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Welsh Genealogical Tracts


Notes on deciphering Welsh genealogies

A further review of kindred words is obtained at the end of this page.

Harleian genealogies

The Harleian genealogies are a collection of Old Welsh genealogies preserved in British Library, Harleian MS 3859. Part of the Harleian Collection, the manuscript, which also contains the Annales Cambriae (Recension A) and a version of the Historia Brittonum, has been dated to c. 1100.[1] Since the genealogies begin with the paternal and maternal pedigrees of Owain ap Hywel Dda (d. 988), the material was probably compiled during his reign. The collection also traces the lineages of less prominent rulers of Wales and the Hen Ogledd or Old North. Some of the genealogies re-appear in the genealogies of Jesus College MS. 20. (excerpt Wikipedia)

See Harleian MS 3859 genealogy 10 for the error in the creation of Beli and Anna, the sister of Mother Mary.

Harleian MS 3859

Bonedd y Seint genealogies

The Bonedd y Saint (English: Descent of the Saints) is a Welsh genealogical tract detailing the lineages of the early Brythonic saints. There are a number of different manuscripts in existence dating from the early 13th to the late 17th century, although the material is much older in origin. (excerpt Wikipedia)

Bonhed y Seint, Achau y Saint, Brychan, Harleian 4181,
Peniarth 16, Peniarth 45, Hafod ms. 2 now in Cardiff.

Bonedd Gwŷr y Gogledd genealogies

Bonedd Gwŷr y Gogledd (English: The Descent of the Men of the North) is a brief Middle Welsh tract which claims to give the pedigrees of twenty 6th-century rulers of the Hen Ogledd ("Old North"), the Brythonic-speaking parts of southern Scotland and northern England. It is attested in a number of manuscripts, the earliest being NLW, Peniarth MS 45, which has been dated to the late 13th century. The text may have been composed in the 12th century. The historicity of much of the information is spurious or in doubt. Although certain parts are in agreement with the earlier Harleian genealogies, the text represents a substantial revision seeking to integrate the branches of many rulers and heroes who are prominent in other traditions, such as the Rheged prince Llywarch Hen. (excerpt Wikipedia)

Bonedd Gwŷr y Gogledd (Descent of the Men of the North) (Henwrt MS 536)

Mostyn MS 117 genealogies

Mostyn MS 117 is a late thirteenth century manuscript now housed in the Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru (National Library of Wales). It claims to record the genealogy of King Arthur

Mostyn MS 117

Jesus College MS 20 genealogies

The genealogies from Jesus College MS 20 are a medieval Welsh collection of genealogies preserved in a single manuscript, Oxford, Bodleian Library, Jesus College, MS 20, folios 33r–41r. It presents the lineages of a number of medieval Welsh rulers, particularly those of south Wales. The manuscript was compiled in the late 14th century, but many genealogies are thought to be considerably older. The latest pedigrees to have been included in the tract are those of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (d. 1240) and Rhys Gryg (d. 1234).[1] It shares some material with the earlier Harleian genealogies. (excerpt Wikipedia)

Jesus College MS 20 genealogies

Life of St Cadog Genealogy Showing King Glywys of Glywysing

Brenhinllwyth Morganwc genealogy (c. 1545)

These next three genealogies were part of what Edward Lluyd refered to as "Hanesyn Hen" which appear to have been Hengwrt 33, which was later lost; however copies of it still exist:

Bonedd yr Arwyr

Achau Brenhineodd a Thywysogian exerpts)

As this next genealogy concerns persons who lived between 900 and 1100, it is only of use in terms of their ancestors. It was contained in the National Library of Wales Journal #12 Summer 1968, edited by P.C Bartrum. Also of interest is his article and correction combined: Pedigrees_of_the_Welsh_tribal_Patriarchs in National Library of Wales Journal #13 & 15 (pdf)

Hen Lwythau Gwynedd a'r Mars (pdf)

Genealogy Charts compiled in
The Lives of the British Saints Vol 1, (Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine), 1907)

The Saints of Wales belong to eight great families.

1. That of Maxen Wledig, or Maximus the Usurper, 383-388. He is held to have married Elen, daughter of Eudaf, a petty prince in Arfon, and Aurelius Ambrosius probably claimed descent from Maximus. From the same stock came Rhydderch Hael, the prince who established himself supreme over the Cumbrian Britons; also Ynyr Gwent, prince of Gwent, who resided at Caerwent. This family would seem to have represented the Romano-British civilization. The pedigree has been disturbed by confounding Elen, the wife of Maximus, with S. Helena, the wife of Constantius and mother of Constantine the Great.
Table 1: Race of Eudaf
Table2: Maxen Wledig

2. That of Cunedda, which came from the North, from the defense of the Wall, and which had been seated in the ancient Roman Valentia. This family is said to have expelled the Gwyddyl from Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Mon, and to have also occupied Merioneth, Osweilion and Denbigh. From it proceeded the royal line of Gwynedd, which only came to an end with the last Llewelyn. From this family proceeded those important saints, Dewi and Teilo.
Table4: Cunedda
Table8a: Amlawdd Wledig

3. That of Cadell Deyrnllwg in Powys, which sent out a branch into Glywyssing. Cadell became prince of Powys with his seat at Wroxeter or Shrewsbury, in the 5th century, in consequence of a revolt of the Romano-British and Christian subjects of Benlli against their prince, who favored paganism. Cadell was grandfather of Brochwel Ysgythrog. This family died out in the male line in Cyngen, murdered at Rome in 854. It produced several saints, notably S. Tyssilio of Meifod; and its branch in Glywyssing afforded the still more illustrious S. Pedrog and S. Catwg.
Table6: Cadell & Rodri Mawr

