Coel Hen ( Coel the Old c.350 - c.420 )
Coel Hen, called Coel the Old due to his longevity, was also the Lord of Colchester and a Decurion. This was the time of the Decline of the Roman Empire and the Romans officials abandoned Britain and returned to Italy which was under attack by the Goths. Coel Hen was therefore believed to be the last Decurion. This man is probably the main contender as 'Old King Cole' due to the name he was given - Coel the Old.
St. Ceneu ap Coel ( Born c382 )
St. Ceneu ap Coel was the son of Coel Hen. Ceneu appears to have been made a Saint because he upheld the old Christian ways against pagan invaders.
He used Saxon mercenaries to help with this quest. He was named in the Historia Regum Britanniae as attending the coronation of King Arthur who became the 'One King' of the Britons.
The History of the Ancient Britons is being reflected in the origins of Old King Cole encompassing the times of the Celts, the Romans, the Saxons and King Arthur. The Tudor dynasty, starting with King Henry VII, claimed to descend from Old King Cole's royal lineage in attempt to further legitimise the Royal House of Tudor's claim to the English throne. One of the main sources of information regarding the Ancient Britons is taken from the works by Geoffrey of Monmouth. But Geoffrey lived many years later in the 1100's and much of his history on the pre-Saxon kings of Britain is based on Celtic legends - thus adding to the confusion regarding the origins of Old King Cole! Click here for more information about the History of the Celts http://www.vexillologymatters.org/welsh-flag.htm
Old King Cole poem
Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe in the middle of the night
And he called for his fiddlers three.
Every fiddler had a fine fiddle, and a very fine fiddle had he;
Oh there's none so rare as can compare
With King Cole and his fiddlers three.
Old King Cole poem