Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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CADELL ap GRUFFYDD (d. 1175 ).

The son of Gruffydd ap Rhys (d. 1137 ) . He is first heard of in 1138 , when, with his brother Anarawd and Owain and Cadwaladr of Gwynedd , he brought a Viking fleet of fifteen ships, no doubt from Dublin , to the mouth of the Teify , in a vain endeavour to capture Cardigan , the last foothold left to the Normans in Ceredigion .

During the next few years he was overshadowed by his elder brother, but the treacherous murder of Anarawd in 1143 by Cadwaladr 's men gave him a leadership in Deheubarth which he exercised with vigour. In 1146 he won the castle of ‘Dinwileir,’ probably situated in the commote of Mabudrud , which earl Gilbert of Pembroke (see under Clare family , section B) had fortified in the previous year. A more resounding success in the same year was the capture of Carmarthen and Llanstephan . The year 1147 saw an unusual combination of forces.

Cadell and his young brothers joined the Fitzgeralds of Pembroke in an attack upon Wiston , the castle of Walter Fitzwiz , in which success was achieved with the help of Hywel ab Owain . Having in 1150 put Carmarthen in a state of defence and protected it by a raid upon the region of Kidwelly , he was emboldened to attack the northern hold upon Ceredigion , and it was not long ere Cadell and his brothers had driven Hywel beyond the Ayron . Further gains were in prospect, when in 1151 the victorious leader's career was cut short; while hunting (very probably in the forest of Coed Rhath ) he was set upon by knights and archers from Tenby and left for dead. He survived for many years, but his days as a warrior were ended.

In 1153 he went on pilgrimage to Rome , leaving his conquests to the care of his brothers; after this, he is not heard of until 1175 , when he is recorded to have entered, after a long illness, the abbey of Strata Florida , there to find burial.


  • J. E. Lloyd, A History of Wales: from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest , 475-6, 501-4.


Sir John Edward Lloyd, D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A. (1861-1947), Bangor

Published date: 1959