AARON PAEN ap Y PAEN HEN
By Darrell Wolcott
The pedigrees of Idnerth
ap Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd cite his wife alternately as "Gwenllian v Aaron ap Paen Hen ap Io. ap Meirchion" or "Gwerfyl,
daughter of Aaron Paen ap y Paen Hen" or "Dyddgu v Aaron Poen ap Payne ap Io ap Meirchion" or "Gwenllian, daughter of
Aron Pen of Castle Pen. Certain medieval manuscripts expand her ancestry to "Meirchiawn ap Tanged ap Padriaric".
It should be noted, however, that no "Io ap Meirchion occurs in the
ancient annals or chronicles of the 10th or 11th centuries. Furthermore, "paen" is unknown in the Welsh language and
our first impression is that "Aaron Paen" was probably not a Welshman. Secondly, we think the cited marriage involved
a later man also named Idnerth ap Cadwgan.
Phonetically, "Paen" is the
Welsh spelling of "Payne", a name closely associated with the commote of Elfael. We suspect the Aaron of Castle Pen
refers to Painscastle in Elfael. If so, the chronology of the pedigree is off by about 4 generations.
Idnerth ap Cadwgan ap Elystan,
born c. 1050, had as his share of his father's lands the commotes of Ceri, Maelienydd and Elfael. On his death in the
first quarter of the twelfth century, his son Madog (ob 1140) inherited all three of those commotes. However, claims
to this territory were being pressed by the Normans. In the 1080's, Cadwgan had lost Hereford to the Normans and
now Idnerth's purely Welsh portion (west of Offa's Dyke) of the old kingdom of Fferlys was invaded by Ralph Mortimer.
Based at Wigmore in Herefordshire, this Mortimer brought his army into Maelienydd about 1093 and built a castle at Cymaran
(Cwm Aeron). But in 1100, Mortimer was banished to France by Henry I and Idnerth was able to reclaim his lost territory
and pass it on intact to his son, Madog.
About the year 1130, another
Norman intrusion came in Elfael. Henry I had installed Miles of Gloucester as Earl of Hereford, who appointed his retainer,
Payne fitz John, as Sheriff for Herefordshire and Shropshire. The latter man invaded Elfael and built a motte and bailey hill-fort
forever after known as "Painscastle". (It was not fortified with stone until 100 years later, in 1231 by Henry III).
But it is believed that by 1135, Painscastle was under the control of Madog ap Idnerth. There is no record of a battle
in Elfael and perhaps Madog and Payne had become "allies of necessity"; when Henry I died that year and Stephen became King
of England, Hugh Mortimer (son of Ralph) returned to England and was restored to his castle at Wigmore. The Mortimer family
was an old enemy of Madog's family and its expansionist ambitions may have led Payne fitz John to ally with Madog against
Mortimer. Payne and Earl Miles had been very early adherents to King Stephen whose legitimacy to the crown was being
challenged by Matilda, the daughter of Henry I to whom he had promised his kingdom. The peaceful state of affairs in Elfael
was to be altered drastically in the ensuing years: Payne died in 1137, Madog in 1140 and Hugh Mortimer soon after,
all men past age 50.
Madog's lorship was divided
between his legitimate sons, Cadwallon and Einion Clud. Payne fitz John was probably succeeded by a son, Aaron
fitz Payne, whom the Welsh simply called "Aaron Paen ap y Paen Hen" or "Aaron Payne, the son of the older Payne".
Hugh Mortimer II inherited Wigmore and in 1142, he invaded Maelienydd to regain Cymaran and killed Hywel and Cadwgan ap Madog. He
later moved into Elfael to take Painscastle, killing Maredudd ap Madog in 1146. Of Madog's remaining sons, Einion Clud
became Lord of Elfael and Cadwallon Lord of Ceri and Maelienydd. For the next 30 years, Mortimer held the major
castles in those commotes but the sons of Madog continued to hold the remainder of their lands with the support of King
Stephen and his successor, Henry II...likely as a means of checking the Mortimer power within their own kingdom.
But when Hugh Mortimer II died in the 1170's, his son Roger renewed the hostilities; his men ambushed and killed Einion Clud
in 1177. When this did not result in any reprisals from Henry II, he was emboldened to kill Cadwallon
ap Madog in 1179 as the latter was returning from a meeting with King Henry. This treachery was not ignored
by the king; he had Mortimer's men arrested and their lands seized. Roger Mortimer himself was thrown into prison.
But the Welsh family, the proud descendants of Elystan Glodrydd, was never again to rule their patrimony independently from
the Normans. Thereafter, we find the family limited to smaller lordships, principally in Ceri.
