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Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                        RETHINKING THE GWENT PEDIGREES
                                           By Darrell Wolcott
           Following the publishing of Wendy Davies exhaustive study of the Llandaff Charters[1], many attempts have been made to fit the extant pedigrees of the Gwent dynasty with the dates she suggested.  Peter Bartrum, in his latest work[2], wholly revised his earlier pedigrees[3] to accomodate these date constraints and although promising to include estimated birthdates, ceases to do so for names earlier than Peibo ap Erb.  One must wonder if the absurdity of those dates brought him up short when he realized that his Peibo born c. 525 could scarcely be the king who made grants to St. Dubricius who "died when, or before, Peibo was born".[4] 
           The family in question is the one which produced Morgan Hen of the late ninth century, the man for whom Morgannwg arguably was named.[5]  For our analysis of the pedigrees, we shall begin with the available manuscripts as they stood before modern scholars began suggesting emendments; as for date estimates, we will let those be dictated by the data and uninfluenced by the guesses of Davies or Bartrum.
           No progress can be made, however, until we correct the misconception that the family descended through Athrwys ap Meurig ap Tewdrig as cited by several medieval manuscripts.[6]  The oldest extant source[7] and some later pedigrees[8] makes the descent through Athrwys ap Tewdrig, a brother of Meurig. While Meurig did have a son named Athrwys, he apparently died before his father.  At the death of Meurig, his nephew Morgan ap Athrwys succeeded him and is said to have killed Meurig's remaining son, Frioc.[9]  The belief that Morgan was the grandson of Meurig may have arisen from the text of an early charter which is signed "Mouric rex cum filio suo Frioc et nepote Morcant filio Athruis".[10] 
           No modern Latin word "nepote" exists so some would render it "nepos" or grandson.  Yet even that Latin word once had the meaning of both nephew and grandson.  But in the Latin of the seventh century, "nepote" had a single meaning: nephew.  The correct pedigree is that given in Harleian Ms 3859 before the modern scholars inserted their emendation;together with the extinct family of Meurig, it looks like this:
                                   l                               l
                              Athrwys                    Meurig
                                   l                ________l___________ 
                                   l                l             l                    l
                              Morgan        Frioc    Athrwys          Idnerth
                                   l             d.s.p.     d.s.p.            d.s.p.
           For a starting place in dating these men, we turn to Vita Beatissimi Cadoci[11] where we encounter a Meurig son of Enhinti. The author does not name the father of Meurig, but the Meurig ap Tewdrig in the Gwent pedigrees was the son of Enhinti ferch Cynfarch ap Meirchion.[12]  This lady would date from c. 515/520 and be a sister of Urien Rheged.  We believe that a Meurig born near 535 fits well with the Meurig to whom St Cadog turned over the bulk of his kingdom.  All the pedigrees of St. Cadog and his parents point to a birthdate near 505; late in life and with no sons of his own, St. Cadog sought a man to succeed himself. [13]  Surely such a man would be a full generation younger than himself as we estimate Meurig ap Tewdrig to have been.  One stumbling block to such a dating is the matter of Dibunn.  We are told that St. Cadog not only turned over to Meurig the rule of all his lands except Gwynllwg, but also gave him his aunt named Dibunn.  Now if Dibunn was his father's sister[14], we should expect her to be born almost a generation earlier than Cadog, and that of a man taking her as his wife to date from perhaps 470.  Not only is this inconsistent with our date for Meurig, it also calls into question the entire concept of St Cadog turning over his lands to a man a generation older than himself; this is true whether or not his Meurig son of Enhinti is also Meurig ap Tewdrig. 
           The Life of Cadog was written in Latin and when we look beyond the translation given by Wade-Evans[15] we find that Dibunn was described as the "amicam" of Cadog.  That translator emends the Latin text to "amitam" before rendering it as "aunt".  But "amicam" denotes "friend" or "comrade" or even "mistress".  If we see the lady as merely a friend of St. Cadog and not his aunt, she could easily have been a generation or more younger than Cadog.  A different wife is cited for Meurig ap Tewdrig[16] but the taking of younger ladies as mistresses was a common practice.
