Guto composed two poems to Siôn Hanmer, one of praise (poem 75) and another to request a hunting knife (poem 76) on his behalf from Gruffudd ap Rhys of Yale. The only other poem that can be closely associated with Siôn is a poem to request a horse from Gruffudd ap Rhys of Dinmael that Gutun Owain composed on his behalf (GO poem IX). It seems that it was Rhys Goch Glyndyfrdwy who composed a poem for one Siôn Hanmer to request a hound on behalf of one Siancyn ab Ieuan; however it is unclear whether he was the same Siôn Hanmer who was praised by Guto (Jenkins 1921: 83; GTP xxvii). The same is true of a poem composed by Tudur Aled to request a mantle from one Siôn Hanmer on behalf of Gutun Wilcock of Mold (TA poem CXXI). Furthermore, Hywel Cilan named Siôn, Guto’s patron, in a poem to his half-brother, Gruffudd Hanmer, and Rhosier ap Siôn, another close relation (GHC XXV.29–32).
The genealogical table below is based on WG1 ‘Hanmer’ 1, ‘Puleston’; WG2 ‘Puleston’ C1. The names of Guto’s patrons are underlined.
The first wife of Siôn Hanmer ap Sir David Hanmer was Marged daughter of Dafydd Ddu of Llwynderw. Guto’s patron, Siôn Hanmer, was this Siôn Hanmer’s son by his second marriage with Efa daughter of Dafydd of Llai. He was a nephew of Owain Glyndŵr. Although Siôn was not closely related to other patrons, his grandson, Edward, and his grand-daughter, Jane, both married descendants of two of Guto’s patrons, namely Tomas Salbri of Lleweni and Roger Puleston of Emral. Siôn’s father-in-law was John Parr.
The Hanmers were descended from Sir Thomas de Macclesfield, an officer under Edward I who settled in the commote of Maelor Saesneg in Flintshire (ByCy 315). It seems that the family took the name of a local village, Hanmer, in Maelor Saesneg (WATU 87; GGLl 264). The most famous member of the family during the Middle Ages was Sir David (Dafydd) Hanmer, Siôn Hanmer’s grandfather. In June 1377 he was appointed serjeant of laws, a position of some authority in the king’s court (Morris and Fowler 1895–1909: 60). There are several literary references to him as a judge, and none grander than a poem by Gruffudd Llwyd (GGLl poem 10.1, 4n). His effigy may have survived in Gresford church (Huws 2003: 50).
Sir David Hanmer and his wife, Angharad daughter of Llywelyn Ddu, had three sons, namely Siôn (or Jenkin), Gruffudd and Philip, and one daughter, Marged, who married Owain Glyndŵr in 1383. Siôn was the main heir when his father died, for both his brothers, Gruffudd and Philip, had supported Owain’s rebellion at the beginning of the fifteenth century. However, it seems that Siôn also supported Owain and served him as an envoy in Paris in 1404 and 1411 (Charles 1972–3: 16; Davies 1995: 138, 187, 192). Siôn’s coat of arms is seen on his seal in 1404: ‘a shield, couche, two lions passant guardant in pale. Crest: helmet in profile. Branches on either side of the helmet’ (DWH i, 204).
Siôn Hanmer ap Sir David Hanmer died in 1429 (Hanmer 1877: 52–3). The collections of Harold T. Elwes and the Bettisfield estate at the National Library of Wales contain numerous references to a person or persons known as de Hanmere, often as witnesses in deeds to grant free lands. One John de Hanmere is named as seneschal of Maelor in 1419 and 1425 (NLW Harold T. Elwes nos. 76, 77), in all likelihood the son of Sir David Hanmer. By 1438 it seems that his son, another Siôn Hanmer, is named as seneschal. Except for certain years, it is likely that this Siôn Hanmer, Guto’s patron, remained seneschal of Maelor until his death (the last reference to him is dated 3 February 1480, NLW Harold T. Elwes no. 105). According to Hanmer (1877: 54), he died on 16 March 1480. William Stanley is named as seneschal of Maelor in 1480, and it seems that Siôn’s son, William Hanmer, is named as his deputy. The seneschal was responsible for law and order within his commote, and it is likely that both Siôn and his son, William, had received legal training like their renowned forbear, Sir David Hanmer. Indeed, both father and son are named in the presentments of the Marford bailiwick jury, dated 19 October 1467 (Pratt 1988: 51, 52).
