Ednyfed Fychan (c. 1170 – 1246), full name Ednyfed Fychan ap Cynwrig, was a Welsh warrior who became seneschal to the Kingdom of Gwynedd in Northern Wales, serving Llywelyn the Great and his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn. He was a descendant (9th in descent) of Marchudd ap Cynan, Lord of Rhos, Lord Protector of Rhodri Mawr, King of Gwynedd and an ancestor of Owen Tudor and thereby of the Tudor dynasty,[1] and all its royal successors down to the present day.

As is usual with medieval orthography, a variety of spellings were used for his name in medieval sources, such as Vychan and Idneved Vachan.[2] Fychan, meaning literally "small" but also "junior" or "younger", is the origin of the common Welsh personal name, Vaughan.

As a warrior

Armoiries Owen Tudor.svg

Ednyfed is said to have first come to notice in battle, fighting against the army of Ranulph de Blondeville, 4th Earl of Chester, who attacked Llywelyn at the behest of King John of England. Ednyfed cut off the heads of three English lords in battle and carried them, still bloody, to Llywelyn, who commanded him to change his family coat of arms to display three heads in memory of the feat.[3]

As seneschal

In 1215, he succeeded Gwyn ab Ednywain as seneschal ("distain" in Welsh) of Gwynedd, roughly equivalent to Chief Councillor or Prime Minister. His titles included Lord of Bryn Ffanigl, Lord of Criccieth, and Chief Justice.[4] He was involved in the negotiations leading to the Peace of Worcester in 1218 and represented Llywelyn in a meeting with the king of England in 1232.

Ednyfed had estates at Bryn Ffanigl Isaf near Abergele and at Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, now a suburb of Colwyn Bay. These were the palace of Llys Euryn, on the hill of Bryn Euryn, and Rhos Fynach, on the seashore below it.[5] He also held lands in Llansadwrn and presumably also on Anglesey, where his son had his seat.

Ednyfed was married twice, first to Tangwystl Goch ferch Llywarch of Menai (but perhaps of Rhos?), the daughter of Llywarch ap Brân, then to Gwenllian, daughter of the prince Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth (order incorrect?).

Ednyfed probably went on a crusade to the Holy Land around 1235, although the evidence is not conclusive.

Later years and legacy

Gwenllian died in 1236. On Llywelyn the Great's death in 1240, Ednyfed continued as seneschal in the service of Llywelyn's son, Dafydd ap Llywelyn, until his own death in 1246. One of his sons was captured and killed by the English in the war of 1245.

Ednyfed was buried in his own chapel, now Llandrillo yn Rhos Church, Llandrillo-yn-Rhos (Rhos-on-Sea), North Wales, which was enlarged to become the parish church after the previous one (Dinerth Parish Church) had been inundated by the sea during Ednyfed's lifetime. His tombstone, was reputed to lie near the altar of Llandrillo Church, now in a vertical position in the entrance porch of the church, but this is disputed as the name inscribed is an Ednyfed 'quondam vicarius' (sometime vicar). An "Ednyfed ap Bleddyn" was vicar in 1407.

Two other sons were successively seneschals of Gwynedd under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. After Llywelyn's death in 1282, the family made its peace with the English crown, though a descendant joined the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn in 1294-5, acting as Madog's seneschal after his proclamation of himself as prince of Wales. Ednyfed's son Goronwy gave rise to the Penmynydd branch of the family in Anglesey, from whom Owen Tudor and later Henry VII were descended.

Ednyfed in legend: Ednyfed Fychan's Farewell

According to folk tradition, Ednyfed is said to have composed a farewell song to Gwenllian before leaving to take part in the Crusades. He was away for several years, and his family thought him dead. According to an old Welsh tale, Gwenllian accepted another offer of marriage. On the wedding night, a 'pitiable beggar' arrived at the house and asked permission to borrow a harp with which to entertain the party with a song. According to this legend the beggar sang Ednyfed's Farewell song and as he reached the last verse, removed his hat, revealing himself to be Ednyfed. He sang:

A wanderer I, and aweary of strife,

Get ye gone, if ye so desire;
But if I may not have my own wife

I'll have my own bed, my own house, my own fire!"

