Monday, March 27, 2006

Ieuan ap Llywelyn ap Morgan (6)

Llywelyn ap Morgan had lost Tredegar, but whereas such a cataclysmic state of affairs perhaps would have sunk a less durable dynasty, it proved to be merely a blip in the fortunes of the Morgans of Tredegar.

One weapon the Morgans wielded with skill throughout the centuries was marriage. Dynastic marriages managed to greatly expand the family's wealth and prestige in the years to come, but in those uncertain few years after the failure of Owain Glyndwr's revolt, it was a tactical match that saved the Morgan aspirations.

Llywelyn arranged a lucrative marriage between his eldest son Ieuan and Elizabeth, the daughter of Thomas ap Llywelyn of Brecknock, brother of that sworn enemy of Glyndwr, Dafydd Gam.

Dafydd Gam (or 'Dafydd of the Squint', a rather unfortunate nickname perhaps) had long supported the King and actively opposed Glyndwr's rebellion. A man of great personal courage he died at Agincourt fighting alongside Henry V, and some sources credit him as having saved the King's life that day. To bring Dafydd's niece into the Morgan fold was something of a masterstroke and it seems to have allayed any lingering suspicions the authorities may have had about rebellious intentions still emanating from Tredegar.

Assuming that the Morgans received their estates back soon after this marriage, Tredegar passed on to Ieuan (or 'Jevan' as he appears in some sources) who faced the task of re-establishing their local pre-eminence. Ieuan appears to have lived to a very old age, so long in fact, that the Victorian antiquary Thomas Wakeman explored claims that Ieuan had been present at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Since his father had come of age almost a century before that, it is unlikely that Richard III would have been shaking in his boots at the prospect of meeting this ancient Morgan on the field of battle.

Although, if Ieuan had been born relatively late, he could have been present at Bosworth in his late eighties, and although this seems rather implausible, it was not unknown for octagenarians to participate, and participate valiantly, in battle at the time.

If Ieuan was still alive at the time of Bosworth it seems more likely that he would have declared his support for the Tudor cause but left the actual fighting to his son, Sir John.

When Ieuan eventually died is not known but, perhaps some time after the Tudor dynasty began their reign on the throne of England, he, as Thomas Wakeman concluded: "probably retired to Tredegar and died in his bed."

Married: Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas ap Llywelyn


Sir John Morgan
Jenkin born c1454

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Llywelyn ap Morgan (5)

Roughly a year after Llywelyn ap Morgan succeeded to Tredegar, the small town of Newport (in 1385) was granted its first town charter. Llywelyn, himself, had been granted the Lordship of Magor which, although admittedly small, does give some indication of the local power that the owner of Tredegar wielded.

Within twenty years, the fledgling town of Newport would be all but destroyed, and Llywelyn would have his lands confiscated.

The force which swept all this away was the revolt of Owain Glyndwr. In 1400 Glyndwr, in open defiance of the King of England, Henry IV, was proclaimed Prince of Wales by his band of followers. In that first year, Denbigh, Rhuddlan, Flint, Oswestry, Ruthen and Hawarden all fell to the forces of Glyndwr. Nearly the whole of Northern and Central Wales was in his hands, and by the end of 1401 the revolt, like a forest fire, had spread into South Wales.

Llywelyn ap Morgan decided to pledge his support to Glyndwr. This may have stemmed from a feeling of shared blood between the two men, for not only were they obviously both Welsh, and no doubt shared a love of country, but they were also both descended from the old princes of Deheubarth. Was this to be a re-birth of those days; was Glyndwr to be a new, more national, version of Hywel Dda?

As far as both Glyndwr and Llywelyn ap Morgan were concerned sadly not, although how popular Glyndwr actually was in Newport after his near-total destruction of the town and sacking of its castle, is open to debate. It is also hard to gauge exactly how supportive the Morgans actually were to Glyndwr, and how much of it was down to self-preservation. For example, did Llywelyn's home at Tredegar survive the Glyndwr assault on Newport?

