Chwilio uwch

Siancyn Havard of Brecon, fl. c.1430–50

The recipient of poem 31 was a man called Siancyn Havard (Hafart). There is little information about him in the poem beyond his name and the fact that he has some close connection with Brecon. Guto does not mention his lineage or offer any hint as to a date, but to judge from line 46 Siancyn was not a very young man at the time, and it is clear that he had been a patron of poets for some years.

The Havards
The Havard family came to Brycheiniog with the Norman conquest in the eleventh century, but by the time of Guto’r Glyn they had become assimilated to such a degree that Guto can refer to Siancyn Havard as hoyw Frytwn ‘a merry Briton’ (2). It is not possible to locate the patron of this poem in the Havard family genealogy as it is given by Bartrum (WG2 ‘Havard’ 1–9), and that for two simple reasons: Guto does not name his father, and there are many men called John or Jankyn (Siancyn) Havard in the genealogy. It appears, in fact, that John and Jankyn were interchangeable.

Patrons called Siancyn (Havard)
A certain Siancyn Havard of Brycheiniog is the subject of a poem in Pen 57, 63–5, a manuscript which contains early copies of poems by Guto’r Glyn. The text is incomplete, but is followed by what may be an attribution to a poet called Ieuan ap Gruffudd Goch. The poem was added to the manuscript by hand C sometime after the two main copyists, A and B, who were at work c.1440. The poem does not tell us the name of this Siancyn Havard’s father. The next poem in Pen 57 praises a certain Siancyn ap Tomas ap Dafydd who is connected with Brecon, and it too was copied there by hand C. The copy is incomplete, and this time there is no sign of an attribution. It is generally believed that both these poems are addressed to the same man, which is a reasonable assumption, but not necessarily accurate.

If both poems are in fact addressed to a single man, then we need a Siancyn Havard who was the son of a Thomas. A good candidate is Siancyn Havard ap Thomas Havard, a burgess of Brecon, whose career is reconstructed by Ralph Griffiths (1972: 248–9). His floruit (1399–1426) would certainly match the dates of the other poems in Pen 57, which belong to the early decades of the fifteenth century. The second poem was composed for a man who had clearly only recently inherited his father’s position, so in all probability, if he is really the Siancyn Havard described by Griffiths, then the poem is not much later than the end of the fourteenth century.

However, there is no Siancyn ap Tomas ap Dafydd in the Havard genealogy, nor even any Dafydd or David from the right period. The date is also rather early for Guto’r Glyn, none of whose known poems are earlier than c.1436. Griffiths identifies the man who flourished 1399–1426 with the John son of Tomas Havard son of Wiliam Havard who can be found in Lewis Dwnn’s pedigree of the family (L. Dwnn: HV i: 102). But according to Bartrum’s system of generations he would have belonged to the thirteenth generation (WG2 ‘Havard’ 1, 8, 9), making him a contemporary of William Herbert the Younger, for example, who was not yet of age when his father was killed in 1469 and who died in the 1490s. He cannot be the man attested 1399–1426, although he might conceivably be the patron of Guto’r Glyn’s poem. However, since Dwnn’s genealogy links him in any case with Emlyn in Carmarthenshire, this is highly unlikely. In GGl2 353 the subject of the poems in Pen 57 is referred to as Siancyn ap Tomas ap Gwilym, but as has been seen, that cannot be true for the second poem, whose patron was a Siancyn ap Tomas ap Dafydd.

There remains also the possibility that the two poems in Pen 57 are for different men. There was a very prominent burgess called Thomas ap David in Brecon during the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr (Davies 1995: 18, 224). Could the object of the second poem in Pen 57 have been his son? Thomas ap David is not known to have been a Havard. All in all, the poems in Pen 57 do not help us further with Guto’r Glyn’s poem.

There are poems by Huw Cae Llwyd and Lewys Glyn Cothi for members of the Havard family. It is not known who was the Siancyn Havard who is praised in HCLl poem XVIII, but the poet may be describing him as ŵyr Ddafydd ‘grandson of Dafydd’ (33); if so, he is probably the same as the man addressed in the poem(s) in Pen 57. Siôn Havard ap Wiliam ap Siôn and his wife Annes are the subjects of HCLl poem XX: he belonged to generation 13 according to WG2 ‘Havard’ 2 (‘John Dew’). He is also the subject of GLGC poem 138. In HCLl poem XVII Huw was commissioned to speak in the voice of one of the Havards, saluting William Havard (ap Tomas) of Aberbrân (William is also the subject of GDEp 7). A certain Siancyn is named by Huw (13), but as the anonymous patron’s father, not himself, as wrongly asserted in HCLl 17. Huw calls his patron the ewythr ‘uncle’ of Wiliam and frawd tad Tomas Hafart ‘brother of Thomas Havard’s father’; in other words he was Wiliam’s great-uncle, one of the brothers listed in WG2 ‘Havard’ 1 under generation 11, sons of Siancyn Havard ap Maredudd.

As can be seen, the early genealogy of the Havard family poses a number of questions which cannot yet be answered. All that can be said about the recipient of Guto’s poem is that he belonged to a family which was very prominent in Brecon, one which offered considerable patronage to the poets, and that he bore a name which was common within the family. He cannot be dated, but he was probably alive c.1430–50.

Davies, R.R. (1995), The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dŵr (Oxford)
Griffiths, R.A. (1972), The Principality of Wales in the Later Middle Ages: The Structure and Personnel of Government, i: South Wales, 1277–1536 (Cardiff)