Chwilio uwch

Sir Siôn Mechain, parson of Llandrinio, fl. c.1470

Guto composed two poems for Sir Siôn Mechain, a poem of praise (poem 84) and a poem of praise for Siôn’s new house in Llandrinio (poem 85). Maredudd ap Rhys also composed two poems of praise for Siôn (GMRh poems 4 and 5) and Llywelyn ap Gutun composed a poem for him to request two pairs of spectacles, one for himself and another for his fellow-poet, Owain ap Llywelyn ab y Moel (GLlGt poem 5). Guto is named at the end of Llywelyn’s poem as Siôn’s poet (ibid. 5.48).

Siôn’s name is not found in the genealogies, but Guto states that he was from hil Iorwerth Foel a’i had ‘the race of Iorwerth Foel and his seed’ (84.30n) and he was perhaps descended from Maredudd ab Ednyfed Gam, one of the grandsons of Iorwerth Foel of Pengwern, who settled in Mechain and the environs (GMRh 106–7). The only individual named as parson of Llandrinio in the genealogies is Sir Sieffrai (or Jeffrey), son of Guto’s patron, Maredudd ap Hywel of Oswestry (WG2 ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ 11 A3).

His career
Siôn was parson of Landrinio, a parish on the banks of the river Severn and to the east of Welshpool in Powys. The title Syr (‘Sir’) preceding Siôn’s name could denote a man with a university degree or an ordinary priest without one (GST 4), but there is no known evidence that Siôn graduated at a university and Guto’s words do not support such a supposition (cf. Syr Dafydd Trefor, Syr Thomas Wiliems). ‘Mechain’ in his name suggests that his roots were in that commote, and since Llandrinio is in the commote of Deuddwr, he clearly moved from the one place to the other. Siôn, besides being a churchman, was also a wealthy man. It appears that he had as many as three parishes under his care (84.22n), and Guto mentions him living in Llandrinio in a substantial house surrounded by water (poem 85). According to Glanmor Williams (1976: 265), he probably, like Sir Benet, acquired his wealth by breeding sheep, and Guto’s words support this. Thomas (1908–13: iii, 158) gives around 1470 as the date of his rectorate in Llandrinio, and that may have coincided with the building of Siôn’s new and important house and Guto’s praise of the occasion. Guto praises Siôn for his generosity and piety but it appears that he also, like Sir Benet, had military connections (84.17n).

Thomas, D.R. (1908–13), The History of the Diocese of St. Asaph (3 vols., Oswestry)
Williams, G. (1976), The Welsh Church from Conquest to Reformation (2nd ed., Cardiff)