RHIRYD FLAIDD, LORD OF PENLLYN
By Darrell Wolcott
Born late in the reign of Powys king Madog ap Maredudd (1132-1160), Rhiryd ap Gwrgeneu of Pennant Melangell parish in Mochnant
was the second son of Gwrgeneu ap Collwyn , the first by his second wife. He was also her second child as she already
had a toddler daughter by her first marriage. His mother was a daughter of Cynfyn Hirdref and his wife, Haer ferch
y Blaidd Rhudd. That Haer was the sole heir of her great-grandfather, Meirion y Blaidd Rhudd, the Lord of Penllyn and
the original "red wolf". She had married Cynfyn Hirdref of Lleyn, a man who had two base daughters in addition to the
daughter he had by Haer. It was that daughter who was sole heir of both Cynfyn and the line descended from the Lords
When Rhiryd ap Gwrgeneu ap Collwyn attained his majority, he was confirmed as Lord of Penllyn by the Powys king, a title which
had temporarily been held "et uxor" by Cynfyn Hirdref
and then by Gwrgeneu, since both were only related by marriage to the real, but female, heir. Now dubbed "Flaidd" (wolf)
to signify his descent from y Blaidd Rhudd, he relocated to the lordship manor at Rhiwaedog in Llanfor parish in Penllyn 
where he erected a new, larger residence which he called Neuaddan Gleision or "blue hall". After the death of his mother,
and his mother's mother, Rhiryd inherited the substantial Penllyn lands once held by y Blaidd Rhudd plus his large manor called
Gest in Eifionydd, and the manor Nefyn in Lleyn which was formerly owned by Cynfyn Hirdref. From his father, Gwrgeneu
ap Collwyn, Rhiryd inherited land in Pennant Melangell parish.
Most accounts of this Rhiryd depict him as not only wealthy, but as living in the style that only Welsh kings were accustomed
to enjoying. One line in the bard Cynddelw's tribute to him calls him "a landholder of great note and a nobleman's nobleman."
The earliest written mention of a Rhiryd Flaidd is found in the poems of Cynddelw the Bard who lived c. 1140 to c. 1210.
That bard dedicated (1) a long elegy to Rhiryd Flaidd and his brother, Arthen; (2) a song of praise to Rhiryd Flaidd thanking him for the gift of a fine sword; and (3)
a brief elegy to Rhiryd Flaidd. Most historians believe all three of these compositions were speaking of a single man called
Rhiryd Flaidd, but there are good reasons to doubt that assumption, which include his having composed two separate elegies
for a single man. We suggest these 3 poems were composed in the order listed here. 
The earliest pedigree to mention a Rhiryd Flaidd was the now-lost Hengwrt Ms 33 of the 13th century. 5 of the 7 extant
copies of that maunscript, made in the 16th century, include a section called "Tribe of Penllyn" . These five copies all agree
there was a man alive early in the 13th century named Madog ap Rhiryd Flaidd ap Gwrgeneu ap Collwyn ap Moriddig ap Rhys ap
Gwerystan ap Llywarch ap Rhiwallon ap Araudr. The remainder of the Penllyn section, however, appears to speak of two
different men called Rhiryd Flaidd. 
HIS CITED MOTHER:
All 5 copyists of the old lost manuscript identified the mother of Rhiryd Flaidd as a daughter of Cynfyn Hirdref, that lady
having been the daughter of Haer ferch y Blaidd Rhudd of Gest. These copyists all left a blank for the name of Cynfyn's daughter.
However, the very next line of the pedigree tells us that Rhiryd had a half-sister whose father was Gronwy ap Pywyr and whose
mother was "that Haer".  We translate
"And [Rhiryd Flaidd's] mother was _____ daughter of Cynfyn Hirdref; her mother was Haer,
daughter of y Blaidd Rhudd of Gest"
"Sister of Rhiryd was_____ daughter of Gronwy ap Pywyr of Ddol in Edeirnion, by that
The only "Haer" previously mentioned had been a daughter of y Blaidd Rhudd. Any daughter of hers, by another man, would
be a half-sister of Rhryd Flaidd's mother. Accordingly, Peter Bartrum made the logical assumption that since it was
Rhiryd Flaidd who had a half-sister, those siblings must have shared the same mother, and that mother must have been named
Haer ferch Cynfyn Hirdref.
