Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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GRUFFYDD ap GWENWYNWYN (d. 1286 or 1287 ), lord of Upper Powys ;

the elder son of Gwenwynwyn by Margaret Corbet of Caus . An infant when his father d., an exile in 1216 , he was excluded from his inheritance until after the death of Llywelyn I , meanwhile spending his youth and early manhood in England dependent on royal bounty and his mother's dower. When Dafydd II submitted to Henry III in 1241 , the king invested Gruffydd (on strictly feudal terms) with the lordship of the family lands in Arwystli , Cyfeiliog , Mawddwy , Caereinion , Y Tair Swydd , and Upper Mochnant . Sometime before this decisive moment in his career, he had m. Hawise , daughter of John Lestrange of Knockin .

Steadfast in his loyalty to the Crown during the first decade of Llywelyn II 's rise to power, he suffered a renewed loss of patrimony and a second exile in 1257 . With evident reluctance, and though deprived of the lands of Cyfeiliog lying north of the Dovey , he agreed, in 1263 , to transfer his allegiance to Llywelyn and co-operate in the latter's plan for the creation of a native feudal principality. This arrangement, confirmed in the Treaty of Montgomery ( 1267 ), lasted until 1274 , the year of the notorious plot against Llywelyn 's life, in which Hawise and her eldest son, Owen , were deeply implicated.

From the shelter of his third exile at Shrewsbury , Gruffydd (not without some suspicion of royal encouragement) continued to embarrass Llywelyn , providing in this way one of the occasions for the war of 1277 . Reinstated in his barony of Powys after Llywelyn 's humiliation, he was still without the lands north of the Dovey ; these now became the subject of legal controversy between him and the Prince of Wales , the ensuing complications being part of the web of circumstances which led to the final outbreak of hostilities in 1282 , when Gruffydd figured among the most prominent of Edward 's supporters.

He lived for five years after the conquest, dying sometime between 21 Feb. 1286 and the end of 1287 . He was survived by his wife (d. 1310 ), six sons, and one daughter. The main inheritance passed to the eldest son, OWEN DE LA POLE , and eventually, in 1309 , to John Charlton , the husband of Gruffydd 's grand-daughter, Hawise .


  • A History of Wales: from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Littere Wallie , 1940 ;
  • Calendar of Ancient Correspondence concerning Wales , 1935 ;
  • The Welsh Assize Roll, 1277–1284 , 1940 .


Professor Thomas Jones Pierce, M.A., F.S.A., (1905-1964), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959