Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Morgan ap Llewelyn was Ifor Hael's elder brother. Of course he was much more than that, but he has inevitably been overshadowed by little brother Ifor of Gwern y Cleppa. Perhaps if Morgan had, in a quiet moment at Tredegar, leant back in his comfortable chair (the one with the fewest splinters) and contemplated granting employment to that talented young bard Dafydd ap Gwilym, of whom he had heard so much, then things could well have been different. Welsh literature may well have remembered the generosity and grace of Morgan Hael of Tredegar, leaving the name of Ifor to interest only geneaologists whose pulses race when encountering, among dusty archives, details of an obscure younger son from centuries past. It did not turn out that way.
It is not difficult to imagine Ifor Hael as a jolly, old gentleman, surrounded by bards, dispensing patronage and favour like a local monarch at court. This would seem to be an erroneous impression. Ifor did not even reach middle age. In 1361 when aged only about 25 or 26 he travelled ( along with his wife, Nest) to Bishton Castle, the home of Bishop John Pascal. They did not return home. Ifor and Nest contracted the plague and both died from it. The Bishop promptly did the same. If this be true, then the story of Dafydd ap Gwilym falling in love with Ifor's daughter is false. Indeed, there is doubt over whether Ifor had a daughter at all!
On his death Ifor left a young son, Thomas, who, according to some sources, was taken in by his uncle Morgan ap Llewelyn of Tredegar. Their names both appear as witnesses to a deed in 1375, and, as Thomas Wakeman points out, it is reasonable to assume that Thomas was brought up at Tredegar under the guardianship of his uncle. It must have been quite a crowded house at this time, as Morgan and his wife had at least nine children.
Morgan probably died around the year 1384, in his early 50's. He had consolidated the family dynasty, but his heir was rather more rash...
Married: Maud Verch Rhys
On Throne when at Tredegar: Edward III, Richard II,
Llewelyn ap Morgan (c1366)
Philip ap Morgan (c1368)
John ap Morgan (c1370)
Christie Verch Morgan (c1372)
Unknown daughter (c1378) (how cold and heartless that sounds!)
and Guardian to Thomas ap Ifor
According to a 1612 pedigree examined by John Weston of the data-wales website, Morgan ap Llewelyn was responsible for 'Morgan' becoming a fixed surname. Others have attributed the 'surname decision' to Sir John ap Morgan, who died in c1492.