Cadwallon ap Cadfan
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Cadwallon ap Cadfan, King of Gwynedd.


My children’s 40th great grandfather, Cadwallon ap Cadfan (also Cadwalader, Cadwallon, Caedwalla, Caswallon, Caedwalla, or Catgublaun), King of Gwynedd (presently north Wales), was born about 600 in Gwynedd, and is just one of their many Welsh Quaker ancestors.


Cadwallon ap Cadfan's Kingdom of Gwynedd

He was the son of Cadfan (Cadvan) ap Iago, King of Gwynedd (570-625) and Afandreg “Ddu, the Black” ferch Cynan Garwyn (580- ). Cadwallon ap Cadfan was the namesake ancestor for the Cadwallader lineage which continued down through Evan (Dhu) Isaac Shelby, ninth great grandfather of Erin and Stu. and the original Cadwallader descendant who immigrated to Pennsylvania, USA to escape religious persecution.

In 614, Cadwallon ap Cadfan married Alcfrith of Mercia (600-   ), who was only about 14 years of age and the sister of King Penda. Their only child, a son, was St. Cadwaladr (Fendigard, The Blessed) ap Cadwallon, King of Gwynedd, who was born about 630 and died at 52 years of age in 682.

King Eadwine of Northumbria
King Eadwine of Northumbria

It is speculated that Eadwine (later to be King of Northumbria) may have attended with Cadwallon, where animosity grew between them, laying the foundation for hostilities in later years that turned to war. Meanwhile, a deadly rivalry had long existed between Gwynedd and Northumbria. Aethelfrith, the (Fierce, Destroyer), had soundly defeated the Britons in battle at Chester in 613 and after Eadwine left the royal Gwynedd court, he was able to succeed Aethelfrith to a united Northumbrian crown with the intervention of King Redwald of East Anglia in 616.

About 625, Cadwallon ap Cadfan succeeded his father as King of Gwynedd.

Cadwallon ap Cadfan's father's gravestone at Llangadwaladr Church, Anglesey.
Cadwallon ap Cadfan’s father’s gravestone at Llangadwaladr Church, Anglesey.

Afterward, Eadwine began to work toward expanding his kingdom, conquered the kingdom of Elmet (now Yorkshire). and then after Cadfan’s death, went after Gwynedd, Ynys Manaw (Isle of Man) and Ynys Mon (Anglesey). Having experienced several defeats at Ynys Mon, Cadwallon ap Cadfan was forced back to Ynys Lannog (Priestholm) in about 629, where he was further attacked for weeks before he escape to Ireland. After his escape to and brief stay in Ireland, Cadwallon formed an alliance with Penda, King of the Mercians in about 632 and they invaded Deira to defeat Eadwine’s army and killed Eadwine and his son Osfrid in the battle of Heathfield (Hatfield Chase) on October 12, 633.

Despite Cadwallon ap Cadfan being a christian and Penda being a notorious and merciless pagan. Cadwallon’s own viciousness was indeed worse than Penda’s. It is said he worked toward his ambition to eliminate the Anglians from Britain with no limits on his actions, not hesitating to subject women and children to torture and ultimately death. This is, however, believed to be an exaggeration of what actually occurred.

Eadwine had been converted to Christianity by Paulinus, who later retired to Kent. In his retirement, Paulinus was accompanied by the Queen, her daughter, son and grandson, Osric (Eadwine’s cousin) and Eaufrith (Aethelfrith’s son). They renounced their christianity with the hope of recovering the kingdom of Deira and Bernicia, and to win favour with the Mercians. Their efforts were short-lived though, as they were defeated and killed by Cadwallon within the next year.

Saint Oswald of Bernicia
Saint Oswald of Bernicia (Northumbria)

Having proved his prowess as an oppressor, Cadwallon ap Cadfan claimed that his forces were invincible. He was proved wrong, however, when Eaufrith’s young brother and Eadwine’s cousin, Oswald, promised to defeat him. Very soon within the same year, he rallied his army and proceeded to Heavenfield (Hevenfeith), which was situated on a hill north of the Roman wall near Hexham. Here he helped his army erect a cross and they knelt and prayed “to the living and true God, who knew how just their cause was, to save them from their fierce and haughty foe.” With a new-found resolve, they attacked and defeated Cadwallon’s force, driving Cadwallon ap Cadfan into the valley where he was killed in 634 at “the Deniseburn”. Speculation is that this was a creek that flowed to the Tyne.


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photo credits:


  1. Early British Kingdoms; David Nash Ford.
  2. Dictionary of Welsh Biography; Sir John Edward Lloyd, D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A. (1861-1947), Bangor.
  3. Wikipedia;  Cadwallon ap Cadfan.
  4. Ancient and Medieval Wales and the Cadwal(l)ader and Quaker Traditions; Anna Baker.
  5. Llywelyn ap Iorwerth Ancestor Table, online (
  6. Dictionary of National Biography; George Smith, Vols. 1-21 (Oxford Press, 1885-1990).
  7. Ancestry of Cynan Tyndaethwy; Ancient Wales Studies.
  8. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.


A fifties' child, mom, wife, avid genealogy researcher, web contributor and author/owner of four blogs including Empty Nest Ancestry, Feathering the Empty Nest Nest, Top Web Blog Tips, Job Bully, and our extensive family genealogy database site at Blythe Genealogy.