Chwilio uwch

Trahaearn ab Ieuan of Pen-rhos, fl. 1454–1480s

Only one poem by Guto’r Glyn for Trahaearn ab Ieuan has survived, namely a poem requesting the loan of the Book of the Grail on behalf of Abbot Dafydd ab Ieuan of Valle Crucis (poem 114). Lewys Glyn Cothi also sang a praise poem in the awdl metre for Trahaearn (GLGC poem 117), and Dafydd ab Edmwnd (or possibly Dafydd Llwyd of Mathafarn according to some manuscripts) composed a poem for him requesting a mantle (DE poem LVII). Hywel Swrdwal composed an elegy for Trahaearn’s brother, Gruffudd (GHS poem 8), possibly under Trahaearn’s patronage: Bu i tithau, ’m graddau’r grog, / Farw, Trahaearn, frawd rhywiog ‘You [Gruffudd], by the stations of the cross, / also died, excellent brother of Trahaearn’ (8.17–18 and the note which suggests that Hywel is addressing Trahaearn directly here). Lewys Glyn Cothi also composed a poem requesting a curtain or tapestry from Gruffudd’s wife, Annes daughter of Siôn, whilst Gruffudd was still alive (GLGC poem 119).

The table is based on information taken from WG1 ‘Rhys Goch o Ystrad Yw’ 1, 3, 8, 10, ‘Blaidd ab Elfarch’, ‘Bleddyn ap Maenyrch’ 23 and ‘Maenyrch’ 3; DWH i: 96–7. Those named in Guto’s poem to Trahaearn are shown in bold (but see 114.8n on Cynfyn, Bleddyn and Blaidd) and the name of the patron is underlined.

Lineage of Trahaearn ab Ieuan of Pen-rhos

Ieuan ap Meurig, Trahaearn’s father, married twice, and it is not known which wife was Trahaearn’s mother. However, the grandfather of the second wife (who is not named) was Trahaearn Llwyd, and it is possible, therefore, that the second wife was Trahaearn’s mother, and that he was named after his great-grandfather (a rather uncommon name in the period, according to the genealogies).

Trahaearn belonged to a family that had been prominent in the administration of south-east Wales for generations. His father, Ieuan (who was alive in 1433) was the master sergeant of Usk in 1411 (DWH i: 96) and deputy steward of Usk in 1413 (NLW Badmington 981), and Ieuan’s father, Meurig (d. 1392) had been a Squire of the Body of King Edward III (see WG 1 ‘Rhys Goch Ystrad Yw’ 10). Trahaearn was closely associated with William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke, and in 1454 he is named as deputy steward to William Herbert in Usk and Caerleon. It is quite possible that Guto became acquainted with Trahaearn on his visits to William Herbert (d. 1469) at Raglan castle, and that earlier poems to Trahaearn have been lost. (Trahaearn’s relationship with the Herbert family is discussed in the background note to poem 114).

Following the Yorkist victory at the battle of Mortimer’s Cross in 1461, Trahaearn profited greatly from his ardent support for William Herbert and King Edward IV in Wales: for example he, and a certain John ap Jankyn, were given lands in Devon which had previously belonged to Thomas Cornwall (CPR 1461–7, 76; WWR2 88). In 1463 he received a commission from the king, along with Sir Walter Devereux, William Herbert, Richard Herbert and Lord Ferres, which allowed them to pardon the king’s former enemies in return for a promise of future support (CPR 1461–7, 280). And again in 1464, he was commissioned with the same men to accept ‘all rebels within the king’s castle of Hardelagh and county of Merionnyth in North Wales’ (CPR 1461–7, 355). By 1465 William Herbert was farming the lordship of Haverfordwest (E 210/1147), and it is possible that Trahaearn was with him during this period. The following lines are a problem however, as Trahaearn’s location at the time of the poem’s composition is unclear (see the discussion on poem 114); the iarll Herbert here could well be the second earl of Pembroke (114.21–32):

  Awn i’ch cwrt, yno y’ch cair,
Uwch Hawlffordd fal uchelffair.
Wythgan mil a’th ganmolant
O Frysto i Benfro bant,
O Aber teg, lle beirw ton,
Daugleddau hyd Gelyddon;
Doethineb, da y’th enwir,
Defodau holl Dyfed hir.
Un o weilch, ei wayw a’i nerth,
Iarll Herbert geir llaw Arberth,
A hael henw, uwchlaw hynny,
Wyth wlad dy hun wrth ddal tŷ.

We will go your court, there you will be found,
which is like a great fair above Haverfordwest.
Eight hundred thousand do praise you
from Bristol to Pembroke yonder,
from beautiful Milford Haven, where the wave stirs,
as far as Caledon;
you are the wisdom (your name is celebrated well),
of the complete customs of far-reaching Dyfed.
One of Earl Herbert’s hawks,
his spear and his might near Narberth,
and, as well as that, you are the generous renowned one
of your own eight regions as you keep house.

It is possible that it was Gruffudd, Trahaearn’s brother, who was the main patron at Pen-rhos. Lewys Glyn Cothi suggests this in his poem for Annes, Gruffudd’s wife: Hi yw’r benna’ ’Nghaerllion, / ei gŵr yn bennach nog un / i roi o’i gost aur a gwin … ‘She is the highest in Caerleon, / and her husband higher than anyone, / giving of his provision of gold and wine’ (GLGC 119.5–7). But we know that Gruffudd died before Trahaearn (see above). Did Trahaearn return from the south-west to Pen-rhos after Gruffudd’s death, after having followed Herbert (either the first or second earl) to Pembrokeshire in the 1460s or 1470s?

There is no documentary evidence to confirm that Trahaearn survived into the 1480s; however, he must have done so, because Guto’s poem for him was sung during the abbacy of Dafydd ab Ieuan at Valle Crucis, from c.1480 onwards; contrast D.F. Evans 2008: 294 and WG1 ‘Rhys Goch o Ystrad Yw’, 10, who follow Bradney’s erroneous suggestion (1993: 219) that 23 June 1481 is the latest reference to him, referring to CPR 1476–85, 280; however, the correct reference is 23 June 1463, CPR 1461–7, 280. (A number of recent discussions give the incorrect 1481 date.)

Bradney, J.A. (1993), A History of Monmouthshire, Vol 3: The Hundred of Usk (part 2) (Cardiff)
Evans, D.F. (2008), ‘ “Talm o Wentoedd”: The Welsh Language and its Literature, c.1070–c.1530’, R.A. Griffiths et al. (eds.), The Gwent County History, 2: The Age of the Marcher Lords, c.1070–1536 (Cardiff), 280–308