History is silent as to the
fate of the family descended from Payne fitz John, but we believe it may have become extinct in the male line with Aaron.
It was his daughter, whether Gwenllian or Gwerfyl or Dyddgu, who the pedigrees cite as the wife of an Idnerth ap Cadwgan.
Since the lady would date from c. 1155, we should look for a man of that era for her husband...not the Idnerth of the mid-eleventh
century. Our guess is he was a son of Cadwgan ap Madog ap Idnerth, born about 1140, and they named one of their
sons Aaron who settled in Ceri. Another family descended from Idnerth was settled at Cefnllys in Maelienydd and we are
told that Arddun ferch Einion of Cefnllys married Aaron ap Gruffudd ap Aaron. And Addu Ddu of the Maesmawr family
(just over the border from Ceri in Arwystli) married Efa ferch Meurig ap Aaron Pen called "one of the chief gentlemen in Ceri".
Our compilation of this data is shown by this chart:
1050 Idnerth ap Cadwgan
Madog 1080 Payne 1085
1115 Gronwy Cadwgan
l l 1110
1145 Ieuaf 1140 Idnerth=====Daughter 1155
1175 Meurig Aaron
Pen 1175 Einion
1205 Einion Gruffudd
1205 Meurig 1210 Gruffudd 1205
1245 Arddun====Aaron 1235
Efa=======Adda Ddu 1235
(Cefnllys family) (family from Payne fitz John)
NOTE: We have
dated the men in this chart by marriages cited to other families rather than rely solely on those within various branches
of the clan of Idnerth ap Cadwgan ap Elystan, and by obit notices cited for some of them.
conclude by acknowledging this identification of "Aaron Paen" means the actual wife taken by Idnerth ap Cadwgan ap Elystan
Glodrydd is unknown; there was no Aaron among the ancestors of Payne fitz John. Although the "ap Io" can be read
as an abbreviation for "ap John", there was also no Meirchion in his ancestry...John is cited as "fitz Eustace of Conteville"
and the latter is probably the Eustace fitz John listed in the Roll of Battle Abbey as a companion of William of Normandy
at Hastings. We suspect the mythical Meirchion is simply a name appended to make it appear Idnerth married a Welsh
lady. But the Idnerth we identify as the lady's husband would have flourished in the final quarter of the 12th
century, and his grandfather had peacefully coexisted with Payne fitz John. A marriage between those two families
is not only possible, but even probable. The grandfathers of both the lady and of our putative Idnerth ap Cadwgan ap Madog had
been, at worst, political allies who shared a common foe in the Mortimers and a common friend in the king of England.
Madog ap Idnerth ap Cadwgan and Payne fitz John might even have become the kind of friends created by the mantra "the enemy
of my enemy is my friend". While no wife is cited for Aaron fitz Payne, he may well have married into the same Welsh
 Dwnn i, 313
 Cedwyn Ms as transcribed in Montgomeryshire Collections, vol x, pp 7
 Dwnn i, 297
 Dwnn i, 332
 Refer to the paper "The Evolution of the Padriarc Brenin Pedigree" at the
 Ever ambitious for power, Ralph Mortimer had arranged the marriage of his
daughter Hawise with Stephen of Aumale, son of Adelaide the sister of King William I. At the death of William II in
1100, he sought to have his son-in-law placed on the English throne instead of Henry I, younger brother of William II.
His efforts led to the confiscation of Wigmore and Mortimer being exiled to France.
 Stephen had managed to get himself coronated as King of England virtually
without consulting the powerful Earls by procuring perjured testimony that Henry I on his deathbed had voided his promise
to make his daughter his heir. Payne fitz John and Earl Miles had pledged their support to him months before the Easter
Banquet where others finally acknowledged Stephen as king. The suggestion to pacify the Welsh may have come from Stephen,
who faced an internal uprising by supporters of Matilda and didn't need the distraction of a border war at that moment.
 For a comprehensive look at the rise of Welsh autonomy under Cadwallon
ap Madog, and its collapse after his death, see the paper by P.M. Remfry in Transactions of the Radnorshire Society, vol 65,
pp 11-32. His descendants' claims to Ceri are discussed in "Welsh Claims to Ceri after 1179" at the link below:
 Dwnn i, 314 which incorrectly places Aaron in Anglesey
 Dwnn i, 310; Dwnn i, 320
 Burke's "Roll of Battle Abbey", 1848, pp 56 calls that Eustace heir to Serlo
de Burgh and the pedigree of Payne fitz John calls his father John de Burgo.