           Part of the confusion in the pedigrees of the family comes from the occurrence of another Meurig son of Enhinti.  This lady is cited as "ferch Erbic m. Meurig m. Caradawc vreichvras".[17]  While Bartrum would emend the citation to fit his preferred chronology[18], his suggestion that the Caradawc was almost certainly not the one known as "vreichvras" is acceptable.  As we shall presently discover, that lady belongs to the early fourth century or 200 years prior to the era of St. Cadog. 
           We should pause here to interpret what is recited in Pedigree #10 in Jesus College Ms 20 and compare it with that offered by Bartrum when he published it.[19]  The full text was transcribed by Egerton Phillimore in Y Commrodor vol viii and consists of three fragments:
1.  Morgant m. Ewein m. Hewel m. Rees m. Arthwael m. Kenedlon merch Binael vrydic m. llywarch m. tewdwr m. pibiawn glawrawc m. Arbeth
2.  m. deurig sant merch Pebiawn
3.  mam theudu m. Pedur m. Cado m. Gereint m. Erbin
           Using Pedigree #9 as a guide, Bartrum's first emendation (his insertions are enclosed by [ ] brackets) concerns an entire line which appears to be missing from the first above fragment; his result is (using standardized spellings):
1.  Morgan ap Owain ap Hywel ap Rhys ap Arthfael [ap Gwryad ap Brochwel ap Rhys ap Iudhael ap Morgan] ap Cenedlon ferch Briafel frydic ap Llywarch ap Tewdwr ap Peibo glafoeriog ap Erb
           (Clearly some names had dropped out in Phillimore's version, but whether it was the five provided by Bartrum is speculative; indeed he changed his mind later.)
2.  M[am] Deurig sant [oed Evrdil] merch Peibo
           (Here Bartrum treads thin ice; he assumes the saint being cited was St. Dyfrig (Dubricius) and forces the text into his reputed ancestry.)
3.  mam [Iudhael? oed ferch] Theudu ap Peredur ap Cado ap Gereint ap Erbin
           (Bartrum at least tells us this was a pure guess on his part; it is only when we apply generational probabilities to the entire pedigree that we arrive at a better solution.)
           Our own analysis of these pedigree fragments led to these conclusions:
1.  Cenedlon was more likely the mother of Rhys and wife of Iudhael, and we would only insert four names as having been dropped from the list of her descendants.  However, we would render her paternal ancestry by adding Angwarad as father of Tewdwr and son of Peibo.[19] Our construction would be "Morgan ap Owain ap Hywel ap Rhys ap Arthfael[ap Brochwel ap Meurig ap Arthfael ap Rhys] ap Cenedlon ferch Briafel ap Llywarch ap Tewdwr[ap Angwarad] ap Peibo ap Erb".[20]
2.  This fragment has nothing to do with St. Dyfrig; it tells us the mother of St. Tewdrig (ap Llywarch ap Nynnio ap Erb) was a daughter of Peibo (ap Erb)
3.  The final fragment appears to identify the maternal ancestry of Cenedlon ferch Briafel as a daughter of Theudu ap Peredur ap Cado ap Gereint ap Erbin

                           CHART OF PEDIGREE #10
                              415  Erb                                  Erbin  420
                 ____________l________                           l
                l                                     l                          l
    445  Nynnio*                    450  Peibo                 Gereint  450
                l                        _______l____                   l
                l                        l                   l                   l
    475  Llywarch*====Daughter    Angwared*480   Cado  485     
                             l           485              l                   l
               505  Tewdrig               510 Tewdwr         Peredur 520
                            l                               l                   l
              540  Athrwys*            545  Llywarch        Theudu  550
                            l                               l                   l     
              570  Morgan*             575  Briafel====daughter 585
                           l                                          l
              600  Iudhael*============Cenedlon 610
                                  635  Rhys*
                                  665  Arthfael*
                                  695  Meurig*
                                  730  Brochwel*
                                  765  Arthfael
                                  795  Rhys
                                  825  Hywel
                                  855  Owain
                                  885  Morgan Hen obit 974
               *Names which do not actually appear in the manuscript

            Our choice for the string of names dropped from the extant manuscript was suggested by two factors: first, Gruffudd Hiraethog, the noted 16th century genealogist, offered a rendition of the pedigree[21] which seems a better effort than that proposed by Bartrum. His pedigree of the family reads, in part:
"...Morgan ap Hywel ap Rhys ap Arthfael ap Gwraidd ap Brochwel ap Meurig ap Arthfael ap Rhys ap Einudd ap Morgan ap Athrwys ap Meurig ap Tewdrig ap Teithwallt ap Nynnio ap Erb..."
