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Wales’ Mum

On Mother’s Day (in much of the world), it seems appropriate to give a belated nod to the woman known as the mother of Wales. (In Wales, Mother’s Day is usually celebrated in March; the date varies with Lent.)

With numerous descendants, Catrin of Berain (1534/35–1591) has been dubbed the “Mother of Wales.” Catrin was a descendant of Henry VII; her parents were Tudur ap Robert Vychan of Berain, Denbighshire, and Jane Vielville. A large family tree is a given for a Tudor; however, Catrin’s roots extend even further thanks to four strategic marriages and her large brood.

Catrin’s husbands were, in order of marriage, John Salusbury, Sir Richard Clough, Maurice Wynn, and Edward Thelwall. With each union, her wealth and power increased. She had two sons by her first husband; two daughters second by her second; and a son and a daughter by her third. In addition, Catrin of Berain had 16 stepchildren and 32 grandchildren. Her fourth husband was the only to outlive her.

Some gossipmongers claimed Catrin had seven husbands, while others insisted that she killed her first three. She purportedly killed one spouse by “pouring molten lead into his ear”!

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