The Gwentian Chronicle records that "Ithel prince of Glamorgan" died in 994 and "was succeeded by his son Gwrgan, a wise and peaceable prince; but his son Iestin preferred misrule and inclined to war and turbulence", adding that Iestin built "a castle…Denis Powys" on "the comot of Trev Essyllt" and "confederated with Aeddan son of Blegywryd son of Morgan the Great and they meditated war to acquire the territory of Meredydd". The Gwentian Chronicle records that "Iestin son of Gwrgan…after the death of Denis daughter of Bleddyn son of Cynvyn his first wife" requested in marriage the daughter of "Rotpert son of Seisyllt…Ardden by Eviliau daughter of Gwrgeneu his first wife and was refused by her father on account of her age" but that he "ravished her against her will", dated to [1032/36] from the context. The Gwentian Chronicle records that "Iestin son of Gwrgan…the worst prince ever seen in Wales" succeeded after the death of "Hywel lord of Glamorgan" in 1043. 1
Iestyn ap Gwrgant (fl c. 1081-1093), last independent ruler of Glamorgan and son of Gwrgant ab Ithel. Little is known with certainty about him. Cardiff seems to have been his seat of government, but the extent of his territory is unknown. He cannot have become supreme in Glamorgan until 1081, when Caradog ap Gruffydd, who ruled Glamorgan from c 1075, was slain. In 1080, Iestyn was sufficiently insignificant to appear as a minor witness attesting a grant of land made of Llandaff by 'Caratocus rex morcannuc.' Yet before his death, he was important enought to violate the sanctity of Llandaff, an act for which Iestyn had to atone by a grant of land. He founded the fifth royal tribe of Cymru, and most of the noble families of Glamorgan claimed descent from him.
A famous story of Glamorgan, at least as old as the 15th cent., associated the Norman conquest of Glamorgan with Iestyn's name. It describes how Iestyn, through his kinsman Einion ap Collwyn, a fugitive in England, secured Robert Fitzhamon's assistance against Rhys ap Tewdwr, whom he slew at Penrhys. Iestyn paid the Normans but refused Einion's promised reward - his daughter in marriage. Einion recalled the departing Normans, who overthrew Iestyn, divided the lowlands amongst themselves, leaving only the hill country to the Welsh. Iestyn fled - to Keynsham Abbey, according to one version - where he died. Where this story touches known facts it is demonstrably wrong, e.g. Keynsham Abbey was not founded till 1169, while Rhys was slain near Brecon in Easter week 1093. 2
Iestin ab Gwrgant (fl 1093), prince of Gwent and Morganwg, is a shadowy hero of the legend of the conquest of Glamorgan, whose biography, as told in the 'Gwentian Brut y Tywysogion,' is fabulous and absurd. Married in 994, he failed to obtain the succession of Morganwg on his father's death in 1030, because the people preferred his great-uncle, Howel ab Morgan; but he became ruler on Howel's death in 1043. Nearly fifty years later he is said to have taken a prominent share in the history of the conquest of Glamorgan by the Normans. He was an enemy of Rhys ab Tewdwr, the king of Brecheiniog. Hard pressed by his enemy, he promised to marry his daughter to Einion ab Collwyn if the latter could procure him help from England against their common foe Rhys. Eineon obtained the help of Robert Fitzhamon, who speedily defeated and slew Rhys, king of Brecheiniog. We know from authentic history that Rhys died in 1093. Iestin paid the Normans liberally and they went their way. He now refused his daughter to Einion, saying that he would never give either land or daughter to a traitor. Einion in revenge persmacded Fitzhamon to return. The Normans soon became masters of Iestin's territory and drove Iestin away. Iestin fled to Glastonbury over the Channel; thence he went to Bath and finally back to Bwent, where he died at the monastery of Llangenys at an extraordinary old age. His sons, Caradog, Madog, and Howel, abandoned their father to his fate and were rewarded with a share of the conquered land, Caradog, the eldest, obtaining the lordship of Aberavon.
The details of the story of the conquest of Glamorgan are mythical; the outline is not in itself unlikely. Iestin's historical existence is proved by the existance of his descendants. His grandsons, Morgan, Maredudd, Owain, and Cadwaladr, the four sons of Caradog were joint lords of Aberavon when Archbishop Baldwin and Giraldus Cambrensis made their crusading tour in Cymru. Rhys, another son of Iestin, is also mentioned in a document of the reign of John. Some Glamorganshire families claim descent from Iestin. 3
IESTYN was rejected by his countrymen as Sovereign on the death of his father, Gwrgan, in 1030, owing to his violent and headstrong disposition, and his uncle Hywel was elected instead ; on whose death in 1043, however, he succeeded to the throne. In 1088, he waged war with Rhys ab Tewdwr, in conjunction with Einion ab Collwyn, and the latter having obtained from England the aid of Robert Fitzharnon, and twelve other Knights, they entirely defeated him at Hirwaen Wrgant (see ante, p. 28). A quarrel between the two chieftains immediately afterwards, owing to Iestyn's refusal to give his daughter in marriage to Einion as promised, induced Einion to recall the Normans who had already entered their ships to return home. He shouted to them, and waved his cloak to call them back. They returned, and were easily persuaded by him to wrest the territory of Glamorgan from its prince. They chased Iestyn out of the country, who crossed the Bristol Channel, and fled to Glastonbury, thence to Bath, and ultimately to the Monastery of Llangenys in Monmouthshire, where he died at the great age of 129. His patrimony was divided into nineteen portions : thirteen were appropriated to Fitzharnon and his Knights, four to Iestyn's sons, one to Einion, and another to Robert ab Seisyllt. Iestyn was twice married. His first wife, Denis, was, according to some pedigrees, the daughter of Bleddyn ab Cynfyn ; but a comparision of dates will shew that this could scarcely have been so. She may have been his elder sister. By her he had eight children, Rhydderch, Meredith, Cadwgan, Griffith, Rhiwallon, Morgan Hir, Elen, and Gwenllian. His second wife was Angharad, the daughter of Elystan Glodrudd (founder of the fifth Royal Tribe), and by her he had five children, namely, Caradog, Madog, Morgan (who died young), Rhys, and Nest. 4
IESTYN, THE SON OF GWRGAN'S CHILDREN.
