Guest-written Papers
Reference Abbreviations
Guidance Articles for Researchers
Single Family Analysis
Families of Mixed Origin
Family Pedigrees
Mis-identified Same-Named People in Wales
Battles and Historical Events
Ancient Welsh Territories
Welshmen in Llydaw, Brittany
The Men of the North
Legendary History Prior to 1st Century BC
Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees
Papers Related to Maxen Wledig
Bartrum's "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs"
Britain's Royal Roman Family
The Royal Family of Powys
2nd Powys Royal Dynasty
The Royal Family of Gwynedd
Men Descended from Tudwal Gloff
Royal Family of Gwent/ Glamorgan
Royal Family of Brycheiniog
15 Noble Tribes of Gwynedd
The 5 Plebian Tribes of Wales
Glast and the Glastening
Papers about Rhiryd Flaidd and Penllyn
The Men of Collwyn ap Tangno of Lleyn
Edwin of Tegeingl and his Family
Ednowain Bendew in Welsh pedigrees
Ithel of Bryn in Powys
Idnerth Benfras of Maesbrook
Tudor Trefor and his Family
Trahaearn ap Caradog of Arwystli
The Family of Trahaearn ap Caradog
Cadafael Ynfyd of Cydewain
Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
Sandde Hardd of Mortyn
The Floruit of Einion ap Seisyllt
The 5 Dafydd Llwyds of Llanwrin Parish
Cowryd ap Cadfan of Dyffryn Clwyd
Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
Bradwen of Llys Bradwen in Meirionydd
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                           ANCIENT POWYS
                                          By Darrell Wolcott
         There is only a general idea of which lands may have constituted the sprawling kingdom called Powys following the withdrawal of the Romans in the early fifth century.  Probably extending eastwards to the Severn River and south to the Wye, it's northern part extended to the Irish Sea from the Dee to the Clwyd. These lands would appear to be the combined territories associated with the Cornovii and Deceangli tribes of Celts.
        The far northern portion included what were later to be called Tegeingl[1], Ial, Ystrad Alun, Yr Hob, both Maelors, Dyffryn Clwyd east of the Clwyd River, Nanheudwy, Cynllaith,  Cheshire and the part of Shropshire north of the Severn.  The lower part included Mochnant, Mechain, Deuddwr, Gorddwr, Ystrad Marchell, Caereinion, Cyfeiliog, Arwystli, Cedewain, Llanerch Hudol, Ceri, Maelienydd, Gwerthrynion, Cwmwd Deuddwr, Buellt, Elfael, Llythyfnwg, Shropshire south of the Severn, and the portion of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire which lay west of the Severn.
          One would suspect the two originally separate Celt kingdoms were united at some point in the fifth century, possibly by the simultaneous marriages of a princess of each tribe with a prince of the other.  The merger may have been motivated by common threats both faced from outsiders, whether Picts coming from the north or Saxons from the east.  Our timeline for the two Powys families suggests a date near 470 for such a consolidation:
              385  Vortigern                   380  Cadell Ddyrnllwg
            _________l_____               ___________l_______
            l                        l               l                                 l
415  Cadeyrn        415  Brydw     Pasgen 410           415  Brydw
           l                         l               l                                 l
440  Casnar        450  Annan===Maun  440           450 Thewer
          =                                                                        =
         With this chart, we conjecture that Casnar (or Cassanauth) Wledig may have been a son of Caderyn ap Vortigern; his pedigree claims descent from Beli Mawr but contains no link from the first century BC to the fifth century AD.  The marriage with Thewer ferch Brydw ap Cadell Ddyrnllwg is cited in Jesus College Ms 20, 16 while that of Annan ferch Brydw ap Vortigern with Maun ap Pasgen ap Cadell is merely inferred from the Pillar of Eliseg.[2]
         While very early pedigrees carry Cadell Ddyrnllwg's ancestry back to Beli Mawr, no extant sources provide the lineage of Vortigern beyond Glowy Gwallt Hir of c. 280.  One logical speculation is shown by this chart:
                        185  Gwrtheyrn ap Rhydeyrn[3]
                          220  Cadeyrn
                    250  Rhuddfedel Frych
                    l                                          l
    280  Gloyw Gwallt Hir                        Brydw  285
                    l                                          l
         315  Guidolyn                             Pasgen  315
                    l                                          l
         350  Gwidol                               Cadeyrn  350
                    l                                          l
        385  Gwrtheyrn (Vortigern)      Cadell Ddyrnllwg  380
          l                 l                       l
     Cadeyrn       Pasgen              Brydw
         Such a relationship between these men is suggested by the use of the male names Cadeyrn, Brydw and Pasgen by both branches while the name Gwrtheyrn appears nowhere but the two instances in our chart.  And one might interpret the Nennius story about Cadell as a mythical account of the role which St. Germanus may have played in AD 429. 
