After their invasion of the old kingdom of Morgannwg (Glamorgan) and the defeat of its last native ruler, Iestyn ap Gwrgant, the Normans held power over most of the county with the exception of Afan Wallia, the area between the rivers Afan and Nedd, more or less our present day Aberafan and Baglan Moors.
Iestyn's eldest son, Caradoc (1), was the first lord and the likely builder of the areas's first castle in the first half of the 12th century: a motte and bailey type of affair at the foot of Mynydd Dinas, around which rose the town of Afan.
Despite his local contributions to death and destruction (murder and some church vandalism) he still managed to get a chapel named after himself. Caradoc's Chapel would have been above Llewellyn Street but below Pentyla and was known as Capel Evan Sion Dafydd in the 18th century.
3. Leisan ap Morgan
4. his brother, Morgan Gam
5. Leisan ap Morgan Gam
6. his brother, Morgan Fychan
These were years of revolt and destruction, repentance and retaliation, forgiveness and slaughter, imprisonment and release. The Lords' granted land to the monks at Margam Abbey then seized it back. Granges were destroyed, livestock butchered. Neighbouring land in Norman custody was invaded and grabbed.
Although at the time of Morgan Fychan's death in 1288 he was referred to as Morgan, Lord of Avene, it was his son, another Leisan (7), the 7th Lord, who we generally remember (or blame) for the anglicisation of Afan. Historical records refer to him as Sir Leisan d'Avene, indicating that he was knighted, and there was no doubting his English affiliation when he named his sons, John and Thomas. But let's not be too unkind: if this is what it took to gain a measure of peace and tranquillity then who can blame him?
But tranquillity was always a short lived state in Medieval England and Wales. Leisan's allegiance switched from King Edward II to his enemies and back again in the early 14th century although his son, John d'Avene (8), the eighth Lord, was probably knighted for his military service to Edward III c.1337. John also made amends, around 1330, to the monks at Margam Abbey and relinquished his fishing rights in the River Neath, rights that his ancestors had stolen from them, despite charters to the contrary.
Thomas's death is unrecorded and although his son, another Leisan (10), was the last of the Lords of Afan it seems that he surrendered his Afan lands to Edward Despenser, Lord of Glamorgan in return for rents from a Warwickshire manor, and perhaps others too. He spent the rest of his life away from South Wales and the small parcel of land that his ancestors had bled and argued over for more than 200 years.
The Norman conquest of Glamorgan was complete.
Source: 'The Lords of Afan', A.Leslie Evans