GWRGI OF CASTELL CAEREINION
By Darrell Wolcott
the shadowy men found in the ancient manuscripts is the one first cited as the grandfather of Gwledyr, the lady whose
daughter Genilles married the bard Gwalchmei ap Meilyr. He appears as "Gwrgi mab uchelwr o Gastell yn ghaereiniawn".
This chart dates the man to c. 1040:
Gwyn 1050 Ithel 1010
1070 Seisyll====Tangwre 1080 Ednowain
Gwledyr============Gwrgeneu 1085 Meilyr 1070
1115 Genilles================Gwalchmei 1100
As written, the citation does
not place Gwrgi at Castell Caereinion but says his father was the nobleman of that place, or that he was the son of the nobility
who held lands in the broader region around Welshpool and Mathrafel which formed the parish called Castell Caereinion.
This places him in the heart of those lands known to have been held by the Powys royal family in the tenth and eleventh centuries,
hard by Ystrad Marchell, Deuddwr and Mechain. While probably not descended from the senior or kingly line of that family,
Gwrgi may well have represented a junior cadet. That guess appears to be strenghtened by another "Gwrgi of castell Caereinion"
citation found in a 16th century manuscript. Peniarth Ms 138 attributed to Griffith Hiraethog c. 1550 cites
the marriage of Ieuan ap Gruffudd Goch ap Gruffudd ap Gwilym ap Alo to "Marged ferch Dafydd ap Rhiryd ap Dafydd ap Ifor ap
Gwrgi". Using the Alo family to date this Marged, we find:
1310 Dafydd Gwilym* 1305
1345 Rhiryd Gruffudd
Dafydd Gruffudd Goch 1365
1410 Marged=========Ieuan 1395
*His brother, Gruffudd
ap Alo, was the father of Gwenhwyfar who married Ieuan ap Madog ap Gwenwys. Gwenhwyfar would occur c. 1330 as the
grandmother of Sir Gruffudd Fychan born c. 1385
the Gwrgi in this chart is a different man than we encountered in c. 1040, but seems to occur almost exactly 200 years later.
In other research of families who descended from the first Powys dynasty, we find an abundance of same-named men who occur
repeatedly at 100 year intervals. If we were to identify Gwrgi as a son of Brochwel ap Aeddan of c. 1005, other
men named Gwrgi ap Brochwel may well occur c. 1140 and c. 1340 as sons of the later men also called Brochwel ap Aeddan.
This theory seems to be strengthened
by a third (and last) citation which mentions Gwrgi of Castell Caereinion. Peniarth Ms 176 p. 61 also by Griffith
Hiraethog cites a family in Deuddwr. The text reads "Gwrgi o gastell ynghaer einion aeth a meddefvs vz Gr vychan
ap lln ap D i lathlyd ac yno i kad Gr v'n o ddeuddwr". Peter Bartrum translates that line as "Meddefys ferch
Gruffudd ap Llewelyn ap Dafydd Llawch was a mistress of Gwrgi of Castell Caereinion and had by him a bastard child called
Gruffudd Fychan of Deuddwr". If that reading were accurate, this Gwrgi must have occurred near 1340.
Before challenging that translation,
we should mention there are an abundance of citations which portray the "Deuddrw" family as:
Dafydd Llwch 1230
Gruffudd Deuddwr=====Efa or Gwenllian 1335
Fychan of Deuddwr
(a) Those citations which mention
a wife of Gruffudd Deuddwr called Efa or Gwenllian make the lady a daughter of Llewelyn ap Dafydd Llwch, but Pen. 176, 61
calls her Meddefys ferch Gruffudd ap Llewelyn ap Dafydd Llwch. Only the latter is chronologically possible.
Both families in this
chart lived in the commote of Deuddwr so it isn't clear if the son Meddefys supposedly had by Gwrgi is a different Gruffudd
Fychan of Deuddwr than the one shown here. The fact that a lady of uncertain name who was the [great]grandaughter of
Dafydd Llwch and married Gruffudd Deuddwr ap Ieuan... the couple then producing a son called Gruffudd Fychan of Dueddwr...
may have been the source of Griffith Hiraethog's Meddefys whom he correctly describes as a great-granddaughter of Dafydd Llwch.
However, the connection of this Meddefys to Gwrgi rather than to Gruffudd Deuddwr is puzzling. And in no other source is the
son of Llewelyn ap Dafydd Llwch called Gruffudd Fychan, but merely Gruffudd.
Our own reading of the Peniarth
Ms 176 pedigree is "Gwrgi of Castell Caereinion oedd a Meddefys ferch Gruffudd Fychan (sic) ap Llewelyn ap Dafydd Llwch,
ac hynno i tad Gruffudd Fychan of Deuddwr." We would render this as "[gwraig]
Gwrgi of Castell Caereinion was Meddefys ferch Gruffudd (with or without "Fychan") ap Llewelyn ap Dafydd Llwch, and
the same for the father of Gruffudd Fychan of Deuddwr." Nothing in the citation suggests Meddefys was a mistress
of Gwrgi; indeed one might read the lines to be saying that Gwrgi was married to Meddefys and the same applies to the father
of Gruffudd Fychan (Gruffudd Deuddwr). In the latter case, she appears identical to the lady elsewhere called Efa and
Gwenllian and was incorrectly called the sister, not daughter, of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn ap Dafydd Llwch.
Gruffudd Deuddwr===Meddefys====Gwrgi 1340
1370 Gruffudd Fychan of Deuddwr
Now we have a great-granddaughter
of Dafydd Llwch, variously called Efa, Gwenllian and Meddefys, whose second husband was Gwrgi after giving birth to Gruffudd
Fychan by her first husband. And this Gwrgi occurs at a 100 year interval after the Gwrgi of 1240, the pattern we would
expect in this family. In all these cases, we suspect it was only the earliest Gwrgi called "of Castell Caereinion",
that phrase being added to all later men of this family by genealogists who believed there was only a single man of that name
in the family.
If we are right in placing Gwrgi
in the Deuddwr family, the string of identical names spanning 400 years may have begun as follows:
*The first of 4 men called
Gwyn ap Gruffudd ap Beli ap Selyf who appear at 100 year intervals thereafter
**Each of these men had a brother called
Beli who named a son Gruffudd who named a son Gwyn to continue a long string of identical names
While no citations are extant
which speak of a Gwrgi ap Brochwel born c. 940 or c. 1140, the naming conventions practiced so extensively by this family
argue for there having been such men...and this is true even if our guess for the name of his father is wrong. Each
Gwrgi might have been another son of Gruffudd ap Beli and brother to each subsequent Gwyn ap Gruffudd, but occurring at 100
year intervals after 945...not 940.