Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hiraethog, Gruffydd

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HIRAETHOG, GRUFFYDD (d. 1568?), Welsh poet, generally supposed to have written from 1520 to 1550, was a native of Llansannan in the hundred of Tegengl in Denbighshire, and lived at the foot of the Hiraethog range of mountains in that county, whence he assumed his bardic name. He was a pupil of the poet Tudyr Aled, and he himself instructed the poets William Lleyn, Simwnt Vychan, William Cynwal, and Sion Tudyr, all of whom attained to local eminence in the difficult rules of Welsh prosody. William Lleyn wrote an elegy on his great teacher, ‘hardd ben bardd byd,’ as he calls him. This elegy confirms the statement that Gruffydd Hiraethog was buried in the chancel of the church of Llangollen. It also suggests that Hiraethog was among those invited to Plas Iolyn, the house of Dr. Ellice Price, counsel of the marches of Wales, at the time of the Caerwys Eisteddfod in 1568, and that he died suddenly about that date. Lleyn's elegy, two manuscripts of which are among the Hengwrt MSS. at Peniarth House, is printed in Rees Jones's ‘Gorchestion Beirdd Cymru,’ 1773, pp. 98, 293, as well as one by Hiraethog himself on ‘Gruffydd ab Robert Fychan.’ Most of Hiraethog's poems still remain in manuscript. The titles and first lines of sixty-four of them are given on the cover of the ‘Greal,’ and to these many more might be added. The Myfyr MSS. in the British Museum contain no fewer than seventy-eight. In the catalogue of the Hengwrt MSS. at Peniarth House, Merionethshire, the property of W. W. E. Wynne, esq. (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. p. 106), twenty volumes contain various poems of Hiraethog, ranging in date between 1539 and 1565 (see Archæol. Cambr. 3rd ser. vol. xv., 4th ser. vols. i. and ii.). Hiraethog wrote many of his poems in a poetical contest with Sion Brwynog, who in one of his replies refers to Hiraethog as a ‘cripil’ (cripple) (see extracts in G. ab Rhys, Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymreig, pp. 299–302). His ‘Cywydd yr Eiddiges’ was printed in the ‘Gweithiwr Cymreig,’ 11 July 1889. Williams, in his ‘Eminent Welshmen,’ says ‘he wrote a history of all Britain and other countries.’ Probably this may be one of the works ascribed to Hiraethog which remain in manuscript at Peniarth.

[Wilkins's Literature of Wales, pp. 153, 208; Williams's Eminent Welshmen.]

R. J. J.