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Genealogy Places of Interest

OWAIN GLYNDWR ( OWEN GLYN DOWER)

Although not a direct descendant Owain Glyndwr lived at the same time as Sir Gruffydd, who was a cousin of his and is thought to have been an ally in the 'rebellion'. Owain Glyndwr was a son of Griffith Vychan who was executed when Owain was still a young boy. Young Owain then served as a pageboy to Fitzalan to learn to be of 'substance'.  The Lordships of Glyndyfrdwy and Ial was inherited by Griffith Vychan (Gruffudd Fychan) in 1270 from his father Gruffudd ap Madog, Prince of Powys Fadog, and was passed down to Owain Glyndwr where he originally lived very comfortably before starting his 'revolution'.

Nannau District

There are very many spellings of Owain Glyndwr, pronounced Owane Glyndoowr, of which the most English is Owen Glendower as formulated by Shakespeare in his play Henry IV as a Welsh king. Correctly he was Owain Glyndwr and will be here referred to as such.

Born c1359 as the first son of Gruffydd Fychan, Lord of Glyndyfrdwy, and mother Elen, he and his brother Tudor grew up virtually identical in appearance except for a wart on Tudors nose. It is thought an older brother, Madog, died in infancy. His father being one of the Lords of the Marches, the border land between Wales and England, they moved freely in both.

On his mothers side Owain was descended from the princes of Deheubarth. He was more indirectly connected to the royal house of Gwynedd through his great-grandmother Gwenllian, wife of Madog Fychan, who was descended from Gruffudd ap Cynan.

For the above reasons Owain had a special status in the eyes of informed people and Iolo proclaims him “sole head of Wales”, even though he wrote his poem on Owains ancestry about 20 years before the uprising in Wales in 1400.

His father died about 1370 as Owain was reaching his teens and Owain was brought up at the home of Sir David Hanmer, a lawyer of Oswestry, later to become a Justice of the Kings Bench. Owain was then sent to serve an apprenticeship in London at the Inns of Court studying law. During this time he married Margaret Hanmer, gave up his apprenticeship and established himself as the Squire of Sycharth and Glyndyfrdwy.

Owains military career began in 1384 on the English/Scottish border serving under Sir Gregory Sais. In 1385 he again took part in Richard II’s Scottish war under Earl Richard Fitzalan. He then took part in the Battle of Cadzand in 1387. Following this in 1387 his father-in-law David Hanmer died and Glyndwr retired from military service.

Very many books have been written about Owain Glyndwr and the 'Welsh Rebellion' and only family matters will be reported here. He married very young a Margaret Hanmer, a judges daughter from Flint, and they had six sons and seven daughters. The eldest son was Gruffydd (does this prove a close link with his cousin ?), followed by Maredudd, Madog, Thomas, John and David. The daughters were Isabel, Elizabeth, Janet, Margaret, Catherine, Jane and Alice of whom Catherine and Alice were still unmarried when he was last seen in 1413.

Owain eventually took as his coat of arms the four lions of Gwynedd but he fought initially under the Powys banner. Howel Sele, 7th Lord of Nannau was a cousin of Owain but was a supporter of the English Crown. In 1402 he asked Owain to his estates to persuade him to join him in his beliefs. They went hunting and when a stag was raised Howel Sele raised his bow, but instead of shooting at the stag shot Owain who was saved because he was wearing chain mail under his clothes. Owain then killed Howel and hid his body in a hollow oak tree, which was only discovered 40 years later when the tree was split by lightening.

Other authorities maintain that as he lay dying some 10 years later Owen sent his friend Madoc to tell Hywel Seles widow the secret of the oak. The oak finally fell during a storm in 1813. A monument to Sele was built at Cymmer, which is now in ruins alongside Llanelltyd Bridge.

There are statues to Owain Glyndwr, Saint David, Dafydd ap Gwilym, Esgob Morgan and Hywel Dda in the Marble Hall of Cardiff Town Hall. It is thought that Owain was an originator of the 'scorched earth' policy when retreating in battle. He also had a brother Tudor, who was identical but for a wart and caused much confusion to the enemy.  Glyndwr’s revolt reached its pinnacle in 1405 with the Tripartite Indenture, which divided England into two, the North to Percy and the South to Mortimer. Glyndwr was granted all of Wales extending to Worcester, Bridgnorth, Newport, Market Drayton, to the source of the Trent to the source of the Mersey and following this to its mouth.

Click here to see the poem Court of Owain Glyndwr in Sycharth in Welsh and it's English translation.