4. That of Brychan, king of Brycheiniog (Brecknock or Breconshire). Brychan was born in Ireland to King Anlach and Queen Marchel. Queen Marth was heiress of the Kingdom of Garth Madrun in Wales. King Anlach, the father of Brychan, had also made himself master of Brecknock. The Brychan's family produced an incredible number of saints (some of whom were tacked on because of their popularity), who are found not only in their native district, but also in North-east and East Cornwall.
De Situ Brecheniauc (the Circumstances of Brychan) (oldest) and Cognacio Brychan (the Kin of Brychan) appear to be derived from the same older source which is at as late as the 11th century.
The genealogy also appears in the Jesus College MS 20 and there are also other sources such as Cornish: Life of Saint Nectan in the Gotha MS M.n.57, Irish: the Books of Leinster, Ballymote, Lecan and Uí Maine, and a Breton tradition.

5. That of Caw of Cwm Cawlwyd in North Britain. Caw, however, is manipulated to be was son of Geraint ab Erbin, Prince of Devon.
See "Caw of Prydain unmasked"

6. That of Coel Godebog. According to Skene, he was king in North Britain, and from him Kyle now takes its name. He was ancestor of a large and important family, of Ynyr (incorrectly shown as Llyr Merini), of Urien Rheged, and of the poet Llywarch Hen. From him descended a great many saints, but none of any great importance. Pabo Post Prydynn, and Dunawd, and Deiniol of Bangor, are the most conspicuous.
Table3: Coel Godebog

7. That of Cystennin Feindigaid, a stock derived from the family of Maxen Wledig (Magnus Maximus), which included his son who followed in his footsteps as emperor of Rome: Constantine III, 408-411. It was from this stock that issued the family of Caw. It would seem to have supplied Domnonia (Devon and Cornwall) with princes with the most famous being Geraint. The Constantine called Goneau (Cornish) was incorrectly assigned to Constantine the son of Magnus Maximus, but he was the son of Cador, whom Gildas lambasted for killing the two sons of Mordred. (The Lives of the British Saints author was mistaken in his commentary about who this Constantine was.)
The saint of this family that proved most remarkable was S. Cybi.

8. That of Emyr Llydaw from Armorica. The Welsh pedigrees derive Emyr from Cynan, son of Eudaf and brother of Elen, wife of Maximus. All that we really know about Emyr is that probably, on account of an usurpation by one of his sons, the others had to fly from Armorica and take refuge in South Wales, where they were well received by Meurig, king of Morganwg, who gave to several of them his daughters in marriage. The Bretons pretend that this eldest son, who sent his brothers living, was Llywel, or Hoel, " the Great ". From Emyr proceeded some men of great mark, as S. Samson, S. Padarn, and, ridiculously, S. Cadfan and S. Winwaloe.
Table7: Emyr_Llydaw & Meurig

To them may perhaps be added that of Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu (Vortigern), but it did not proceed beyond the second generation, and then only through daughters.
Table8b: Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu
See Pillar of Eliseg.
See Genealogy of Vortigern in Historia Brittonum.

Genealogy of Arthur derived from the Llandaff Charters
  (see Llandaff Charters)
Genealogy of Dubricius derived from Book of Llandaff: Lives of Four Saints
  (see Book of Llandaff Saints
Show in genealogy chart)
Table9: Early Irish Kings
Some Irish Genealogies contained in The Expulsion of the Deisi are relevant to the region of Dyfed: (see comparison to Harlien 3859 Genealogy 2).

Genealogies of Saxon kings in Historia Brittonum
Bernicia, Kent, East-anglia, Mercians, Deiri

The Ancient Laws of Cambria by William Probert (1823):
Descending kindred
gorhengaw, gorhengawesson, daughter in the 7th degree
hengaw, hengawesson, daughter in the 6th degree
gorchaw, gorchawesson, daughter in the 5th degree
caw, cawesson, daughter in the 4th degree
gorwyr, gorwyresson, daughter in the 3rd degree
wyr, wyresgrandson, grand daughter
tad, mamfather, mother
mab, merchson, daughter
Ascending kindred
mab, merchson, daughter
tad, mamfather, mother
tad cu, mam gugrandfather, grandmother
hendad, henvamfather, mother in the 3rd degree
gorhendad, gorhenvamfather, mother in the 4th degree
taid, nainfather, mother in the 5th degree
hendaid, hennainfather, mother in the 6th degree
gorhendaid, gorhenainfather, mother in the 7th degree
Collateral Kindred Descending
brawd, chwaerbrother, sister
cevnder, cyvnithermale cousin, female cousin
cyvyrder2nd cousin
ysgiwion3rd cousin
gwrthysginion (?)4th cousin
ceivyn5th cousin
gorcheivyn6th cousin
gerni7th cousin
gwrtherni8th cousin
Collateral Kindred
ewythyr, modrybuncle, aunt
nai, nithnephew, niece
cyvnai, cyvnithnephew, niece in the 2nd degree
gorchyvnai, gochyvnithnephew, niece in the 3rd degree
cludnephew, niece in the 4th degree
car cludnephew, niece in the 5th degree
gwrth cludnephew, niece in the 6th degree
car o waednephew, niece in the 7th degree

An interesting point, in this age of personal genealogy searches, is that proof of collateral relationship for the Welsh was actually required in the ninth degree to determine the membership of a person in the tribe. Thus a whole family could be liable for a fine for a crime committed by one of its members, and each would be rated according to the proximity of kindredship. Hence the Welsh would often repeat their pedigrees with enthusiasm, whereas the Anglo-Saxons thought them stupid.

Genealogical Index

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