Traditions preserved in late medieval genealogies make Rhirid the son of one Gwrgenau who is supported by an obscure and doubtful pedigree going back to Cunedda Wledig. The appellation of blaidd (wolf) he inherited from his maternal grandmother, Haer, daughter and heiress of Gillyn, son of Blaidd Rhudd or the Bloody Wolf of Gest, a township in Eifionydd. By Cynfyn Hirdref (Hirdref is a township in Llŷn) Haer had a daughter, Generis, the mother of Rhirid Flaidd. Haer is supposed to have taken Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, king of Powys, as her second husband, and Gwrgenau consequently received lands in Powys from his wife's half-brother, king Maredudd. Rhirid, who is said to have inherited his father's lands in Mochnant and Penllyn, at Pennant Melangell and Rhiwaedog, as well as the maternal inheritance at Gest, would, if all this were true, have been a cousin of Madog ap Maredudd, last king of united Powys (died 1160). He is also said to have married Gwenllian, daughter of Ednyfed ap Rhiwallon of Brochdyn or Broughton, by whom he had two sons, Einion and Madog. From him the following families claimed descent — Lloyd of Rhiwaedog, the Myddelton of Gwaenynog and Chirk, the Vaughans of Glan-llyn, and the Lloyds of Glanhavon.
Contemporary evidence exists to prove the historicity of at least part of the above account. Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr, the foremost bard of Powys in the time of Madog ap Maredudd, composed three poems to Rhirid, one returning thanks to his patron for a fine sword with which he had presented him, and the other two lamenting his hero's premature death, an event which evidently occurred sometime after Madog's decease in 1160. The name of his father, Gwrgeneu, is here confirmed, and we are told that he had a brother Arthen; he is described as a proprietor or priodawr in a place called Pennant, and his associations with Dunoding, the cantref in which Gest is situated, are several times emphasized; his intimate connection with Madog is made clear, and there is mention of Ednyfed ap Rhiwallon and his son Einion. There is also a significant reference to his slaughter of the English as far as the swamplands of Tern beyond Shrewsbury : the lordship of Oswestry, it is known, was in Madog's possession for some years, and it is certain that Rhirid was the recipient of a gift of land there, for a gwely linked with his name survived in the lordship down to the end of the Middle Ages. From all this, it may be concluded that he was a leading nobleman of the time, a noted warrior greatly favoured in the courts of Powys, and a proprietor unusually well endowed with land throughout the breadth of two provinces. He may well have deserved the status attributed to him by Cynddelw — ‘Priodawr Pennant pennaf, uchelwr uchelwyr vodrydaf’ (‘the greatest of landowners, a magnate of magnates’).
Published date: 1959
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