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Æthelred witnessed several charters between 867 and 895, he may the same man as an ealdorman called 'Mucel' who witnessed Mercian charters between 836 and 866. It is possible he was the son of another ealdorman Mucel who witnessed Mercian charters from 814 to the 840s. He is described by Asser as ealdorman of the Gaini, a tribe after whom Gainsborough in Lincolnshire is believed to be named.
In his biography of Alfred the Great, Asser says that in 868 Alfred "was betrothed to and married a wife from Mercia, of noble family, namely the daughter of Æthelred (who was known as Mucel), ealdorman of the Gaini. The woman's mother was called Eadburh, from the royal stock of the king of the Mercians. I often saw her myself with my very own eyes for several years before her death. She was a notable woman, who remained for many years after the death of her husband a chaste widow, until her death."
Æthelred had at least two children with Eadburh. They were:
- Æthelwulf (died 901), succeeded his father as Ealdorman of the Gaini, ancestor of Æthelstan Half-King.
- Ealhswith (died 5 December 902), in 868 she married Alfred the Great, by whom she had five children.
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