          If we were to replace Teithwallt with Llywarch as the father of Tewdrig (as in JC 20,9), omit Meurig as the father of Athrwys ap Tewdrig (as in Harleian Ms 3859,28) and replace Einudd with Iudhael as the son of Morgan (as in Harleian Ms 3859,29), that section of the pedigree would agree with the best sources.  The only other change we would suggest is to omit Gwraidd as the father of the first Arthfael. Presently we shall offer a possible explanation of why Hiraethog included it.
         Our second reason for preferring our construction over that suggested by Bartrum can be seen in the family's propensity to repeat strings of names, a genealogists nightmare which Bartrum ignored by calling it "so improbable that it can safely be dismissed".[23] Perhaps that explains his inability to cope with the Powys pedigrees of Brochwel ap Aeddon.[24]  The following is a section of the current pedigree which shows the reason for confusion:
                                     665  Arthfael
                                     695  Meurig
                                     730  Brochwel
                                     765  Arthfael
                             l                                     l [23]
                  795  Rhys                      800  Meurig  obit 874
                             l                         ____ __l_______
                             l                        l                        l
                 825  Hywel       835  Brochwel           Ffernmael  830
                             etc                    l
                                          865  Gwriad
          Notice the recurring string "Brochwel ap Meurig ap Arthfael"; if the Brochwel of 730 had another son named Gwriad, that string of four names would occur twice in the family although not in a straight line of descent.  If Hiraethog was simply repeating the final 4-name string, he would have placed a Gwriad in his pedigree as son of the earlier Brochwel.
         If we trace another branch of this family from Ithel (Iudhael) ap Morgan, we can see a similar instance where strings of names are repeated.  In this chart, the family begins with the pedigree of Harleian Ms 3859, 28 and continues with men identified in the Book of Llandaff and other sources:
                                             570  Morgan
                                             600   Ithel
                                           630  Ffernmail
                                           660  Athrwys
                                             690  Ithel  lv 722
                                  l                                       l
                     720  Ffernmail  obit 775                Meurig  725
                      755  Athrwys
                        790  Ithel  obit 848
                       820  Meurig  obit 849
            Having brought the family down to it's representatives in the ninth century, we now turn our attention to the top of the pedigree and the second lady named Enhinti which was mentioned earlier.  Here we begin with the unemended text of Jesus College Ms 20, 9 and integrate it with the already cited Gruffudd Hiraethog work found in Peniarth Ms 178.  We shall go back no earlier than Bran ap Llyr of the first century B.C. and admit those names were probably not the birthnames of the men represented, but were Celtic gods by whose names they were later called.  Our chart looks like this:
                                      60 BC  Llyr Llediath
                                        30 BC    Bran
                                         5 AD  Caradog*
                                              35  Cyllin
                                              65  Owain
                                      100  Meirchion Fawr Filor
                                          130  Gorug Fawr
                                          160  Gwrddwyfn
                                           190   Einudd            Caradog** 220
                                                       l                      l
                                            230  Arthfael           Meurig  250
                                                       l                      l
                                        265  Gwrgan Frych        Erbic  280  
                                                       l                      l
                                          295  Meirchion====Enhinti  310
                                                       325  Meurig
                                                       355  Crierwy
                                                        385  Edric***
                                                         415  Erb
                                           l                                         l
   445  Meirchion Gul    445  Ninniaw                      450  Peibo
                 l                         l
   480  Cynfarch Oer    475  Llywarch
                 l                         l
    515  Enhinti=======Tewdrig  505
                 535  Meurig
*Believed to be the Caraticus who made a gallant but unsuccessful stand against the Romans in AD 51 and was taken as a captive to Rome.