Ednyfed then announced to the stunned throng:

"This was the tune 'Farewell' to my dear Gwenllian. Hence let her go with her new husband. My faithful harp, come to my arms."[6]


By first marriage he had:

By second marriage he had:

  • Goronwy ap Ednyfed Fychan, Lord of Tref-Gastell, Seneschal of Gwynedd (c. 1200 – 1268, bur Bangor), married Morfudd ferch Meurig, of Gwent, daughter of Meuric of Gwent ap Ithel, Lord of Gwent, and had:
    • Tudur Hen ap Goronwy, of Penmynydd, Seneschal of Gwynedd (c. 1245 – 11 October 1311, bur Bangor), who built the Priory of Bangor, married Angharad ferch Ithel Fychan, of Tegeingl (born c. 1260), daughter of Ithel Fychan, of Englefield (Cantref), and had:
      • Goronwy ap Tudur Hen, Forester of Snowdon, (of Trecastell) (c. 1285 – 11 December 1331, bur Bangor), Captain of 20 Archers at Aquitaine, married Gwerful ferch Madog, daughter of Madog ap Dafydd ap Iorwerth, Baron of Hendwr, and had:
        • Hywel ap Goronwy (c. 1305/1310 – c. 1366, bur Bangor), Archdeacon of Anglesey
        • Tudur Fychan ap Goronwy, Rhaglaw of Dindaethwy, of Trecastell (and Penrhyn), acceded to the Friary, Bangor, on 13 September 1337 (c. 1310 – 19 September 1367, bur Bangor), married firstly Mallt ferch Madog, (of Penllyn), and had seven or eight children, and married secondly Margred ferch Tomas, of Ceredigion, and had two or three children:
          • Goronwy ap Tudur Fychan, Forester of Snowdon, Constable of Biwmares, of Penmynydd (died drowned, 22 March 1382, bur Llanfaes), married Myfanwy ferch Iorwerth, of Pen Gwern; he had issue
          • Rhys ap Tudur Fychan, of Erddreiniog (died 1412, bur Bangor), married Efa ferch Gruffudd Goch, of Cloddiau; he had issue
          • Ednyfed ap Tudur Fychan, of Trecastell (died c. 1382), married Gwenllian ferch Dafydd, of Tegeingl; he had issue
          • Gwilym ap Tudur Fychan, of Clorach, fl 1398–1406
          • Angharad ferch Tudur Fychan, married firstly Maredudd Ddu ap Gruffudd, of Arwystli, and married secondly Gruffudd Hanmer, fl 1400, (of Maelor Saesneg)
          • Angharad ferch Tudur Fychan, married Tudur ap Hywel, fl 1352
          • Margredferch Tudur Fychan, married Madog Fychan ap Madog Foel, (of Eglwyseg)
          • Gwenhwyfar ferch Tudur Fychan (daughter of either first or second wife), married NN
          • Rhys Mawddwy ap Tudur Fychan
          • Maredudd ap Tudur, Escheator of Anglesey, fl 1392–1406, married Margared ferch Dafydd Fychan, of Trefeilir, daughter of Dafydd Fychan ap Dafydd ap Llwyd, of Anglesey, and had:
        • Gruffudd ap Goronwy, fl 1332
        • Gwerful ferch Goronwy, married Madog Goch ap Iorwerth, of Grugnant, bur Llanrwst
        • Gwenllian ferch Goronwy, married Iorwerth Goch ap Madog, (of Maelor Gymraeg)
        • Gwenllian ferch Goronwy, married Iorwerth ap Llywelyn, fl 1315, (of Bwras)
      • Hywel ap Tudur Hen
      • Tudur Fychan ap Tudur Hen; had issue
      • Morfudd ferch Tudur Hen; married Llywarch ap Heilyn Gloff, (of Carwedfynydd)
    • Gwilym ap Goronwy; had issue
    • Goronwy Fychan ap Goronwy (born c. 1255, fl 1278–1310), married Generys ferch Hwfa, (of Bers); had issue
    • Hywel ap Goronwy, fl 1278
    • Adles ferch Goronwy, married Goronwy ap Maredudd, of Tyddyn Adda
  • Gruffudd ap Ednyfed Fychan, ancestor of Griffith of Wychnor
  • Gwladus ferch Ednyfed Fychan, married Tegwared ap Cynwrig
  • Gwenllian ferch Ednyfed Fychan, married Tegwared y Baiswen, illegitimate son of Llywelyn Fawr, Prince of Gwynedd

By either of his marriages he had:

By an unknown woman he had, illegitimate:

  • Tudur Gwilltyn ap Ednyfed Fychan; had issue with Welsey [7]


  1. ^ Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912). The Heart of Northern Wales. Llanfairfechan. p354.
  2. ^ Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), pp370-371.
  3. ^ Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), p.355.
  4. ^ Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), p358.
  5. ^ Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), Chapter V11 pp.354ff.
  6. ^ Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), p357. The translation from the Welsh is credited to Mrs Watts-Jones of Glyn, Dygwyfylchi. Presumably this folk tale was handed down through the ages; a similar tale exists for the medieval poet Einion ap Gwalchmai. Although it is possible that Ednyfed went on a crusade, the tale itself belongs to the realm of folklore rather than history.
  7. ^ Marek, Miroslav. "brit/tudor2.html". genealogy.euweb.cz. [self-published source][better source needed]


  • John Edward Lloyd (1911) A history of Wales from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest (Longmans, Green & Co.)