- [c. 1170]-1529, 1577-1588/9. (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
The Cistercian Abbey of Ystrad Marchell was founded c. 1170 by Owain ap Gruffudd of Cyfeiliog as a daughter house to the Abbey of Whitland. His son, Gwenwynwyn (d. 1216), was a major benefactor of Ystrad Marchell, granting the abbey large tracts of land in the commote of Cyfeiliog, the hundred of Arwystli and the manor of Caereinion Uwch Coed. During the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries the abbey had also acquired lands from Owen Cyfeiliog’s kinsmen, the lords of Penllyn and Edeirion, namely Maredudd ap Howell, Elis ap Madog, Owain Brogyntyn and Madog ap Gruffudd Maelor. The abbey was granted royal charters by King John in 1200, confirming previous grants and giving the monks exemption from toll, and by Henry III in 1232, also granting exemption from toll. Various subsequent benefactors included Llywelyn Fawr  and his illegitimate son, Gruffudd, 1226. In 1328, in response to complaints by John de Charleton, Lord of Powys, Edward III instigated an official investigation into reports of dissolute behaviour at the abbey, resulting in the replacement of the Welsh monks with English ones and severance of the link between Ystrad Marchell and its original mother house of Whitland. The abbey was dissolved in 1536 in accordance with the general policy of Henry VIII. After the dissolution the lands in Cyfeiliog, Arwystli and Caereinion were acquired by the Purcell family of Nantcriba, Worthen, and the Vaughan family of Llwydiarth, with whom they intermarried. Those properties ultimately passed into the possession of the Wynnstay estate upon the marriage of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn to Ann, daughter of Edward Vaughan of Llwydiarth in 1715. The lands in Penllyn and Edeirinion were granted by the Crown to Sir Rowland Hayward, lord Mayor of London in 1570. For a fuller account of the historical background see Thomas, Graham, C.G. (ed.), The Charters of the Abbey of Ystrad Marchell (Aberystwyth : National Library of Wales, 1997, pp. 9-34.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Thirty seven charters of the Abbey of Ystrad Marchell near Welshpool, dating from 1183 to 1529, together with three Elizabethan inspeximus of the earlier charters, 1577-1588/9. The original foundation charter of c. 1170 is missing, but copies have survived in TNA and in the Wynnstay Estate Records at NLW. Twelve of the charters comprise grants and sales by Gwenwynwyn ap Owain of lands in the commote of Cyfeiliog, the hundred of Arwystli and the manor of Caereinion Uwch Coed, 1185-1215. Other documents in the Wynnstay archive include six grants by members of the former ruling elite of Arwystli [c. 1195]-1215; several grants of lands or pasturage rights in Penllyn and Edeirnion, Mochnant, Montgomery, Caledffrwd and Bachwilym; confirmations by King John, 1200, and Edward de Charleton, 1420, of previous grants; conveyances by Llywelyn Fawr,  and his son, Gruffudd, 1226; records of disputes between the abbeys of Ystrad Marchell and Cwm Hir over lands in Arwystli, [c. 1216], 1227; a mandate of Anian, bishop of St Asaph, [1268x1292]; confirmation of a grant by John de Charleton of the abbot’s right to hold a court of his tenants, 1367; leases of lands in Arwystli by two of the abbots, 1490-1529; and a single charter of Owain ap Madog granting land in Dinmael to Valle Crucis Abbey, 1207.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Readers are requested to use the digitised versions of the charters where available.
Conditions governing reproduction
Usual copyright laws apply.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Hard copies of the calendar compiled by J. Conway Davies and the publication Thomas, Graham C.G. (ed.), The Charters of the Abbey of Ystrad Marchell (Aberystwyth : National Library of Wales, 1997 are available at NLW. Digitised images, accompanied by translations and an introduction, are available online: http://www.llgc.org.uk/index.php?id=stratamarcella.
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Digital images and translations of thirty-four of the original charters http://www.llgc.org.uk/index.php?id=stratamarcella.
Related units of description
Davies, J. Conway, ‘The records of the abbey of Ystrad Marchell’, Montgomeryshire Collections, 51 (1949-50), 3-22; Davies, J. Conway, ‘Strata Marcella documents’, Montgomeryshire Collections, 51 (1949-50), 164-87; Jones, E.D., Davies, Norma G. and Roberts, Rhiannon Francis, ‘Five Strata Marcella Charters’, National Library of Wales Journal, 5 (1947), 50-4; Thomas, Graham C.G. (ed.), The Charters of the Abbey of Ystrad Marchell (Aberystwyth : National Library of Wales, 1997.
This description is based on the calendar by J. Conway Davies, published in Montgomeryshire Collections, 51 (1949-50), 164-87, with some corrections and renumbering taken from Thomas, Graham C.G. (ed.), The Charters of the Abbey of Ystrad Marchell (Aberystwyth : National Library of Wales, 1997). The latter book provides a comprehensive catalogue, and includes the historical background, physical descriptions of the documents, original sources and references to other relevant publications.
New numbers have been allocated, corresponding to the numbers in Graham Thomas’s catalogue (hence the GT references against individual items). Gaps in the numbering occur because not all of the documents described by Thomas belong to the Wynnstay estate records. The three Elizabethan inspeximus have been allocated new numbers following Thomas’s sequence, for the sake of consistency in this current catalogue. The numbering system used by J. Conway Davies is now redundant.
Title supplied from contents.
Preferred citation: Ystrad Marchell Charters (Wynnstay 1945 deposit) GT.