THE FATHER OF TEWDRIG OF GWENT
By Darrell Wolcott
In other articles concerning
the ruling family in Gwent, we have followed the modern view that Llywarch ap Ninniaw was the father of Tewdrig and the
grandfather of Meurig ap Tewdrig. However, the sources appear to favor Teithwallt ap Ninniaw. We have no idea
if Ninniaw had sons of both names; the only child cited for either is Tewdrig. The Book of Llan Dav, dated
by most scholars to c. 1150, seems to be the earliest mention of Tewdrig's
father where he is called "filio Teithpall". But in the earliest of the medieval pedigrees (c.1380) which
name his father, Tewdrig is cited as "m. Llywarch". A few years later (c.
1400), another manuscript was written which cites Tewdrig as "ap Teithfallt". And about 1545, the noted genealogist
Gruffudd Hiraethog also cited him as "ap Teithvalt".
Modern genealogist Peter Bartrum,
in his 1966 work, stated only in his index that "Teithfall ap Nynnio" was an error for "Llywarch ap Nynnio" but nowhere
in his notes did he explain nor even discuss the matter. In a paper published in 1948, Bartrum had
prepared a chart showing the father of Tewdrig as Llywarch but did not otherwise comment on the latter man. But in
his 1993 work, Bartrum offers the following: "One suspects that the introduction of Teithfall as his father is due to confusion
with Tewdrig ap Teithfall of Garthmadrun who occurs in the Brychan documents as grandfather of Brychan." In the same
work, Bartrum goes on to say "Teudubric heads the pedigree of the kings of Glywysing and Gwent in the 'Harleian' genealogies
but his son Meurig is accidentally omitted. The 'Jesus College' version restores his son Meurig but makes Tewdrig son
of Llywarch ap Nynnio ap Erb". It is now clear he relies on the Jesus
College Ms as his sole authority, rejecting the earlier source and all later manuscripts which agree with it. And he
also rejects the possibility of two men having identical names living anywhere in Wales during the fourth to sixth centuries.
One could as easily state, and likely with more accuracy, that the Jesus College version incorrectly inserted Meurig into the pedigree, and introduced a heretofor unknown Llywarch
as the father of Tewdrig.
Although there was a Tewdrig
ap Teithfall of Garthmadrun who was born c. 350, he could not have been the man named in the Book of Llan Dav; the Tewdrig
cited there lived in the sixth century and is said to have donated land to St Teilo. The latter lived c. 500-580 if,
as stated by his biographer, he was a student of St Dubricius and was succeeded by St Oudoceus. But there
are reasons to question the document where the name "Teudiric filio Teithpall" is found. That source also lists
the following men as having donated land to St Teilo: Idon filio Ynyr Guent, Gurcant Maur, Mailcun and Aircol lauhir.
Gurcant Maur probably refers
to Gwrgant Fawr, the grandson of Peibo ap Erb; he was the father of Onbrawst who married Meurig ap Tewdrig. We place
his birth at c. 515 and he was certainly contempory with both Tewdrig and St Teilo. Mailcun seems to be Maelgwn Gwynedd
who lived c. 475-547 and poses no chronological problems as a donor to St Teilo. But with Iddon ap Ynyr Gwent, we
are less certain; we encounter him in the Life of St Bueno as living during the rule of Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd.
The exact years of the reign of that king are not known, but he was killed in 634 and could not have been born much before
600. If we should date his encounter with Iddon near 625, and further assume Iddon was in the prime of his life
at the time then it is doubtful that he could have been able to make a land grant at a date when St Teilo
was still living. Indeed, he may have been born after St Teilo died.
But citing Aircol Lawhir as
a donor to St Teilo is almost certainly a fiction; he was the father of Vortipor, the king of Dyfed whom Gildas takes to task
in his De Excidio Britonum. Written c. 530/540, Gildas describes Vortipor as "your head is already whitening" and
"the end of your life is gradually drawing near". He seems to be describing a man past 60 years of age; to believe
the man was born later than c. 470/480 would require challenging the date scholars ascribe to the work. This would date
his father, Aircol, to c. 435/450; if St Teilo was even born by the time Aircol died, he would be have been no more than
a child. On the other hand, Bartrum dates Aircol to 460 which better (but not much) accords him with the floruit
of St Teilo. If we accept the evidence of the Book of Llan Dav, we probably should date Aircol nearer to 500
but that would mean he could not be the father of the Vortepor mentioned by Gildas. But since he is called
Aircol ap Tryffin in both Harleian Ms 3859 (where Guortepir is his son) and in the doubtful charters found in the Book
of Llan Dav, the only reasonable conclusion is that he never met an adult St Telio (unless there was a second saint of that
name who lived a generation or two before the familiar St Teilo). We should note that Gildas never named the father
of his Vortepor, but did place him in Demetae (Dyfed).
The Llan Dav
charters were offered by the church there to "prove" that various lands outside its jurisdiction were legally donated to its
bishops during their lives. Those that mention St Teilo claim he succeeded St Dubricius as their bishop although
he was seated far away at Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire. Some suspect this group of charters may have been forged to
bolster the medieval claims of that church.
exist about the St Teilo charters to prevent
them being a fully reliable source of genealogical information, but even if they were drawn up long after the era ascribed
to them, their composer surely would have described Tewdrig as the son of Llywarch if that were the prevailing belief at the
time. Hopefully, other researchers will discover and publish good reasons why the Jesus College manuscript
is right and all the other citations are wrong. In the meantime, the question must remain unresolved.
Perhaps the father of Tewdrig was Llywarch, but perhaps it was Teithfallt. LATE ADDITION (12/22/2012): This
alternate view is presented in the paper "Another Look at Teithfallt of Gwent, at this link:
 Harleian Ms 3859, 28 gives the pedigree of this family, but ends with Tewdrig
without naming his father
 The Book of Llan Dav, edited by J G Evans, Oxford, 1893, pp 118
 Jesus College Ms 20, 9
 ABT 15
 Peniarth Ms 178, part 1, pp 10
 P C Bartrum "Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts", Cardiff, 1966, pp 214
 Trans. Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1948, pp 288
 P C Bartrum "A Classical Welsh Dictionary", Natl Library of Wales, 1993,
 The Harleian pedigree reads, in part, Morcant map Atroys map Teudubric.
While Tewdrig did has a son named Meurig who had a son named Athrwys, Morgan was the son of Meurig's brother, also named Athwys.
See "Rethinking the Gwent Pedigrees" elsewhere on this site.
 In the story found in the Life of St Beuno, Iddon came to Gwynedd seeking
his sister who had married and been abandoned by a young carpenter. It seems to describe the lady as a teen, born perhaps
15/20 years before Iddon came to look for her. If he were an older brother, his birth likely would not have occurred
before about 595. And even if Iddon was actually her father and born as early as 560, St Teilo probably died before
Iddon inherited any land to donate to him.
 The translation given is that of Michael Winterbottom in "History From
the Sources", London, 1978, vol vii, pp 31