Of Noble Welsh Women, Paramour Kings and Feudal Knights

After taking my DNA test with Ancestry, I felt positive that the highest percentage of ethnicity would be Germanic.  Well, I was wrong.  Yes, my Germanic DNA percentage is relatively high, about 36%.  What really stunned mewas my British Isles DNA percentage…a whopping 51%.  I was intrigued and wanted to trace myBritish, Welsh, Irish and Scottish ancestors’ heritage.

Just a note about DNA here…not a living soul on this planet has ever gotten a fair share of DNA from both their parents.  Yes, DNA does help you make those important connections and is a good tool to add to your research, but you have to keep in mind that if you only have yourself tested, that can restrict your DNA findings and your research.  Have your parents, siblings, children, and cousins tested as well, as this will give you a broader DNA “net to cast” to catch cousins with.

I already knew that my great-great-grandfather, Edward Harris was born in Tredegar, Wales, and that his mother was born in Gloucestershire, England, but I’ve only been able to take those lines back a few generations from Edward.  I knew that on my maternal side, I had the Earp line that traced back to England and Ireland, along with a McClintock ancestral grandmother and a Sykes ancestral grandmother, one from Ireland with Scottish roots and the other with British roots, but I felt that these particular family lines weren’t enough to justify the 51% I received from Ancestry.  I had to dig deeper.

Looking at my great-grandmother, Grace (Tolbert) Cooper, I decided to look more closely at my Tolbert family.  As I went back further, the surname changed to Talbot.  I was able to go back several generations to the earliest documented Talbot, Robert Talbott, b. in 1600 in Waplington, Yorkshire, England, so I knew right then, this was where another portion of my British heritage came from, which led me to the hypothesis that any of the maternal lines of the Talbots were more than likely from the British Isles with a few exceptions.

John Talbot (1671-1735), the grandson of Robert Talbott, came to America and settled in Maryland.  He was married to Sarah Lockyer (Lockyear). It is through John’s grandson, Thomas Talbot (1730-1810) that I made some significant discoveries.  Thomas Talbot was married to Rachel(Elizabeth) Teal (1741-1801).  Rachel is what I consider one of my “gateway” ancestors to many British Isle ancestors,the likes of which I would have never suspected or dreamed.  I have researched the other Talbot wives, but none has opened up the doors to the British Empire like the lineage of Rachel Teal.

Below is a chart that shows my lineage of Rachel Teal’s family and associated ancestors:

Below is a pedigree chart I received from the Tredegar House, the mansion once owned by the old Morgan family, now owned, and maintained by the National Trust of the UK (a quick Welsh language lesson here – when you see “ap” or “ab”, that means “son of”, and “ferch” of “verch”means  “daughter of”):

Philip ap Morgan (1355-1382), just above, on the right side, is the 1st Morgan listed on the previous chart married to Gwenllian Norris (1357-1381).  Philip ap Morgan is of the Langstone line (Pencoyd or Pencoed Castle) and his brother, Llewelyn ap Morgan is of the Tredegar line that built the Tredegar House.  With this chart, the Morgan family can be traced back to the Princes and Kings of Wales, like Lord Rhys, and Rhys ap Tewdwr (yes, those Tudors-these are the ancestors of the Tudor Kings of England), and Howell Dda (“Dda” translated as “the Good”).

The name Tredegar comes from the name Tredegar Fawr (“Fawr” translated as “Great”), the name of the mansion or seat of the old Morgan family.


Nest ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr

The daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, last King of Deheubarth in Wales was Nest, or Princess Nesta (c. 1085 – bef. 1136).  She was abducted about the age of 14 and brought before William Rufus, the older brother of Henry Beaucleric (the future King of England) as a prize.  Nest caught the eye of Henry, and she bore him an illegitimate son, Henry FitzHenry.

She was then given in marriage by Henry to Gerald FitzWalter de Windsor (c. 1075 – 1135), who was constable of Windsor Castle in Berkshire.  Gerald had come to Wales from Ireland.  Nest bore Gerald five children…three sons and two daughters.

In the year 1109, there are varying accounts of Nest and her children being abducted by Owain ap Cadwgan. It is thought that, according to Caradoc of Llancarfan, having a passion and obsession for Nest, Owain and a small company of men fired Cenarth Bychan Castle and carried out the abduction.  Nest’s husband, Gerald and his men, being outnumbered, made their escape.  Nest covered for them as they made their way out. Owain took Nest and her children to a place north of the Vale of Llangollen called Eglwyseg Rocks.

The abduction sparked the wrath of the Normans and the Welsh.  Owain’s Welsh enemies were bribed to attack Owain and his father.  Owain’s father attempted to persuade Owain to return Nest and the children, which Owain ignored.  Apparently, Nest told Owain,“If you would have me stay with you and be faithful to you, send my children home to their father”.  This, Owain did;however, Owain and his father fearing for their lives and being sought after, they made their way to Ireland, releasing Nest back to her family.

This story earned Nest the nickname, the “Helen of Wales”, in the 19th century.

In 1111, Owain’s father had been assassinated, and later Owain was pardoned by the King.  In 1112,war broke out between the British crown and Gruffydd, Nest’s brother, who aligned with the Prince of Gwynedd. Owain, involved in the fighting, was ordered to meet up with the Normanforces.  On his way, Owain just happened to run into Gerald, Nest’s husband, and his men.  In spite of Owain’s royal allegiance, Gerald had his archers kill him on the spot.

In more recent years, some historians have cast doubt upon the validity of this account.

Nest’s husband, Gerald is said to have died sometime in the1120’s.  Nest is then given by her sonsin marriage to Stephen, Gerald’s constable of Cardigan.  Nest dies about 1136.

