity, her mother regaled her with stories of grandpa Elystan's heroic deeds as a young man and how he gave his own life fighting alongside her father.  More importantly, she grew up with her uncle Cadwgan as her father-figure.  When she turned 13, Gwladys was given in marriage to Elystan ap Cuhelyn of Buellt [14], the namesake and godson of her grandfather.  The couple had but two children, a son and a daughter.  They named the son Cadwgan and the daughter Sian just as the elder Elystan had done.  We suspect the names were chosen by Gwladys to honor her mother and uncle and to inspire her husband to become as "illustrious" as his own namesake. 
           Thus began multiple generations of same-named children.  When the older Cadwgan named sons Idnerth, Ieuaf, and Gronwy, the younger Cadwgan also gave sons those three names (although he had several other sons).  In the next generation, the elder Idnerth ap Cadwgan named his sons Llewelyn, Madog, Ifor and Ednyfed, so the younger Idnerth ap Cadwgan gave 4 of his 6 sons those same names. Both men named Ieuaf ap Cadwgan named a son Hywel and both men named Hywel ap Ieuaf named a son Gwrgeneu.  Both men named Gronwy ap Cadwgan named a son Hywel.  Each of these same-named men can be separated only by placing them on the timeline as determined by future marriages and their occurrence in Brut entries.
         While the event scenarios recited above are NOT "history" since no early citations can be found to confirm them, they DO explain many "results" which ARE historically known.  They are simply our suggestion as to what may well be "the rest of the story".  

[1]  The arms of the two men named Elystan are described in our paper "The Enigmatic Elystan Glodrydd" at the link below:
[2]  His pedigree is given in ABT 1b
[3]  Pen. 142, 101; Pen. 177, 135
[4]  Dwnn i, 139; Dwnn ii, 152
[5]  Dwnn ii, 307
[6]  No obit cited, but Dwnn i, 297 & 313 say that Gronwy died during his father's lifetime
[7]  Pen. 138, 358 and Pen. 142, 198 call the child Gwen and say she was heiress to Gronwy ap Tudor Trefor.  While Tangwystl had an elderly father and a blind brother living in Gwynedd, her older brothers were yet in Strathclyde, where 3 of them were, or later became, king.
[8]  ibid, this Gwen was the mother of Elystan Glodrydd.  ABT 11 cites his father as Cuhelyn ap Ifor
[9]  Most biographies of Elystan Glodrydd say he was named after his godfather, who they incorrectly identify as King Aethelstan of Wessex, a man who died many years before Elystan was born
[10]  See the paper "The Retaking of Northeast Wales" at the link below:
[11]  These include Gwerystan ap Gwaithfoed who led the warband of King Cadell ap Brochwel c. 980/1000; Cynfyn ap Gwerystan who led troops to help Irish King Sitric Silkbeard retake Dublin from Brian Boru in 1014; and Bleddyn ap Cynfyn who won the Battle of Mechain against the sons of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn in 1069
[12]  Dwnn i, 139, 271, 288, 313 & 332 all cite this marriage, although they incorrecty attribute the marriage to Elystan Glodrydd, the Buellt man.
[13]  As shown on the 2nd chart presented above
[14] Dwnn i, 139: Dwnn ii, 152