databas cerddi guto'r glyn
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Matthew Gough of Maelor, fl. c.1423–d. 1450

Guto’s poem of praise is the only surviving poem for Matthew Gough (poem 3). He is referred to admiringly in the work of Lewys Glyn Cothi and Huw ap Dafydd (GLGC 33.22, 111.27–8, 173.30; GHD 27.75–6). A rather feeble few lines of elegaic verse for him survive as an addendum in the work of William of Worcester, in which Matthew’s lineage is mentioned (see below; Worcestre 1969: 351), yet they were not written by William but by the antiquary Robert Talbot (1505/6–58; on him, see DNB Online s.n. Robert Talbot): Morte Mathei Goghe, Cambria / clamitat oghe. Furthermore, Matthew is referred to as Matthew Goffe in the second part of Shakespeare’s trilogy of plays on the life of Henry VI, and Evans (1995: 29) suggests that Matthew’s renown may have inspired Shakespeare’s portrayal of Fluellen in his play on the life of Henry V.

Matthew’s lineage, as noted in the DNB Online s.n. Matthew Gough, is problematic. It is generally believed that he was the son of Owain Goch, bailiff of Hanmer in Maelor Saesneg, and Hawys daughter of Sir David Hanmer (David was the grandfather of one of Guto’s patrons, Siôn Hanmer). This information is sourced in a Latin work written c.1479 by the topographer and author William of Worcester (Worcestre 1969: 351; on him, see DNB Online s.n. William of Worcester). William states that Hawys was the nurse of ‘John Lord Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury’, along with his brothers and sisters. This was, in all likelihood, the renowned John Talbot (c.1387–1453), first earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford and the father of one of Guto’s patrons, John Talbot, the second earl of Shrewsbury. If this information is correct, it is somewhat ironic that one of Henry IV’s most notable warriors in his war against the Welsh revolt at the beginning of the fifteenth century was raised in a household that belonged to the father-in-law of Owain Glyndŵr himself.

There is little reason to doubt the validity of William’s evidence, for he served Sir John Fastolf from 1438 to 1459, and Fastolf fought alongside Matthew in France and left money in his will for masses for his soul. Hawys’s father is named Davy Handmere, and there is no doubt that the most famous David Hanmer of his day, and the most likely to have had associations with the Talbots, was Sir David Hanmer. Nevertheless, as there is no record in the genealogies of a Hawys daughter of Sir David Hanmer, it is not inconceivable that she was the daughter of another man named David or Davy who lived in Hanmer.

Hardly any consideration has been given to Guto’s poem, the only contemporary piece of evidence in this respect. The current edition contains lines that refer to the patron’s lineage which are not found in GGl (3.53–8):

Gŵr o Faelor, gwâr felys,
Gŵr a wnaeth gwewyr yn us;
Gŵr mawr o Drefawr hyd Rôn,
Gwyrennig, ac ŵyr Einion;
Gŵr o Rys ac eryr yw,
Gŵr nod y Goron ydyw.

‘A man from Maelor, delightfully civilized,
a man who shattered spears;
a famous man from Trefor as far as Rouen,
vigorous, and Einion’s grandson;
a man who is descended from Rhys and he’s an eagle,
he is a man of distincion for the Crown.’

This information neither proves nor disproves the evidence of William of Worcester, yet it does reiterate the fact that Matthew hailed from Maelor. More often than not, Guto uses ŵyr to refer to his patron’s ‘grandson’ instead of another ancestor of note. Following William of Worcester, Matthew’s grandfather on his mother’s side was Sir David Hanmer, therefore he may have had a grandfather named Einion on his father’s side. Guto also states that Matthew was descended o Rys ‘from Rhys’, and if his mother was in fact Hawys daughter of Sir David Hanmer, he could count amongst his ancestors one Rhys Sais, great-great-grandson of Tudur Trefor (see the genealogical table below).

As well as the two main sources discussed above, information about Matthew’s lineage has survived in later manuscripts that deal with his supposed descendants. Between 1713 and 1718 the antiquary Hugh Thomas of London wrote Matthew’s lineage in BL Harleian 4181, 314–15 (the same information was written by Hugh in BL Harleian 6831, 315 (17g./18g.); cf. also HPF iii: 391–2; Lloyd 1873: 313). The bulk of the manuscript is concerned with the families of Breconshire and Morgannwg, and Matthew’s family is somewhat of an exception. Hugh states that Matthew was the son of Dafydd Goch ap Rhirid of Penley (Llannerch Banna) in Maelor Saesneg and his wife, Catrin daughter of Hywel ap Dafydd, a descendant of Owain Gwynedd. This is obviously incorrect, for according to Bartrum’s genealogies, Dafydd Goch was born c.1270, over two centuries before Matthew was born. However, Hugh’s evidence cannot be dismissed in its entirety, for it includes information that can be corroborated by other sources. For example, i. Matthew’s surviving seals from his military career in France depict three boars on a shield, namely the coat of arms of the Penley family (see Siddons 1980–2: 537–9); ii. Dafydd Goch’s lineage back to Tudur Trefor matches Bartrum’s genealogies; iii. the circumstances of Matthew’s death in London in 1450 are recounted. Furthermore, fairly detailed information about Matthew’s descendants down to the beginning of the seventeenth century is recorded, as well as detailed descriptions of various coats of arms from each generation to the next. Such information cannot be easily proved nor can it be easily disproved.

