THE "MAEL MAELIENYDD" IN MEDIEVAL PEDIGREES
By Darrell Wolcott
If there ever was an historical
man who was the eponym for the Welsh cantref of Maelienydd, it was probably a late fifth century figure from the era when
the territorial name Powys denoted lands east of the Wye and Dyfi rivers and south of the upper Severn. Some modern
scholars identify him as the "Millo map Camuir" cited as the great-grandson of Cadell Ddyrnllwg in Harleian Ms 3859.
That man would have been born c. 475 and it is entirely possible he was the "Lord of Maelienydd" during his lifetime.
But chronologically, he could not be the Mael to whom the medieval genealogists have appended the descriptive by-name "Maelienydd".
books of pedigrees trace some Powys families to a "Mael Maelienydd ap Cadfael ap Clydog ap Cadell ap Rhodri Mawr".
If such a Mael ever lived, it was not in Maelienydd; that family was seated in Deheubarth. Clydog ap Cadell was
slain by his brother Meurig in 920. A rough idea of his age can be seen by this chart:
820 Rhodri Mawr
Clydog ob 920
If Clydog had any sons
at all, they were yet toddlers when he was killed. A Brut entry for 938 says that Hyfaidd ap Clydog died; either he
was a young man who contracted an illness or the son of a different Clydog. The same entry says Meurig also died that
year, with the Red Book of Hergest version making him a brother of Hyfaidd. Neither the notice in Annales Cambriae
nor the Peniarth Ms 20 version of the Brut make the men brothers, but do make it clear both "died" as opposed to having been
slain. We remain unconvinced either man was definitely a son of Clydog ap Cadell. Often the Brut, when it
records men who died prematurely, heaps praise on them and laments their early passing. Men simply noted as
having died usually lived out a full life and there was nothing unremarkable about such a death. In any event,
no son of Clydog ap Cadell named Cadfael occurs until the 16th century when he is used to link "Mael Maelienydd" to the clan
of Rhodri Mawr.
One 17th century manuscript claims
Mael was living in 978. Such a date would be consistent with a grandson of Clydog, but one must suspect the author did
no more than quote an oral tradition believed by current families who claim him as their ancestor. In a pedigree of
the Evans family of Shrewsbury submitted at the 1623 Visitation of Shropshire, that family is traced to a "Madock Moloynock"
who is cited as "de Melyenith" and said to occur in 978. But any man named Mael who was alive in 978 and living
in Maelienydd is wholly unrelated to the families cited in the 16th and 17th century pedigrees; the Mael who heads
those families was not born until after c. 1015.
An alternate ancestry
for Mael occurs on other pages in two of the five manuscripts cited in Note 2 and is also the only one cited by
Griffith Hiraethog. In those citations, Mael Maelienydd is made the son of "Pasgen ap Gwyn ap Gruffudd ap Beli and
Selyf ap Brochwel ap Aeddan". In all cases, he is given a son called Iorwerth Hilfawr of Halchdyn in Deuddwr.
The families which follow are all men of Powys who marry mostly ladies of Powys. We strongly doubt the Mael found in
these pedigrees lived in Maelienydd, a land then held by Elystan Glodrydd and his clan. Rather, we think the "Maelienydd"
was added to his name by the same medieval genealogists who tended to call any early Cadell of Powys "Ddyrnllwg" and any Brochwel
Chronologically, the pedigree
Mael fits with the Powys family but not with the "clan of Rhodri Mawr" citations. We would ascribe the latter attribution
to the medieval belief that one had to descend from Rhodri Mawr to be of any importance or hold any real power. We further
find these families engaged in the same repeating-string naming habits previously found in the dynastic royal family of Powys.
We have elsewhere shown there were four different branches of that family with men named Pasgen ap Gwyn ap Gruffudd ap
Beli ap Selyf ap Brochwel ap Aeddan. Those Pasgens occur c. 980, 1080, 1180 and 1280.
Our analysis of the Mael pedigrees
indicates both the Pasgen of c. 980 and the Pasgen of c. 1080 named a son Mael. But neither Mael was Lord of Maelienydd
or even lived there. Each of those men named a son Iorwerth, the earliest of those (born c. 1045) appears to be the
one correctly described as "of Halchdyn in Deuddwr". He had sons named Trahaearn and Madog, while the later Iorwerth
ap Mael had sons named Trahaearn and Cadwgan. Pedigrees of both lines, although 100 years apart, are thoroughly confounded in
the medieval manuscripts but consistently insert a "Tynhaearn" between each Trahaearn and his father Iorwerth.
