According to a story recorded by Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt about 1650, Hywel ap Gruffydd ap Iorwerth was descended from Hwfa ap Cynddelw, founder of one of the so-called ‘Fifteen Tribes.’ His mother was said to have nursed Edward II after his birth at Caernarvon in 1284; as a result, Hywel enjoyed the favour of the king and was knighted by him. He was a man of great physical strength, able to bend horseshoes with his hands (Cambrian Register, i, 145-55; Yorke, Royal Tribes (edn. 1887), 65 and 172-3). No record evidence exists to support the legend but medieval poets used his name to typify physical prowess (Iolo Goch ac Eraill (edn. 1937), 107 and 356; Richard Llwyd, Beaumaris Bay, 53n). The descent from Hwfa is confirmed by Lewys Dwnn (Visitations, ii, 206 and 259), but elsewhere Dwnn makes him the son of Gruffydd ap Ednyfed Fychan (ii, 16), thus identifying him with the Hywel ap Gruffydd who, as a partisan of Edward I, was drowned in the Menai Straits in 1282; on this identification, Hywel y Pedolau would be the ancestor of the Sir Gruffydd ap Rhys of South Wales whose descendants were later settled at Abermarlais in Carmarthenshire (see Ednyfed Fychan, Sir Gruffydd Llwyd, and Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd). Little reliance can be placed on Dwnn's authority in this case; elsewhere again (ii, 46) he wrongly identifies Hywel ap Gruffydd ap Ednyfed Fychan as Hywel ap Gruffydd ‘y Fwyall’ — an individual whose descent is well authenticated. Confused references which imply the existence of the tomb of Hywel y Pedolau at S. Peter's, Carmarthen, before 1790, are not convincing (see Cambrian Register, i, 145n; Dineley, Beaufort Progress, cxci; E. Donovan, South Wales, ii, 188-9; Dwnn, ii, 16n). The balance of probability is in favour of the descent from Hwfa ap Cynddelw, who would appear to have settled in Anglesey c. 1200 (Transactions of the Anglesey Antiquarian Society and Field Club, 1951, ii). His descendants, including those of Hywel ‘y Pedolau,’ are found in Anglesey and Caernarvonshire (see J. E. Griffith, Pedigrees, 14-15, 29, 58, 71, 76, 95-6, 136, 228). It may confidently be suggested that Hywel ‘y Pedolau’ of the legend represents the historical Hywel ap Gruffydd who figures prominently during the early years of the 14th century as a member of that Welsh official class, led by Sir Gruffydd Llwyd in North Wales and Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd in South Wales which showed such remarkable loyalty to Edward II throughout his reign (E.H.R., iii, 577-601). Early in Edward's reign his brother, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd ap Iorwerth, claimed to be the hereditary pencenedl (chief of kindred) of the line of Hwfa ap Cynddelw (Ancient Petitions, 2873). In 1305 Hywel ap Gruffydd and his three brothers (Llywelyn, Gruffydd and Iorwerth) ‘of the cantref of Aberffraw’ complained of an unjust assessment on their Anglesey lands (Rec. Caern., 216). He served in Scotland, presumably in the Bannockburn campaign (Cal. Close Rolls, 1313-18, 367) and in 1326-7 he was imprisoned in Caernarvon castle, together with his brother Iorwerth and eleven others, for their adherence to Edward II before his abdication and death (Cal. Close Rolls, 1327-30, 182). He was probably the Hywel ap Gruffydd who represented Anglesey in the Parliament of 1327, and in 1331 he accused William de Shaldeford, who had been deputy to Roger Mortimer (see article Mortimer family), justice of North Wales in 1327, of having encouraged Mortimer to encompass the death of Edward II in order to frustrate an attempt to rescue him by his Welsh adherents (Bulletin of Rylands Library, vol. 6, 35-6 and 43-9). The date of his death is not known, but he may have been the Anglesey man of the same name who swore fealty to the Black Prince in 1343 (Archæologia Cambrensis, supplement 1877, clii). The survey of Anglesey in 1352 (Rec. Caern., 51) shows that Gwely Metusalem ap Hwfa ap Cynddelw in the commote of Llifon was in the possession of Hywel's nephews — Madog ap Gruffydd Fychan and Llywelyn ap Iorwerth ap Gruffydd — ‘et alii’; the expression almost certainly conceals Hywel's own heirs.
Published date: 1959
Article Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC-RUU/1.0/