**The son of Einudd by his first marriage and thus several years elder to his half-brother, Arthfael.  This, combined with Enhinti being a half-generation younger than her husband, creates the extra name in the family on the right.
***The medieval pedigrees render this name as Erbic and omit his father, Crierwy. This led many to believe the two names above Enhinti were identical with the two names below her.
          By staying with the original text of Jesus College Ms 20, we should now be able to see that an earlier Meurig ap Enhinti was being identified and should not be confused with the man of that name who occurs in the sixth century in the Life of St. Cadog.  That text, however, incorrectly calls the Caradog of c. 215 "vreichvras" and is the source of the Meurig ap Caradog Freich Fras found in modern pedigrees.  There is no evidence the Caradog Freich Fras who lived in the Arthurian Era had a son named Meurig. 
[1] Wendy Davies "The Llandaff Charters", Aberystwyth, 1979
[2] Peter C Bartrum "A Welsh Classical Dictionary", Nat'l Library of Wales, 1993
[3] Trans. Hon Society of Cymmrodorion, 1948, pp 288 shows Bartrum's original pedigree and dating, from which he proposed his emendments in his 1996 work, "Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts".  In his 1993 "Classical Dictionary", the names in the sixth and seventh centuries have been moved forward about two generations, with that number of men omitted in the family in the eighth century.  Unfortunately, his original dating, while not entirely acceptable, is much to be preferred over the later revisions
[4] ibid "Welsh Classical Dictionary", pp 535
[5] ibid, pp 486; others believe Morgannwg was named for the Morgan ap Athrwys who occurs much earlier in the family pedigree
[6]  Jesus College Ms 20, 9; ABT 15
[7] Harleian Ms 3859, 28
[8] Cardiff Ms 25, pp 75
[9] Text of the Book of Llandaff, Oxford, 1893 pp 152 and 155
[10] ibid pp 148
[11] A.W. Wade-Evans "Vitae Sanctorum Brittaniae et Genealogiae", Cardiff, 1944, pp 81
[12] ibid pp 119; JC 20, 5
[13] Bartrum suggests St Cadog simply turned over much of his kingdom to Meurig because it was so widespread he felt he could not manage it all by himself.  Apparently this notion explains his dating which makes Meurig a generation older than St Cadog
[14] Different Latin words exist for paternal and maternal aunts; "amitam" means "father's sister"
[15] ibid "Vita Sanctorum" pp 80; JC 20,5 written some 250 years later also makes Dibunn the aunt of St Cadog
[16] ibid "Book of Llandaff" pp 140 where Meurig's wife is called Onbrawst daughter of Gwrgan Mawr.  This lady appears to have been a second cousin
[17] JC 20, 9
[18] ibid "Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts" pp 45 where Bartrum would delete the "verch" after Enhinti.  In addition, his deletion of the "ap" between Erb ap Erbic would chronologically redate Enhinti so she would not appear seven generations earlier than Meurig ap Tewdrig.  We would reject both emendations
[19] ibid
[20] ibid pp 139 quotes from Mostyn Ms 212b and Harleian Ms 4181, both of which insert the name Angwared into the pedigree
[21] ibid; those manuscripts make Cenedlon the mother of Rhys and wife of "Arthmael"; we suggest "Iudhael" was intended.
[22] ibid pp 122
[23] Trans Hon Soc of Cymmrodorion, 1948, pp 284/284
[24] Refer to "Powys Dynastic Family 945-1385" at the link below: