Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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DAFYDD GAM (d. 1415 ), Welsh warrior ,

was the son of Llywelyn ap Hywel Fychan , a Brecknock landowner of the stock of Einon Sais , whose castle stood at Pen-pont on the river Usk . His byname signified that he squinted or had lost an eye . Tradition averred that he fled from his homeland after killing his relative, Richard of Slwch , in the High Street of Brecon . He first appears, as a king's esquire , in April 1400 ; in this capacity he was to receive forty marks a year ( Cal. Close Rolls , 79). Since Henry had been for some years, through his marriage to Mary Bohun , in control of the lordship of Brecknock , the association was probably not new; Dafydd , at any rate, remained a loyal Lancastrian until his death. In Nov. 1401 he was rewarded out of rebel lands ( Cal. Pat. Rolls , 11), and, according to the Scottish historian , Walter Bower , he had a part in the royal victory over Owain Glyn Dŵr at Pwll Melyn , near Usk , on 5 May 1405 ( Scotichronicon , ed. W. Goodall , 1759 , ii, 452). This date throws doubt upon the familiar story of his treacherous attack upon Owen at the parliament of Machynlleth in 1404 ; it has other doubtful features, and, in any case, is not heard of until the time of Robert Vaughan , Hengwrt (d. 1667 ) . That Dafydd fell into the hands of Glyn Dŵr is certain, but that was at a much later date; it was in June 1412 , when the revolt was nearing its collapse, that the seneschal and the receiver of Brecon , with the assent of Llywelyn ap Hywel , the prisoner's father, were empowered to treat with Owen as to the ransom of ‘David Gamm,’ tenant in the lordship of Brecon ( Cal. Pat. Rolls , 406). The release was effected, and the final scene came in 1415 , when David went with his royal master to France , to meet his death on the field of Agincourt . Legends gathered round the end of this puissant fighter; in particular, it was believed that he was knighted on the fatal day. An influential posterity kept up his reputation; for two centuries and a half the Games clan were prominent in Brecknock affairs, at Aberbrân , Newton (near Brecon ), Tre-gaer , Buckland , and Penderyn , until the male line died out and the surname disappeared. The last sheriff to bear it was Hoo Games of Newton ( 1657 ). Through the marriage of his daughter Gwladus to Sir William ap Thomas of Raglan (see under Herbert , William , d. 1469 ), Dafydd Gam was forefather of all the Herberts .

Sources:

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • J. E. Lloyd , Owen Glendower / Owen Glyn Dwr , 1931 , 43, 142, 148;
  • Gwaith Lewis Glyn Cothi , 1-15;
  • Heraldic Visitations of Wales and Part of the Marches , 1846 , i, 56-7.

Author:

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

Published date: 1959