Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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CNEPPYN GWERTHRYNION , poet and grammarian of the 13th cent. ,

in all probability, although none of his compositions seem to have survived. The earliest reference to him is by Gwilym Ddu o Arfon (a poet who sang in 1322 ) in an elegy to the poet Trahaearn ( Myv. Arch. , 277b 12/13). Cneppyn is here named among a number of the leading poets of the 13th cent. , and it is maintained that he was of their tradition. From this reference we may gather that he hailed from Gwerthryniawn (now part of Radnorshire ), and that his verse was ‘correct by Latin standards’ or by the rhetorical standards of his period.

In some manuscripts ‘ Cneppyn Gwerthryniawn ’ is given as one of several nicknames borne by Sypyn Cyfeiliog or Dafydd Bach ap Madog Wladaidd (q.v.) , but as this Dafydd sang late in the 14th cent. he could not have been the original Cneppyn (see I.G.E. , 1925 ed., clxvii et seq. ).

In Cardiff MS. 38 , a manuscript containing the ‘ Pum Llyfr Kerddwriaeth ’ (the Welsh medieval ‘ars poetica’) in the hand of William Cynwal (q.v.) , and also in other 16th cent. copies of the same work, ‘ Cnypyn Gwerthryniawn ’ (or Gwerthryniawc ) is mentioned as a grammarian , and his name precedes that of Dafydd Ddu Athro (q.v.) . As the bardic grammar was based on Donatus , this fits in well with the statement by Gwilym Ddu , and suggests that the leading poet-teachers were in possession of a written grammar in Welsh as early as the 13th cent. if not earlier (see G. J. Williams , Gramadegau'r Penceirddiaid , xx-xxi).


David Myrddin Lloyd, M.A., (1909-81), Aberystwyth / Scotland

Published date: 1959