One strong argument for the validity of Hugh Thomas’s evidence is the fact that it indirectly offers an explanation for the absence of Matthew’s lineage in the Welsh manuscripts, for the names of Hawys daughter of Sir David Hanmer, Owain Goch and Dafydd Goch ap Rhirid do not appear in Bartrum’s genealogies. Hugh notes that Dafydd Goch had settled in England in the Forest of Deane. It is reasonable enough to assume that no mention is made of Matthew’s lineage in the Welsh records simply because his branch of the family had moved to England, although it is likely that some Welsh would have been heard in the Forest of Dean during the fifteenth century. Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that it was Dafydd Goch who moved there as both Guto and William of Worcester associate Matthew with Maelor and, furthermore, Hugh himself states that Matthew’s son, Geophrey (or Sieffrai), was the first member of the family to be born in England. If so, Matthew may have been born in Maelor and moved later, possibly with his father, to the Forest of Dean, severing the geographical link with his ancestors’ heartland in the north.

One strong possibility is that Matthew’s lineage can be rebuilt on the evidence of all three sources (Guto, William of Worcester and Hugh Thomas). It is clear that Hugh’s assertion that Matthew was the son of Dafydd Goch is incorrect, but there may be a gap in Hugh’s lineage that could be filled with information from the two other sources. Was Matthew in fact the son of Owain Goch ab Einion ap Dafydd Goch, and had Owain Goch been confused in Hugh’s evidence with Dafydd Goch? The genealogical table below is tentatively based on the above information about the two lineages, on the evidence of Guto’s poem and on other known genealogies in WG1 ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ 31, ‘Hanmer’ 1, ‘Tudur Trefor’ 1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 17.

Possible lineage of Matthew Gough of Maelor

The Welsh genealogies show that three generations of the Hanmer family were associated with the descendants of Tudur Trefor, namely Sir John Upton, Phillip Hanmer and Sir David Hanmer. It would have been natural enough for Sir David Hanmer’s daughter also to marry another member of that family. Furthermore, as Dafydd Goch had a brother named Dafydd, it would have been reasonable for him to assume a second name in order to distinguish himself from his brother.

In comparison with other sources, Hugh Thomas’s evidence provides abundant information about both Mathew and his family. It is impossible to evaluate the valitidy of every piece of information in this short article, therefore the section dedicated to Matthew is reproduced below with a short discussion of some notable points.

Sr Mathew Gochk Kt borne Anno 1386 the 10.R.2d a most Valient & Renowned Souldier Capt: to K.H.5th & 6th Governer of Tanceaux Le Hermitage, Tanquervill & Lysieux. He married Margaret da: to Rhys Moythe of Castle Edwin Esqr & Margaret his wife da: to Sr Brian Harley Kt which Rhys Moythe bore qrly Or a Lion Ramp: Regardant Sa: 2d parled perpale Ar: & S: 3 III Or 3d G: a Griffin Ramp: Or the 4th as the first In the 53 yeare of his age he had Issue his son Ieffrey & afterward Mathew David & Margaret Being at last sent by the Lord Scales to Assist the Lord Major & the Londoners against that arch Rebell Jack Cade he was Slaine upon London Bridg Valiantly fighting in Defence of the King & City July the 4th 1450 in the 64 yeare of his age & 29.H:6

Note that Matthew is said to have been born in 1386 (he died in 1450), which would make him a very close contemporary of John Talbot (c.1387–1453). It is not believed that Matthew was knighted, but the title Sr or Kt was often used to refer to a notable person in later centuries irrespective of their actual status. Matthew’s alleged wife, Marged daughter of Rhys Moethau, is found in Bartrum’s genealogies (WG1 ‘Cydifor ap Gwaithfoed’ 6), where it is noted that she married one Dafydd ap Morgan of Rhydodyn in the commote of Caeo. Even if Marged was in fact Matthew’s second wife (or possibly another Marged whose name was not recorded in the genealogies), it is unclear how a woman from the parish of Llanbadarn Odwyn in Ceredigion would have met a professional soldier like Matthew. Nonetheless, both Matthew and Marged belonged to the same generation.

