Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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GRUFFYDD ap LLYWELYN (d. 1244 ), prince ,

natural son of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (q.v.) by Tangwystl , daughter of Llywarch Goch of Rhos . He was b. sometime before his father's marriage to Joan (q.v.) in 1206 . The first reference to him is as one of the hostages handed over to John in 1211 ; he was still a prisoner in Aug. 1213 , but was released as part of the general settlement of 1215 . Irresponsible and headstrong, Gruffydd openly resented the fact that his half-brother ( Dafydd ap Llywelyn , q.v. ), was intended to be Llywelyn 's sole successor, an injustice which, in mediaeval Wales , an acknowledged son, though illegitimate by normal standards, could challenge with reasonable hope of public support. It was not Llywelyn 's intention, however, to exclude him entirely, if he proved co-operative, from some share of power. Although he suffered a long term of imprisonment at Degannwy from 1228 to 1234 , after having been deprived of the lordships of Ardudwy and Merioneth , he was eventually made lord of Llŷn and given the extensive appanage of Upper Powys , in Llywelyn 's hands since the death of Gwenwynwyn (q.v.) .

It was Dafydd himself, during his father's last enfeebled years, who struck a final blow for the principles of legitimacy and primogeniture, stripping Gruffydd of all his territories and imprisoning him and Owain ap Gruffydd (q.v.) , his eldest son, at Criccieth . This last event occurred in the period just before Llywelyn d. ( April 1240 ) or immediately afterwards. On 12 Aug. 1241 , Senena , Gruffydd 's wife, entered into an agreement with Henry III , arranging for her husband's release and restoration. When, a fortnight later, Dafydd was obliged to submit to the king at Gwern Eigron , the first part only of the agreement was fulfilled, for Gruffydd was now made a prisoner in the Tower of London where for over three years he spent an easy confinement in the company of his wife and some of their children, a pawn in the game of Anglo-Welsh politics. His attempt to escape on 1 March 1244 had a fatal ending. He had four sons — Owain Goch (q.v.) , Llywelyn (q.v.) , Dafydd (q.v.) and Rhodri — and one daughter, Gwladus , who m. Rhys ap Rhys Mechyll . In 1248 his remains were conveyed to Wales and laid to rest at Aberconway .


  • 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) .


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

Published date: 1959