IESTYN'S first wife was Denis, the daughter of Bleddyn, the son of Cynfyn, prince of Powis, who had, for her jointure, the Lordship of Kibor in Glamorgan. Iestyn, now, built a castle at Cardiff, and another, for his wife, at the place called from her Denis Powis, conferring on this place the privilege of Lordship by Right ; and on the castle and its domains the privileges of a Royal Court.
By this wife Iestyn had eight children.
1. Rhydderch, the son of Iestyn, who had the Lordship of Wentloog, with the royal residence at Caerlleon upon Usk. He
won the Principality of South Wales, of which his children and grand-children became princes : but it was in virtue of his father and mother's marriage settlement, under the conditions of a deed executed to Bleddyn, the son of Cynfyn, that Rhydderch obtained, by primogeniture, the Lordship of Caerlleon upon Usk.
2. Meredith, the son of Iestyn.
3. Cadwgan, the son of Iestyn.
4. Griffith, the son of Iestyn, who had the Lordship of Coetty, by settlement, under the condition of paying a gold noble annually to his brother Caradog, who was made Lord of Glamorgan by his father. Griffith, the son of Iestyn, of Coetty, had a son named Meyryg* who excelled all his contemporaries in noble and military accomplishments, whence originated the proverb, "Meyryg's name is a great name."
* This Meyryg had a son named Morgan, who had a daughter named Sarah, an only child and sole heiress ; and she married Sir Pain Turberville, who, consequently, obtained the Lordship of Coetty in rightful possession ; therefore he neither acknowledged
tribute, submission, nor homage to Sir Robert Fitzhamon, and,
hence, he was called, by the French, "Pain the Devil".
5. Rhiwallon, the son of Iestyn, who had lands in Corboil, in
France, given to him by Sir Robert Fitzhamon.
6. Morgan Hir, (the Tall,) the son of Iestyn, who had landed
property in the Lordship of Miskin.
7. Elen, the daughter of Iestyn, who married Trym, the son of
Maenarch, Lord of Brecknock ; and she was called Elen the Fair.
8. Gwenllian, the daughter of Iestyn, who married Ynyr,
King of Gwent, who lived at Llanfoist, in the time of Edward the
The second wife of Iestyn, the son of Gwrgan, was Angharad,
the daughter of Elystan Glodrydd, king of the territory between
the Wye and the Severn and with her he had, in dower, the Red
Cantred between the said rivers. By this wife Iestyn had five
2 the son of Iestyn, who had the district between the
rivers Neath and Avan. He erected a castle in the town of Aberavan,
where he held his court; and granted lands and municipal
rights to the town.
2. Madog, the son of Iestyn, who had the Lordship of Ruthin,
of Sir Robert Fitzhamon.
3. Morgan, the son of Iestyn, who died before years of maturity.
4. Rhys, the son of Icstyn, who had the Lordship of Sovlen,
between Neath and Tawy.
5. Nest, the daughter of Iestyn, who was given in marriage to
Einion, the son of Collwyn, by Sir Robert Fitzhamon ; and with
her, in dower, the Lordships of Senghenydd and Miskin. 3 5 6 7
"....Iestyn died at Keynsham, aged one hundred and eleven years; and leaving behind nine sons and daughters, sixty-six grand-children, one hundred and forty great-grand-children, two hundred and nine great-great-grand-children, and fifteen great-great-great-grand-children. One son died before him, nine grand-children, five great-grand-children, and two great-great-grand-children, and one great-great-great-grand-child, the whole of which were of his own family; amounting altogether to four hundred and forty-nine. He was the prince of the most numerous descendants in Britain..."
[Footnote to the above]: The extreme ages of Iestyn, and several of his ancestors, have startled the belief of many commentators; the effect being, a considerable degree of incredulity respecting the longevities attributed to them. It would be quite superfluous here to commence a scrutinizing inquiry into the reality of their long periods of existence.... —A few words, therefore, in support of Iestyn's duration, shall suffice.—From his marriage, in 994, to his final defeat in 1089, a period of 95 years intervenes; during which, he appears incessantly in view, as a prominent actor in the continuous wars of that long and turbulent period; and, as it is quite probable that he engaged in warlike operations for five years previously to his marriage, we may safely conclude that he led an active military life through the extraordinary duration of a whole century; as if verifying, in his own patriarchal person, one of the denunciations that constituted the most hopeless portion of the Curse of Kehama,—"Time shall not harm thee." During his astonishingly long career, we see his sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons, advancing themselves, under his support, to princely sway; and many of them falling by his ever present side, in defence of their authority. After his overthrow, Sir Pain Turberville married, according to Caradoc, his great-grand-daughter,—namely, Asar, or Sarah, the daughter of Meryg, the son of Griffith, the son of Iestyn; but according to the records that immediately follow in this volume, and which are supported by several other testimonies in my possession, she was his great-great-grand-daughter; being the sole daughter and heiress of Morgan, the son of Meryg, the son of Griffith, the fourth on of Iestyn." 8