Guto composed a poem to request a hunting knife from Gruffudd ap Rhys on behalf of Siôn Hanmer (poem 76). This is the only surviving poem to Gruffudd.
Guto’s poem contains very little information concerning Gruffudd’s lineage, therefore the genealogical table below is by no means conclusive. It is based on WG1 ‘Llywarch ap Brân’ 5, ‘Sandde Hardd’ 10, ‘Sandde Hardd’ 10 (A) and BL 14976, 99r.
Gruffudd’s family originated from Anglesey and his great-grandfather, Hywel, was associated with Coedan in the parish of Llanfachell (see the references to the island in 76.6, 18). His great-great-grandfather, Tudur ap Gruffudd, turned against Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282 and was subsequently made bailiff of Talybolion (Carr 1982: 198). Hywel of Coedan married Gwenhwyfar daughter of Madog of Hendwr in Llandrillo. The poet Gronw Gyriog composed an elegy for her where he says that she was buried at Llan-faes priory, which reflects the family’s high standing (GGrG poem 2). The name of Tudur, Hywel and Gwenhwyfar’s son and Gruffudd’s grandfather, occurs in the extent of Anglesey on 21 September 1352 (Carr 1971–2: 192–3).
Gruffudd ap Rhys’s parents were Rhys ap Tudur of Anglesey and Gwerful daughter of Ieuan Llwyd of Yale. Nothing is known of his father, although Guto highlights his military ability (76.12). In GGl 351 it is noted that Gruffudd lived at Llanferres, but there is no mention of it in Guto’s poem. However, beside a copy of the poem in BL 14976 the following note was written by a later hand: O’r Gruffydd yma y daw Sion Lewis ap Dafydd Llwyd ap Gruff ap Rys o Lanferres yn Ial ‘From this Gruffudd descends Siôn Lewis ap Dafydd Llwyd ap Gruffudd ap Rhys of Llanferres in Yale.’ It is, therefore, possible that Gruffudd lived at Llanferres by way of his mother’s links with the area (according to WG1 ‘Llywarch ap Brân’ 5, his brother, Siencyn, lived in Maentwrog and Trawsfynydd in Ardudwy). According to the genealogical tables, nothing is known of Gruffudd’s descendants, yet it is noted that he descended from the same lineage as the Lloyds of Bodidris in Llandegla, a family renowned for their patronage. Gutun Owain composed a poem to Tudur ab Ieuan Llwyd, Gruffudd’s uncle (GO poem XL), and Tudur Aled, Lewys Môn, Siôn ap Hywel and Gruffudd Hiraethog composed poems for Dafydd Llwyd ap Tudur and his descendants.
Very little is known of Gruffudd’s career apart from what can be gleaned from Guto’s poem. He clearly states that Gruffudd lived in his mother’s native land of Yale, where he was a [p]en-fforestwr ‘chief forester’ (76.13). It is possible that owning land was part of the payment given to a forester (Pratt 1994: 116–17). Pratt notes that the chief forester was responsible for all the forests and parks within the lordship, yet following Owain Glyndŵr’s rebellion very few Welshmen were granted the office. Furthermore: ‘Beneath [the chief forester] came three Welsh foresters, responsible for the parks in each of the three bailiwicks of Marford, Wrexham, and Yale and subordinate to these again, the parker or keeper for each individual park or warren.’ The names of many foresters in Bromfield and Yale have survived, yet there is no mention of Gruffudd (Pratt 1975: 203–4). It is therefore likely that Gruffudd was a minor forester and that Guto was exaggerating when he called him a [p]en-fforestwr.
According to Guto, Gruffudd also had a military career (76.17–20):
Pan oedd draw’r taraw ’n y tŵr,
Paun Môn fu’r pen-ymwanwr;
Pan fu’n y gogledd, meddynt,
Rhod ar Ysgót rhydraws gynt.
When there was fighting in the tower yonder, / the peacock of Anglesey was the chief fighter; / when he was in the north, so they said, / a fierce fighter against the unruly Scots.
Guto may be referring to the Tower of London in the first line above, and the second couplet clearly shows that Gruffudd fought in Scotland. No doubt his name was recorded on some muster roll during the Wars of the Roses. On the basis of the scant evidence that has survived, it is tentatively suggested that Gruffudd was alive c.1450 (he lived about the same time as Siôn Hanmer, who was alive c.1438–c.1468).
Carr, A.D. (1971–2), ‘The Extent of Anglesey, 1352’, AAST: 192–3
Carr, A.D. (1982), Medieval Anglesey (Llangefni)
Pratt, D. (1975), ‘Grant of Office of Keeper of Parks in Bromfield and Yale, 1461’, TCHSDd, 24: 203–5
Pratt, D. (1994), ‘The Parkers of Clocaenog’, TCHSDd 43: 116–20
Rogers, M. (1992), ‘The Welsh Marcher Lordship of Bromfield and Yale 1282–1485’ (M.Phil. Cymru [Aberystwyth])