Origin legend of the name "Blevins"

As far as things go, Blevins, is a recent (a few hundred years old) variation on ancient Welsh word, Bleiddwn, which can be translated as Wolf-man, from the Welsh word for Wolf, “Bleidd”. Other variations on the name include Bleddyn, Blethyn, Blethin, Blethen, and Blevin. I’ve also heard that the -yn at the end of Bleddyn refers to the diminutive, and could be rendered as “Wolf-cub”, but for the sake of this story, we’ll stick with the former interpretation.

There is a story in the Mabonogion called “Math the Son Of Mathonwy” that tells of Gwydion and Gilfaethwy, who raped Goewin, the daughter of Pebin. Gwydion and Gilfaethwy were the maternal nephews of Math ab Mathonwy, who was lord over Gwynedd. Goewin was under the protection of Math, and Gilfaethwy had become greatly enamored of her.

The two concocted an adventure to acquire swine, which were unheard of in that time, from Pryderi, king of Dyfed. Gwydion, being a magician (trained by Math in those arts), conjured illusions to trick Pryderi into trading him the swine for apparitions of fine horses and greyhounds. The trick would only last a day and the brothers and their retinue quickly fled back to Gwynedd. They reached Caer Dathyl, Math’s residence.

That night, after Math and his men had left to secure the swine, Gilvaethwy stayed in Math’s chambers, and he and Gwydion rudely chased out all of the women from the chamber, except for Goewin, who they forced to remain.

On the next day a battle ensued between Math’s and Pryderi’s men over the trickery of Gwydion. Pryderi suffered major losses and negotiated terms of peace. Pryderi made his case against Gwydion, whom he called out for battle. With Gwydion’s magical advantage, he slew Pryderi.

After Math and his men returned home triumphant, he went back to his couch and placed his feet on Goewin’s lap, as was tradition at that time for a lord with his maiden. She informed him she could no longer fill that role, as she had been defiled. She told Math how Gwydion and Gilfaethwy had raped her. Math declared to avenger her honor and took her as his wife, bestowing upon her dominion of his lands.

Gwydion and Gilfaethwy avoided Court in a form of self exile, until it was forbidden for others to provision them. After a while, they returned to Math’s Court. They made kind speech to the kings, but he was set on punishing them for the needless deaths of many of his warriors, with the death of Pryderi being the only worthy action they had done. He then commenced to inflict punishment upon them.

Being a very strong magician himself, Math took out his wand and turned the two into deer. He commanded them to mate and return to him in a year. After the year, they returned, with a fawn. He then struck them with Magic to turn them into wild hogs. He took the fawn and turned him human, having him baptized and naming him Hyddwn, meaning “Stag-man”.

A year later the brothers in the form of wild hogs returned to him with a young hog with them. He then turned the brothers into a pair of wolves. He took the young hog, turned him human, had him baptized, and named him Hychddwn Hir, or “”Sow-man the Long”, for the long auburn hair that he had.

After the third year, the brothers returned with a wolf cub. He took the cub, turned him human, had him baptized, and named him Bleiddwn, or “Wolf-man”. He then told the brothers that his punishment of them was complete and turned them back into humans. They were washed and restored to their noble state.

So take it for what it’s worth. Let not facts get in the way of romantic legends.

William Blethyn Pedigree Roll

In the history of the Blevins/Blevin/Blethyn/Bleddyn name, one of the more famous characters in the past thousand years would have to be William Blethyn, Bishop of Llandaff, who lived in the 16th century. There is a fair amount of information on him in out of print books, many of which can be found on Google books. At a later date, I’ll go back and give a better biography of him.

The one piece of historical information that is by far the most valuable, and in my opinion, of great importance to Welsh national heritage, is the William Blethyn Pedigree Roll kept at the Glamorgan Archives. A zoomable copy of the Pedigree Roll can be viewed here. One of the amazing things to me is that this roll purports to trace the lineage of William Blethyn back through the Welsh kings of antiquity and on to Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of Britain. And even more astounding, the top left corner of the roll take the genealogy from Brutus all the way back to Adam. I’ll leave it to individual opinion how much of the genealogy presented is to be accepted as fact.

Copyright Glamorgan Archives (Reference CL/PED/1)

At some point in the future I’d like to transcribe the text of the roll and redraw the arms listed and research them one by one until I have a clearer picture of what all is here. Given the magnitude of information listed, this could turn into a life-long project. If there is anyone else out there interested in helping, please let me know.

[Update 24 February, 2017: It has been brought to my attention that the link to the pedigree roll on the Glamorgan Archives website is no longer functional, and that the Archives present staff does not appear to be aware of the document. We can only hope that it is still in safe keeping.]

Cherokee Knightens – Intro

In Morgan County, Alabama legend, there exists the enigma of John L. Knighten, who some claim to be a full-blooded Cherokee who lived from 1849 to 1943.  He was my great-great-great grandfather.  I don’t believe that the legend has been fabricated, but some of the details may have been embellished over the years.  The problem is, everyone with first- or even second-hand knowledge has fallen victim to time themselves.

John L. Knighten sometime in the early 1900s

I have spoken with both proponents and opponents of the validity of John L. Knighten’s Cherokee blood.  Those who support the claim that he was Cherokee often refer to him as Johnny Lighthorse Nightingale, prince of the House of Winds (Anigilahi).  Those who think he was just a regular white guy refer to him as John Littleton Knighten.  Personally, I probably fall somewhere in between those two camps.  I believe that he had Cherokee ancestry, but may have not been full-blooded.  You might say that there are no official documents to support this claim, and I would retort, that many people of South Eastern Native American lineage wanted it that way to avoid persecution, and I believe (possibly naively) that the origins of this story are too old to have been totally fabricated.  It traces back to long before it was “cool” to be an Indian.

I’d like to take a moment to credit my aunt, Nancy Blevins, for allowing me access to photos that she had.  I spent a day with her and uncle Vaughn several years ago scanning the pages of her photo album and some handwritten notebook pages that she written.  The notes were based on conversations that she had with Zudie Morgan, who was either, John L. Knighten’s granddaughter or great-granddaughter.  If anyone knows, let me know.  So for the information that I have that I haven’t personally researched, Ms. Morgan, via Nancy Blevins, is my ultimate source, unless otherwise noted.

John L. Knighten’s Headstone at Ebenezer Cemetery, Falkville, AL

More to follow…