Gwladys ferch Dafydd Gam

For other women named Gwladys, see Gwladys (disambiguation).
Gwladys and William ap Thomas were patrons of Abergavenny Priory, where they were both buried

Gwladys ferch Dafydd Gam (died 1454) was a Welsh noblewoman, the daughter of Dafydd ap Llewelyn ap Hywel, otherwise known as Dafydd Gam, who was killed at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.[1]

Gwladys was named "the star of Abergavenny" (Welsh: Seren-y-fenni)[2] —"Gwladys the happy and the faultless" by Welsh poet Lewys Glyn Cothi.[3] He describes the lady of Raglan Castle, which she became upon her second marriage, as a brilliant being, "like the sun—the pavilion of light."[4] She has been compared to the legendary Queen Marcia for her discretion and influence.[5]


Monument to King Henry IV of England and his queen, Joan of Navarre, in Canterbury Cathedral, Kent. Gwladys served as a Maid-of-Honour to both of Henry's wives

Gwladys' father, Dafydd, was a gentleman of considerable property and a celebrated military figure, descended from the native Welsh rulers of Brycheiniog.[6][7] He was a prominent opponent of Owain Glyndŵr. Accounts of her mother are unclear. According to Prichard, Dafydd married Gwenllian, daughter of wealthy gentleman Gwilym ab Howel and grew up on an estate named "Petyn Gwyn" near the town of Brecon, in the parish of Garthbrengy,[2] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography more recently reports that some genealogists claim Dafydd's wife to have been Gwladys, daughter of Gwilym ap Hywel Crach. (1374–6).[7]

On 16 September 1400, Owain Glyndŵr instigated the Welsh Revolt against the rule of Henry IV of England from the House of Lancaster. Dafydd, "one of Owain's most die-hard opponents," supported the English monarchy for the next twelve years[7] in opposition to his Welsh countrymen.[8]

During opposition to Owain Glyndŵr, Dafydd's lands in and around Brecon became a target for Glyndŵr's attacks. Owain is recorded to have arrived at the family's principal residence at Petyn Gwyn where he captured and assaulted Lady Gwenllian. After imprisoning her inside the house, he burnt the mansion to the ground.[9][10]

Driven from their last home in Wales, Gwladys, with her father, grandfather, and her two brothers, found refuge at King Henry IV's court,[10][11] where Gwladys served as a Maid of Honour firstly to Mary de Bohun (c. 1368–1394), wife of Henry IV, and afterwards to Queen Joan (c. 1370–1437), his second wife and only queen consort.[8][12]

First marriage

Sir Roger Vaughan

Gateway and country lane near Bredwardine

Gwladys married her first husband, Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine also known as Roger Fychan (the younger),[13] after her family returned to Wales. Roger, a gentleman of wealth, rank, and high respectability was a special friend of her father's, and would later be his companion in arms at the Battle of Agincourt.[14][15]

Following her marriage, she never again left Wales. Gwladys was a supporter of Welsh culture, especially of the bards and minstrels of her time. In Lewus Glyn Cothi's elegy, Gwladys is called "the strength and support of Gwentland and the land of Brychan" (later the counties of Monmouth and Brecon): which she supported extensively.[14]

Battle of Agincourt

Roger and Gwladys' father, Dafydd, had been part of the Welsh contingent that fought with Henry V of England; they both died at the Battle of Agincourt in France in 1415.[13] Legends appeared in the 16th century claiming that[7] upon saving the life of Henry V at the expense of their own lives, both men were knighted by the king on the battlefield before they died.[15][16] However, there is no contemporary validation that the legends are true.[7]


In contrast to Gwladys and Roger's allegiance to the House of Lancaster[17] and Sir William ap Thomas's daughter,[13] their three sons were staunch Yorkists during the Wars of the Roses. The brothers would fight with their Herbert half-brothers during the Battle of Edgecote Moor in 1469. Beyond their political pursuits, the Bredwardine and Hergest Vaughans supported Welsh poets. They took residence at the main Vaughan holdings of Bredwardine, Hergest, and Tretower, respectively.[13]

Tretower Court. A 15th-century manor house, rebuilt close to Tretower Castle by Sir Roger Vaughan.