Guto’s poem to Siôn Hanmer ap Siôn Hanmer clearly shows that he was a soldier of note. He may have started his military career in France in 1441 in the army of Richard duke of York (75.28n). Although Siôn Hanmer’s name does not appear on the muster roll in that year, it may be possible to identify him with John of Halton (TNA_E1O1_53_33). However, as he is named as a witness in a legal case in Maelor on 20 May 1441 it is unlikely that he sailed to France in that year. It may be significant that it is Roger Puleston, not Siôn, who is named as seneschal of Maelor on 17 October 1440 (NLW Harold T. Elwes no. 1686). In the Wars of the Roses, Siôn Hanmer gave his support to the Lancastrians and became one of their most prominent leaders in north Wales under Jasper Tudor. According to Evans (1995: 63), in 1453 he was appointed by the queen ‘to bring certain people before the king’s Council to answer certain charges’. Both Siôn and Roger Puleston are named as the foremost leaders of the Lancastrian cause in north Wales during the 1460s (ibid. 87). It is Siôn, in all likelihood, who is named as one of the king’s attorneys in the lordship of Chirk in July 1461, when he received a commission together with six other men who were also Guto’s patrons, namely Abbot Siôn ap Rhisiart, Dafydd Cyffin, Rhosier ap Siôn Puleston, Siôn Trefor, Siôn ap Madog Puleston and Robert ap Hywel. In 1461 Siôn was responsible for holding Denbigh castle against the Yorkists and was later punished by the prominent Yorkist, John Howard duke of Norfolk, as is shown in a letter written by the duke on 1 March 1463: ‘The men’s names that be impeached are these – John Hanmer, William his son, Roger Puleston, and Edward ap Madog’ (Evans 1995: 90). In the same year Siôn Hanmer’s house was burnt down by John Howard and the lord of Powys (Hanmer 1877: 54). Despite his loss, Siôn Hanmer remained loyal to the Lancastrian cause. In 1468 he is named again as one of the soldiers who defended Harlech castle.
Siôn is mostly associated with Halghton and Llai, two estates which he inherited in 1427 when his father was forced to transfer his lands to his sons because of his support for Owain Glyndŵr during the rebellion. The estates had come to his father’s possession through his marriage to Efa, daughter and heiress of Dafydd ap Goronwy, chief forester of Bromfield and Yale. In Guto’s poem to Siôn Hanmer he is named as one from Haltun (76.3n), a reference to either Halghton or the village of Haulton in the parish of Bronington in Maelor Saesneg. Siôn married Angharad (or Ancareta) daughter of Thomas Parr (or Barre). Her mother, Alice, was a sister to one John Talbot, yet it is unclear whether he was related to Guto’s patron, John Talbot, second earl of Shrewsbury. However, the Hanmer family’s connection with the Talbots reflects its high social status in this period. It seems that Siôn’s son, William, settled in Llai.
Charles, R.A. (1972–3), ‘Noddwyr y Beirdd yn Sir y Fflint’, LlCy 12: 3–44
Davies, R.R. (1995), The Revolt of Owain Glyndŵr (Oxford)
Evans, H.T. (1995), Wales and the Wars of the Roses (second ed., Stroud)
Hanmer, J. (1877), A Memorial of the Parish and Family of Hanmer in Flintshire out of the Thirteenth into the Ninteenth Century (London)
Huws, B.O. (2003), ‘Rhan o Awdl Foliant Ddienw i Syr Dafydd Hanmer’ Dwned, 9: 43–64
Jenkins, A. (1921), ‘The Works of Tudur Penllyn and Ieuan Brydydd Hir Hynaf’ (M.A. Cymru)
Morris, G.J. and Fowler, R.C. (1895–1909), Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Richard II, vol. 1, A.D. 1377–1381 (London)
Pratt, D. (1988), ‘Bromfield and Yale: Presentments from the Court Roll of 1467’, TCHSDd 37: 43–53