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                               HYWEL AP GRONWY OF DEHEUBARTH
                                            By Darrell Wolcott
          Virtually all we know of this man comes from entries in the Brut Y Tywysogyon which we shall discuss presently.  A single extant pedigree[1] identifies him as "Hywel ap Gronwy ap Cadwgan ap Elystan ap Cuhelyn" and further calls the mother of Gronwy "Angharad ferch Llawr"; the mother of Angharad is cited as "Lleuci ferch Maredudd ap Owain ap Hywel Ddu".  When we chart those relationships, we begin to harbor doubts of this identification:
                       820  Rhodri Mawr
                l                                          l
      865 Tudwal                        851  Cadell
                l                                         l
      895  Alser                        879  Hywel Dda
                l                                         l
      930  Aelan                        906  Owain
                l                                         l
                l                           950  Maredudd   
                l                                         l
      960  Llawr*=============Lleuci  975      Elystan  990
                                    l                                          l
                       995  Angharad============Cadwgan  1020
                                        1050  Gronwy
                                         1080  Hywel
       *This identification of Lleuci's husband is ours, but any other Llawr who might have married the lady would date from c. 965/970 and certainty as to his descent is not important to our chart
           Other pedigrees cite two wives for Cadwgan ap Elystan who were born c. 1035[2] and the families which descended from his better known sons point to a birthdate for him near 1020.  Not only does the Angharad in our chart appear almost a generation older than him, she would also be too old to be the mother of any son of his.  In our attempts to date Hywel ap Gronwy wholly independent of this lone pedigree, we turn to his appearances in the Brut.
         He first occurs in 1096 as active on the battlefields in the company of Uchdryd ap Edwin and the warband of Cadwgan ap Bleddyn.  We would tentatively think such a man was contemporary with Uchdryd, perhaps born c. 1045/55 but certainly before 1080.  Next, in the year 1102, King Henry I granted a Hywel ap Gronwy the lordship over Ystrad Tywy, Cydweli and Gower...all parts of what is now known as Carmarthenshire.  This again argues for a man born much earlier that 1080. We encounter Hywel again in 1105 when he was expelled from those lands, apparently by force and at the hand of Richard fitz Baldwin.  In his final Brut mention, he was betrayed to the French by a trusted friend called Gwgan ap Meurig and slain in 1106.  While not otherwise identified, we are told Hywel trusted Gwgan because the latter had nurtured his son.
         Thus, Hywel had an unnamed son who had been fostered out to Gwgan[3] but was no longer under his care in 1106.  If we should assume that son was at least 14 years old at Hywel's death (the time when he legally stopped being a child), we have a birthdate no later than about 1090 for the son, again pointing to c. 1060 or earlier for Hywel's birth.
         When we collate this finding with the pedigree chart above, we realize the Gronwy cited as his father must have been born near 1020/30 and while he could have been a son of Angharad, he could not have been a son of Cadwgan ap Elystan ap Cuhelyn.  Elsewhere, the Brut reports the death of Gronwy ap Cadwgan in 1101, a man we believe was born near 1055/60.  Apparently, based on the knowledge that Cadwgan ap Elystan ap Cuhelyn did have a son named Gronwy, J.E. Lloyd was the first historian to "identify" Hywel ap Gronwy[4] as his son...finding confirmation in the lone pedigree cited herein.  Earlier historians had mentioned Hywel, but none had tried to guess his ancestry.
         An ode to Hywel ap Gronwy which appears in extant manuscripts[5] claims to have been written during his lifetime; it ends by expressing hopes for a long life and successful reign filled with grace, fortune and progeny.  Its author and actual date of composure are unknown, but it cites him as "goriur edwin" which, although archaic orthography, appears to mean "grandson of Edwin".  The 1106 Brut entry detailing his betrayal indicates that his trusted friend, Gwgan ap Meurig, lived near the castle at Rhyd-y-gors in Carmarthen and invited Hywel to his home to spend the night.  One would suppose that Hywel himself lived not far away and had been the recognized lord of that cantref before fitz-Baldwin appeared on the scene.  Perhaps he was being secreted by friends from one safe house to another to elude fitz-Baldwin's men.  Neither the location nor the chronology favors identifying Hywel as a grandson of Cadwgan of Fferlys; indeed both support our view that he was a member of the former Deheubarth ruling family, and specifically a son of Gronwy ap Edwin ap Einion ap Owain ap Hywel Dda.