         When the Romans left the island shortly after the year 400, the "cities" of the eastern flatlands are said to have sought a man from Llydaw to head their central government[4].  We are told the king of that territory sent his younger brother Constantine to fill the role.  Geoffrey of Monmouth claims that man died or was killed, leaving a son named Constans who was training for priesthood[5].  We have previously suggested that cleric was actually Blessed Custinnen, son of Maxen Wledig[6]. The leading men from the cities elected this former "man of the cloth" as its new "emperor" or high-king but selected a council of experienced men to advise him.  The early historians say one of these advisors was Gwrtheyrn, the man later called Vortigern.  Suppose for a moment that another of these advisors was Cadell Ddrynllwg.  The high-king either died or was killed about 425 and Vortigern succeeded him.  About 3 years later, Vortigern invited a small contingent of Saxons to settle on Thanet, a small island off the coast of Kent.  Cadell may have been among those who opposed this.  It was known that the tribes located across the English Channel were being hard-pressed by barbarian hordes coming from the east; once those people got a foot in the door in Britain, thousands more might follow.  Once securely in control, Vortigern may have invaded Cadell's lands to topple him and end his opposition.  The feud may have been still occurring in 429 when St Germanus visited Britain to combat the heresy being taught by the Pelagius sect.  Aware that such internal strife was folly at a time when the "uncivilized" hordes of Picts and Scots of the far north were attacking the Romanized and citified inhabitants of Britain, Germanus probably sought to broker a truce between Vortigern and Cadell.  No doubt invoking the fires of hell on Vortigern (just as many contemporary Christian clerics do to keep their flocks obedient), the latter backed off and left Cadell to rule his own lands in peace.  Of course, Nennius related the incident as though Germanus was a kingmaker and Cadell a man never before even qualified to be a tribal leader.  We think that after both Vortigern and Cadell were dead, the rising threat of the Saxons pushing westward, seeking fertile land, induced the two kingdoms to merge and present a united defensive front.
        Powys survived basically intact until the seventh century.  In 613, the Angles under Aethelbert took the fort at Chester and claimed the land from the Dee estuary at the Irish Sea down to the Alun River as well as the entire part of Cheshire above Maelor Saesneg. It was in this battle that Selyf ap Cynan Garwyn, king of Powys, fell with his brother Cadell who had ruled the lands conquered.[7]  About 660, Oswy took most of the fertile Severn valley and killed its local ruler, Cynddylan ap Cyndrwyn, perhaps because the latter had been a battlefield ally of Penda.  The eastern border of Powys was pushed west to near the line where Offa's Dyke was built some 100 years later.
        In 821, Egbert of the West Saxons took over the midlands kingdom of Mercia and two years later, drove west from Chester to take all of Powys north of the Dee as well as Gwynedd east of the Conwy.  That land, however, was taken back about 863 by the combined might of Powys' Brochwel ap Aeddan, Caradog Freich Fras of Rhos and Rhodri Mawr of Gwynedd[8].  It was during the years between 823 and 863 that the ruling family of Powys moved their court to Mathrafel and centered their residences around Mechain, Deuddwr, Ystrad Marchell and Gorddwr...all within a 10 mile radius.  Those lands had long been the domain of the southern branch of the family descended from Casnar Wledig, so it was probably another marriage which brought the area to men of the northern branch.  Land holdings, judged by future inheritances, appear to have been distributed as follows by the mid-800's:
                                                     735  Tegonwy*
                                           l                     l                   l
         750  Cyngen**  765  Bleddud   765  Iorwerth     Caenog 765
                    l                      l                     l                   l
         785  Aeddan====daughter     795 Idnerth          Corf  795
                               l     (Dueddwr) (Arwystli, Buellt)   (not sure)
                   820  Brochwel
          *direct descendant from Casnar Wledig
          ** ap Brochwel ap Eliseg, brother of Cadell who died in 808
           Bleddud ap Tegonwy's son, Llewelyn, chose to train for priesthood so his inheritance passed to his sister's son, Brochwel ap Aeddan.  We have used the term Deuddwr to encompass all the lands immediately surrounding Mathrafel where Brochwel established his court. Idnerth ap Iorwerth Hirflawdd had two sons: Cynog received Arwystli and was the ancestor of Gwyn ap Collwyn whose grandsons, Trahaearn ap Caradog and Cynwrig ap Rhiwallon, held that territory in the eleventh century.  Gwenwyn ap Idnerth received Buillt and was the ancestor of Cuhelyn ap Ifor, the father of Elystan Glodrydd.  Caenog ap Tegonwy and his son, Corf, are not known to have held any particular territory but may have received Caereinion.  It was their descendant, Lles Llydog, who earned much of Tegeingl in the 890's by driving out the Danish settlers.[9] 
         We should pause here to comment on Llewelyn ap Bleddud who was to become known as St Llewelyn.  The ancient Bonedd y Saint pedigrees say he lived in Welshpool (located in Ystrad Marchell) and had a son called St Gwrnerth.  A 17th century manuscript, Llanstephen Ms 187, makes an anachronistic claim about St. Llewelyn, saying he was the son of Einion ap Bleddud by a daughter of Rhodri Mawr, and further that he served as penteulu for Rhodri.  But even the insertion of an extra generation does not make the claim chronologically possible, and the part about him being Rhodri's penteulu can be rejected on three counts:  he was not a "near relative" of Rhodri as required by law, he was not a man of Gwynedd who would be at Rhodri's court, and he was a holy man...not a warrior.  A chart shows the chronology problem:
               765  Bleddud             
              795   Einion*               Merfyn Frych  790
                          l                            l
          825  St Llewelyn               Rhodri Mawr  820  
                                                 daughter  850
         *Even if such a man existed, any daughter of Rhodri Mawr would be about 60 years younger than him, scarcely wife material.  Additionally, if a daughter of Rhodri had married any man whose son might have became his penteulu, that son would not occur until c. 865.  Rhodri Mawr was slain in 878 and few would believe the head of his warband was a child under 14 years of age
         We reject all the claims made about St Llewelyn in the 17th century manuscript.  It is possible, however, that the penteulu of Rhodri Mawr was a man of his near family named Llewelyn ap Einion and even that Rhodri had a daughter who was the mother of a man named Llewelyn ap Einion, but they could not have been the same man and neither could have been St Llewelyn.  It sounds suspiciously like another medieval attempt to associate Rhodri Mawr with Powys.

