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Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Parents and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                        GWYNFARDD DYFED AND HIS FAMILY
                                                      By Darrell Wolcott
 
           Known only as "The White Bard of Dyfed", this man was born c. 1050 in the commote of Cemais.  The only reasonably credible pedigrees [1] of him call his father "Alyn, brenin of Dyfed".  There was never an Alan or Aelan who was a king in Dyfed, but judging by the pedigree inflation seen for this part of Wales, there were several early men that descended from Tudwal Gloff who were thought to be a king by someone. [2]
 
          Less credible versions of his ancestry insert into his pedigree names found in the early Welsh children's  tales.  Most also include reference to a mythical lady, Gwrangen veindroed (with the slim foot) daughter of the Earl of Caer Wrangon, some of which make her the wife of Gwynfardd's son, Cuhelyn, while others say she was the mother of Gwynfardd and still others say she was  Gwynfardd's grandmother.  Since I deem her wholly imaginary, she could easily have been all three....if we were writing a new branch of the mabinogi. [3]
 
          His place on the timeline and his residence in Cemais suggests that the Aelan in Gwynfardd's ancestry was a son of Tegwas ap Gwyn ap Aelan ap Alser ap Tudwal Gloff. [4] If so, Aelan was an older brother of Ifor Felyn, father of Selyf.  He certainly had one son, Cuhelyn Fardd ("bard"), and we believe this Cuhelyn had a younger brother known only as Llawrodd Dyfed, or "red hand".[5]  Cuhelyn Fardd was the father of Gwrwared, called "gerdd gemell", which translates as "poem twin".  Gwrwared had a brother, Llewelyn, who is called "Baron of Cemais" and may have been the twin who was not a bard. [6]
 
         We find no extant body of works produced by the bards in this family and think perhaps none of them ever served the Deheubarth king as his chief bard.  The opportunity to do so would be limited to the years 1079 to 1093 (the reign of Rhys ap Tewdwr) because no Welsh king succeeded Rhys in south Wales. There was not even a Welsh prince with any visible ruling capability until the era of Lord Rhys, when the sons of Gwynfardd Dyfed would have been past age 70 even if yet alive. Yet there must have been some valid reason why the patriarch of this family was remembered, not by his birth name, but as "the white bard of Dyfed".  Perhaps there IS both a surviving and well-known work which he composed and which his sons continued to tinker with and improve, but which manuscripts were later lost.
 
         One might even suggest that Llawrodd Dyfed received his nickname "with the red hand" not from the blood of battle, but from the ink of calligraphy. Perhaps it was his father, then his brother, who did the actual writing, while this brother provided the manuscript flourish of large red capital letters for the words which begin each chapter, paragraph or stanza.  The fact that "Dyfed" has been appended to their nicknames, and the family pedigree inserts such names as "Pwyll, prince of Dyfed" and "Lliw hen tywysoc Prydain"  into its ancestry and conjures up a noble lady who's father is an Earl of some strange place, [7] tends to evoke memories of "The Four Branches of the Mabinogi". 
 
          The current version of those four tales [8] has been combined with 7 other and later-written tales, into a collection called "The Mabinogion". [9] There is no such word in the Welsh language, but when Lady Charlotte Guest published her translation of these stories in 1838, she gave the collection a title which she supposed was the plural of "mabinogi", a word which was already a plural and which literally means "stories for young boys" but used more broadly to denote "childhood tales".  Her label stuck and now the word she coined (always preceded with "The") is universally applied to this collection of stories.
 
          We here are only concerned with the 4 tales which each end with a phrase similar to "So ends this branch of the mabinogi".  Academics mostly agree that these 4 tales were the product of a single hand.  A featured character in each story is Pryderi son of Pwyll prince of Dyfed, and plot elements introduced in one of the 4 tales are sometimes resolved in another of the "branches".  The earliest appearance of written versions of these "branches" was in the White Book of Rhydderch (c 1325) and The Red Book of Hergest (c. 1382) but earlier fragments do exist.  Most scholars believe the Four Branches were composed c. 1090-1150 and only related orally until the 14th century.
 
          In fact, the form of such tales was a defined plot and a few main characters, but left it to the story-teller to supply exact details as to places, costumes, supporting characters and other flourishes.  Thus, the tale differed somewhat depending on who was telling the story and who was his audience.  It is quite likely that by the time we encounter the first written version, it may have been nearly unrecognizable by its original author. No one actually knows who composed these stories, although various scholars have favorite candidates for the role.  We should like to nominate Gwynfardd Dyfed as a viable candidate.  He lived at the right time in the right place and has no identified body of work to justify his nickname.  Indeed, Gwynfardd Dyfed is nowhere mentioned in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, a work that does include many lesser-known Welsh bards.
 