A different pedigree, in the same original manuscript , speaks of 3 daughters of Cynfyn Hirdref, and says that one of them
married Gwrgeneu ap Collwyn. 3 of 7 copyists of that pedigree left her name blank, 3 others say she was Haer and 1 said
she was Generys. We suggest this indicates that she was unnamed in the original, but a name was inserted by a majority
of the copyists, a name taken from some other unnamed source whose credibility is unknown.
BOGUS BIOGRAPHY OF
"Gwrgeneu, Lord of Penllyn. He married Generis, daughter and co-heiress of Cynfyn Hirdref, Lord of Nefyn in the
commote of Dinllaen and cantref of Lleyn, and Haer his wife, daughter and heiress of Cyllin ap y Rhiryd Flaidd, Lord of Gest
in the commote of Eifionydd and cantref of Dinodig. Haer married secondly Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Prince of Powys from 1062
to 1072. Gwrgeneu obtained the lordship and lands of Penllyn from his wife's half-brother, Maredudd ap Bleddyn, Prince
of Powys, By his wife Generis, he had issue a son and heir, Rhiryd Flaidd". 
His wife WAS a daughter
of Cynfyn Hirdref, but her name was probably Haer, not Generys. In a previous paper, we charted all these marriage connections
and concluded that Gwrgeneu must have been born c. 1125. This was his wife's second marriage, she already had a daughter
by Gronwy ap Pywyr. His wife had been the daughter and heiress of y Blaidd Rhudd, not a daughter of Cyllin, son of y
Blaidd Rhudd. That Blaidd Rhudd had a grandfather called Meirion y Blaidd Rhudd, and it was HE who had a daughter named
Haer who married Powys King Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, whose actual reign was 1069-1075. Maredudd ap Bleddyn was born
c. 1065 and died in 1132. Gwrgeneu was perhaps 7 years old when Maredudd died, so he did NOT receive any lordship or
land from him. Gwrgeneu would have described his relationship with Maredudd as "He was the son of the sister of my
wife's great-grandfather". Furthermore, if Gwrgeneu's mother HAD been the same Haer who also married Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Maredudd
would have been HIS half-brother, not his mother's. That they were NOT the same Haer is obvious since they were born
about 70 years apart.
HIS CITED WIFE:
The extant copies
of Hengwrst Ms 33 all say the wife of Rhiryd Flaidd was Gwenllian ferch Ednyfed ap Cynwrig ap Rhiwallon of Maelor. Gwenllian's
mother was, in the same manuscripts , identified as Gwladys ferch Aldud ap Owain ap Edwin. Those ladies can be charted
900 Tudor Trefor
1100 Ednyfed=========Gwladys 1115
If the Gwenllian in
this chart married a man named Rhiryd Flaidd, it was not the same man who was the son of a daughter of Cynfyn Hirdref.
This Gwenllian requires a husband born c. 1125-1140. A different Rhiryd Flaidd, born near 1130, could have married this
lady and could have been a favorite at the court of King Madog ap Maredudd during the period 1150 to 1160.
Our conclusion from
this analysis is that the wife of the Rhiryd Flaidd who was Lord of Penllyn, is nowhere cited and is thus unknown.
HIS CITED CHILDREN:
In Peter Bartrum's
charts, the following children are presented as children of Rhiryd Flaidd:
1. A daughter, Gwenllian, who married Gruffudd (1215) ap Iorwerth (1185) ap Maredudd (1150) ap Matusalem (1120) ap Hwfa
(1085) ap Cynddelw (1050) descended from Maelog Dda. This Gwenllian was born c. 1230 and was actually a daughter
of Rhiryd Fychan ap Rhiryd Flaidd. 
2. Another daughter named Gwenllian, who we identify later in this paper as the child of the c. 1130 man also called
3. A son, Madog, born c. 1190, who married Efa (1200) ferch Philip Ddu (1170) ap Hywel (1135) ap Maredudd (1105) ap
Bleddyn (1075).  Bartrum incorrectly charts her as a descendent of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, but her Maredudd ap Bleddyn
was a brother of the Cadwgan ap Bleddyn in the Nannau pedigrees. Wholly unmentioned by Bartrum, this Madog also married
Arddun (1190) ferch Philip (1155) ap Uchdryd (1120) ap Madog Penllyn (1085) ap Uchdryd (1055) ap Edwin.  .
4. A son, Einion, born c. 1190, who had two sons, Gwilym and Rhiryd Ddu.. This was NOT the Einion who was
killed in 1263 and had a son called Einion Greulan. That Einion was born c. 1225 as a son of Rhiryd Fychan ap Rhiryd
Flaidd. However, Einion Greulan of c. 1260 also had a son named Rhiryd Ddu, whose family is conflated with the earlier
Rhiryd Ddu on Bartrum's chart.
