Llys is Welsh for Court (palace, abode) and Nini is possibly a person’s name.
The question who or what was Nini was really the start of the Gwlad Nini project.
George Owen’s book “The Description of Pembrokeshire” 1603 “Enneni…was said to be the sister of Urien Rheged, and her name occurs in Llys Nini near Penlle’rgaer in Welsh Gower.”1
Professor H.W. Owen notes that “Nini” was also a pet form of Jane.
Professor Gwynedd Pierce is an expert on place names, he says that the “Llys” element of Llys Nini is a very old Welsh place-name element and is usually followed by a person’s name or a word that describes the local area, colour or peculiarity of the place. Therefore Prof. Pierce believes that Llys Nini is a very old name and that Nini relates to a personal name, noun or adjective. (1)
To date, very few references to Enneni or Ennini or Enyny have been found but none of our collaborators or specialist advisers has provided a better explanation of the name of the original settlement of the site. Latterly we have found that Enneni was also known as Enhinti who married a local petty King of Soth East Wales.
If we accept the suggestion that Llys Nini is a derivation of Ennini’s Court, it links the site to Celtic Warrior Kings, bards, King Arthur and other Celtic legends, as well as to a popular nursery rhyme. It also means that Llys Nini would have been settled and acquired the name around 590AD or early in the 6th Century.
However the project’s research has shown that “Nini” could possibly be from the name Einon, the Prince after whom Gorseinon and Port Eynon were named.
Llys Ennini or Llys Enniaun?
Egerton Phillimore, in his notes in Owen’s Pembrokeshire Part lll. p323n2, is quite definite regarding the etymology of the second element of Llysnini. He maintains that “she (Ennini) was said to be the sister of Urien Rheged and her name occurs in Llys Nini, near Penlle’r Gaer (‘Penllergare’).
See pages on Urien and Ennini.
Enniaun is the Latin form of Einon. Einon (died c 984) was a Prince and warrior after whom Gorseinon is supposed to have been named. He was the Grandson of Hywel Dda and based near Llandeilo, from where he led his war band across the Loughor to capture lands in Morgannwg (Glamorgan). He may have established a court or Llys at Llys Enniaun, from where he ranged across Gower and Glamorgan.
See pages on Einon:
In the male dominated C6th would it have been likely for a woman to set up a court and have it named after her.
Documentation shows that the name has changed during the years.
Alternative spellings of Llys Nini
Llesneny 1507 Deeds WGAS
Croft Inon 1729 Map Emanuel Bowen "A new and accurate map of South Wales"
Llysnyny 1764 Survey of Gower
Llŷsnini 1767 (1759) Will of Dd Morgan NLW
Llysnine 1783 GRO D/D Cl.1/84 GOP
Llysiune (sic) 1807 GRO D/D Tr. 48, 49. GOP
Llysniny 1813-14 OS 2”
Llysninny 1820 L.W.Dilwyn Diaries
Llysneene 1825 C.L.deeds 1/1110-1 GOP
Llwysnini 1827 7-8 Geo. IV GOP
Llys-nini 1830 OS 1”; 1851 Census; 1884 OS6”.
The majority of the research on the name Llys Nini was undertaken by Mr Deric John; the Gwlad Nini Project is very grateful for his help. 1