Nest’s burial location is are not specifically known, but she is believed to be buried at Carew Castle.

Gerald and Nest are the ancestral progenitors of the de Bohun family, as well as, the royal monarchs of the Tudor family, Diana, Princess of Wales, and the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy.

Gwladys ferch Dafydd Gam

Philip ap Morgan’s grandson, Morgan ap Jenkin (1400-1472)was married to Elizabeth Vaughan (1413-1462), the daughter of Sir Roger Vaughan, aka Roger Fychan the Younger and Gwladys ferch Dafydd Gam, (known as the star of Abergavenny) daughter of Dafydd Gam.

Sir Roger Vaughan, of Bredwardine Castle, was the son of Roger Hen aka Roger Fawr, and Roger’s mother was a daughter of Sir Walter Devereux.

On 16 September 1400, an opponent of Dafydd Gam’s, Owain Glyndwr initiated the Welsh Revolt against the King, Henry IV of England.  During the opposition, Owain targeted Dafydd’s lands, attacking Dafydd’s residence, Petyn Gwyn, capturing and assaulting Lady Gwenllian, Dafydd’s wife. Owain imprisoned her inside the house, and then burnt the mansion to the ground.  Having to leave Wales, Gwladys and her family found refuge in the King’s court, where Gwladys served as Maid of Honour to Mary de Bohun, wife of Henry IV, and then Queen Joan, Henry’s second wife.

After Gwladys and her family returned to Wales, she married Sir Roger Vaughan.

On 25 October 1415, Sir Roger Vaughan, and his father-in-law Dafydd Gam, along with Roger’s son, Roger, were part of a Welsh contingency that supported the House of Lancaster and fought with Henry V of England at the Battle of Agincourt.

Although Henry V won the battle, the loss of life was felt heavily by the Vaughan family.  BothRoger Sr. and Dafydd Gam were both killed in the battle.  There is an account of the King knightingboth Roger and Dafydd posthumously on the battlefield, but that account cannot be verified.  Gwladys, Roger’s wife and daughter of Dafydd Gam, forged on in the midst of this tumultuous time.

After the death of her husband, Gwladys married again to Sir William ap Thomas of Raglan Castle, who also fought in the Battle of Agincourt. Gwladys never left Wales again and was a fervent supporter of Welsh culture and was called “the strength and support of Gwentland and the land of Brychan” (which later became the counties of Monmouth and Brecon).

As the Lady of Raglan Castle, Gwladys was able to assist the needy and afflicted on a grander scale than when she was mistress of Bredwardine Castle.

Gwladys died in 1454, buried with her second husband, William, at the Abergavenny Priory, at the church of  St.Mary’s.

It is said that Gwladys was so beloved, that according to legend, 3,000 knights, nobles and weeping peasants followed her body to Herbert Chapel.

Other Notable Relations through the Randyll and Thatcher families:

Sir Edward Randyll and Sir Morgan Randyll

Sir John Gage

Sir Richard Guildford

Sir John Guildford




The National Trust of the UK

The Tredegar House

The National Library of Wales

Monmouth Library – Wales

Notices of Pencoyd Castle and Langstone by Octavius Morgan, Esq., M.P., F.R.S., V.P.S.A. and Thomas Wakeman, Esq.

Collectanea Topographica Et Genealogica Vol. IV by The Society of Antiquities, Printer John B. Nichols and Son, published 1837, London

A History of the Family of Morgan by Appleton Morgan of the twenty-seventh generation of Cadivor Fawr, published 1902, New York

Hopeful Trust and Vigilant Caution, A Sermon Occasioned by the Death of Hon. Otis Thatcher delivered in the First Presbyterian Church,Hornellsville, N.Y., Sabbath, March 16th, 1868 – Thatcher Tuttle,Printers, 1869

The Peerage of England, Vol. V, 3rd Edition, by Arthur Collins, Esq. printed in London, published 1756

Shakspearana Genealogica, in Two Parts compiled by George Russell French, Architect, printed in Cambridge by C.J. Clay, M.A. at the University Press, 1869

Featured Picture: Morgan Coats of Arms, Tredegar House and the remains of Pencoyd Castle


Please note, any of the colored text you see above, are related links to information and photographs you may not want to miss.

If you have Welsh ancestry in your family, it would behoove you to look deeper into those roots, as you may never know what “gold mine” you might strike as I did. The funny thing is, I’ve only scratched the surface…so, start scratching!


Special thanks to the folks at Tredegar House for their input and their dedication to the preservation of the history of the Morgan family

As always, special thanks to my better half, Cheryl.  She is my strength, my rock and my courage, and the love of my life.

Brian S. Miller

5 thoughts on “Of Noble Welsh Women, Paramour Kings and Feudal Knights

  1. I too am a descendant of John Talbot and Sarah Lockyer. Whereas you are descended from his grandson Thomas, I am descended through his grandson Tobias Talbot (son of Thomas Talbot 1720-1759 and Mary Wilcoxon). You mentioned Robert Talbot, John’s grandfather, and I wonder how much further back from Robert your research goes? I have Robert’s father being Richard Talbot, but then things get rather controversial and mysterious beyond that generation. One other curious note is Ann Talbot Darnall who seems to be a daughter of John’s in Maryland? She received a wedding gift from I believe George Talbot the Earl of Shrewsbury that may be a clue as to the lineage but this lineage has been difficult to validate. If you have anything or come across anything further I’d be interested in what you have found.


    • I have not been able to get beyond Robert Talbot. I have looked at the George Talbot connection, but haven’t been able to get anywhere with it either. I do wish I had more, but what is on the blog post is all that I have discovered. Thank you Ken for reading it! Brian


  2. Pingback: Knight of the Garter | Your Ancestors Demystified

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