There are other children less reliably attributed to this union: John Vaughan of Dursley, William Vaughan of Clifford and three more daughters not specifically identified.[18]

William ap Thomas

The main entrance of Raglan Castle, now ruined

Her second marriage was to Sir William ap Thomas of Raglan Castle who also fought at the Battle of Agincourt. William was the son of Thomas ap Gwilym ap Jenkyn, a local landowner and his wife Maud, daughter of Sir John Morley.[21] He was knighted in 1426 and was known, because of the colour of his armour, as "The Blue Knight of Gwent."[22]

As Lady of Raglan Castle, Gwladys was able to entertain her guests and assist the needy and afflicted on an even greater scale than when the mistress of Bredwardine Castle.[21]

Gwladys and William's children were raised with the Vaughan children[13]


The children of Gwladys and William were:

Other issue less consistently attributed to Gwladys and William include: Maud, Olivia, Elizabeth (who married Welsh country gentlemen, John ab Gwilym),[3] and Thomas Herbert.[23]

Lady Gwladys mourned at length when William died in 1446.[29]


She died in 1454.[30] Gwladys and her husband William ap Thomas were patrons of Abergavenny Priory where they were both buried; their alabaster tomb and effigies can still be seen in the church of St Mary's.[22][31][32]

Gwladys was so beloved by her people that, according to legend, 3,000 knights, nobles and weeping peasantry followed her body from Coldbrook House (her son Richard's manor) to the Herbert Chapel of St. Mary's Priory Church where she was buried.[31][33]



  1. Prichard pp. 431-433
  2. 1 2 Prichard p. 416
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Prichard p. 437
  4. Prichard p. 436
  5. Prichard p. 441
  6. Prichard p. 416, 441
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Tout, T; Davies, R (2004–2011). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - Dafydd (David) Gam (d. 1415), warrior". Oxford University Press 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-08. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  8. 1 2 Hodgdon & Thomas pp. 128-129
  9. Prichard p. 419
  10. 1 2 Wilkins, C (1879). Tales and Sketches of Wales. Cardiff: Daniel Owen, Howell & Company. p. 15. OCLC 13012228.
  11. Prichard p. 421
  12. Burke, J.; Burke, J. B. (1847). A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain. 2. London: Henry Colburn. p. 1471.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Griffiths, R (2004–11). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - Vaughan Family(per. c.1400–c.1504), gentry". Oxford University Press 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-08. Check date values in: |date= (help) (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  14. 1 2 Prichard p. 422
  15. 1 2 Nicholas, T. (1991) [1872]. Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County Families of Wales: containing a record of all ranks of the gentry with many ancient pedigrees and memorials of old and extinct families (Facsimile reprint ed.). Genealogical Publishing.Com. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-8063-1314-6.
  16. Prichard pp. 424-433
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Theophilus, Jones (1809). A history of the county of Brecknockshire. 3. Self-published. pp. 503–505.
  18. 1 2 3 Hodgdon & Thomas p. 120.
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 Prichard p. 423
  20. Davies, W; Evans, Daniel (1861). English works of the Rev. Walter Davies (Gwallter Mechain). London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co. p. iii.
  21. 1 2 Prichard pp. 435-437
  22. 1 2 "Abergavenney Priory-William ap Thomas, Sir". Aberystwyth University. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 Evans p. 244
  24. Griffiths, R. A. (2004–11). "Herbert, William, first earl of Pembroke (c.1423–1469),". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. Check date values in: |date= (help) (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  25. Griffiths, R. A. (2004–11). "Stradling (Stradelinges, de Estratlinges) family". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. Check date values in: |date= (help) (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  26. "Sloane Charters". Cymmrodorion Record Series. London: Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. 4: 618. 1908.
  27. Evans p.214
  28. Owen, Henry (1902). Old Pembroke Families in the Ancient County Palatine of Pembroke. London: C. J. Clarke. LCCN 05015821.
  29. Prichard p. 440
  30. "Gwladys". Aberystwyth University. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  31. 1 2 Prichard p. 440-441
  32. "St. Mary's Priory of Abergavenny, William ap Thomas and Gwladys Monuments". St Mary's Priory Church. 2008. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
  33. "St Mary's Priory Church". Abergavenny Local History Society. Retrieved 2011-02-07.


Further reading

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