           At some point in the ninth century, the kingdom of Brycheiniog appears to have come into possession of the portion of Powys which lay between the Severn and Wye rivers[10].  Although history offers no light on how this occurred, perhaps the Saxons had already taken that land and it was only the men of Brycheiniog who volunteered to expel them.  This land came to be called the kingdom of Fferlys, and we are told that early in the 11th century Elystan Glodrydd of Buellt took it by conquest from Dryffin ap Hwgan[11], grandfather of Bleddyn ap Maenyrch, last king of Brycheiniog.  While Fferlys, under the clan of Elystan Glodrydd, remained on friendly terms with Powys it was no longer a part of it.
         Shortly after the Norman conquest of England, the powerful Marcher barons took the portion of Shropshire which had been a part of Powys, which included Oswestry, Whittington and Ellesmere although they permitted certain of its former ruling family to retain much of their lands when they switched allegiance to the English crown.  About the same time, the commote of Gorddwr was absorbed by the adjoining Norman Marcher estate of Caus.  What remained of Powys appears to have remained intact[12] until all of Wales was integrated into England after the 1282 Edwardian conquest.  It was, however, divided into Powys Fadog and Powys Gwenwynwyn in order to provide the sons of Maredudd ap Bleddyn separate lands to rule.  Madog ap Maredudd received the northern part, while the father of Gwenwynwyn ap Owain Cyfeiliog ruled over the south. Owain was the son of Gruffudd ap Maredudd; Gruffudd had preceeded Maredudd in death.
[1] This commote, lying on the Irish Sea at the far north of Wales, changed hands several times after the era of Cadell Ddrynllwg.  The Saxons took it in 823 and when the Welsh regained it about 863, it appears to have come under the rule of Gwynedd.  When taken over by Danes near 900 who were subsequently expelled by men from Powys, Tegeingl reverted to Powys rule.  During the reign of Gwynedd kings Llewelyn Fawr and Llewelyn the Last, it was part of the Perfeddwlad lands seized by Gwynedd and then conceded to the Normans, only to be retaken. 
[2] See our interpretation of the inscription on the Pillar of Eliseg in the paper "Vortigern and the Powys Dynasty" at the link below:
[3] The ancestry of Gwrtheyrn ap Rhydeyrn back to Beli Mawr is cited in ABT 9b and Buchedd Beuno
[4] We think this Llydaw was located in the Snowdonia area of Gwynedd and that the Brittany lands called Llydaw were named after it in the 4th century by men who had come from the Welsh territory.
[5] The Constans of Geoffrey's story was a son of Constantine III who was killed with him in 411
[6]  Refer to the paper "Constans I and His 343 AD Visit to Britain" at the link below:
[7] Under the date 613, the Annals of Ulster note the battle of Chester where fell Selyf ap Cynan, king of the Britains (Powys), and King Cadell.  Most scholars would emend the date to 616
[8] Refer to our discussion of this event in the paper "Powys Succession After 823" at the link below:
[9] For this event, see "The Retaking of Northeast Wales" at the link below:
[10] While no ancient sources confirm it, we think Anarawd ap Tangwydd of Brychieniog may have claimed Fferelys during the wars with Offa before the latter built his dyke.  The lands lie west of the dyke and early writers call Anarawd "lord of Fferlys and Brecon"
[11]  This assertion is made by Thoephilus Jones in his classic "History of the County of Brecknock", Glanusk Edition, 1909, Vol 1, pp 56 who cites only oral traditions
[12] Excepting the cantref of Tegeingl which was lost to Powys earlier in the 13th century as mentioned in Note 1 above