Other children of
Rhiryd Flaidd not so identified by Bartrum were:
1. A son, Rhiryd Fychan, born c. 1190. In addition to the daughter and son mentioned above, he also had a a son
named Madog, whose family Bartrum conflates with that of Madog ap Rhiryd Flaidd.
2. A base son, Maredudd, born c. 1187 of an unnamed mistress. He had a daughter, Lleuci (1215) who married
Owain (1205) ap Gruffudd (1170) ap Owain Brogyntyn (1140), the latter being a base son of Powys king Madog ap Maredudd. 
Neither the lady nor her husband appear in Bartrum's charts.
3. A base son, Gronwy, (likely the uterine brother of Maredudd) born c. 1185. His son, Gronwy Fychan (1215) married
a daughter (1225) ferch Adam Gwent (1185) ap Iorwerth, ancestor of the Herbert family.  Neither of these people appear
in Bartrum's charts.
In summary, we would
assign him 3 sons born in wedlock and 2 sons by a mistress. We find no daughters that can be assigned to him.
HIS PROBABLE BIRTHDATE:
In previous papers.
[1,2] we presented charts of the cited ancestors of Rhiryd Flaidd which point to a birth date near 1155 for Rhiryd.
His children also point to a c. 1155 birth date for him. He would have been about a half-generation younger than the bard
Cynddelw, [See APPENDIX] which is consistent with him being a patron of the bard. It is wholly inconsistent, however,
with the claim that Rhiryd had been a personal intimate of, and was granted lands by Powys king Madog ap Maredudd ap Bleddyn,
who died in 1160.
DOUBTFUL ITEM IN THE BIOGRAPHY OF RHIRYD FLAIDD:
According to the claims
made by his modern biography, he had a close and intimate connection to Powys King Madog ap Maredudd, who supposedly granted
him the lands called the Eleven Towns in the vicinity of Oswestry. Land records do confirm that a Rhiryd ap Gwrgeneu
owned land in Maelor, but do not say how he acquired it. If it were a grant from King Madog, it was made to an earlier man
named Rhiryd; the Rhiryd Flaidd who was lord of Penllyn was not more than 5 years old when Madog died. And if this Rhiryd
was NOT the Rhiryd who was Lord of Penllyn, the Maelor lands might have been a paternal inheritance since his ancestry is
THE CASE FOR AN EARLIER RHIRYD FLAIDD:
with the Arthen ap Gwrgeneu who is called a brother of Rhiryd Flaidd in the bard Cynddelw's eulogy. If this Arthen was
also a son of Cynfyn Hirdref's daughter, would he not be a co-heir of all that land which Rhiryd Flaidd acquired through her?
Yet this Arthen is wholly absent from all official records and pedigree manuscripts.
Next, let us consider
the tradition which holds that a man called Rhiryd Flaidd was a prominent young warrior with intimate connections to Powys
king Madog ap Maredudd, and perhaps received a grant of 11 manors in Maelor from the king. Is this compatable with a
man born just 5 years before that king's death?
Most telling, however,
is that a Rhiryd Flaidd ap Gwrgeneu was given a wife born c. 1140 who would have been an ideal match for a man born c. 1125/30.
And that man would have been the right age to be a favorite at the court of King Madog between 1150 and 1160. Since neither
are known to be heirs to any land or titles, both this Rhiryd and brother Arthen might have been remembered for nothing more
than as two young warriors in a bard's elegy.
the lady cited as "Gwenllian ferch Rhiryd Flaidd ap Gwrgeneu" who married Hywel (1165) ap Maredudd Hen (1128)
ap Hywel (1101) ap Maredudd (1065) ap Bleddyn (1025) ap Cynfyn, a lady born c. 1160/70.  Such a lady seems to require
a father born c. 1130/40
Taken together, we
suggest there were two brothers named Rhiryd and Arthen who were born between 1130 and 1135, to a Powys man named Gwrgeneu.
Both were killed, probably in the battles against England's king Henry II in 1165/1166. Rhiryd had been especially
successful in earlier battles and was a favorite at the court of Powys King Madog ap Maredudd until the latter's death in
1160. He had owned lands in Maelor and was given a lady of Maelor for his wife, by whom he left a baby daughter when
While the bard's elegy
to these young warriors called Rhiryd "a friendly wolf, not the forest wolf who scatters the harmless flock, but the wolf
of the field of battle, though other times he is mild and generous", we suggest this Rhiryd was not universally called "Flaidd"
by his peers until after this poem was sung.
