Guto’s poem requesting reconciliation (poem 106) is his only poem for Ieuan Fychan which has survived. Guto describes Ieuan Fychan as a poet and harpist (106.42–6) and indeed two of his poems have survived, requesting a coracle from his distant cousin, Siôn Eutun ap Siâms Eutun (see GMRh poems 9, 11). Siôn had to call upon the services of Maredudd ap Rhys to compose an answer (ibid. poem 10), and Ieuan Fychan in turn composed a poem to answer Maredudd, and the two poets sang a series of englynion to each other as well (ibid. poems 11, 12; Charles 1966–8: 74–8). For Gruffudd Nannau and Rhys Goch Glyndyfrdwy’s poems to Ieuan’s sons, Ithel and Rhys, when they were imprisoned in Whittington castle, see the note on Rhisiart Trefor of Bryncunallt. See also the note on Siôn Edward ab Iorwerth of Plasnewydd, Ieuan Fychan’s nephew, for the poems of Guto and his contemporaries to that branch of the family.
The lineage below is based on information gleaned from WG1 ‘Tudur Trefor’ 13, ‘Marchudd’ 13, ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ 5; WG2 ‘Tudur Trefor’ 13C. Those named in poem 106 are shown in bold, and the names of patrons are underlined.
Ieuan Fychan was descended from a family who had played a prominent role in the administration of Nanheudwy both before the Edwardian conquest and subsequently, when the commote became part of the new lordship of Chirk, Chirkland. His ancestors Iorwerth Hen, Iorwerth Fychan and Iorwerth Foel held key positions in the court of the princes of Powys over three generations. As A.D. Carr (1976: 8) noted: ‘It is … possible that the office of seneschal of Powys Fadog became hereditary in the family of Pengwern, just as the corresponding office of Gwynedd became the preserve of the family of Ednyfed Fychan.’ These were two old and important Welsh families who served the native princes, and it is not surprising that they regarded each other as suitable marriage material: Myfanwy daughter of Iorwerth Ddu (sister of Addaf, Ieuan Fychan’s grandfather) had married Goronwy ap Tudur of Penmynydd, Anglesey. Myfanwy was the young lady from Dinas Brân to whom Hywel ab Einion Lygliw sang a love ode (GGLl poem 1). Ieuan Fychan’s mother, Angharad, was also descended from the same family, being the daughter of Ednyfed ap Tudur of Trecastell (therefore Myfanwy’s sister in law). By referring to Ieuan’s mother as merch Ednyfed naf (106.65), Guto reminds us of this important family connection. Ieuan’s surname ‘Fychan’ probably came from this family, and can be traced back to its effective founder Ednyfed Fychan.
Ieuan Fychan’s marriage to Angharad, heiress of Mostyn, in the early 1430s was perhaps the most successful of all (see Mostyn 1629 (v)), establishing what would be one of the most powerful estates in Wales for generations to come. As noted by Carr (1976: 30): ‘Ieuan Fychan was by far the most outstanding member of the Pengwern family and the real founder of the Mostyn estate.’
A family connection which Guto is keen to advertise is the fact that Ieuan Fychan’s paternal grandmother, Isabel daughter of Gruffudd Fychan, was Owain Glyndŵr’s sister. Another sister, Lowri, was married to Robert Puleston, and was the mother of Angharad, wife of Edward ap Dafydd of Bryncunallt (see 103.23–4n). The Pengwern family were ardent supporters of Owain during the rebellion, and Ieuan ab Addaf, Ieuan Fychan’s father, had to forfeit his lands as punishment, before they were restored to him on lease by 1409 and possibly in full shortly afterwards (see Smith 1987: 177).
Ieuan Fychan also ensured that his own children married well: his eldest son, Hywel, married Marged daughter of Gruffudd, heiress of Gloddaith, thus adding another court to the Mostyn estate which was increasing in size and authority. (It is not known when Hywel died, but he probably predeceased his father, see Carr 1976: 44.) Alis, Hywel’s sister, married Wiliam ap Morus, brother of Sieffrai Cyffin of Oswestry, and another sister, Marged, married Meurig ap Llywelyn of Bodsilin.
