Sourdough History And Our Family



has always been fascinated by her heritage. One of her ancestors was a Welsh Princess known as Gwenllian the Warrior Princess (Gwenllian Ferch Gruffydd). Contrary to the custom at the time, her father taught her how to fight using swords due to the Norman invasion. 

At 13 she met and fell in love with the older Gruffydd ap Rhys, Prince of Deheubarth.

They eloped in secret and later became King and Queen.

Her husband the king and her elder children fought against the Norman invasion and became a scourge to the Norman invaders. The scourge of the Gwenllian family started to hurt the Normans badly so when they found out that the men had gone from the castle on a raiding party and only Gwenllian and her children were there, they surrounded the castle.

Gwenllian knew she had few options, but she escaped to the villages and called them to action against the invaders with the famous Welsh speech:


“Men of Deheubarth, will you join me in battle? I am the daughter of a king, but you are the sons of Wales. This is your land, and the Normans have already stolen much of our birthright. Shall we let them steal even more?”


The speech worked and she raised 200 ill-equipped normal citizens to fight for their freedom. And they were very effective in using what would later become the Guerrilla tactics. They struck hard and fast in small groups against the Normans and disappeared into the night. 


They also stopped them from landing supplies to keep their army fed and effective. It was working and she even brought in a fellow chieftain (Maurice de Londres) to help swell the ranks. 

This, unfortunately,  was her downfall. Maurice betrayed her to the Normans; they found her and were able to strike devastating blows to the citizen army. Gwenllian was felled from her horse and her elder son rushed to her aid only to be killed in front of her.

The captured, heartbroken Gwenllian should have expected the common courtesy at the time of being somewhat protected as a woman on the battlefield. Women of the time caught in battle were treated well out of respect and either given a house arrest or traded for prisoner release later on. 


But this is where Gwenllian’s military tactics let her down. She was such a good commander that she was not given the courtesy of a  captured woman but treated worse than a captured male leader. They wanted rid of the scourge and beheaded her right on the battlefield and for centuries after, Welsh fighters would go into battle with the war cry “revenge for Gwenellian.”

Welsh 900+ Live sourdough starter


 Even though this was over 800 years ago the Welsh sourdough starter was already over 100 years old. It had been started by a Knight, Sir Thomas Clark who is a direct ancestor to Alicia and in fact, the name has been passed down many times with over 26 people in Alicia’s family tree having the name of Thomas Clark. When Alicia started sourdough making and realized her heritage, she felt it was only right to acquire the sourdough of her ancestors and return it to this side of the family. Since then, she has been one of the biggest proponents of the Welsh 900 starter, which is said to be traced back to, at least, Knight, Sir Thomas Clark.


Gwenllian and her husband fought against any of the potential colonisers of the time which ranged between Norman, English and Flemish. They would harass and rob them and then redistribute the wealth to the Welsh under their governorship. In fact, the historian Philip Warner calls the pair the “Robin Hoods of Wales.”




Ironically Paul was living in the Sherwood Forest boundaries in Nottinghamshire England, the home of the original Robin Hood when he and Alicia met online. Paul was widowed, Alicia was divorced and a whirlwind romance followed. To avoid complications, they secretly eloped (I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the Gwenllian tree) and were married after knowing each other online for only 3 months and meeting each other for only 3 weeks. 


That’s not a lot of time to search for family history. And they probably should have. Their family trees meet at various points: the Scottish Clan of Lindsey, The Clark family and a couple of other places. In fact, Paul has a cousin called…you guessed it, Thomas Clark.


Nothing too close, but Paul still likes to joke that there is nothing more American than getting married in secret to your cousin. Paul grew up in Nottingham England, but has lived in a few countries including, Ireland, Spain, and 5 years in Wales. In fact, he won a half marathon outside Carmarthen castle (An ancestral castle of Gwenllian). And right there in Wales our oldest son Tighe was born.




Is the only true Welshman in the family and he is like most of the Welsh, fiercely proud of his Welsh heritage. He was born in the Rhondda Valleys of south Wales and spent much time in the hills and beaches of the area. It also coincides nicely with his American high school team “The Dragons” as the Welsh flag is a dragon. The whole family now lives in Dallas, Oregon but we do have a truly international mix, but still all linked to the Welsh Valleys and Germany.




That’s right! Both sides of the family have branches in Germany. Paul through the Haupt line and Alicia through the Schneider line, and that is why they tracked down the German Black Death Starter. The German Black Death oral history puts its creation in southern Germany around the time the Black Death (1633) was ravaging the world. That time period, plus, the dark coloring of the loaves lent itself to the naming of the starter.


San Francisco


We have no history with the San Francisco starter except we like it and it creates great light loaves. Being a younger starter it is easier to trace a line that goes back to or near its creation – said to be traced back to 1810 at a bakery in California. We include it in our line-up as it’s a good all-round starter.

Sourdough Starters

{I'm loving the starter! I just made my second loaf this morning and made blueberry muffins yesterday.
{Surprisingly she doubled overnight and is very active this morning!
{Alicia was amazing and her product was fantastic


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