Apparently the earliest of the men named Trahaearn was known as Trahaearn Tynhaearn "the iron man" and this nick-name was
turned into his father by inserting an "ap". A consistent timeline can be established for both families so long
as the extra generation called Tynhaearn is omitted.
The Trahaearn ap
Iorwerth of c. 1075 had a son named Iddon Galed, while his namesake of c. 1175 had two sons, Iddon and Einion.
Both men called Iddon ap Trahaearn named a son Cyfnerth. The Cyfnerth of c. 1135 named his sons Heilyn and Ieuaf, while
the Cynferth of c. 1235 called his sons Ieuaf and Einion. Each of the men called Ieuaf ap Cyfnerth named one son
Iorwerth and each Iorwerth named a son Ieuan. It is only when we examine the cited marriages in each line
that it becomes clear the two name strings "Ieuan ap Iorwerth ap Ieuaf ap Cynferth" actually occur 100 years apart.
Our charts for these men begin with their common ancestor, Selyf ap Brochwel ap Aeddan ap Cyngen ap Brochwel ap Eliseg:
850 Selyf I
880 Aeddan II
885 Beli I
910 Brochwel II
915 Gruffudd I
945 Selyf II
950 Gwyn I
980 Beli II
980 Pasgen I
1015 Gruffudd II
1015 Mael I
1050 Gwyn* II
1045 Iorwerth I
1080 Pasgen II
1075 Trahaearn I
1115 Mael II
1105 Iddon I
1145 Iorwerth II
1135 Cyfnerth I
1175 Trahaearn II
Ieuaf I 1165 Heilyn
1205 Iddon II
Iorwerth I 1195
1235 Cynferth II
Ieuan I 1230
Ieuaf II 1265
Iorwerth II 1295
Ieuan II 1325
*This is the Gwyn ap Gruffudd cited in HLG 2(f) on page 113 of Bartrum's Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts
and the one whose obit is recorded in the Brut in 1101
One other chronological error occurs in the pedigree material for the other sons of Iorwerth
ap Mael. The earliest Iorwerth was ancestor to an Einion ap Rhiryd ap Cadwgan ap Llywarch ap Madog ap Iorwerth,
while the later Iorwerth was the ancestor of Dafydd Llwch ap Madog ap Rhiryd ap Cadwgan. The occurrance of the names,
although not in the same sequence, of Rhiryd, Cadwgan and Madog in those families has resulted in a number of combinations
in the medieval pedigrees as their authors attempted to turn it into a single line where Einion ap Rhiryd of c. 1210 was the
brother of Madog ap Rhiryd of c. 1245. The chronologically accurate charts appear as:
1045 Iorwerth 1145
1080 Madog 1180
Llywarch 1210 Rhiryd
1145 Cadwgan 1245 Madog
1180 Rhiryd 1275 Dafydd Llwch**
*Ancestor of the Evans family of Shrewsbury
**Ancestor of the Lloyd family of Trewylan
In Bartrum's Welsh Genealogies AD 300-1400, a family line without ancestry is shown on his chart Mael Maelienydd
- 1, ending with a daughter who married a man descended from Mael. We believe the unattributed family
is another cadet of the Powys family and would chart it as:
Pasgen I (ancestor of Mael I)
Fychan Cyfnerth 1135
1180 Ednyfed Chwith
*These two names are reversed in Pen Ms 129 & 131 but each of the later men called Pasgen ap Gwyn also had sons
named Trahaearn, and each of those men named a son Hywel who named a son Rhiryd. We suspect each of those families followed
the pattern set by the first Trahaearn ap Pasgen, the one in this chart.
final observation on these families concerns a final string of identical names found later in both families, more difficult
to separate as they occur only one generation apart:
1230 Ieuan ap Iorwerth I 1325 Ieuan ap Iorwerth II
1355 Madog Fychan
1290 Ieuan 1385 Iolyn 1390
1320 Madog Fychan 1415 Maredudd
The Marged ferch Madog Fychan
ap Ieuan of c. 1350 married a grandson of Dafydd Llwch (whom see above) who would occur c. 1340, while the Marged ferch Madog
Fychan ap Ieuan of c. 1390 married Ithel Foel ap Madog ap Cadwgan descended from Rhiryd Flaidd, a man who also occurs c. 1390.
A single lady could not have married both men. The spouses cited for Iolyn and Maredudd all fit chronologically with
the father/son of 1385 and 1415, but one son of Maredudd ap Iolyn was born c. 1415.