Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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GWYNLLYW ( Gundleius , Gunlyu ) , saint , fl. late 5th-early 6th cent. ,

was the son of Glywys , ruler of the kingdom of Glywysing which extended over parts of eastern Carmarthenshire , Glamorgan , and Monmouthshire . Gwynllyw 's mother was Guaul , daughter of Ceredig ap Cunedda . The oldest source for the details of his life is the ‘ Life of S. Cadoc ,’ composed in the main towards the end of the 11th cent. The ‘ Life of S. Gwynllyw ’ and the ‘ Life of S. Tatheus ,’ which are the other main authorities for his legend, are 12th cent. compositions. A summary version of the ‘ Life of S. Gwynllyw ’ was composed by John of Teignmouth in the mid-14th cent. An early 14th cent. manuscript recently discovered at Gotha , Germany , contains the pedigree of Gwynllyw (see Anal. Boll. , lviii, 98). As the eldest of the ten sons of Glywys (the ‘ Life of S. Gwynllyw ’ gives the number as seven), Gwynllyw inherited the principal seat of his father's kingdom, namely, the territory lying between the rivers Usk and Rhymney , which was called ‘ Gwynllwg ’ (‘ Wentloog ’) after him. His youthful exploits in battle earned him the epithet ‘ milwr ’ ( warrior ). He m. Gwladys , daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog (against her father's will, according to the ‘ Life of S. Cadoc ’) and there was born to them a son, Cadoc (q.v.) , who became one of the most renowned of Welsh saints . The older genealogies name Bugi and Cemmeu also as sons of Gwynllyw . Admonished by Cadoc , Gwynllyw and Gwladys forsook their worldly position and embraced the hermit 's life, living at first in neighbouring cells, later in widely-separated localities. The ‘ Life of S. Gwynllyw ’ states that both Cadoc and Dubricius attended Gwynllyw on his deathbed, and administered the last sacrament to him. The church of S. Woolos and the parish of Pilgwenlly in Newport still bear his name. Two chapels named after Gwynllyw formerly stood in the parishes of Llanelly and Llanegwad, Carms. 29 March is his feast-day. Gwynllyw is not to be confused with Gwynlleu , patron of Nantcwnlle, Cards.

Sources:

  • Wade-Evans , Vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae , Cardiff, 1944 , 24-34, 86-90, 122-4, 172-92, 278-80;
  • Horstman (ed.), Nova legenda Anglie as collected by John of Tynemouth, John Capgrave, and others, and first printed, with new lives, now re-edited with fresh material from MS and printed sources by C. Horstman , 1901 , i, 504-6;
  • Acta Sanctorum Bollandiana , 1643 ff , March , iii, 780-1;
  • The Lives of the British Saints , iii, 234-41;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Butler , The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and other principal Saints (ed. Thurston ), March , 435-6;
  • Dictionary of Christian Biography , four volumes, 1877–87; another edn. 1911 , ii, 831-2.

Author:

Hywel David Emanuel, M.A., (1921-70), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959