Guto composed a poem of praise for Huw Lewys of Prysaeddfed, Anglesey, after his patron nearly drowned attempting to cross Malltraeth marsh (poem 64). Guto’s poem inspired Llywelyn ap Gutun to compose a satire on Guto (poem 65a) and Guto composed another poem in reply (poem 65). In his poem of praise for Huw, Guto notes that two of his patron’s brothers were alive and that another two had passed away. There were, therefore, five brothers in total, to whom Guto addressed another poem of praise (poem 63).
Both Huw and his wife, Sioned Bulkeley (or Bwlclai), were praised by other poets:
As already noted, Llywelyn ap Gutun composed a satire on Guto in reaction to Guto’s poem of praise for Huw, and Huw is named by Llywelyn in another satirical poem that he composed for Rhisiart Cyffin, dean of Bangor (GLlGt poem 9). Llywelyn states that he received a letter from Rhisiart with instructions to deliver it to Huw, and believed that its contents gave him permission to beg for lambs in Y Chwaen, yet when it was read by Huw it came to light that Llywelyn had in fact been accused of stealing lambs and that Huw had been ordered to imprison him, if not worse.
Huw’s descendants were also patrons of poetry. Lewys Môn composed a poem of praise for Huw’s son, Siôn Lewys, and to Siôn’s wife, Elsbeth Watgyn (GLM poems V and VI), and Ieuan Deulwyn composed a poem to request a mantle from Siôn (ID poem XXVI). Alis daughter of Huw Lewys was elegized by Gutun Owain sometime after 1480 (GO poem 52), and Lewys Môn composed a poem of praise for Owain ap Siôn, the husband of Elin daughter of Huw Lewys (GLM poem XLVII).
Huw Lewys ap Llywelyn adopted a diminutive form of his father’s name as a surname, which was subsequently used by his descendants. The genealogical table below is based on WG1 ‘Marchudd’ 6; WG2 ‘Bulkeley’ 2, ‘Hwfa’ 8 C1. The names of Guto’s patrons are underlined.
The genealogical table shows Huw’s main descendants from his first marriage with Sioned Bulkeley, as well as his relation to three of Guto’s patrons. He was an uncle of Dafydd ap Gwilym of Llwydiarth, a brother-in-law of Huw Bulkeley of Beaumaris and the son-in-law of Elen, sister of Wiliam Fychan of Penrhyn.
As the genealogical table above shows his sister Elen’s first marriage only, the one below shows her second marriage. It is based on WG1 ‘Carwed’ 2; WG2 ‘Carwed’ 2 B, ‘Ednywain Bendew’ 3 B5, ‘Hwfa’ 8 C1.
The table shows Huw’s family connections with his sister through her second marriage to Cynwrig ap Dafydd, who is named in Guto’s reply to Llywelyn’s satire (65.27). As is shown, Huw also married twice, the second time with Cynwrig and Elen’s unnamed daughter. Therefore Huw was both Cynwrig’s brother-in-law and his son-in-law, and he was also the son-in-law of his own sister, Elen. He married his niece (although it is unclear whether they were formally married).
For a genealogical table showing Huw’s brothers and his ancestors, see the note on the five brothers.
This note is based on Wiliam (1969–70), if not otherwise stated. Huw is named in records between 1461 and 1467 and Carr (1982: 216) notes that he farmed a number of escheated lands from 1464 onwards. He was the viceregent of the commote of Malltraeth in 1471/2 and farmed the viceregencies of the commotes of Malltraeth, Llifon and Talybolion in 1480/1 (ibid. 215). His name is last recorded in September 1485.
According to Carr (ibid. 216), ‘he may at one time have held some office at court’, a suggestion based on a line from Lewys Môn’s elegy for him (GLM IV.54):
Pwy i roi’n sewer prins ieuanc?
‘Who’ll be a sewer for a young prince?’
The word sewer denotes an ‘attendant at a meal who superintended the arrangement of the table, the seating of the guests, and the tasting and serving of the dishes’, particularly in the king’s court down to the fifteenth century (OED Online s.v. sewer2; GPC 3236). The words sewer prins ieuanc ‘young prince’s sewer’ suggests that the old meaning is meant, and Wiliam (1969–70) suggests that prins ieuanc is a reference to Edward Prince of Wales (1453–71). Yet Edward’s successor as prince between 1470 and 1483 should also be considered, namely the later Edward V.
In the last lines of Guto’s poem of praise for Huw the patron is described as sirif Môn ‘sheriff of Anglesey’, a reference supported by Ieuan Deulwyn in his poem to request a goshawk from Huw (ID 39):
Y syryf aeth a sir fon
sy huw lewys o liwon
‘The sheriff who governed Anglesey
is Huw Lewys from Llifon’
and also in a poem to request a mantle from Huw’s son, Siôn Lewys (Wiliam 1969–70: 60):
Siryf i Fôn y siroedd
Swydd ei dad, Prysaeddfed oedd
‘A sheriff for Anglesey before all other shires,
that was his father’s office, Prysaeddfed’
(ID 48 offers a slightly different reading: Sirydd i fon y siroedd / Swydd fu i dad prysaddfed oedd.) Wiliam suggests that Huw was in fact deputy sheriff, for the surviving records do not name Huw as sheriff.
His first wife was Sioned daughter of Wiliam Bulkeley of Beaumaris, a union of some significance according to Carr (1982: 228): ‘this … was an alliance of two rising families and in a way marked the acceptance of the Cheshire Bulkeleys into the ranks of the Anglesey uchelwyr.’ It seems that Sioned was born after 1437, as her parents’ marriage took place in that year.
Huw died between the last reference to him in 1485 and 1503/4, when his brother, Rhys, died (the only brother whose year of death is known). It seems that Rhys was Llywelyn ap Hwlcyn’s youngest son, and Guto states that both he and Meurig, the eldest son, were alive when he composed his poem of praise for Huw. Furthermore, Lewys Môn refers to one brother only in his elegy for Huw (GLM IV.46):
gwae’i frawd am ei gyfryw ŵr
‘woe to his brother for a similar man’
This brother was in all likelihood Rhys, and it seems that Meurig had died before Huw.
Carr, A.D. (1982), Medieval Anglesey (Llangefni)
Wiliam, D.W. (1969–70), ‘Y Traddodiad Barddol ym Mhlwyf Bodedern, Môn’, AAST: 39–79