Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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SIMWNT FYCHAN ( c. 1530 - 1606 ), a poet

who lived in Tŷ Brith in Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd . It is sometimes said that he was b. in 1526 ; that cannot be proved, but as he was writing poems c. 1550 it is obvious that he was b. before 1530 . His bardic teacher was Gruffudd Hiraethog (q.v.) and he was given the grade of pencerdd at the Caerwys eisteddfod of 1568 ; a copy of the licence granted to him appears in Y Greal , 1806 . Many of his cywyddau survive in the manuscripts — of praise, elegy, and love, with others dealing with such subjects as courts of law. Although they give evidence of the felicity that might be expected from one of Gruffudd Hiraethog 's pupils they are not of any particular importance.

Simwnt Fychan is notable as a man well versed in the bardic traditions . About the year 1570 he compiled a bardic grammar composed of five parts and it is in this work that we find the bardic grammar in its definitive form. Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that it is but a copy. The only section which is new is that dealing with cynghanedd , and it is possible that it was his teacher , Gruffudd Hiraethog , who compiled this. Like his teacher , Simwnt was also a skilled genealogist with a good mastery over heraldry . A large manuscript containing his genealogical collections is in the Cardiff Public Library , and there are several other manuscripts containing his work in the various libraries. Some of his cywyddau have been published, his ‘pattern’ awdl to Piers Mostyn , which he showed at the Caerwys eisteddfod of 1568 , is printed in the grammar, ( 1592 ), of Siôn Dafydd Rhys . In 1571 was printed a page showing an epigram by the Latin poet Martial on ‘the happy life’ with a Welsh translation in cywydd metre by Simwnt Fychan . This translation was made at the behest of his patron , Simon Thelwall , Plas-y-ward , Ruthin (see the article on that family). He was buried, 13 April 1606 , at Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd ; elegies on him were composed by Siôn Phylip , Edwart ap Raff , and Thomas Evans of Hendre Forfudd (qq.v.).


  • Enwogion Cymru. A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen (1852) , 515;
  • Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru (1870) , 358-9;
  • Gweirydd ap Rhys , Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymreig, 1300–1650 (1885) , 1885 , 310-13;
  • Gramadegau'r Penceirddiaid (1934) , 1934 ;
  • Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies , iii, 286-97.


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

Published date: 1959