Howel y Fwyall (DNB00)

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HOWEL y Fwyall (fl. 1356), or 'Howel of the Battle-axe,' was a Welsh knight and hero. According to Yorke his father was Gruffydd ab Howel ab Meredydd ab Einion ab Gwganen (Royal Tribes of Wales,p. 184). Sir John Wynne, however, says that he was the son of Einion ab Gruffydd (Hist. Gwydir Family,pp.29,30,79; cf.Table II., ib.) Both the accounts agree that he was descended from Collwyn ab Tangno, 'lord of Eifionydd, Ardudwy, and part of Llyen.' Howel was one of the Welshmen who fought at Poictiers in 1356, and Welsh tradition very improbably made him out to be the actual captor of the French king, 'cutting off his horse's head at one blow' (ib. p. 80n.) Howel undoubtedly seems to have fought well, for he was knighted by the Black Prince, and received afterwards the constableship of Criccieth Castle, and also the rent of Dee Mills at Chester, 'besides other great things in North Wales;' and as a memorial of his services a mess of meat was ordered to be served before his axe in perpetuity, the food being afterwards given to the poor `for his soul's health.' This ceremony is said to have been observed till the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's time, eight yeoman attendants at 8d. a day having charge of the meat (ib. p. 30, and n.) 'Howel was also "raglot" of Aberglaslyn, and died between Michaelmas 2 and the same time 6 Rich. II,' leaving two sons, Meredydd, who lived in Eifionydd; and Davydd, who lived at Henblas, near Llanrwst (ib. p. 30 and n.; Williams, Eminent Welshmen).

[Yorke's Royal Tribes of Wales, ed. Williams; Sir John Wynne's Hist. Gwydir Family; Williams's Eminent Welshmen.]

R. W.