PASGEN "ap URIEN RHEGED", LORD OF GOWER
By Darrell Wolcott
An number of families
in southern Carmarthenshire, including Rice of Newton, Bowen of Llangyndeyrn in Cedweli, Sir Dafydd ap Gwalter, parson
of Llanedi, and Elidyr ap Llywarch of Abergwili claim descent from Urien Rheged through his son, Pasgen. The best known of these is the Rice family, whose name comes from Sir Rhys ap Thomas, the
latter having been a powerful ally of Henry Tudor at the battle of Bosworth. A twelfth-century ancestor of that family
assumed the surname "fitz Urien", being convinced he descended from Urien Rheged ap Cynfarch Oer of the Men of the North.
Local lore claims that Urien came to Gower in the sixth century, displaced the Irish Deisi and built his castle at Is Cennen.
Others say it was Urien's son, Pasgen, who when forced by the Saxons to leave north Britain, resettled in Gower c. 593.
After his laborous work
on Welsh pedigrees, Peter Bartrum concluded the Pasgen of Gower in the pedigree material must have been born c. 850 and was
simply mistaken for the much earlier man of that name. Our studies led to the same conclusion, but pointed to other
data which might explain the early tales of a man forced from his lands "in the north" who relocated in Gower.
We think the same Pasgen
appears in the pedigrees cited for Collwyn ap Tangno, Marchweithian and Nefydd Hardd, all associated with Gwynedd.
Those citations trace upwards to a "Lludd ap Llew ap Llymidod Angel ap Pasgen". Those of Marchweithian and the Rice
family make their Pasgen "ap Owain ap Urien Rheged", while those of Collwyn and Elidyr ap Llywarch omit Owain to say "Pasgen
ap Urien Rheged". A chart of the putative "sons" of Pasgen appears thusly:
880 Llyminod angel 880
Gwgan ceneu menrud 885 Ynyr*
*Possibly this son of
Pasgen was named Mor, whose son was Ynyr. The citations conflict, but either is chronologically possible
Leaving the Gwynedd families
descended from Llyminod for last, we begin our discussion with the two sons whose eleventh-century descendants are found in
or near Gower.
880 Gwgan ceneu menrud*
1005 Llywarch Elystan Glodrydd 985
1040 Elidyr Cadwgan 1020
1070 Ellelw========Llewelyn 1055
Seisyllt of Buellt
*This pedigree is found in Jesus College Ms 20, 33 & 34
The pedigree does not cite the
ancestry of Seisyllt ap Llewelyn, but the man of that name who held Buellt in the early 12th century was descended from Elystan
Glodrydd as indicated by us. There are problems with other parts of the citation, however. It's author gratutiously
adds that Gwgan was slain at Abergwili together with Llewelyn ap Seisyllt, father of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn. Bartrum correctly
notes that the Gwgan in this pedigree could not have been contemporary with Llewelyn ap Seisyllt who was slain in 1023, although
both could have fought at Abergwili at different times. But the main question raised by the pedigree is whether Gwgan was
nicknamed "ceneu menrud" (Bartrum translates it "the whelp with the red neck") who (the citation continues) "had a serpent
for a year about his neck". Or whether Ceneu menrud refers to the name of his father; in giving the ancestry earlier
than Gwgan, the citation simply reads "Ceneu menrud ap Pasgen ap Urien Rheged ap Cynfarch" etc. If it were necessary to include an extra generation in our chart, one could still make it compatable
with a Pasgen born c. 850 by redating the ensuing men so that Ellelw occurs c. 1115 and re-identifying the man she married
as Llewelyn ap Moreiddig Warwin who also had a son named Seisyllt. He was Lord of Cantref Selyf in Brycheiniog
which adjoins Buellt, but the citation's author may have gratutiously added "of Buellt" just as he added the false connection
to Llewelyn ap Seisyllt. Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that Moreiddig Warwin is also said to have been born
with a snake wrapped around his neck. The alternate pedigree might look like this:
1020 Bleddri Maenyrch 1015
1055 Llywarch Trwmbaenog* 1050
Elidyr Moreiddig Warwin 1080
1120 Ellelw======Llewelyn 1110
*Brother of Bleddyn ap
Maenyrch, last king of Brycheiniog, slain in 1093
The Seisyllt in this chart
had a daughter, Elisabeth, who married Sir Elidyr Ddu of another family descended from Pasgen. While that might seem
to favor this alternate descent for Ellelw, others say Llewelyn ap Moreiddig married a different lady. We prefer
the first chart making Gwgan the same person as ceneu menrud since the required generational gaps in the second chart
are somewhat suspect (Ellelw is moved about 45 years forward, not just one standard generation, to chronologically fit the
alternate marriage). Either way, the Pasgen at the top of her pedigree occurs c. 850.
When we turn to Ynyr/Mor ap Pasgen,
we find two separate families with a penchant for repeating strings of male names, both of whom had early men named Einion
ap Llywarch. Some citations begin "Rhiryd ap Mor ap Ynyr ap Pasgen, and others omit Ynyr in that string. Still others
include both Mor and Ynyr but reverse their position.
In his "Pedigrees of Welsh Tribal
Patriarchs", Peter Bartrum cites two of the early men called Einion ap Llywarch: (1) the man born c. 1005 who is cited as "ap
Rhiryd ap Mor ap Ynyr ap Pasgen:; and (2) the man born c. 1165 who is cited as "ap Cynhaethwy ap Gwrwared ap Seisyllt
ap Rhun ap Llywarch ap Rhiryd ap Mor ap Pasgen. We think both were descended from Llywarch ap Rhiryd, one being his son
and the other a descendant of a second son, Rhun. Since it will require considerable space to outline our work to separate
the two families, we shall defer that discussion to a later paper.