Margaret Hanmer

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Margaret Hanmer (c. 1370 – c. 1420), sometimes known by her Welsh name of Marred ferch Dafydd, was the wife of Owain Glyndŵr. Although some modern histories have accorded Margaret the title "Princess of Wales",[1] there is no contemporary record that Margaret used either that title, or her husband's earlier title of Prince of Powys; it's likely Margaret would have used neither. "Princess of Wales", an English honorific given the wife of the English prince of Wales, was first used by Joan of Kent. Only one wife of a Welsh prince is known to have used the title: Eleanor de Montfort, wife of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last Prince of Wales.

Early life and marriage[edit]

Sycharth from field, showing motte
Sycharth, showing motte and moat

Nothing is known of Margaret's early life, not even the precise date of her marriage. She was the daughter of Sir David Hanmer and his wife Angharad ferch Llywelyn Ddu, and very likely raised in a Welsh household. Her father was a law professor of Owain Glyndwr; it is not known when she married Owain, although it may have taken place in 1383 in the church of St Chad's in Hanmer. The number of children she bore, and the dates of their births, are likewise uncertain.

The poet Iolo Goch praises Margaret and her generosity in his poem Llys Owain Glyndŵr yn Sycharth, one of three he composed in Owain's honour.

A gwraig orau o’r gwragedd,
Gwyn fy myd o’i gwin a’i medd!
Merch eglur llin marchoglyw,
Urddol hael anional yw;
A’i blant a ddeuant bob ddau,
Nythaid teg o benaethau.

And the best of wives,
Blessed am I in her wine and mead!
A fine lady of knightly line,
Most generous by nature;
Her children come in two by two,
A beautiful nest of chieftains.[2]

Margaret had three brothers, Gruffydd, Philip and John, all of whom supported Glyndŵr when he formally assumed his ancestral title of Prince of Powys in 1400.[3] The Hamners were still with Owain when a Welsh parliament proclaimed the latter Prince of Wales at Machynlleth in 1404.

Margaret's husband held estates at Sycharth, Glyndyfrdwy, and elsewhere in North Wales. According to Sir John E. Lloyd, Margaret bore her husband five sons and four or five daughters. One daughter, Catrin, married Edmund Mortimer, son of the Earl of March and brother-in-law of the famous Harry Hotspur, who had been taken prisoner at the battle of Bryn Glas in 1402; when forbidden by the King to exercise his right to ransom himself, Sir Edmund allied himself with Glyndŵr. Another daughter, Alys, married Sir John Scudamore of Monnington Straddle, Sheriff of Hereford and castellan of several royal border fortresses. A third daughter, Janet, married Sir John de Croft of Croft Castle in Herefordshire, while a fourth, Margaret, married Sir Richard Monnington of Monnington, also in Herefordshire.Glyndŵr's sons are given as Gruffudd, Madog, Maredudd, Thomas, John, and David. Gruffudd and Maredudd were certainly Margaret's sons, but which of the remaining four were also hers remains unknown.

Rebellion[edit]

Harlech Castle
Harlech Castle gatehouse

After Owain proclaimed himself Prince of Powys on 16 September 1400, Margaret and her children were obliged to move to more secure accommodation to avoid capture by the English and becoming pawns, prisoners, informants and victims of the ruthless regime of the times.

After their homes at Sycharth and Glyndyfrdwy were burned in 1403, they lived, among other places, at Harlech Castle, which was taken in 1409 by the young Henry of Monmouth. Upon the fall of Harlech, Margaret was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London with her daughter Catrin, another daughter, and Catrin's three daughters. Margaret's oldest son, Gruffudd, died in the Tower in 1411. Margaret survived the deaths of her two daughters and three granddaughters, but her own death is unrecorded. She is known to have been survived by her son Maredudd, who was alive in 1421, and by her daughter Alys, Lady Scudamore, of Monnington Straddle.

Ancestry[edit]

Family connections[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Deborah Fisher, Princesses of Wales (University of Wales Press, 2005)
  2. ^ http://www.canolfanglyndwr.org/iolo-goch-llys-owain.php%7CLlys Owain Glyndŵr
  3. ^ Welsh Biography Online