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Welsh History Review


Vol. 2, nos. 1-4 1964-65

Owain Glyn Dŵr and the Lordship of Ruthin

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THE important part played by Ruthin and its English lord in the
early years of Owain Glyn Dwr's rebellion is familiar to every
student of Welsh history. The dispute over property which arose
between Glyn Dwr and Lord Grey of Ruthin at the very end of the
fourteenth century, Glyn Dwr's attack on Ruthin town in September
1400, inaugurating the Welsh revolt, the capture of Lord Grey near
Ruthin in 1402, and the payment of a great ransom: all these
incidents, however presented, place Ruthin firmly in the forefront of
any account of the first two years of the rebellion.
Yet little attention has been paid to the reaction of the inhabitants
of Ruthin lordship to the quarrel and its aftermath. Was Lord Grey
a 'greedy and tyrannical Lord Marcher'1 whose 'mission in life, so
far as the Welsh were concerned, was to make (himself) unpleasant' ?2
Were the Welsh of Ruthin lordship, like those of Caernarvon,
'so proud and malicious towards the English folk that (the
English) dared not shift for fear of death'?3 What support did
Glyn Dwr find in Dyffryn Clwyd? What effect did the trouble have
on the administration of Ruthin in the first decade of the fifteenth
century ? Were any of the English forced to flee, and were they found,
as in Flintshire, 'creeping back to their boroughs, rebuilding their
houses and cultivating their lands' only after 1405 ?4
These questions and others like them are obviously important in
assessing the impact of Glyn Dwr's rising: they are particularly
important questions in the lordship of Ruthin, for its lord has earned
notoriety as the prime example of the unscrupulous and inconsiderate
marcher lord through his intransigence towards Glyn Dwr.
Ruthin, the old cantref of Dyffryn Clwyd, lies immediately north
of Edeirnion, that corner of Merioneth in which the commote of
Glyndyfrdwy lay. No more than some twenty miles separated the
seats of Glyn Dwr and Grey; and Sycharth, Glyn Dwr's fine estate
1 A. G. Bradley. Owen Glyndwr and the Last Struggle for Welsh Independence (1901).
p. 157.
■ Ibid., p. 107.
I E. A. Lewis, The Mediaeval Boroughs of Snowdonia. University of Wales Series of
Literary and Historical Studies. I (1912). p. 184.
4 The History of Flintshire from Earliest Times to the Act of Union, ed. C. R. Williams
(1961). p. 113.
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