Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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IORWERTH FYNGLWYD ( fl. c. 1480-1527 ), bard ,

of S. Bride's Major, Glam. The cywyddau written in the course of a bardic controversy with Rhisiart ap Rhys Brydydd in John Stradling 's house in Merthyr Mawr prove that Rhisiart ap Rhys Brydydd was Iorwerth Fynglwyd 's bardic teacher . Over fifty of his compositions survive in manuscripts and there was much transcribing of them, not only by Glamorgan copyists but by scribes in North Wales also. He sang much to gentlemen in his own province — members of the families of Games , Stradling , Bawdrip , and Mansel , and to David , abbot of Margam , between 1500 and 1517 . But his chief patron was Rhys ap Siôn , Aberpergwm , the most distinguished member of that notable family. He visited Kidwelly and Ystrad Tywi also; it may be surmised that one of his favourite haunts was the court of Sir Rhys ap Thomas where he met Tudur Aled . His elegy was sung by Lewis Morgannwg (q.v.) , son of his old bardic teacher . He himself was the father of Rhisiart Iorwerth (or Rhisiart Fynglwyd ) , one of the most important Glamorgan bards of about the middle of the 16th cent.

Iorwerth Fynglwyd can be regarded as the greatest of the Glamorgan cywyddwyr . He was master of the conventional eulogy as practised by the bards. What gives his work particular importance, however, is the gift for proverb-making which is so evident in his social poems — that gift of enclosing some truth or statement in a memorable couplet. This is seen in the cywyddau which he sang with the object of comforting Rhys ap Siôn of Aberpergwm when the latter had lost his patrimony for a period and had been obliged to become a fugitive. These cywyddau were among the most popular in Wales in the 16th cent. , and quotations from them are given in John Davies 's collection of notable lines from the works of the bards, in his Flores Poetarum Britannicorum (first published in 1710 ).

Iolo Morganwg sought to make Iorwerth Fynglwyd a famous stonemason , one of the ancestors of those alleged stonemasons , Richard and William Twrch , by whom, he maintained, the porch at Beaupré had been erected in 1600 . These stories are repeated in 19th cent. books. They are, however, without foundation. All we have here is an attempt by Iolo to explain some lines in poems by Iorwerth Fynglwyd which he had seen.

Sources:

  • D. Rhys Phillips , The Hist. of the Vale of Neath , Swansea, 1925 , 1925 , 478, 501-9;
  • Archaeologia Cambrensis , 1919 ;
  • G. J. Williams , Traddodiad Llenyddol Morgannwg , 1948 , 1948 , 52-9.

Author:

Emeritus Professor Griffith John Williams, M.A., (1892-1963), Gwaelod-y-garth, Cardiff

Published date: 1959