It is not known which
Powys family spawned the brothers in Cynddelw's elegy, but one suspects the answer may lay among the descendants of Tudor
Trefor in Maelor. It is there where he found a wife and there where he probably owned land.
 See our paper "The Men of Pennant Melangell in
Mochnant" at the link below:
 See our paper "The Lineage of Pebid Penllyn" at
the link below:
 To understand what territory is meant by Penllyn,
see Note 5 in the paper mentioned immediately above
 Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr's three poems. composed for
a man or men named Rhiryd Flaidd, can be seen in J.Y.W. Lloyd's "History of Powys Fadog", vol 1, pages 320-326, written in
Welsh. No English translations are known.
 HLG 13
 HLG 13 b and c
Condensed from a paragraph in "The Lordships of Bromfield, Yale and Chirkland", Arch Cam , 1877, page 197
HLG 13d and e
Pen 128, 679b but calls its Rhiryd "Flaidd" in error
Dwnn i, 322 which also incorrectly traces the line back to Bleddyn ap Cynfyn
Dwnn ii, 229
Dwnn ii, 284/5; Lifyr Silin 2. 113[ the latter conflates the Rhiryd Ddu families
Dwnn ii, 109
Bradney, "History of Monmouthshire", vol 3 (part 2) page 220
Pen 287, 356
APPENDIX - CYNDDELW BRYDYDD MAWR:
Most translate his
nickname as "the great poet" but there is evidence that he was called "mawr" even as an adolescent boy, not for any "greatness"
but because he was simply big, as in "really chubby". One might even posit it was his overweight and uncoordinated physique
which led him to pursue the learning of a bard rather than the glory of a warrior.
Extant pedigrees call
him Cynddelw ap Trahaearn and place him in the Gwynedd commote of Arllechwedd Isaf, the northern-most land on the western
shore of the Conwy River. Both the location and his known floruit suggest his father was a brother of the "Iarddur ap
Cynddelw" who is mentioned as owner of a marsh which formed one of the metes and bounds of land granted to Aberconwy Abbey
in 1198. We chart his family as:
950 Heilig ap Glannog
Iarddur (a) 1110 Trahaearn
Cynddelw 1140 Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr
(a) Man whose "marsh" is mentioned in a 1198 land grant
(b) Man who fled to Ireland in 1215 after incurring the
wrath of Llewelyn Fawr
the Bard has left behind a large collection of poems written for such kings as Madog ap Maredudd of northern Powys, Owain
Cyfeiliog, king of southern Powys and Owain Gwynedd, king of that territory. His biographers assume he was an official
member of one or more of those king's courts, but we suggest his wide reputation and list of wealthy patrons merely made him
welcome at several king's courts.
Just as a wild guess,
we would suggest that Cynddelw's father married a lady from Maelor in Powys, but continued living in Gwynedd until he died
about 1155. His widow and their 15 year old son, were invited to move to Maelor, where her family gave her a small manor.
That family, we posit, was descended from Dyngad ap Tudor Trefor, and Cynddelw's mother was a daughter of a man called Gwrgeneu,
who was a second-cousin of Ednyfed ap Cynwrig ap Rhiwallon of Broughton. Still guessing, suppose that the bard's mother
had two younger brothers named Rhiryd and Arthen, thus uncles of Cynddelw. And that both this Gwrgeneu and his cousin
Ednyfed, were members of (or frequent guests at) the royal court of Madog ap Maredudd.. If this group of conjectures
were true, it would explain how a Gwynedd bard was introduced to the Powys court and why the bard composed a very long eulogy
for two Powys warriors who were otherwise unknown to history. Of course, once he became a resident of Powys and frequented
its royal court, his fame as a bard attracted a wealthy patron named Rhiryd Flaidd, Lord of Penllyn.
Of his tributes to
a Rhiryd "the wolf", we think the elegy to two brothers (Rhiryd and Arthen) was composed c. 1166 when those men fell on the
battlefield as relatively young men. His tribute to Rhiryd in thanks for a gift was likely composed in the 1190's, while
the brief elegy to that patron may have been after 1200.
We suggest his bardic
career began about 1158 as a teenager who was gifted with the ability to chose words and phrases that perfectly fit the meter
of classic Welsh verse. He may have lived late into the first decade of the 13th century, a bit longer than the 1155-1200
floruit usually assigned to him.