Although Matthew’s name is not mentioned in the main genealogies in WG1 and WG2, he is named later in connection with the Hanmer family in WG1 ‘Additions and Corrections: Fifth List’, 28. DWB, Hugh Thomas’s evidence and BL Harleian 1973, 126, are cited. It is not Matthew, in fact, who is named in BL 1973 in an addendum in the hand of Randle Holme II (1635–58), but his alleged son, Geophrey Gough, who is said to have married Elizabeth daughter of Gwilym from the Herbert family, contrary to Hugh’s evidence. In WG1 ‘Additions and Corrections: Sixth List’, 18, doubt is cast on the above information concerning Matthew in light of Siddons (1996: 63), who refers to Matthew’s alleged descendants in Alvingham in Lincolnshire in two documents written in 1619. The validity of this lineage is uncertain, yet Rhys Cain of Oswestry is noted as one of the sources. The same information is referred to in DWH II 370, which mentions another source in which Matthew is named as the son of one William Gough of Cheshire. It is stated that he bore the arms of the Goughs of Cheshire and that his daughter (and heir) married one John Hubert of London. It seems that this information is derived from the work of both the genealogist Sir Gilbert Dethick (1499/1500–84; on him, see DNB s.n. Sir Gilbert Dethick) and his son, Sir William Dethick (1543–1612; on him, see DNB s.n. Sir William Dethick). The validity of this information is unclear.

His career
Although Matthew was a native of Maelor, he spent most of his life in Normandy fighting for the English Crown in the Hundred Years’ War. Here is a summary of his career, based on DNB Online s.n. Matthew Gough unless otherwise stated (some information was gleaned from Probert (2001), which should be treated with caution in terms of dating).

1423 He is named as the captain of Montaiguillon (Probert 1961: 37), and he fought at Cravant, possibly under Sir John Skydmore (Evans 1995: 29).
1424 He fought at Verneuil with Sir Richard Gethin, and was subsequently made captain of Chateau L’Ermitage (Probert 1961: 39).
1424–5 About this time Matthew won renown for the pursuit and capture of one Bastard de la Baume, a Savoyard who fought for the French, for which he received ‘a goodly courser’ from the earl of Salisbury (Evans 1995: 29; Probert 1961: 39).
1425 He was involved in the earl of Salisbury’s campaign in Anjou.
1426 Captain of Granville; he served lord Warwick in the seige and capture of Chateau de Loire, and was subsequently made captain of the town (Probert 1961: 39–40).
1427–8 He was responsible for Laval under John Talbot (Evans 1995: 29; Probert 1961: 40).
1429 May–June He defended Beaugency with Sir Richard Gethin against Joan of Arc, and was forced to surrender the town; according to Probert (1961: 40), both men were imprisoned for a period.
1432 summer He was caught and imprisoned following the seige of St Céneri.
1434 He was imprisoned after being captured riding with Sir Thomas Kyriell on their way to the seige of St Denis (Probert 1961: 41).
1435 He was captain of Le Mans with Sir John Fastolf.
1439–42 Captain of Bayeux.
1440 He assisted in the seige and capture of Harfleur.
1444 He was commissioned as one of the lieutenants of a joint campaign with the French to rid the country of brigands.
1446 He went to expell the Swiss from Alsace, in all likelihood with Wiliam Herbert; it seems that he also fought at Fougères in Brittany (Probert 1961: 42).
1448 11 March Although he was ordered by Henry VI to surrender Maine to the French in 1447, this did not happen until 1448.
1449 30 September He surrendered both Bellême and Carentan with Wiliam Herbert (Probert 1961: 42).
1450 10 April He captured Valognes with Sir Thomas Kyriell.
1450 15 April He was in the English army that was routed by the French at Formigny, where his life was saved by Wiliam Herbert (Probert 1961: 43).
1450 16 May He surrendered Bayeux and returned to Britain.
1450 2 June He was stationed in the Tower of London with lord Scales when the city was attacked by rebels from Kent lead by Jack Cade.
1450 5–6 June He was killed fighting on London Bridge and was buried in the church of the White Friars in London.

Matthew Gough was one of the outstanding professional soldiers in English service in the fifteenth-century wars in France. William Worcester described him as ‘surpassing all other esquires who engaged in war at that time in bravery, hardihood, loyalty and liberality’ and Sir John Fastolf left money in his will for masses for his soul. To the French he was known as ‘Matago’ and this name became a synonym for courage, although in Perche, which had suffered at his hands, it was a term of abuse and many effigies of him were burnt there to celebrate his departure in 1449.

Carr, A.D. (1968), ‘Welshmen and the Hundred Years’ War’, Cylchg HC 4: 21–46
Evans, H.T. (1995), Wales and the Wars of the Roses (second ed., Stroud)
Lloyd, C. (1873), ‘History of the Lordship of Maelor Gymraeg or Bromfield’, Arch Camb (fourth series) xiii: 305–20
Probert, Y. (1961), ‘Mathew Gough 1390–1450’, THSC: 34–44
Siddons, M. (1980–2), ‘Welsh Seals in Paris’, B xxix: 531–44
Siddons, M. (1996), Welsh Pedigree Rolls (Aberystwyth)
Worcestre, W. (1969), Itineraries (Oxford)

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