Upon the death of his father, Ieuan ab Addaf, on 26 December 1448, Ieuan Fychan became the head of the Pengwern and Mostyn estates. The manner in which Guto praises Ieuan as the head of the household in Pengwern suggests that he may have sung poem 106 shortly after 1448. When Ieuan’s mother, Angharad, died, Trecastell was also added to his estate. Through his mother, Ieuan was related to Jasper Tudor, and there is a tradition, recorded by the local man Elis Gruffydd, that Ieuan gave Jasper sanctuary at Mostyn during the troubles of 1464 (Carr 1976: 35).
The main branch of the family had been based at Pengwern at least as far back as the thirteenth century. Pengwern is described in Eggerley’s survey of Chirkland in 1391 as terram ecclesiasticam (Jones 1933: 58), and Carr (1976: 22) suggests that it was associated in the past with the old clas church of Llangollen. As noted above, with Ieuan’s marriage to Angharad of Mostyn, the family’s estate expanded greatly. The family’s centre of power also moved from Pengwern to Mostyn in Flintshire. But it is as head of the household in Pengwern that Guto addressed Ieuan.
The relative lack of surviving fifteenth-century documents makes it difficult for us to obtain a full picture of any patron’s career in the period, but Ieuan Fychan’s name possibly appears more often than most, and Carr (1976: 27–44) gives a convenient synopsis of what is known about him. There is a family tradition (Glenn 1925: 33) that Ieuan joined the army of the earl of Arundel in France for the 1415 campaign. There is definitely a man of his name present, but we cannot be completely sure that he was Ieuan Fychan of Pengwern, although military service of this kind would be quite usual for a gentleman of his status in the period (see Carr 1976: 30–1). In 1432, Queen Katherine gave Mostyn on lease to Ieuan Fychan for £14 per annum, which means he must have married Angharad by this time. Katherine, the widow of Henry V, was by now the wife of Owain Tudur, the cousin of Ieuan’s mother (ibid. 30). Ieuan is often mentioned in documents dated in the 1430s–1450s, taking part in court proceedings, sometimes as a defendant, sometimes in a more judicial role, and at other times in deeds regarding the conveyance of lands (these are discussed ibid. 31–3).
In his praise of Ieuan Fychan, Guto draws attention to his talents as a poet and harpist, as well as to his effective leadership of the Pengwern household. The gentlemen poets Dafydd ab Edmwnd and Maredudd ap Rhys, vicar of Ruabon, were also distant cousins of his (descending from Madog Llwyd, the brother of Ednyfed Gam), and it seems, therefore, that this family took a deeper interest in poetry than just as patrons.
We have no information about Ieuan Fychan’s education or about his bardic teacher. According to the family history (Glenn 1925: 31), he received his elementary education at Valle Crucis before progressing to one of the universities in England, Oxford or Cambridge, but there is no evidence to support that suggestion (cf. Carr 1976: 40n180).
The earliest reference to Ieuan, as seen above, dates from the early 1430s, shortly after he had married. We can estimate, therefore, that he was born in the early 1410s, if not earlier. There is some disagreement among scholars regarding the date of his death. According to R.A. Charles (1966–7: 78), following the family history (Glenn 1925: 50), Ieuan died between July 1457 and the following March, probably at Mostyn, and was buried in the church at Whitford. But that cannot be correct as Ieuan is named as the witness of a deed dated 11 March 1475 transferring land in Gwernosbynt to his nephew, Siôn Edward (Jones 1933: 93; Carr 1976: 43). He had died by 2 March, 1477, because there is a document (LlGC Chirk Castle F 9876) recording the transfer of all his possessions to his two daughters, Margaret and Alis, on that date. This suggests that his eldest son, Hywel, had also predeceased him.
Carr, A.D. (1976), ‘The Mostyn Family and Estate, 1200–1642’ (Ph.D. Cymru [Bangor])
Charles, R.A. (1966–7), ‘Teulu Mostyn fel noddwyr y beirdd’, LlCy 9: 74–110
Glenn, T.A. (1925), History of the Family of Mostyn of Mostyn (London)
Jones, G.P. (1933), The Extent of Chirkland (1391–1393) (London)
Parry Owen, A. (2010), ‘Gramadeg Gwysanau (Archifdy Sir y Fflint, D/GW 2082)’, LlCy 33: 1–31
Smith, Ll.B. (1987), ‘The Grammar and Commonplace Books of John Edwards of Chirk’, B xxxiv: 174–84