          Such a Hywel would date from c. 1045 as follows: 
                          906  Owain ap Hywel Dda (as our first chart)
                                935  Einion
                                963  Edwin
                              1010  Gronwy
                               1045  Hywel
                            1080  unnamed son
           We are not suggesting this man founded an illustrious family or should be well-known to any student of Welsh history.  Rather we present him as simply one example of a name cited in the Brut which has been consistently misidentified as a wholly different man with the same patronymic name.  The error likely began when the author of the cited manuscipt, finding an earlier record of the maternal (but not paternal) descent of Gronwy, made the assumption his father was Cadwgan ap Elystan ap Cuhelyn.
UPDATE July 2020:  See the Appendix following the Notes
[1] Jesus College Ms 20, pedigree 30/31
[2] Dwnn i, 271, 332 and Dwnn ii, 152 cite his wife as Efa ferch Gwrgan, a half-sister of Iestyn ap Gwrgan.  She would occur not earlier than c. 1035.  Dwnn i, 313 and Dwnn ii,152 cite another wife as Jane ferch Brochwel ap Aeddan.  Our comprehensive work on that family identifies her father as the 3rd Brochwel ap Aeddan born c. 1005, and she also would occur c. 1035.  Both ladies are chronological matches for a man born c. 1020 but suggest one of them died very young so that he took a second wife who was also a lady young enough to bear many progeny
[3] Some early historians suggest it was Gwgan's wife who nursed Hywel's son as a baby, possibly because they sought to date Hywel late enough to be a grandson of Cadwgan ap Elystan.  We think if that had been the case, the Brut entry would not state it was Gwgan who had nurtured the boy but his wife.  In the Welsh text, the word is "meithrin" which means "to bring up", not "mamaeth" which would mean wet-nurse.  The Peniarth 20 version of the Brut places Gwgan's services in the past tense, but the Red Book of Hergest version renders the nurturing in the present tense, implying it had not ended in 1106.  We opt for the first-cited version primarily because we do not think Hywel's enemies would have required Gwgan's assistance to locate him were he staying under the same roof where his son was still living.
[4] J.E. Lloyd's "A History of Wales", 1912 edition, pp 406, note 31
[5] The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, 1870, pp 380-381.  In the index to this work, the authors claim this ode was one of 12 "printed literally and line for line out of the Llyfr Ddu, one of the oldest Welsh manuscripts".  That reference is to the Black Book of Carmarthen which dates to the mid-13th century.  While this doesn't demonstate that it was composed during the lifetime of Hywel, it might well have been.

          In the above paper first published in 2008, we presented chronological reasons why the Hywel ap Gronwy of Jesus College Ms 29, item 31 could not have descended from Cadwgan ap Elystan ap Cuhelyn.  We have since identified another man named Hywel ap Gronwy ap Cadwgan ap Elystan who does fit with this pedigree.  There was an Elystan of Powys born c. 955 who had a son named Cadwgan, born c. 985, who did marry the c. 995 Angharad ferch Llawr. (see the first chart in the main body of this paper) 

            That Cadwgan ap Elystan had a son, Gronwy, born c. 1020, who had a son, Hywel, born c. 1055.  We would, however, reject this Hywel ap Gronwy as the man who appears in the Brut accounts dated 1102 to 1106 mentioned in this paper, since he probably was not a man of Deheubarth and certainly was not a prince related to its Royal Family.  He might, however, have been the man mentioned in the 1096 Brut entry.  For a full discussion of this Powys family, see our paper at this link: