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An Examination of the early Welsh Pedigrees, with a view to ascertain
the period about which the commencement of their authenticity may be dated.
With the foregoing Saints is concluded the list for the second century. From the age of Lleurwg, the Triads and the Poems of the Bards present a perfect blank until the time of Macsen Wledig, generally supposed to be Maximus, Emperor of Rome, who began to reign A. D. 383. But not so the Genealogists, for they carry the ancestry of the British Chieftains and Saints, without interruption, through the period of Roman ascendancy. The alleged descendants of Bran Fendigaid are, therefore, drawn up in a tabular form, as it appears on the opposite side.
This pedigree is arranged according to the “ Cambrian Biography,"* where each connecting link may be found upon reference to most of the names included, but more especially under the names Caradog ab lestin, Cadfrawd, Tudwal Befr, and Eldad. The names printed in Italics are those of reputed Saints, and the rest are introduced for the sake of preserving the lineage unbroken. It has been already stated that genealogy, if its details be at all complicated, can hardly fail of betraying itself whenever it is not founded in fact. Thus Ystrafael, the daughter of Cadfan, is said to have been the wife of Coel Godebog; and she is placed in the pedigree in the
* It is to be regretted that Dr. Owen Pughe, to whom Welsh literature is already under greater obligations than to any other individual, does not favour the public with a new and enlarged edition of this useful work.
Ifor ab Tudwal
seventh generation from Llyr Llediaith inclusive. The ancestry of Coel Godebog is also given under his name in the Cambrian Biography, and the number of generations there enumerated agrees with the statements usually given. The ancestor of Coel, according to that list contemporary with Llyr Llediaith was Afallach; but from Afallach to Coel there are fourteen generations, precisely double the number of those from Llyr Llediaith to Ystrafael, the wife of Coel ; and this large discrepancy must have happened in the short space of 250 years,
for Afallach and Llyr Llediaith were of a generation commencing with the Christian era, while Coel Godebog is stated to have lived about the middle of the third century. There are reasons for placing Coel a few generations later than the date usually assigned him; but Ystrafael must also be brought down to the same period, and, early or late, both lineages cannot be true together. It is possible and often happens that a son is born after his father is fifty years age, but the accident must be repeated twice before a century can pass with only two generations; the line of Ystrafael would render it necessary for the accident to happen five or six times in regular succession. It happens equally as often that a son is born when his father is twenty five years of age or under, but this accident must be repeated four times successively before a century can pass with four generations; in the line of Coel the accident must have happened about fourteen times in about three centuries and a half. But in every
examination of well authenticated genealogies the accidents generally correct each other, and the average in a long pedigree is three generations to a century.* In this respect, whenever the
* From the birth of William the Conqueror A. D. 1027 to the birth of William the Fourth A. D. 1765, twenty four generations may be reckoned, the average duration of each of which is thirty years and nine months; and the proportion is maintained under the disadvantage of a succession, in every possible case, of elder children.
Welsh pedigrees attempt to penetrate the Roman-British period they are all of them faulty.* With the exception of the line of Eudaf ab Caradog ab Bran, already given, they are during this period a mere string of names, without a single marriage, plurality of issue, or reference to historical events, by which their correctness may be determined. Those which pass through the period in question are five in number, two of which have been given already, and the remainder may be added by way of illustration.
Coel Godebog, A. D. 330
Cunedda Wledig, A. D. 400
* In the first table it may be noticed, that the date of Teithfallt, the seventeenth descendant from Llyr Llediaith in one line is A. D. 430; while that of Cystennyn Goronog, the ninth descendant in another line, is A. D. 542.
These pedigrees are generally given without any variation ; but to say nothing of the improbability that such memorials should be preserved during the three centuries and upwards of Roman ascendancy, they receive no confirmation from other authorities until the lower dates affixed, being the first that could be ascertained with any tolerable degree of accuracy. From those dates downwards, however, these pedigrees divide into several branches; their relationships multiply, and are so complex and interwoven that they could not have been traced with any degree of correctness unless they were recorded soon after the times in which they occurred, and it should not be forgotten that they are almost always reconcilable with chronology. It will be observed that the dates in question, to which may be added Teithfallt A. D. 430, and Ystrafael A. D. 330 from the first table, occur shortly before or soon after the departure of the Romans from Britain. May it not, therefore, be supposed that all the generations from thence upwards were invented to support the pretensions of those chieftains, who rose into power upon the decline of the Roman interest; for that they were forged at an early time is probable from the fact that they are at variance with the monkish stories respecting the British parentage of Constantine the Great. These worthies were likely to owe their influence to the system of clanship prevalent among the Celtic nations, and they would find it politic to show their descent from the families of Cassibelaunus and Caractacus, of whose existence and prowess they could be informed by their Roman masters, even if there had been no native traditions remaining.
The line of Eudaf ab Caradog, in the first table, demands a more especial attention upon the present occasion, inasmuch as it contains the names of several Saints; and as its details are more complicated, it presents features very different from the rest. Cadfrawd, the son of Cadfan, appears a generation immediately succeeding that of Lleurwg ; and upon re