Military Men

There are more than a dozen variants of the GWYNNE coat of arms but most have the “trademark” two swords with a third held aloft below the hilt. The motto of the Trecastle branch is Gogoniant yr clethaf (glory to the sword).

As mentioned yesterday, at least two “unrelated” GWYNNE lines joined genetic forces with another. I haven’t looked too closely to see if one branch was particularly warlike but quite a few Gwynne chaps took the monarch’s shilling and most served in the higher ranks. I have only found one so far that died by the sword – Roderick Thynne Sackville GWYNNE, remembered on a family grave in Filey, but buried in Merville Communal Cemetery in France.

CWGC Index

Roderick’s life was wasted in the second of two futile attacks near the Aubers Ridge in the Spring of 1915. Accounts of the first mention Bois Grenier, (a village, not a wood), and it took place near Neuve-Chapelle between Wednesday 10th and Saturday 13th March.  A second source, on the Imperial War Museum website, states that he was…

Fatally wounded in a night attack on a German position at Touquet on Sunday morning. When brought to the first aid post, he insisted on his men being attended to first.

Roderick was taken with many other casualties to the hospital at Merville, about twelve miles away, where he died of his wounds almost two weeks later.

By the evening of [Saturday] 9 May the situation was far from promising for the Allies: the groups of soldiers who had managed to reach the German front line were totally isolated and exposed to enemy fire. The chaos on the roads to the front and the communication trenches was such that any thought of relaunching the attack at sundown was abandoned by Haig.

During the night the soldiers established on the German lines (200 to 300 men in all) undertook a perilous retreat across no man’s land.

By the morning of 10 May all hopes of renewing the attack were abandoned because of a lack of shells and, above all, because of the huge numbers of casualties (it took three days to transfer the wounded of 9 May to the field ambulances on the second line). In one single day of fighting the British Army had lost 11,000 men (dead, wounded and lost in action) which was, in relative terms, one of the highest casualty rates of the Great War, in particular for officers.

Yves Le Maner, The Battle of Aubers Ridge

     Roderick Thynne       Sackville GWYNNE   ©IWM (HU 115590)


And to his eldest son, RODERICK THYNNE SACKVILLE GWYNNE, 2ND Lieut. K.O.Y.L.I. Born Sept 16th 1893, died of wounds, May 23rd 1915. Buried at Merville (Nord) France.

It is surprising that young Roderick was described in his CWGC Index entry as the son of “late Maj. Roderick Edmund Howe Gwynne”.  The “Major” died on 23 May 1922 at the family home in Southdene. (Roderick the Elder is only a Captain on the gravestone.)


Sacred to the Memory of RODERICK EDMUND HOWE GWYNNE, Capt. R.W.F., of Breconshire, born Decr. 16th 1858, died May 23rd 1922.

13, Southdene, Filey, 18 May 2018

Among other Fighting Gwynnes (in no particular order):-

James Hugh born February 1863 (FST: LBR2-STT), Lieut. South Wales Borderers, regular commission 1 Royal Welch Fusiliers, Burmese Expedition 1885-86. Shot in the knee at Yatha. Awarded India General Service Medal and clasp. Second clasp in the Hazara Expedition. Occupation of Crete with 2 RWF 1897-8. China Medal with clasp for the Relief of Pekin.  Reached the rank of substantive Major in 1903; retired August 1906. Died March 1910 as a result of a hunting accident with Bexhill Harriers.

Nadolig Ximenes born 25 December 1832 (MTRS-S1T), 53rd and 85th Regiments, Shropshire Light Infantry, served in the Afghan War and in Sudan; Major-General.

John born 1780, Lieutenant, 14th Dragoons, Peninsular War.

Frederick Ximenes (MTR3-6CX), Colonel, Breconshire Volunteers.

Sackville Henry Frederick born 1778 (MTR3-XGN), Lieut.-Colonel Commandant 1st Carmarthenshire Militia.

38 Generations

In the 1890s The Cardiff Times ran a series on Old Brecknockshire Families. If the anonymous author portrayed the Gwynns accurately there is a lot of work to be done on the FamilySearch pedigree. As we all make mistakes, there are probably errors on both sides.

It isn’t an easy family to deal with. Cousin marriages, duplicate first names of wives (without their family name given in baptism records), and the predilection to adorn male children with two or three middle names from the glorious past, (Howe, Sackville, Thynne), make it all too easy to place children with the wrong parents.

It is above my pay grade to deal with these difficulties on FST.

There is only one “Filey Gwynn” – Chedworth Morgan, born in 1904, but I have linked him to the illustrious pedigree on FST. A few generations into the past there are serious issues with a number of Gwynne children born after the deaths of fathers and/or mothers but I’m fairly sure these can be resolved and the descent of Chedworth from Charlemagne established.

I wandered today down different byways and discovered that I may be related to Chedworth. For a few weeks last year I found myself on a Super Pedigree. One of our common ancestors could be Mary BOLEYN.

Ann’s sister is just 12 generations distant, at which point we all have 2,048 great-grandparents. At 24 generations we have, notionally, over 8 million such. By the time we reach Charlemagne at Chedworth’s Generation 38 there are, impossibly, 137 billion plus.

Given my possible family connection to Chedworth and the mysterious way pedigrees “fold in on themselves”, it seems very likely that, if you can take your family tree back just far enough, a small army of blue-bloods will be yours. Really, we are all one big family.

It might be tedious to give you a complete route from Chedworth to the Holy Roman Emperor, (there are several), but here are some signposts along the way.

Gen 21. Edmund Plantagenet m. Eleanor of Castile

Gen 27. Henry 1, King of England m. Matilda Edith

Gen 28. William the Conqueror m. Matilda, Countess of Flanders

Gen 35. Robert 1 of France m. Beatrice de Vermandois

Chedworth left Filey but didn’t travel far to find a wife. He married Edith Joan TERRY in York and in 1939 he was living at Middlethorp Manor, now York’s “most expensive house”. Also in residence – Edith’s father Francis, the chocolate manufacturer.