Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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FITZSTEPHEN , ROBERT (d. c. 1183 ), one of the conquerors of Ireland ,

son of Stephen , constable of Cardigan castle in 1136 , by Nest (q.v.) , daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr . He had lands in Cemais and succeeded his father as constable of Cardigan . When Henry II invaded the realm of Owain Gwynedd in North Wales in 1157 , Robert went to his assistance with a fleet. In the fighting he was badly wounded but escaped to the waiting ships. He seems to have successfully defended the fortress of Cardigan for the Clares (q.v.) for a long period, even against the onslaught of Hywel ab Owain in 1145 . Not until 1165 , after Rhys ap Gruffydd (q.v.) had subdued almost the whole of Ceredigion , did the castle fall into the hands of the Welsh . It was then betrayed to Rhys , razed to the ground, and Robert was imprisoned for over three years. On his release he crossed to Ireland to aid the king of Leinster and played a significant role in the conquest of Ireland where he was granted lands in Wexford and its neighbourhood. In 1177 he received a joint grant of the kingdom of Cork , where he ruled until his death, c. 1183 . The abbey of Strata Florida was founded in 1164 on land given to the monks by Robert . He also gave Llanfyrnach on the Taf to the knights of Slebech .


  • A History of Wales: from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest , 499, 504, 519, 538-9, 597;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Richard Fenton , A Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire . (2nd ed.), 347.


Dr Bertie George Charles, Ph.D., (1908-2000), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959