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HYWEL ap GRUFFYDD ap IORWERTH , or SYR HYWEL Y PEDOLAU (of the Horseshoes) ( fl. c. 1300-1340 ).

According to a story recorded by Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt (q.v.) 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 articles 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 ’ (q.v.) — 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 ( Trans. Angl. Antiq. Soc. , 1951 , ii). His descendants, including those of Hywel ‘y Pedolau,’ are found in Anglesey and Caernarvon (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 cent. as a member of that Welsh official class, led by Sir Gruffydd Llwyd in North Wales and Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd [No article found] in South Wales (qq.v.) 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 ( Arch. Camb. , 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.


Professor Glyn Roberts, M.A., (1904-1962), Bangor

Published date: 1959