As his name implies, Hywel Grythor was a professional crowder. Very little is known about him. Interestingly, his name does not appear on Gutun Owain’s list of poets and musicians, although his son’s name may have been recorded there by Gutun himself as [Ro]bert ap Hoell’ Grythor (Huws 2004: 86). Miles (1983: 137) notes that he may have been the Hwllyn Grythor named in a list in Pen 54, 298v (c.1480), along with one Llywelyn Grythor and others. Hywel is satirized in a poem that was, in all likelihood, wrongly attibuted to Guto (poem 121), in which it is stated that Hywel received a gift of a dagger from Tudur Aled and is ridiculed for using it to eat instead of fighting. He is named Hywel Grythawr fawr ‘big Hywel Grythor’ (121.21), a reference to his size, and it seems that he was a native of north-east Wales. As he is unfavourably compared to Dafydd Nanmor, Tudur Penllyn and Guto, is seems that he belonged to a younger generation of professional performers. However, a poem by Sir Siôn Leiaf (son of Ieuan ap Gruffudd Leiaf) in praise of Rhisiart Cyffin, dean of Bangor, shows that Hywel was active about the same time as Guto and in the same houses of patronage at the end of the fifteenth century. Sir Siôn describes Guto, Hywel and Gwerful Mechain as three oppressions in Rhisiart’s house (who was dean between c.1478 and 1492), and they are criticized for taking advantage of the dean’s generous nature (Salisbury 2011: 101–18). Hywel was, therefore, the poets’ butt of criticism, probably due to his profession as a musician. It seems that he was active during the last decades of the fifteenth century. According to Jones (1890: 40), Hywel was active in 1568, yet no source is mentioned.
Huws, D. (2004), ‘Rhestr Gutun Owain o Wŷr wrth Gerdd’, Dwned, 10: 79–88
Jones, M.O. (1890), Bywgraffiaeth Cerddorion Cymreig (Caerdydd)
Miles, B.E. (1983), ‘Swyddogaeth a Chelfyddyd y Crythor’ (MA Cymru [Aberystwyth])
Salisbury, E. (2011), ‘Rhisiart Cyffin ab Ieuan Llwyd, Deon Bangor’, Dwned, 17: 73–118