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 Llyn ) 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...
... 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 ’). 2
RHIRID FLAIDD. Of those Welsh chieftans who, during the reign of Henry II. and Richard Cœur de Leon, Kings of England, gained local celebrity as captains in the wretched tribal wars of Wales, or, as generals of the sometimes uniting forces of the Principality, carried fire and sword across the marshes, few were so marked for reckless bravery and military genius as Rhirid Flaidd (the wolf), Lord of Penllyn.
None of his country and time were more beloved by their followers and vassals, and few, like Rhirid, were as popular in peace as in war.
Yet of this remarkable warrior, a large number of whose descendants have, for seven centuries, continued to show extraordinary military ability, we know surprisingly little.
The Heralds tell us that he was the eldest son and heir of Gwrgenen ap Collwyn, Lord of the Comôt or hundred of Penllyn, in Merionethshire, North Wales, half-brother on his mother's side to Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Prince of Powysland, from whom he obtained a grant of Penllyn and other lands.
The pedigree of Gwrgenen is thus given in the ancient manuscript records of the early Welsh Bards:
Gwrgenen, ap (son of) Collwyn ap Moreiddig ap Rhys ap Gwrystan ap Llywarch ap Phiwlan ap Aradri ap Mor ap Tegerin ap Aylan ap Greddyt ap Cwnnws Ddu, ap Cyllin Ynad ap Peredur Teirnoedd ap Meiler Eryr Gwyr y Gorsedd ap Ticho ap Tyvoede ap Gwilfyw ap Marchudd ap Bran ap Pill ap Cerfyr ap Melifron ap Gwron ap Cunedda Wledig, who was "king" of Gwynedd (North Wales) "Anno Domini" 530." From Cunedda Wledig the line is traced back through the early British Kings to Brute or Brutus, called the first King of Britain, who is estimated to have lived about 1600 B.C. The lineage is derived through Rhegan, daughter to Lyr (Lear), King of Britain, married Henwin, Prince of Cornwall, from whom Rhirid Flaidd is said to have descended in direct male line.
Lyr is the "King Lear" of Shakespeare who was astonishingly familiar with the ancient traditions of Britain. It is now generally considered by antiquarians that these old genealogies of the British Kings have some foundation, being the accepted records of their time and are entitled to consideration. The additions to these records, made, it is said, after the Roman Conquest, and declaring Brutus "which inhabited first this island," to the son of Silvius, son of Ascanius, the son of Æneas the Trojan, may, however, be regarded by some as an attempt to show a Roman lineage at a time when Rome and all that was Roman was the fashion in Britain. The statement has only the respectability of age and the want of any other information on the subject to sustain it.
The mother of Rhirid Flaidd was Generis, daughter and co-heiress of Cynfyn Hirdref, Lord of Nevyn, by Haer, his wife, daughter and heiress of Cynillion ap Y Blaidd Rhûdd, Lord of Gest, in the comôt of Evionydd in Cantref Dinodig. She married, secondly, Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Prince of Powys.
"Y Blaidd Rhûdd," i.e., the Bloody Wolf, transmitted his arms and name to his descendant Rhirid, who was called Flaidd or Blaidd, the Wolf.
Rhirid Flaidd flourished, as we have seen, during the reigns of Henry II. and Richard I., of England, and in the days of Madoc ap Meredith, who ruled Powys anno 1130 to 1159. There are yet extant several poems by the Bard Cynddelw, who lived at the same time, and to whom Rhirid presented a very elegant sword, upon his patron; one of these, an "englyn," was written subsequent to his death. Cynddelw says of him:
"I have a friendly wolf, that stands by me to crush the insulting foe.
It is not the forest wolf, scattering the harmless flock, but the wolf of the field of battle; though at other times he is mild and liberal."
Besides by Lord of Penllyn, Rhirid was also Lord of Pennant Milangell, in the Lordship of Mechain Isy Coed, Glyn, and Eleven towns or hamlets in the Cantref of Trefryd; in Powysland, and of Evionydd in Gwynedd. He lived at a place called Neuaddan Gleison, a very strong castle in the township of Rhiwaedog, Penllyn, and also built, or added to, and kept garrisoned Rhiwaedog tower, now Rhiwaedog House, where he sometimes resided. It may be imagined that the great wealth which he acquired permitted him to live in a style equalled only by the native Princes. There are yet preserved at Rhiwaedog House several pieces of antique furniture, said to have been his, and bearing the date at which he lived. They are certainly massive enough to have survived seven centuries.
Holding his lands under the Princes of Powys, Rhiridd fought under their standard when so directed; sometimes on the English side, at other times against them. The unsettled state of Wales at this time gave him much to do at home, and the battle cry of his house, "the bloody wolf to the front," was a familiar sound. Whilst the Bard Cynddelw informs us that at home he was "mild and liberal," he inherited all of the Cymric love of battle and slaughter. Some of the acts of cruelty which it is said were committed by him are shocking in their details. He is by some called the leader of wolves, and was "wont to lay corpses in rows (with his sword), and to feast — with hovering ravens glutted with flesh, butchers with keen scent of carcasses." But if Rhirid Flaidd delighted in warfare it was only in accord with the teachings of his day. "Better the grave," sings a Bard, "than the life of a man who sighs when the bugles call him forth to the squares of battle."
Rhirid Flaidd married Gwenllian, daughter of Ednyfed, Lord of Broughton, son of Cynwrig ap Rhiwallog, Lord of Maelor Gymraeg. His arms, in accordance with the title of "The Wolf," were: Vert, a chevron between three wolves' heads, erased, argent, langued gules. 3