         No credible marriages are cited for this family until we reach Gwilym ap Gwrwared ap Cuhelyn Fardd , he born c. 1145.  His first wife was a daughter (1160) of Madog (1130) ap Rhys (1100) ap Madog (1065).  We would identify the latter Madog as "ap Einion (1035) ap Collwyn (995) ap Gwyn (965) of the Deisi tribe". The second wife of Gwilym was Annes (1145) ferch Seisyll (1110) ap Llawrodd Dyfed. [10]  We suggest, however, that a generation earlier Caradog (1105) ap Llawrodd Dyfed (1078) ap Gwynfardd Dyfed had married a sister of Lord Rhys about the year 1132.  See the  Appendix below.

 
         The early family of Gwynfardd Dyfed, we think, looked like this:
 
                                                         990  Tegwas ap Gwyn of Cemais
                                     _________________l________________________
                                     l                                                                                  l
                      1020  Aelan                                                              1025  Ifor Felyn
                                    l                                                                                   l
              1050  Gwynfardd Dyfed                                                     1055  Selyf (a)
                        ______l____________________________
                        l                                                                   l
       1077  Cuhelyn Fardd                                  1078  Llawrodd Dyfed
       ________l_________ ___                                  _____l_____________
        l                                       l                                  l                                   l
1110  Llewelyn  (b)  1110  Gwrwared  (c)  1110  Seisyll              1105 Caradog  (d)
                                               l                                  l                                    l
                              1145  Gwilym (e)=========Annes  1145     1140  Ystedur (f) 

 
(a)  He relocated to Cil-y-Cwm in Ystrad Tywy about 1094  See our paper about him at the link below:
 
(b)  Cited as "Baron of Cemais" in Cambrian Arch. Assn, page 48
 
(c)  Called Gwrwared gerdd gemell in Pen. 128, 733b
 
(d)  Described as the foster-father of Lord Rhys in Pen. 131, 209
 
(e)  His first wife (not charted here) was a daughter of Madog ap Rhys ap Madog 
 
(f)  Cited in Pen. 131, 209 as the mother of Hywel Sais, a base son of Lord Rhys   

 
NOTES:
[1]  Mostyn 212b, 110 and Cardiff Ms 59, 40
[2]  Aleth and Selyf were other early members of this family called "king" in pedigrees
[3]  Tales of Welsh heroes, real and fictional, composed for, and recited to children
[4]  Dwnn ii, 48 cites this ancestry for Tegwas 
[5]  No sources cite the ancestry of Llawrodd Dyfed; it is merely our belief that he was a son of Gwynfardd Dyfed
[6]  No other sibling is known for Gwrwared, who is called a twin
[7]  Some academics claim Wrangon is actually the same place as the town of Worcester.
[8]  This group of stories include "Pwyll Lord of Dyved", "Branwen Daughter of Llyr", "Manawydan Son of Llyr" and Math Son of Mathonwy"
[9]  This coined word is pronounced "mab in OCK yun"
[10] Both these marriages are cited in Dwnn i, 167

APPENDIX - Ystedur ferch Caradog ap Llawrodd Dyfed
 
          When Gwenllian, wife of Gruffudd ap Rhys ap Tewdwr, was killed in battle near Cydwili in 1136, she left behind some children under the age of 14, including the Rhys who would later be called Lord Rhys.  We think Rhys was a boy about 12 years old when his mother was slain.  We are told in Pen. 131, 209 that his foster-father was Caradog ap Llawrodd, so young Rhys was taken into the home of Caradog for his bed and board. We are not told the name of his foster-mother, but suggest it was she who asked her husband to take on this role.  When we pause to consider why a young couple would volunteer to raise a 12 year old boy, we think it was because the wife of Caradog was an older sister of Rhys, born about 1118, and she married Caradog near 1132.  She would have been 18 years old in 1136 and her husband about age 31.
 
         We also think Ystedur was born c 1140 while Rhys was living in her father's home, but was by then a teenager. Much later, near 1165, Ystedur bore a son by Lord Rhys called Hywel Sais.  We aren't certain that this was a case of incest since we do not know that the mother of Ystedur was Rhys's sister.  But even if she were, this was an era where first cousins often wed each other, so it would not be much different to suggest that a noble Welshman had sired a child by a daughter of one of his siblings.  In fact, the author of ABT 3d apparently didn't see any problem by stating that Cadwaladr ap Gruffudd ap Cynan had sired two children by a daughter of Cadwallon ap Gruffudd ap Cynan, a man who the author believed was Cadwaladr's brother.  (Our own belief is that these were two different men named Gruffudd ap Cynan, and the mating was between third-cousins.)