THE FLORUIT OF EINION AP SEISYLLT
By Darrell Wolcott
The first man of this name
was the patriarch of the families seated at Mathafarn in Cyfeiliog and both his descent and the years of his floruit are often
misstated by genealogists and historians. He was not a brother of Llewelyn ap Seisyllt as Dwnn cites and was not
contemporary with Llewelyn Fawr as some claim. In fact, he probably died about the time the latter was born; if
their lives overlapped at all, it was when Einion was quite old and Llewelyn Fawr was a child. We estimate his birth c. 1110.
However, there were two men descended from him and also called Einion ap Seisyllt; a grandson born c. 1180 and a great-grandson
born c. 1205 whom we shall meet later.
His father was Seisyllt ap Ednowain,
descended from Gwyddno Garanhir. Notwithstanding the traditional tales that Gwyddno's lands were submerged in the sixth
century, the man of that name in the pedigrees was born in the mid-800's. The Dwnn pedigrees name the
wife of Seisyllt as a daughter of Gronwy of Tegeingl (and so brother of Edwin) but such a lady would occur
two generations too early. We believe his wife was actually Annes ferch Owain ap Edwin ap Gronwy born c. 1090,
two generations having been dropped from the medieval pedigrees.
The same pedigrees name the
wife of Einion as Nest ferch Madog ap Cadwgan ap Bleddyn. That lady would occur near 1125. Gronwy, the son
of Einion, is said to have married a daughter of Owain Cyfeiliog which dates him to the mid-1100's. We assign 1145
as our estimate. A daughter of Einion married Owain Brogyntyn ap Madog ap Maredudd ap Bleddyn; that Owain was born
c. 1140 and confirms children of Einion ap Seisyllt occurring about 1145/1150. The early chart looks like this:
1050 Owain ap Edwin Endowain
1050 Cadwgan 1055
1080 Madog 1090
1115 Einion===============Nest 1125
1160 Meddefys ferch Owain
Owain Cyfeiliog was prince of
southern Powys, the son of Gruffudd ap Maredudd ap Bleddyn. His obit is recorded in 1197 and a birthdate shortly before
1128 is indicated as his father died in that year. One should expect the father of the man who married his daughter to be
some 10/15 years older than him.
The historians point to
a 1428 inquest as their reason for dating Einion to the latter years of the 12th century and flourishing in the first half
of the 13th. Taken at Bala in Meirionydd before Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, this inquisition found the following "facts"
concerning the land which lies between the Tyfi and Dulas rivers:
1. Einion ap Seisyllt
had held that land in capite from Llewelyn Fawr ap Maredudd ap Cynan and his brother, Llewelyn Fychan, who were Lords
2. Because of dissention
and discord between those brothers and Einion, the latter fled to Owain Cyfeiliog Lord of Powys and placed both himself and
his lands under that man as a means to show his homage and fidelity to his new lord, and to enable him to retain those lands
against adverse claims by the Lords of Meirionydd.
Thus land which was
once a part of Meirionydd was removed from that cantref in Gwynedd and added to the neighboring cantref of Cyfeiliog
in Powys, this occurring in the lifetime of Einion ap Seisyllt. If this transfer can be dated to c. 1171 as we believe, the
king of southern Powys was a man quite likely to offer shelter to Einion; he was the father-in-law of Einion's son.
The problem with
the "finding" is not with the result stated, but with how Einion first held the land. If we identify the brothers Llewelyn
and Llewelyn Fychan as sons of Maredudd ap Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd (which Maredudd had been Lord of Meirionydd until ousted
in 1202), those men were not born earlier than about 1195 and their rights to Meirionydd were not restored to Maredudd's
family until 1241. We would have to believe that sometime after 1241, the brothers were the Lords over an
Einion who carried it to a Prince of Powys that died in 1197. We shall refrain from offering the possibility it
was not Owain Cyfeiliog to whom Einion fled since the pedigree evidence clearly makes them contemporaries.
Although absent from any sources
we have seen, it is possible the two brothers were sons of a much earlier Maredudd ap Cynan and born around 1085/90.
But nothing connects that Maredudd with Meirionydd and, given the tiny land holdings attributed to him...all in Powys...it
is inconceivable his family could have been the lord of any land in Gwynedd. We suspect the 1428 "finding"
wrongly assumed it was a single Einion who was contemporary with Owain Cyfeiliog and
with the sons of Maredudd ap Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd.
Given that Einion
was in fact contemporary with Owain Cyfeiliog, we suggest his lord was Owain Gwynedd, both king of Gwynedd and Lord
of Meirionydd. No doubt Einion served that king as they were first-cousins, their mothers having been sisters.
We would further conjecture that upon the death of Owain Gwynedd in 1170, the "dissention and discord" was between Einion
and the sons of Owain. Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd received the lordship of Meirionydd as a part of his share of his father's
lands and one could see him and Einion falling out over who should control Einion's land. Perhaps Einion refused
to recognize Cynan as having any right to rents or renders from his land. Or it may have been a more personal grievance
since Einion felt he needed a powerful friend to protect him. Whatever his
motive, the original Einion ap Seisyllt lived in the era of Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd, and was almost certainly dead before the
grandsons of Cynan were born.
The confusion in the pedigree
material can be seen with this chart of his early family:
1175 Seisyllt 1180
Gwyn(c) 1180 Einion
1205 Einion 1215
Gruffudd(d) 1210 Gronwy
Gronwy who married a daughter of Owain Cyfeiliog and witnessed charters for that prince and his son Gwenwynwyn between
1185 and 1201(9)
(b) The "Seisyllt
of Meirionydd" who married Isabel ferch Bradwen, she born c. 1160(10)
(c) The Gwyn
ap Gronwy ap Einion ap Seisyllt who married Arddun ferch Ifor ap Cadifor ap Gwaithfoed, she born c. 1195, and secondly
marrried Alis ferch Rhys Gryg ap Lord Rhys, she born c. 1185(11)
(d) The Gruffudd
ap Gwyn ap Gronwy who married Alis ferch Sulien ap Caradog ap Llawer Craff, she born c. 1225(12)
(e) The Gronwy ap Einion
ap Seisyllt who married Nest ferch Cynfelyn ap Dolffyn, she born c. 1240(13) Like the
other two men called Gronwy ap Einion in this chart, he named a son Gwyn and each of the three Gwyns named one son Gruffudd.
(f) The Gwyn ap
Gronwy ap Einion ap Seisyllt who married a daughter ferch Owain ap Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn ap Owain Cyfeiliog, she born c.
The men and women of each branch of
the family shown in the above chart occur at dates consistent with our birthdate estimates for their charted ancestor.
Perhaps the best-known of these was (a) the Pugh family of Mathafarn whose 15th century patriarch was the noted bard Dafydd
Lloyd ap Llewelyn; and (b) the Price family of Gunley; the Einion ap Seisyllt in both their pedigrees is the one born c. 1180.(15)
One need do no more than look
at the family charts drawn by Peter Bartrum(16) to see the chronological impossibilites which result from his rolling
3 men named Gwyn ap Gronwy ap Einion ap Seisyllt into a single man.