There was no question about the aftermath, however: when Glyndwr's revolt failed, Llywelyn ap Morgan had his estate sequestrated. He had lost Tredegar.

Llywelyn was also a Juror in the Inquisition of Hugh Stafford in 1387, which pretty much proves that he had come of age by that time.

Married: Jennet, daughter of David Vaughan

Children (thought to have been eight of them in total) included:

Christy m. Madoc ap Ieuan of Gelligaer
Ann m. John ap Jenkin

Click to view previous Tredegar owners in this series:

4. Morgan ap Llywelyn d.1384
3. Ifor Hael of Gwern y Cleppa
2. Llywelyn ap Ifor and Angharad
1. Sir Morgan ap Maredudd d. c1331

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Saturday Morning Update

Just a quick update on things this Saturday morning:

You may notice that there is now a small advert just above this blog entry. I don't choose what this advert says, and it can seem rather random at times. On an automated system, it seems to pick up certain words from my blog, and then insert a 'themed' advert. This was fine when I was discussing the Morgan family, for a genealogy ad popped up; when discussing Ruperra, a conservation ad appeared, but following my post on the Morgan graves, the ad offered visitors to the blog the wonderful opportunity of being buried in a beautiful natural woodland!

Anyway, every time somebody clicks on the ad, it helps my blog. So, please feel free to show your support, by clicking away whenever something interesting catches your eye.

Other News:

We await further developments in the ongoing Ruperra Castle saga. I will try to keep you as fully updated as I can.

The latest entry in the Morgan family history will appear tomorrow, with Llywelyn ap Morgan of Tredegar.

And, last but certainly not least, Tredegar House is losing Lisa Jenkins. Lisa has worked in the general office for several years and is usually the first voice you hear when phoning the House. She will be greatly missed, because not only is she remarkably organised and efficient (she may giggle at that comment, but she really IS!) but she brought with her a sense of fun and was a joy to work with. She is going on to better things. She deserves it. I'm sure everyone wishes her all the very best in her new job.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ruperra Castle Latest

Ashraf Barakat has submitted plans for the re-development of Ruperra Castle to the Planning Department of Caerphilly County Borough Council.

It is thought that he is eager to convert the castle, and many of the outbuildings, into apartments. Does this mean that Ruperra Castle and the immediate grounds may become, like Cefn Mabli, something of a private 'compound'?

There is a meeting next week to discuss Mr Barakat's plans.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Morgan Graves (looking shabby?)

In tonight's South Wales Argus, Mike Buckingham writes of the current poor state of the graves of the Morgans of Tredegar at St Basil's Church, Bassaleg.

Hopefully something can be done to improve them.

The last time I was there was after a Spooky Tales Tour last year. A group of us had retired for a drink at the Tredegar Arms next door, to mull over the evening. After chatting about the Morgans for a bit, somebody suggested (I forget who, but it sounds like a suspiciously Goff Morgan-ish idea) that we actually pay them a visit, seeing as we were in the neighbourhood. And so, by the light of a mobile phone, our small intrepid band headed into the pitch black graveyard to find the resting place of many of the later members of that colourful dynasty.

Slightly away from the main plot of Morgans (there were so many buried there that the Tredegar family vault was full by the 1920s) , are the graves of a father and daughter. It was quite poignant, and somehow fitting, to find, side-by-side, the graves of Courtenay Morgan, Viscount Tredegar, and his only daughter Gwyneth (who drowned in the Thames in December 1924).

I had been studying the sad case of Lord Tredegar's daughter only a few weeks before and it had been the first time I had visited her grave. I had heard all about the great tensions between father and daughter, and of how scandal had been heaped upon the Morgan name by her connections with some rather shady characters from the Limehouse region of London. If there was anything that Courtenay hated it was scandal. The death of Gwyneth, deeply affected him, however, and probably accelerated his own physical decline.

Originally Gwyneth had been buried at Putney Vale Cemetery, near Wimbledon, and it was only on the insistence of her brother, Evan, that her body was brought back home, and re-buried at St Basil's.

I am sure that Courtenay would be pleased that he is now at rest so close to his daughter.