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                            IDNERTH BENFRAS OF MAESBROOK
                                       By Darrell Wolcott
         This man, born c. 960, is often confused with a son of Uchdryd ap Edwin of Tegeingl who is also called Idnerth Benfras.  In fact the arms usually assigned to the name probably belong to the latter; they are the arms of Edwin to which was added, in chief, a single couped boar's head[1].  We suspect the main reason for confusing the two men, who lived 125 years apart, is that the first Idnerth Benfras had a son named Lles and the later man of that name had a son named Llewelyn[2].  Many sources, including the Visitation of Shropshire of 1623, claim that the name Lles is actually Llewelyn.  We do not agree. 
          The manor of Maesbrook was located in what is now Shropshire near Oswestry, surrounded by lands which in the tenth century were held by the clan of Tudor Trevor.  We are told Idnerth Benfras obtained the manor by marriage to its heiress, Efa ferch Cadwgan Fychan.[3]  The old pedigrees do not trace her ancestry any further back, but if we assume the father of Cadwgan Fychan was named Cadwgan, that man would occur c. 905 and fit chronologically with a younger (and perhaps an out-of-wedlock) brother of Tudor Trevor.  This may account for his father, Ynyr ap Cadfarch, granting that base son one single manor while giving Tudor vast lands in the northern march of Wales.
         All our extant pedigrees of the tenth century Idnerth Benfras begin with him and cite no ancestry.  That he was of noble Welsh birth can be assumed by other ties to the Trevor clan; his daughter Anne married Cynwrig ap Rhiwallon ap Dyngad ap Tudor Trevor.[4]  We have noted elsewhere[5] that only a couple other clans were known to hold land in extreme north-east Wales at the start of the tenth century, the nearest being Gwrydr Hir ap Caradog ap Lles Llyddog.  Born c. 920, Gwrydr Hir married a daughter of Tudor Trevor[6] and was father to Gwaethfoed of Tegeingl to whom we have previously traced both Ednowain Bendew and Edwin ap Gronwy[7].  We suspect Idnerth Benfras was a younger son of Gwrydr Hir and would chart the family as follows:
                                      855  Lles Llyddog
                                      890    Caradog
                                      920  Gwrydr Hir
                             l                                               l
              955  Gwaethfoed                           Idnerth Benfras  960
                _______l__________                              l
                l                              l                              l
    985  Neniad                   Gronwy  990               Lles*  995
                l                              l                              l
1020  Ednowain Bendew       Edwin  1020             Eginyr  1025
                                        Uchdryd  1055
                                  Idnerth Benfras  1085
                                     Llewelyn  1120
         *Note: the male name Lles is extremely rare and except for a single citation which misspells "Lucius ap Coel" (ABT 28), the only previous Lles was the man we posit as the direct ancestor of Idnerth Benfras. 
         Our construction making the first Idnerth Benfras a cousin line of the two Tegeingl families brings us back to the arms assigned to the name.  Let us suppose the heralds who originally (and much after their lifetimes) associated arms with Welshmen actually made Gwrydr Hir the bearer of "Argent, a cross flory engrailed sable between 4 crows proper and in chief azure, a boar's head couped argent".  If those arms were also assigned to his sons, Gwaethfoed and Idnerth Benfras, perhaps it was for the two sons of Gwaethfoed that new arms were created.  One son (Neiniad) may have received the "Argent, a chevron between 3 boars' heads couped sable" now claimed for Ednowain Bendew, while the other son (Gronwy) received the "Argent, a cross flory engrailed sable between 4 crows proper" claimed for Edwin of Tegeingl; in that case, both new arms incorporated elements of the original.
          Since no extant records give any reasons why the late 11th century Idnerth Benfras would merit an emolument to the basic family arms (indeed he is a mostly obscure younger son of Uchdryd ap Edwin), perhaps the assumption we made in our opening paragraph is wrong...maybe the arms with the chief actually belong to the earlier Idnerth Benfras and to Gwrydr Hir before him, it being separated into its two principal charges a generation later in a cousin cadet.
[1] M.P. Siddons "The Development of Welsh Heraldry" 1993, vol ii, pp 263
[2] Lles occurs in Dwnn i, 213 & 321, in Dwnn ii, 27 & 361, in Mont Collections vol 5, pp 255 and Visitation of Shropshire of 1623, pp 384.  Llewelyn is cited in Mont Collections vol 8, pp 75 and under the family of Powell of Nant-eos in Burke's Landed Gentry
[3] The marriage is cited in Dwnn i, 321 and Visitation of Shropshire of 1623, pp 384
[4] Montgomeryshire Collections, vol 2, pp 268
[5] See our paper on this site entitled "Ithel of Bryn in Powys" at the link below:
[6] Dwnn ii, 307
[7] See our paper on this site entitled "Ancestry of Edwin of Tegeingl" at the link below: