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´╗┐Title: Chaucer's Official Life
Author: Hulbert, James R. (James Root)
Language: English
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In making reference to books and manuscripts, I have attempted to use
abbreviations which seem, reasonably clear. Perhaps the least
intelligible are C. R. which stands for Close Rolls, and L. R. which
stands for Life Records of Chaucer (Chaucer Soc.) Wherever possible, I
have referred to prints rather than to original manuscripts because the
printed calendars are much more accessible. In a work which has involved
the copying of innumerable references, many of which are to documents in
the Public Record Office not available to me as I revise my copy, it is
too much to expect that there should be no inaccuracies. Therefore, if
the reader discovers erroneous references, I must ask his leniency.

For their courtesy and assistance in making books and documents
accessible to me, I wish most heartily to thank J. A. Herbert, Esq., of
the Manuscript Department, the British Museum, and Edward Salisbury,
Esq., and Hubert Hall, Esq., of the Public Record Office. To my friend
and colleague, Dr. Thomas A. Knott, of the University of Chicago, I am
deeply indebted for his kindness in reading over parts of my manuscript
and trying to make their style clearer and more readable. My greatest
obligation, however, is to Professor John M. Manly, not only for
encouragement and specific suggestions as to the handling of this
subject, but for a training which has made possible whatever in my
results may be considered of value.


  INTRODUCTION: Statement of the problem
    Their Families
    Careers of the Esquires of 1368


The researches of Sir Harris Nicolas, Dr. Furnivall, Mr. Selby and
others have provided us with a considerable mass of detailed information
regarding the life and career of Geoffrey Chaucer. Since the publication
of Nicolas's biography of the poet prefixed to the Aldine edition of
Chaucer's works in 1845, the old traditional biography of conjecture and
inference, based often on mere probability or the contents of works
erroneously ascribed to Chaucer, has disappeared and in its place has
been developed an accurate biography based on facts. In the sixty-five
years since Nicolas's time, however, a second tradition--connected in
some way with fact, to be sure--has slowly grown up. Writers on
Chaucer's life have not been content merely to state the facts revealed
in the records, but, in their eagerness to get closer to Chaucer, have
drawn many questionable inferences from those facts. Uncertain as to the
exact significance of the various appointments which Chaucer held, his
engagement in diplomatic missions and his annuities, biographers have
thought it necessary to find an explanation for what they suppose to be
remarkable favors, and have assumed--cautiously in the case of careful
scholars but boldly in that of popular writers--that Chaucer owed every
enhancement of his fortune to his "great patron" John of Gaunt. In
greater or less degree this conception appears in every biography since
Nicolas. Professor Minto in his Encyclopedia Britannica article
[Footnote: Ed. Scribners 1878, vol. 5, p. 450.] says with regard to the
year 1386: "that was an unfortunate year for him; his patron, John of
Gaunt, lost his ascendancy at court, and a commission which sat to
inquire into the abuses of the preceding administration superseded
Chaucer in his two comptrollerships. The return of Lancaster to power in
1389 again brightened his prospects; he was appointed clerk of the
King's works," etc.

Similarly, Dr. Ward in his life of Chaucer, after mentioning that
Chaucer and John of Gaunt were of approximately the same age,
writes: [Footnote: English Men of Letters. Harpers. 1879, p. 66.]
"Nothing could, accordingly, be more natural than that a more or less
intimate relationship should have formed itself between them. This
relation, there is reason to believe, afterwards ripened on Chaucer's
part into one of distinct political partisanship." With regard to the
loss of the controllerships Dr. Ward writes: [Footnote: p. 104.] "The new
administration (i.e. that of Gloucester and his allies) had as usual
demanded its victims--and among their number was Chaucer.... The
explanation usually given is that he fell as an adherent of John of
Gaunt; perhaps a safer way of putting the matter would be to say that
John of Gaunt was no longer in England to protect him." A little further
on occurs the suggestion that Chaucer may have been removed because of
"his previous official connection with Sir Nicholas Brembre, who,
besides being hated in the city, had been accused of seeking to compass
the deaths of the Duke and of some of his adherents." [Footnote: It is
curious that Dr. Waul did not realize that Chaucer could not possibly
have belonged to the parties of John of Gaunt and of Brembre.] Later, in
connection with a discussion of Chaucer's probable attitude toward
Wiclif, Dr. Ward writes: [Footnote: p. 134.] "Moreover, as has been seen,
his long connexion with John of Gaunt is a well-established fact; and it
has thence been concluded that Chaucer fully shared the opinions and
tendencies represented by his patron."

Dr. Ward's treatment is cautious and careful compared to that of Prof.
Henry Morley in his "English Writers." For example, the latter
writes: [Footnote: Vol. 5, p. 98.] "Lionel lived till 1368, but we shall
find that in and after 1358 Chaucer's relations are with John of Gaunt,
and the entries in the household of the Countess Elizabeth might imply
no more than that Chaucer, page to John of Gaunt, was detached for
service of the Countess upon her coming to London." A few pages further
on [Footnote: p. 103.]in the same volume occurs a paragraph on the life
of John of Gaunt glossed "Chaucer's Patron." With regard to the grants
of a pitcher of wine daily, and the two controllerships, Professor
Morley writes: [Footnote: p. 107.] "These successive gifts Chaucer owed
to John of Gaunt, who, in this last period of his father's reign, took
active part in the administration." And again, [Footnote: p. 109.] "John
of Gaunt had administered affairs of government. It was he, therefore,
who had so freely used the power of the crown to bestow marks of favour
upon Chaucer." [Footnote: p. 110.] "It was his patron the Duke,
therefore, who, towards the end of 1376, joined Chaucer with Sir John
Burley, in some secret service of which the nature is not known."
[Footnote: Studies in Chaucer, vol. I, pp. 81-82.]

Finally, after mentioning Chaucer's being "discharged" from his
controllerships, Morley writes: [Footnote: p. 243.] "During all this time
Chaucer's patron John of Gaunt was away with an army in Portugal."

Such absolute certainty and boldness of statement as Professor Morley's
is scarcely found again in reputable writers on Chaucer. Professor
Lounsbury in his life of Chaucer implies rather cautiously that Chaucer
lost his places in the Customs because of John of Gaunt's absence from
the country, and as the result of an investigation of the customs. Mr.
Jusserand in his Literary History of England writes: [Footnote: Eng.
trans., 1894, p. 312.] "For having remained faithful to his protectors,
the King and John of Gaunt, Chaucer, was looked upon with ill favour by
the men then in power, of whom Gloucester was the head, lost his places
and fell into want." F. J. Snell in his Age of Chaucer has similar
statements, almost as bold as those of Professor Morley. [Footnote: p.
131.] "John of Gaunt was the poet's life-long friend and patron."
[Footnote: p. 149.] "Chaucer was now an established favourite of John of
Gaunt, through whose influence apparently he was accorded this desirable
post" (i. e., the first controllership.) Most remarkable of all:
[Footnote: p. 230.] "Outwardly, much depended on the ascendancy of John
of Lancaster. If the Duke of Lancaster prospered, Chaucer prospered with
him. When the Duke of Gloucester was uppermost, the poet's sky was over
cast, and he had hard work to keep himself afloat."

The last quotations which I shall give on this point are from Skeat's
life of Chaucer prefixed to the single volume edition of the poet's
works in the Oxford series: [Footnote: p. XIII.] "As the duke of
Gloucester was ill disposed towards his brother John, it is probable
that we can thus account for the fact that, in December of this year,
Chaucer was dismissed from both his offices, of Comptroller of Wool and
Comptroller of Petty Customs, others being appointed in his place. This
sudden and great loss reduced the poet from comparative wealth to
poverty; he was compelled to raise money upon his pensions, which were
assigned to John Scalby on May 1, 1388." On the same page: "1389. On May
3, Richard II suddenly took the government into his own hands. John of
Gaunt returned to England soon afterwards, and effected an outward
reconciliation between the King and the Duke of Gloucester. The
Lancastrian party was now once more in power, and Chaucer was appointed
Clerk of the King's Works," etc.

Closely connected with the question of Chaucer's relations with John of
Gaunt, and indeed fundamental to it--as the constant reference in the
foregoing extracts to the grants which Chaucer held would indicate--is
the problem of the significance of Chaucer's annuities, offices, and
diplomatic missions. Extracts from two writers on Chaucer's life will
show how this problem has been treated. Professor Hales in his D. N. B.
article [Footnote: 1 Vol. 10, p. 157.] says of the first pension from
the King: "This pension, it will be noticed, is given for good service
done ... The pension is separate from his pay as a 'valettus' and must
refer to some different service." Similarly Professor Lounsbury in his
Studies in Chaucer writes: [Footnote: 2 Vol. 1, p. 61.] "It is from the
statement in this document about services already rendered that the
inference is drawn that during these years he had been in close
connection with the court." In regard to the grant of the wardship of
Edward Staplegate, he says: [Footnote: 3 idem, p. 65.] "This was a
common method of rewarding favourites of the crown. In the roll which
contains this grant it is said to be conferred upon our beloved
esquire." By way of comment on the grant of a pitcher of wine daily, he
writes: [Footnote: 4 idem, p. 63.] "Though never graced with the title
of poet laureate, Chaucer obtained at this same period what came to be
one of the most distinguishing perquisites which attached itself to that
office in later times." With regard to the offices: [Footnote: 5 idem, p.
66.] "Chaucer was constantly employed in civil offices at home and in
diplomatic missions abroad. In both cases it is very certain that the
positions he filled were never in the nature of sinecures." As to the
diplomatic missions [Footnote: 6 idem, p. 70.] "their number and their
variety, treating as they do of questions of peace and war, show the
versatility of his talents as well as his wide knowledge of affairs. Nor
can I avoid feeling that his appointment upon so many missions, some of
them of a highly delicate and important nature, is presumptive evidence
that he was not a young man at the time and must therefore have been
born earlier than 1340.... these appointments are proofs that can hardly
be gainsaid of the value put upon his abilities and services. Then, as
now, there must have been plenty of persons of ample leisure and lofty
connections who [Footnote: I Vol. 10, p. 157.] [Footnote: 8 Vol. 1, p.
61.] [Footnote: idem, p. 65.] [Footnote: idem, p. 63.] [Footnote: idem,
p. 66.] [Footnote: idem, p. 7 0.] were both ready and anxious to be
pressed into the service of the state. That these should have been
passed by, and a man chosen instead not furnished with high birth and
already furnished with other duties, is a fact which indicates, if it
does not show convincingly, the confidence reposed in his capacity and
judgment." With regard to the controllership, Professor Lounsbury
writes: [Footnote: Studies in Chaucer, p. 72.] "The oath which Chaucer
took at his appointment was the usual oath. ... He was made controller
of the port because he had earned the appointment by his services in
various fields, of activity, and because he was recognized as a man of
business, fully qualified to discharge its duties." [Footnote: idem,
p.74.] "In 1385 he was granted a much greater favor" (than the right to
have a deputy for the petty customs). "On the 17th of February of that
year he obtained the privilege of nominating a permanent deputy. ... It
is possible that in the end it wrought him injury, so far as the
retention of the post was concerned".

A merely casual reading of such statements as those I have given above
must make it clear that they attempt to interpret the facts which we
have about Chaucer, without taking into consideration their setting and
connections--conditions in the courts of Edward III and Richard II, and
the history of the period. [Footnote: Note for example the statement on
page 3 above that "the Duke of Gloucester was ill disposed towards his
brother John."] Surely it is time for an attempt to gain a basis of fact
upon which we may judge the real significance of Chaucer's grants and
his missions and from which we may determine as far as possible his
relations with John of Gaunt. In the following pages then, I shall
attempt first to discover the relative importance of Chaucer's place in
the court, and the significance of his varied employments, and secondly
to find out the certain connections between Chaucer and John of Gaunt.
The means which I shall employ is that of a study of the lives of
Chaucer's associates--his fellow esquires, and justices of the peace,
and his friends--and a comparison of their careers with that of Chaucer
to determine whether or not the grants he received indicate special
favor or patronage, and whether it is necessary to assume the patronage
of John of Gaunt in particular to explain any step in his career.



We have the names of the esquires of the king's household in two lists
of 1368 and 1369, printed in the Chaucer Life Records [Footnote: See
page 13 ff.]. In the study of the careers of these esquires the most
difficult problem is to determine the families from which they were
derived. Had they come from great families, of course, it would not have
been hard to trace their pedigrees. But a long search through county
histories and books of genealogy, has revealed the families of only a
few, and those few in every case come from an unimportant line. It is
clear then that they never were representatives of highly important
families. A statement of the antecedents of such esquires as I have been
able to trace, the names arranged in alphabetical order, follows.

John Beauchamp was almost certainly either that John Beauchamp of Holt
who was executed in 1386, or his son. In either case he was descended
from a younger branch of the Beauchamps of Warwick. [Footnote: Issues,
p. 232, mem. 26, Peerage of England, Scotland, etc., by G. E. C., vol.
1, p. 278.]

Patrick Byker, who was King's "artillier" in the tower of
London, [Footnote: 1362 Cal. C. R., p. 373.] was the son of John de Byker
who had held the same office before him. [Footnote: 35 Edw. III, p. 174
Cal. Rot. Pat. in Turr. Lon.] William Byker, probably a relative, is
mentioned from about 1370 on as holding that office [Footnote: Devon's
Issues, 1370, p. 33, Issues, p. 303, mem. 14.]. I have been able to
learn nothing further about the family.

Nicholas Careu: in the records one finds reference to Nicholas Careu the
elder and Nicholas Careu the younger [Footnote: Ancient Deeds 10681.].
Since the elder was guardian of the privy seal from 1372 to 1377
[Footnote: Rymer, p. 951, 1069.] and in 1377 was one of the executors of
the will of Edward III, it seems likely that the esquire was Nicholas
Careu the younger. At any rate the younger was the son of the older
[Footnote: C. R. 229, mem. 33 dorso, 12 Rich. II.] and they were
certainly members of the family of Careu in Surrey [Footnote: 1378 Cal.
Pat. Roll, p. 143, 1381-5 Cal. Pat. Roll, passim, Cal. Inq. P. M. III,
125.]. The pedigrees of this family do not show Nicholas the younger (so
far as I have found). But a Nicholas, Baron Carew, who may have been the
keeper of the privy seal, does occur [Footnote: Visitation of Surrey
Harleian Soc. p. 17.]. The name of his son, as given in the pedigree, is
not Nicholas; consequently Nicholas, the younger, was probably not his
eldest son. This last supposition is supported by certain statements in
Westcote's Devonshire [Footnote: p. 528. Of course it is not certain
that this Sir Nicholas was the Keeper of the Privy Seal.] where we are
told that "Sir Nicholas Carew, Baron, of Carew Castle, Montgomery in
Wales, married the daughter of Sir Hugh Conway of Haccomb, and had issue
Thomas, Nicholas, Hugh," etc.

Roger Clebury. In Westcote's Devonshire [Footnote: p. 555.] occurs an
account of a family named Cloberry, of Bradston. In the course of his
statement, which is devoid of dates or mention of lands other than
Bradston, Westcote refers to two Rogers.

Several men of the name of William de Clopton are mentioned in the
county histories. Unfortunately no facts appear in the records to
connect any one of them with the esquire of that name. At any rate from
the accounts given in Gage [Footnote: Gage's History of Suffolk: Thingoe
Hundred, p. 419.] and Morant [Footnote: Morant's Essex, vol. 2, p. 321.]
the following pedigree is clear:

 Thomas de Clopton                            Sir William de Clopton
  (20 Edw. III)                                       |
  Sir William, Edmund, John, Walter, Thomas        William

The elder Sir William, according to Gage, married first Anet, daughter
of Sir Thomas de Grey, and secondly Mary, daughter of Sir William
Cockerel. With his second wife he received the manor and advowson of
Hawsted and lands in Hawsted, Newton, Great and Little Horningsherth and
Bury St. Edmunds. Morant speaks of the family as an ancient one and
traces it back to the time of Henry I.

Robert de Corby was son of Robert and Joan de Corby [Footnote: Pat. Roll
291, mem. 1.]. His father had been yeoman in the King's court and had
received a number of grants from the King [Footnote: Cal. C. R., p. 496
(1345). Cal. Rot. Pat. Turr. Lon. 38 Edw. III, p, 1'78 b.].

Collard, or Nicholas, Dabrichecourt was a son of Nicholas Dabrichecourt,
brother of Sir Eustace Dabridgecourt of Warwickshire [Footnote: Visit of
War (Harl.) p.47, Beltz Mem. of Garter, p. 90.]. The latter had won the
favour of Philippa in France and had come to England when she was
married to Edward III. George Felbrigge was, according to Blomefield's
Norfolk, [Footnote: Vol. 8, p. 107 ff.] descended from a younger branch
of the Bigods. The head of this family was the Earl of Norfolk.

   Sir Simon, third son of Hugh, Earl of Norfolk
                      Sir Roger
     Sir Simon                    John le Bigod
     Sir Roger                    Roger le Bigod
     Sir Simon                    Sir George

The younger branch of the family had assumed the name of Felbrigge from
a town of that name in Norfolk. As will be seen, George Felbrigge came
from the younger branch of a younger branch of the family, and his
ancestors seem to have been neither influential nor wealthy.

Robert de Ferrer's pedigree was as follows: [Footnote: Baker's
Northampton, vol. 1, p, 123.]

      John Ferrers = Hawise d. of Sir Robert Muscegros.
     Baron Ferrers
        Robert, 2nd baron = Agnes ( 8) d. of Humphrey Bohun,
                          |                  Earl of Hereford
          John, 3rd baron                  Robert
          obit. 2 Apr. 1367                died 1381

Since his brother died only a year before the date of the first of the
lists, it is very likely that Robert became a member of the King's
household, while still a younger son. His father, Robert, second baron
Ferrers, was one of the Knights of the King's Chamber. He fought in the
campaigns in France and Flanders.

Thomas Frowyk was probably a member of a prominent London family of
merchants. Lysons writes of the family as follows: [Footnote: Parishes
in Middlesex, etc, p. 228.] "The manor of Oldfold was at a very early
period the property of the Frowyks or Frowicks. Henry Frowyk, who was
settled at London in 1329, was sixth in descent from Thomas Frowyk of
the Oldfold, the first person mentioned in the pedigree of the family.
... Thomas Frowyk, a younger brother of Henry above mentioned, inherited
the Oldfold estate, which continued in the family till his grandson's
time." This Thomas Frowyk is mentioned in the Close Rolls between 1351
and 1353 as Justice of the Peace for Middlesex, and in [Footnote 1:
Ancient Deeds A 9086.] 27 Edward III as lieutenant of the Queen's

The connections of Thomas Hauteyn are not quite so clear but apparently
he likewise was derived from a family of London merchants. Blomefield's
Norfolk [Footnote 2: Vol. 10, p. 426 ff.] tells of a family of Hauteyns
of knightly rank. Sir John Hauteyn probably became a citizen of London
in 16 Edward II and was subsequently receiver of the King's customs of
wool at London. Even earlier than this, in 15 Edward I, a Walter Hawteyn
was sheriff of London [Footnote 3: Ancient Deeds A 1625]. In 7 Edward
III a John Hawteyn was alderman of a ward in London [Footnote 4: idem, A
1472]. We can suppose some connection between Thomas Hauteyn and this
family because he held certain tenements in London [Footnote 5: idem, A

John de Herlyng, who was usher of the King's chamber and the most
important of the esquires in Chaucer's time, came of a family settled in
Norfolk. Blomefield gives a pedigree of the family beginning with this
John de Herlyng [Footnote 6: Vol. 1, P. 319], but, is unable to trace
his ancestry definitely. He finds mention of a certain Odo de Herlyng,
but is forced to the conclusion that the family was an unimportant one
before the time of John de Herlyng.

With regard to Rauf de Knyveton very little information is forthcoming.
Glover's Derby [Footnote 7: Vol. 2, P. 135, 6.] gives the pedigree of a
family of Knivetons who possessed the manor of Bradley and says that
there was a younger branch of the family which lived at Mercaston.
Ralph, though not specifically mentioned, may have been a younger son of
one of these branches.

Although Helmyng Leget was an important man in his own time-sheriff of
Essex and Hertfordshire in 1401 and 1408 [Footnote 8: Morant's Essex,
vol. 2, p. 123.], and Justice of the Peace in Suffolk [Footnote 9: Cf.
Cal. Pat. Roll. 1381-5, p. 254.]--Morant is able to give no information
about his family. Perhaps his position in the society of the county was
due in part to the fact that he married an heiress, Alice, daughter of
Sir Thomas Mandeville. [Footnote 10: Cf. Cal. Pat. Roll. 1381-5, p.

John Legge, who is on the lists as an esquire, but in the Patent Rolls
is referred to chiefly as a sergeant at arms, was, according to H. T.
Riley, son of Thomas Legge, mayor of London in 1347 and 1354. [Footnote
11: Memorials, P. 450.] Robert Louth was evidently derived from a
Hertfordshire family. A Robert de Louth was custodian of the castle of
Hertford and supervisor of the city of Hertford in 32 Edward III
[Footnote: Cal. Rot. Pat. Turr. Lon., p. 169 b.] and between 1381 and
1385 was Justice of the Peace for Hertford. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll
index.] Probably Robert de Louth was a younger son, for John, son and
heir of Sir Roger de Louthe (in 44 Edward III) deeded land in
Hertfordshire to Robert de Louthe, esquire, his uncle. [Footnote: Ancient
Deeds, D 4213.]

John de Romesey comes of an eminent Southampton family of the town of
Romsey [Footnote: Woodward, Wilks, Lockhart, History of Nottinghamshire.
vol. 1. p. 352.] which can be traced back as far as 1228, when Walter of
Romsey was sheriff of Hampshire. His pedigree is given as follows by
Hoare: [Footnote: History of Wilts, vol. 3, Hundred of Oawdon, p. 23.]

Walter de Romesey 34 Edward I.
Walter de Romesey 23 Edward III = Joan
        John de Romesey = Margaret d. and
            (Co. Somerset)       heir of...?

Hugh Strelley was a member of the family of Strelley (Straule) of
Nottingham and Derby. From the fact that his name does not occur in the
pedigree given in Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire [Footenote: Vol.
2, p. 220.] and that he held lands of Nicholas de Strelley by the fourth
part of a knight's fee, [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, 1892, p. 56.] it is
clear that he belonged to a subordinate branch of the family. Further,
he was even a younger son of this secondary stock, for, as brother and
heir of Philip de Strelley, son and heir of William de Strelley, he
inherited lands in 47 Edward III. [Footnote: C. R. 211, Mem. 38.]

Gilbert Talbot was second, son of Sir John Talbot of Richard's Castle in
Herefordshire. [Footnote: Cf. Nicolas: Scrope-Grosvenor Roll, vol. 2, p.

Hugh Wake may be the Hugh Wake who married Joan de Wolverton and whom
Lipscombe connects with the lordly family of Wake of
Buckinghamshire. [Footnote: Lipscombe's Buckinghamshire, vol. 4, p. 126.
He is quite wrong as to the date of this Hugo's death. Cf. Close Rolls,
1861, pp. 228-9 which show that Hugh was living at this date.]

These eighteen or nineteen esquires, then, are the only ones in the long
lists whose family connections I have been able to trace. Certain
others--as for example the various Cheynes, Hugh, Roger, Thomas, John
and William, Robert la Souche, Simon de Burgh and Geoffrey Stucle--may
have been derived from noble families of their name. In that case,
however, they were certainly not in the direct line of descent, for
their names do not appear in the pedigree of those families. On the
other hand many of the names would seem to indicate that their
possessors came from obscure families. In several cases, for example,
esquires practically gave up their own names and were called by
occupational names. So the Richard des Armes of the records was probably
"Richard de Careswell vadlet del armes" [Footnote: Exchequer K. R.
Accts. 392, 15.] who had charge of the king's personal armour. Reynold
Barbour is once called Reynold le Barber. [Footnote: Issues P. 220 (32
Edw. III).] Roger Ferrour was one of the king's shoe-smiths, [Footnote:
1378 Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 158.] and his personal name was Roger Bonyngton.
[Footnote: Rich. II, Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 597.] Robert Larderer is never
mentioned in the records, but Robert Maghfeld, called king's larderer,
is mentioned. [Footnote: Issues P. 222, mem. 21. Devon's Issues 1370, p.
22, p. 34.] Richard Waffrer occurs on the records (although the name
occurs three times in the household lists), but Richard Markham,
wafferer, occurs frequently. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p. 179.]
Richard Leche, called king's surgeon, [Footnote: Edw. III. Issues P.
230, mem. unnumbered.] was probably identical with Richard Irlonde,
king's surgeon. [Footnote: Devon's Issues 1370, pp. 103, 333.] John
Leche also was king's surgeon, but I have found mention of him under no
other name. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p. 178; 1383, p. 283.]
Robert Vynour was vine-keeper or gardener to Edward III. [Footnote:
Devon's Issues 1370, p. 115.] Certain of the other names, though
apparently family names, seem to be of occupational or place origin, e.
g. Thomas Spigurnel, Simon de Bukenham, John de Beverle, Henricus
Almannia, Cornelius de Ybernia, William de York, etc. Finally some names
by their very character could scarcely be the names of noble families,
e. g. Walter Whithors, Walter Chippenham, John Cat, etc.

From what I have been able to find out about the families of some of
these men, from the character of the names, and from the fact that the
families of the great bulk of the esquires cannot be traced, it is clear
that the esquires of the king's household were chiefly recruited either
from the younger sons of knightly families, or from quite undistinguished
stock. In three cases--those of John Legge, Thomas Hauteyn and Thomas
Frowyk--it seems probable that they came--as Chaucer did--from
merchants' families in London.


We can scarcely expect any outright statement of the reasons in general
or in particular for the appointment of esquires. Nevertheless I find
two circumstances which may indicate the conditions of appointment;
first, some previous connection of their fathers with the king's court,
and second, some previous connection on their own part with the
household of one of the king's children. Of those whose fathers or
relatives had been in the court, may be mentioned John
Beauchamp, [Footnote: Cf. p. 6, supra.] Patrick Byker, [Footnote: p. 6.]
Nicholas Careu, [Footnote: p. 6.] Robert Corby, [Footnote: p. 7.] Collard
Dabriohecourt, [Footnote: p. 7.] Robert de Ferrers, [Footnote: p. 8.] and
William Burele [Footnote: Gal. Pat. Roll, 1378, p. 283.] (who was son of
the Sir John de Burley with whom Chaucer was associated on one mission).
Of course John Legge's father--as mayor of London--must have been known
at court, and one of Thomas Hauteyn's progenitors had been receiver of
king's customs at London. [Footnote: of. p. 9, supra.]

Even more interesting is the case of those esquires who before entering
the king's service had been in the household of one of his children, i.
e. Edward the Black Prince, Lionel, duke of Clarence (or his wife), John
of Gaunt, Isabella, wife of Ingelram de Coucy, and Edmund, Count of
Cambridge. Roger Archer, Griffith de la Chambre, Henry de Almaigne and
Richard Torperle seem to have been in the service of Isabella, the
king's daughter, for, in the grants of annuities which they received,
special mention is made of their service to her. [Footnote: Issues P.
241, mem. ll. p. 239, mem. 15. p. 301, mem,] Possibly they were always
in her service. Stephen Romylowe is expressly called esquire of Edward
prince of Wales (the Black Prince), and he held an annuity from that
prince. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 272, mem. 22, 285 mem. 25. 10 Cal. Pat. Roll
1378, p. 197, 1385, p. 26.] Richard Wirle signed an indenture to serve
John of Gaunt as an esquire in 46 Edward III, after the date at which he
is mentioned in the household books. [Footnote: Duchy of Lancaster
Registers No. 13. f. 125 dorso.] Since he seems never to have received
an annuity from the king, or a grant--except in one instance for his
wages in the wars--it seems likely that he was never actually in the
king's service, but rather in that, of John of Gaunt. Robert Ursewyk was
connected in some way with John of Gaunt and also with Edmund, Count of
Cambridge, son of Edward III. [Footnote: idem f. 94. Pat. Roll, 274, mem.
29.] Roger Mareschall, John Joce and Robert Bardolf held annuities of
twenty pounds each per annum from Lionel Duke of Clarence [Footnote:
Cal. Pat. Boll 1383, p. 326.] and so were probably at one time in his
service. Finally the most interesting case of all is that of Geoffrey
Stucle, whose career and employments curiously parallel Chaucer's and
who in 29 Edward III was valet to Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster.
[Footnote: Issues, P. 212, mem, 22, 27.]


The two lists in the household books classify the members of the
household in different ways--one list according to function and the
other, apparently, according to length of service. The first is the
system according to which the schedule of names conjecturally dated
December 1368 [Footnote: Printed as number 53 of the Chaucer Records
(page 162).] was made, and the latter is the system governing the list
of September 1, 1369 (_number_ 58 Chaucer _Records_, page
_172_.) A glance at the second of these and comparison with the
first will show how it was made up. It classifies the esquires in two
groups--"esquiers de greindre estat" and "esquiers de meindre degree."
Looking at the names of the "esquiers de greindre estat" we notice that
the first thirteen are names which appear in the group of "esquiers" of
1368, that the next ten are identical--even in the order of
occurrence--with the list of "sergeantz des armes" of 1368, that the
following seven are the first seven in the list of "sergeantz des
offices parvantz furrures a chaperon" of 1368 (in the same order), that
then Andrew Tyndale who in 1368 was an "esquier ma dame" appears, and is
followed by the rest of, the "sergeantz des offices parvantz furrures,"
etc., (in the same order as in 1368) that the next six were in 1368
"esquiers ma dame," and that finally occur ten names not found in the
lists of 1368. From this comparison it is clear that the list of 1369
was made up from a series of lists of different departments in the
king's household.

The list of "esquiers de meindre degree" of 1369 was doubtless made in
the same way, although the evidence is not so conclusive. The first
twenty-two names correspond to names in the list of esquiers of 1368;
the next eleven occur in the list of "esquiers survenantz" of 1368; the
following five appear among the "esquiers ma dame" of 1368; the next
thirteen do not occur in the lists of 1368; but the following eight
correspond even in order to the list of "esquiers fauconers" of 1368. It
is therefore clear that we have here a cross division. That the list of
1368 gives a division according to function is clear from the titles of
all groups except one. The esquires classified as "fauconers"
"survenantz," "ma dame," etc., performed the functions suggested by
those titles--a fact which can be demonstrated by many references to the
function of these men in other documents. In the case of the one
exception, the "sergeantz des offices parvantz furrures a chaperon," it
is clear that they performed duties similar to those of the "esquiers
survenantz." For example, Richard des Armes was valet of the king's
arms; [Footnote: Exchequer, K. R. Accts. 392, 12, f. 36 dorso. idem. No.
15.] William Blacomore was one of the king's buyers, subordinate to the
purveyor of fresh and salt fish [Footnote: C. R. 1359 p. 545.] John de
Conyngsby was likewise a buyer of victuals for the household [Footnote:
Pet. Roll 276, mem. 4.], John Goderik and John Gosedene were cooks in
the household [Footnote: Pat. Roll 1378, p. 212, Devon's Issues, 1370, p.
311.]; Richard Leche was king's surgeon [Footnote: idem. P. 230 mem. not
numbered.], Thomas de Stanes was sub-purveyor of the poultry [Footnote:
C. R. 1359, p. 545.]; William Strete was the king's butler [Footnote:
Issues, P. 228, mem. 38.]; Edmond de Tettesworth was the king's
baker [Footnote: Pat. Roll, 1378, p. 224.], etc. Hence it is clear that
all these performed duties which in the main were of a menial character.

On the other hand, the division into two groups in the list of 1369
seems to indicate not the function of the esquires, but their rank in
the household. Their rank, in turn, appears to be determined by various
considerations--function (all the falconers of 1368 are enrolled among
the esquires of less degree in 1369), length of service, and to some
extent considerations which are not manifest. That length of service
played some part in the division seems clear from a study and comparison
of the careers of the various men. Since we are interested in knowing
particularly the significance of the classification of Chaucer who
appeared in 1368 as an esquier, I shall confine myself to a
consideration of the "esquiers" of that year. The names of the esquires
of greater degree with the date at which they are first mentioned in
connection with the household (in documents outside the household books)

Johan Herlyng. 18 Edward III (1344)
    [Footnote: Abb. Rot. Orig., vol. 2, p.65.]
Wauter Whithors. 1343
    [Footnote: C. R., p. 203.]
Johan de Beverle. 36 Edward III (1362)
    [Footnote: Pat. Roll 265, mem. 17.]
Johan Romeseye. 35 Edward III (1361)
    [Footnote: Pat. Roll 264, mem. 24.]
Wauter Walsh. 36 Edward III. (1362)
    [Footnote: idem 266, men. 47.]
Roger Clebury. 1349
    [Footnote: idem, p. 227.]
Helmyng Leget. 33 Edward III. (1359)
    [Footnote: Issues, P. 223, mem. 32.]
Rauf de Knyveton. 35 Edward III. (1361)
    [Footnote: Pat. Roll 264, mem. 18.]
Richard Torperle. 38 Edward III. (1364)
    [Footnote: idem 272, mem. 22.]
Johan Northrugg. 37 Edward III. (1363)
    [Footnote: Issues, P. 232, mem. 5.]
Hanyn Narrett. 38 Edward III. (1364)
    [Footnote: Issues, P. 237, mem. 17.]
Symond de Bokenham. 37 Edward III. (1363)
    [Footnote: Pat. Roll 267, mem. 7.]
Johan Legg. 36 Edward III. (1362)
    [Footnote: idem 266, mem. 3.]

The "esquiers de meindre degree" follow:

Hugh Wake. 1353
    [Footnote: idem, p. 380.]
Piers de Cornewaill. 37 Edward III. (1363)
    [Footnote: idem 268, mem. 18.]
Robert Ferrers. 1370
    [Footnote: Rymer III, 902.]
Robert Corby. 43 Edward III. (1369)
    [Footnote: C. R. mem. 23, dorso. The last
    two are difficult to distinguish from their fathers of the same
    name who had been in the King's court before their time]
Collard Daubrichecourt. 44 Edward III. (1370)
    [Footnote: Pat. Roll 281, mem. 18.]
Thomas Hauteyn. 41 Edward III. (1367)
    [Footnote: idem 1399, p. 65. Issues, p. 250, mem. 2.]
Hugh Cheyne. 32 Edward III. (1358)
    [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p. 248.]
Thomas Foxle.
    [Footnote: I cannot identify him surely; a Thomas de Foxle was in
    the King's court in 4 Edw. III ff (Abb. Rot. Orig. II, p. 39); he was
    growing old in 1352 (Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 270) and-died 30 Edw. III (Cal.
    Inq. P. M. II 220, leaving his property to a son and heir John).]
Geffrey Chaucer.
Geffrey Styuecle. 31 Edward III. (1356)
    [Footnote: Issues, p. 217, mem. 114. In
29 Edw. III in service of Countess of Ulster.]
Symon de Burgh. 44 Edward III. (1370)
    [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p. 189.]
Johan de Tychemerssh. No mention outside of household books, where he
appears for first time in 1368.
Robert la Zouche. 29 Edward III. (1355)
    [Footnote: Issues, p. 213, mem. 24.]
Esmon Rose. 17 Edward III. (1343)
    [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1348, p. 39.]
Laurence Hauberk. 1370
    [Footnote: Issues 1370, Devon, pp. 136, 444.]
Griffith del Chambre. 28 Edward III. (1354)
    [Footnote: Issues, p. 294, mem. 18.]
Johan de Thorpe. 30 Edward III. (1356)
    [Footnote: idem, p. 214, mem. 8.]
Thomas Hertfordyngbury. 41 Edward III. (1367)
    [Footnote: Pat. Roll 275, mem. 13.]
Hugh Straule. No certain mention as valet or esquire.
Hugh Lyngeyn. 37 Edward III. (1363)
    [Footnote: Idem 267, mem. 37]
Nicholas Prage. 33 Edward III. (1359)
    [Footnote: Exchequer K. R. Accts., Bundle 392, No. 15]
Richard Wirle. No record as valet or esquire of the king.

A comparison of the two sections shows that the first contains the names
of two men whose service goes back as far as 1343, 1344, and that it
contains the name of no one who was not by 1364 associated with the
court. The second section, on the other hand, contains but one name of a
date earlier than 1353 and several which do not occur in the records
before the time of this document, or in fact until a year or two later.
The fact however that in a number of cases the second section contains
names of men who entered the household years before others whose names
occur in the first section makes it seem probable that special
circumstances might influence the classification of a given esquire.

Linked with this problem of classification is one of nomenclature--the
use of the terms "vallettus" and "esquier" (or, the Latin equivalents of
the latter, "armiger" and "scutifer"). Chaucer scholars have generally
assumed that the term "esquier" represents a rank higher than
"vallettus." But they give no evidence in support, of this distinction,
and we are interested in knowing whether it is correct or not. A first
glance at the list of 1369, to be sure, and the observation that cooks
and falconers, a shoe-smith [Footnote: Pat. Roll 1378, p. 158] and a
larderer [Footnote: Issues (Devon) 1370, p. 45) are called "esquiers"
there, might lead one to think that the word can have but a vague force
and no real difference in meaning from "vallettus." But an examination
of other documents shows that the use of the term "esquier" in the
household lists does not represent the customary usage of the time. It
is to be noted for example that many of the "esquiers" of 1369,
practically all of the "esquiers des offices" [Footnote: For indication
of their function see p.14 etc.], and the "esquiers survenantz" of 1368
are not called esquires in the list of 1368, the Patent Rolls, Close
Rolls, Issue Rolls or Fine Rolls. William de Risceby and Thomas
Spigurnell are the only clear exceptions to this rule. Of the "esquiers
survenantz" I have noted eighteen references with mention of title, in
seventeen of which the man named is called "vallettus" or "serviens." Of
the "sergeantz des offices," Richard des Armes is called "vallettus" or
"serviens" in twelve different entries, never "esquier." [Footnote: Pat.
Roll 265, mem. 21, 279, mem. 5, 273 mem. 15, 355, mem. 8, Issues, p.
207, mem. 4, p. 217, mem. 29, etc.] I have noted thirty-five other
references to men in the same classification with the title "vallettus."
[Footnote: Pat. Roll 276, mem. 4 Issues P. 237, Pat. Roll 265, mem. 14,
266, mem. 9, idem, mem. 47, etc.] It is clear then that although the
usage is not strict these men were really of the rank of "vallettus,"
and that this rank was lower than that of "esquier." Possibly the
household books used the term "esquier" in this loose way out of
courtesy, but the other documents--which were strictly official--for the
most part used it more exactly in accordance with a man's actual rank.

From a study of the records of the "esquiers" of 1368 (the group to
which in that year Chaucer belonged) we learn further conditions under
which the terms "vallettus" and "armiger" or "scutifer" are used. In
nearly all cases these esquires in the early years of their career, are
called "vallettus," after some years of service they are occasionally
called "armiger," and finally after the passage of more years are always
called "armiger" or "scutifer." Demonstration of this fact would take
pages of mere references; but it can be indicated in a typical case,
that of Geoffrey Stucle, chosen because of the fact that his
classification is throughout the same as Chaucer's. In 31, 33, and 35
Edward III he is called "vallettus," in 36 Edward III, he appears once
as "scutifer," and twice as "vallettus"; in 37 Edward III he is once
named "vallettus"; in 38 Edward III he is called once "scutifer" and
another time "vallettus"; in 41 Edward III he is mentioned twice as
"vallettus"; in 42 and 43 Edward III he is "armiger"; in 47 Edward III
he is once "vallettus" and once "armiger"; in 49 Edward III he is called
"armiger" twice; in 50 Edward III, and 1 and 2 Richard II he is called
"armiger." [Footnote: Pat. Roll 269, mem. 43, 273 mem. 35, 265 mem. 1,
275 mem. 24, 293 mem. 19, 267 mem. 21, Issues p. 223, mem. 17, 222 mem.
20, A 169 mem. 130, p. 229, mem. 22, mem. 25 (twice) p. 217, mem. 14,
18, p. 235, mem. 1, 248 mem. not numbered, 249 mem. 4, 264 mem. not
numbered, 262 mem. 9, 271 mem. 17, 273 mem. 20. 295 mem. 11.] From this
and the other cases in the list of esquires, it is clear that the term
"esquier" (the equivalent of scutifer and armiger) indicates a rank
above that of "vallettus." The members of Chaucer's group, in nearly
every case, were at first entitled "valletti" and then in course of time
became "esquiers." Whatever may be the conclusion with regard to the
meaning of those titles, however, it is clear, from the facts cited
above, that the list of "esquiers" of 1368 and not that of the "esquiers
de meindre degree" of 1369, gives the names of the men who were actually
in the same class as Chaucer. Consequently in the consideration of the
esquires which follows greater attention will be paid to the "esquiers"
of 1368 than to the other classes.


With regard to the services which the Household Books prescribe for the
esquires, I shall say nothing. In the public records, however, I have
found special services to which the individual esquires were assigned.
In the first place certain of these men--even those who appear in the
list of 1368 as "esquiers," and in that of 1369 as "esquiers de greindre
estat," or "esquiers de meindre degree"--performed special functions of
a character which makes it seem unlikely that they ever did the service
which the Household Books required of an esquire of the king's
household. In the list of 1368, for example, Esmon Rose was custodian of
the great horses of the king [Footnote: Issues, P. 216, mem. 18.], Hugh
Lyngeyn was a buyer of the household [Footnote: Pat. Roll 1384, p. 435.],
Nicholas Prage was first king's minstrel, and later serjeant at
arms, [Footnote: Issues, P. 228, mem. 24, 36 Edw. III, P. 273, mem. 11,
50 Edw. III.] Simond de Bokenham was chief serjeant of the
larder [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p. 165.], and John Legge was
serjeant at arms [Footnote: Rymer III, 2,891.].

Secondly, certain of the esquires held special offices in the king's
chamber. John Herlyng and Walter Walsh were ushers of the king's
chamber [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p. 133, idem p. 150.]. John de
Beauchamp was keeper of the king's jewels or receiver of the king's
chamber for some years up to 11 Richard II [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll
1384, p. 488.]; then for a short time he was Seneschall (steward) of the
king's household [Footnote: Issues, P. 316, mem. 2.].

Thomas Cheyne was in 43 Edward III keeper of the keys of the coffers of
the king's jewels [Footnote: Pat. Roll 279, mem. 33.]. John de Salesbury
was at different times called usher of the king's chamber and keeper of
the king's jewels [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1385, p. 15, Cal. Pat. Roll
1381-5 passim.]. Helmyng Leget was from 1362 for many years receiver of
the king's chamber, his business being to keep the king's money, receive
it from various people and pay it out [Footnote: Rymer, vol. 3, p.
911.]. Thirdly, esquires were frequently being sent about England on the
king's business. For example in 1385 Simon de Bukenham was appointed
buyer of horses for the king's expedition into Scotland [Footnote: Cal.
Pat. Roll, p. 579.]; in 1370 Laurence Hauberk was sent to
Berwick-upon-Tweed and from there by sea-coast to retain shipping for
the passage of Robert Knolles to Normandy [Footnote: Devon's Issues, p.
136.]; similarly at other times Helmyng Leget and John Romesey, John de
Salesbury and Thomas Spigurnell were detailed to take ships for royal
expeditions [Footnote: Issues, p. 270, mem. not numbered, p. 262, mem.
13, p. 298, mem. 23. Rymer, vol. 3, p. 90.]. Again, Walter Whithors in
1370 was sent to York to borrow money from divers abbots, priors and
others for the king's use [Footnote: Devon's Issues, p. 111.], in 1370
John de Beauchamp was sent to the abbot of Gloucester to borrow money
for the king's use [Footnote: idem, p. 153. Issues, P. 308, mem.], and
in 7 Richard II Walter Chippenham was assigned to raise money for the
king's use out of the lands of the late Edmund Mortimer, Count of March
[Footnote: Similarly Geoffrey Stucle, P. 298, mem. 23.]. In 5 Richard II
Simon de Burgh was appointed to inquire into the possessions held by the
rebels who had lately risen against the king in Cambridge [Footnote:
idem, P. 305, mem. 3.]. In 47 Edward III, Nicholas Dabridgecourt was
appointed to convey the children of Charles of Bloys from the custody of
Roger Beauchamp to that of Robert de Morton [Footnote: idem, p. 262,
mem. 14.]. Of less importance but equal frequency are the employments of
esquires to convey money from the king's treasury or from some customs
house to the king's wardrobe; John de Beauchamp de Holt le ffitz, Hugh
Cheyne, Rauf de Knyveton, Walter Chippenham and Robert la Zouche were at
various times so employed [Footnote: Issues, P. 229, mem. 24, P. 217,
mem. 22, Devon, P. 156, P. 281, mem. 2, P. 213, mem. 24, P. 229, mem.

Of course during the King's wars many of the esquires served in the army
abroad. In the Issues of the Exchequer for 1370, for example, many
entries of this type appear--John de Beverle--L107 15 s. 5 d. due in the
wardrobe for the expenses of himself, his men at arms and archers in the
war. _Devon_ p. 483. Hugh Cheyne, _idem_, p. 449, Robert de
Corby, _idem_, p. 461. Collard Dabridgecourt, p. 461. Helming
Leget, _idem_ p. 447. John Legge, _idem_ p. 449. Thomas
Spigurnell, p. 490, etc.

Most interesting with relation to Chaucer, however, is the employment of
esquires on missions abroad. Apparently certain individuals were
assigned especially to this kind of business and many of these were kept
almost constantly engaged in it. For example, George Felbrig, in 51
Edward III, was sent on the King's secret business to John Duke of
Brittany in Flanders. [Footnote: Issues, P. 274, mem. 11.] In 2 Richard
he was sent with John Burle and others on King's secret business to
Milan. [Footnote: idem, P. 298, mem. 20.] In 4 Richard II he was sent to
the King of the Romans and of Bohemia on secret business touching the
King's marriage. [Footnote: idem, P. 303, mem 2.] In 5 Richard II he was
sent again to Flanders. [Footnote: idem, P. 305, mem 13.] In 11 Richard
II (being then Knight of the King's chamber) he was sent to Middelburgh
to receive the homage of the Duke of Gueldres, [Footnote: idem, P. 316,
mem. 2.] and again in 14 Richard II he was sent on the King's business
to the King of the Romans and of Bohemia. [Footnote: idem, P. 323, mem.
5.] That the service was not a special honour but merely a business
function of the esquire is clear from the fact that Felbrig was on one
occasion called, "King's messenger beyond seas." [Footnote: Cal. Pat.
Roll 1384, P. 367.]

Similarly Geoffrey Stucle (whose career, I have already pointed out,
closely parallels Chaucer's) made many voyages abroad in the King's
business between 33 Edward III and 2 Richard II. In 33 Edward III, and
again in 35 Edward III, he was sent to Normandy on the King's business.
[Footnote: Issues, P. 223, mem. 17, A 169, mem. 30, mem 38.] On many of
his missions he merely carried letters to John of Gaunt, (in Devon's
Issues 1370, for example, five such missions in a single year are
mentioned), or to various nobles directing them to arm themselves for an
expedition under John of Gaunt. [Footnote: idem, P. 262, mem. 9.]
Likewise Stephen Romylowe was employed on many missions from 25 Edward
III on. [Footnote: idem 25 Edw. III, P. mem 21, 37.] In 30 Edward III he
was sent "in nuncio domini Regis" to Flanders, [Footnote: idem, P. 214,
mem. not numbered.] in 31 Edward III on another mission, [Footnote: idem
P. 217, mem. 18.] in 32 Edward III with John de Beauchamp, banneret, to
Holland, Flanders, Zealand, etc. [Footnote: idem P. 220, mem. 15.] These
are the most important examples of such employment, but many other
esquires--notably John Padbury, who in 1368 was an "esquier survenant"
[Footnote: Issues, P. 294 (?) mem. 20, P. 211, mem. 7, P. 214, mem. 23,
P. 218, mem. 2, etc.]--made occasional voyages.


The regular pay of an esquire of the household was seven pence halfpenny
a day. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1380, p. 539, 1378, p. 288.] The pay of
a King's sergeant at arms was twelve pence a day--a sum usually granted
for life. [Footnote: Richard Imworth, Thomas Stafford, Thomas Staples,
Wauter de Leycester, etc., had grants of 12d. daily for life.] It is to
be observed, however, that the sergeants-at-arms received very few other
grants. The esquires, on the other hand, received extremely valuable
grants in great numbers. In particular they were given annuities, grants
of land, grants of office, custody of lands belonging to heirs under
age, usually with marriage of the heir, and corrodies at monasteries.

Taking up the first of these I shall confine myself to the  "esquiers"
of 1368, since-from Chaucer's position in the lists in that year and in
1369--they would seem to be the men with whom Chaucer is to be
associated. In stating the amounts of the annuities I shall give the
total sum which each man received. The names follow in the order of the
lists of 1368.

Johan de Herlyng, L40, + L20 + L13,10s. 1d. + L12, 10s.  [Footnote: Cal.
Pat. Roll 1378, p. 133.] Wauter Whithors, L40. [Footnote: idem 1386, p.
146.] Thomas Cheyne, L20. [Footnote: Issues A, 169, mem. 16.] Johan de
Beverle, L40; 8s. 9d. [Footnote: Devon's Issues 1370, p. 35.] Johan de
Romesey, L20. [Footnote: idem, p. 29. Issues, p. 258, mem, 14. ] Wauter
Walssh, L20. 7s Hugh Wake, L40. [Footnote: Devon's Issues 1370, p. 372.]
Roger Clebury, L10. [Footnote: P. 216, mem. 38.] Piers de Cornewaill,
L40. [Footnote: P. 241, mem. 11.] Robert de Ferers, no annuity found.
Elmyn Leget, 20m. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 260, mem. 3.] Robert de Corby,
L10. [Footnote: idem 291, mem. 1.] Collard Dabrichecourt, L10.
[Footnote: idem 281, mem. 18.] Thomas Hauteyn, L10. [Footnote: issues,
P. 250, mem. 2.] Hugh Cheyne, 10m. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 255, mem, 26.]
Thomas Foxle--no information whatever. [Footnote: Outside of these lists
I have been able to find no information about these men.] Geffrey
Chaucer. Geffrey Stuele, L20. [Footnote: Devon's Issues 1370, p. 301.]
Simond de Burgh, L10 + 10m. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, pp.189,
192.] Johan Tichemerssh--no information whatever. [Footnote: See note,
preceding page.] Robert la Souche, L10. [Footnote: Issues, P. 228, mem]
Esmon Rose (and wife, Agnes Archer) 40m. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378p.
187.] Laurence Hauberk--no certain information as esquire. Griffith de
la Chambre, L 20. [Footnote: Issues P. 2 mem. 12. Cal. Pat . 1378, p.
157.] Johan de Thorp, 10 m. 4, Raulyn Erchedeakne--no information
whatever. [Footnote: See note, preceding page.] Rauf de Knyveton, 10 m.
[Footnote: Devon's Issues, 1370, p. 156.] Thomas Hertfordyngbury, L10.
[Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1375, p. 217.] Hugh Strelley, 40 m. [Footnote:
Pat. Roll 295, mem. 4.] Hugh Lyngeyn, L20. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 1399,
176.] Nicholas Prage, 10m. [Footnote: Devon's Issues 1370, p. 216.]
Richard Torperle, 12d. daily. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p150.]
Richard Wirle, no annuity. Johan Northrugge, 10m. [Footnote: Issues, P.
237, mem. 1'7] Hanyn Narrett, L10. [Footnote: idem P. 237, mem. 17.]
Simond de Bokenham, L10. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p. 165.] Johan
Legge, 12d. daily 14 [Footnote: idem, p. 186.]

In only two cases in which we find other information about an esquire do
we find no annuity. In a few cases, I have been able to find out nothing
at all about the men. In all others, annuities ranging from ten marks up
to L86 are found. Apparently then the receipt of an annuity was
absolutely a normal feature of the career of an esquire.

None of the other forms of grants was given so systematically and
uniformly as that of annuities, but all of the others were very common.
The nature and extent of the grants of land, and of guardianships, will
appear in the accounts of the careers of individual esquires. They are
so irregular in their character, are changed so frequently and are given
on such varying 'conditions, that an accurate list could scarcely be

The matter of grants of offices, particularly in the customs, is,
however, more easy to handle. At the time when Chaucer was given his
controllership, offices in the customs seem to have been used regularly
as sinecures for the esquires. In 1353 Griffith de la Chambre was
granted the office of gauging of wine in the towns of Lenn and Great
Yarmouth. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p.11.] At the same time Roger
Clebury received a similar grant. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1352, p.
411.] In 1343 William de Clopton had a grant for life of the
collectorship of the port of London with wages of L20. Apparently he did
not actually exercise the office because certain merchants to whom the
king had farmed the customs of the realm were directed to pay him his
wages. [Footnote: C. R. 1343, p. 194.] In 1347 he and John
Herlyng--another esquire--were collectors of the petty customs in
London. [Footnote: Rymer, vol. 3, p. 115.] In 1352 and again in 1355 his
deputy is specifically mentioned. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, 1352, p.
327; C. R. 1355, p. 166.] In 1346 John de Herlyng was granted the office
of controller of customs in Boston (Pat. Roll p. 204). In 1348 he was
granted the office of controller of wools, hides and wool-fells, wines
and all other merchandise at Newcastle-upon-Tyne with this added
provision, "furthermore because he stays continually in the King's
company by his order, he may substitute for himself a deputy, in the
said office," etc. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 130.] In 1352 he was
controller of the customs in the port of Boston and likewise in that of
Lenne--with provision in the same terms as those above for a deputy in
the latter office--and collector of the petty custom in London--with
deputy. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, 1352, pp. 327, 348, 355.] In 1359 he
surrendered the office of controller of customs at Boston for an annuity
of ten marks. [Footnote: idem. 1378, p. 133.] At one time he was also
controller in the port of St. Botolph. [Footnote: Devon's Issues, 1370,
p. 381.] From the fact that the records show Herlyng was constantly in
the King's court, it is clear that he exercised all these offices by

In 35 Edward III Helmyng Leget was granted the office of keeper of the
smaller piece of the seal for recognizances of debts in London,
[Footnote: Cal. Pat Roll 1377-8, p. 184.] with power to execute the
office by deputy. He held this office until 1389. [Footnote: Cal. Pat.
Roll, p. 106.] Edmund Rose held the office of keeper of the smaller
piece of the seal in Norwich, with deputy. [Footnote: Idem 1384, p.
380.] John de Thorp was in 1380 appointed controller of customs of
wines, wools, etc. at Southampton on condition that he execute the
office in person. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 564.] Walter Whithors
held the offices of keeper of the smaller piece of the seal in York, in
1348, and tronager of wool in the port of Lenne in 1352 with deputy in
both offices. [Footnote: idem, pp. 143, 293.] In addition to offices in
the customs, places as parker of a King's forest, or keeper of a royal
castle were frequently given to the esquires. So Hugh Cheyne in 1378 had
the custody of Shrewsbury Castle with wages of seven pence halfpenny
therefor. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 248.] Helmyng Leget and Thomas
Cheyne at various times held the office of constable of Windsor
Castle. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 279, mem. 33.] John de Beverle and Robert
Corby likewise had the constableship of the castle of Ledes. [Footnote:
idem 272, mem. 27, Exchequer K. R. Accts. 393-7.] William Archebald was
forester of the Forest of Braden. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 290, mem. 13.]
John de Beverle was parker of Eltham parks. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll
1378-80, p. 143.] Walter Whithors in 1349 was steward of the forest of
Galtres. Many more examples of such grants of offices could be given.

Many of the esquires received corrodies--in most cases probably commuted
for a certain yearly sum. For example, William Archebald held a eorrody
at Glastonbury from 49 Edward III [Footnote: C. R. 213, mem. 17. ] on
and yet in 1378 is stated in the Patent Rolls to have been retained to
stay with the King. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 135.] So it could be
shown in most cases that esquires holding corrodies did not by any means
live constantly in their monasteries. William Gambon, especially, could
scarcely have done so since he held corrodies at Salop, (Shrewsbury),
Hayles, Haylyng, St. Oswald de Nostell, Coventre and Wenlok, at the same
time. [Footnote: C. R. 235, mem. 22 dorso.] Other esquires who held
corrodies and the names of their monasteries follow: John Beauchamp,
Pershoore (Wigorn); [Footnote: C. R. 228, mem. 4 dorso.] John Salesbury,
Stanlee; [Footnote: idem 235, mem. 31 dorso.] Simon de Bokenham, Ely;
[Footnote: C. R. 235, mem. 26 dorso.] Helmyng Leget, Ramsey; [Footnote:
C. R. 235, mem. 10 dorso.] Roger Clebury, Shrewsbury; [Footnote: Cal. C.
R. 1356, p. 334.] Peter Cornwaill, Redyng; [Footnote: C. R. 215, mem. 7
dorso.] John Herlyng, Convent of Church of Christ, Canterbury;
[Footnote: C. R. 222, mem. 29 dorso.] Hugh Lyngeyn, Dunstaple;
[Footnote: C. R. 226, mem. 26 dorso.] Stephen Romylowe, Bardenay.
[Footnote: C. R. 221, mem. 41 dorso.]

Grants of wine are scarcely so common as the other kinds of grants and,
so far as I have found, they are not usually given to prominent
esquires. John Roos had a grant of two tuns of wine yearly; [Footnote:
Cal. Pat. Roll 1384, p. 446.] William Risceby of "one dolium" or two
pipes of Gascon wine; [Footnote: Pat. Roll 289 mem. 25.] William Strete
and William Archebald each of one tun of Gascon wine yearly; [Footnote:
Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, pp. 135, 227] John De Beverle and Thomas Cheyne
each of two dolia of Gascon wine yearly; [Footnote: Pat. Roll 271, mem.
21.] and Hugh Lyngeyn of one tun of red wine of Gascony
yearly. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1399, p. 185.] One feature of the form
of royal grants remains to be mentioned. Writers on Chaucer have
frequently called attention to the fact that his grants contain a
statement that they are made for good service done. [Footnote: Cf. Hales,
Lounsbury ante.] This is merely a regular part of the form of a grant.
Any enrollments of grants--such as those noted on the preceding
page--will give examples of the use of this phrase. Further, the form of
grant practically always includes a characterization of the grantee as
"dilectus vallettus," "dilectus serviens," "dilectus armiger," etc.


The wives of the esquires came chiefly from two classes--first, the
"domicellae" of the queen's retinue, and second, the daughters and
heiresses of country gentlemen. Esquires who married wives from the
second class frequently owed a great part of their importance in the
county to the estates which their wives brought. So, frequently in the
county histories occurs an account of some esquire whose family and
antecedents the writer has been, unable to trace, but who was prominent
in the county--sheriff perhaps or Knight of the Shire--as a result of
the lands he held in right of his wife. An example of this is Helmyng
Leget, who was member of Parliament for Essex in 7 and 9 Henry IV, and
sheriff in 1401 and 1408. He had married Alice, daughter and coheir of
Sir Thomas Mandeville and received the estates of Stapleford-Taney,
Bromfield, Chatham Hall in Great Waltham and Eastwick in Hertfordshire.
[Footnote: Morant's Essex vol. 2, p. 75; vol. 1, part 2, p. 179.]
Similarly John de Salesbury, who had received from the King a grant of
the custody of the estates of John de Hastang defunct, and of the
marriage of the latter's daughter and heir Johanna, married the lady
himself and held in her right extensive lands. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 292,
mem. 21, idem 289, mem. 30, Dugdale's Warwick, p. 313.]

John Beauchamp married Joan, daughter and heir of Robert le Fitzwyth.
[Footnote: Ancient Deeds, A 8171.] Simond de Bokenham married Matilda
Gerounde, who brought him the only land he possessed at his death.
[Footnote: Pat. Roll 267, mem. 7, Inq. P. M. vol. 3, p. 173. ] Hugh
Cheyne married Joan, daughter and heir of John de Wodeford. [Footnote:
Abb. Rot. Orig. II; 264.] Robert Corby married Alice, daughter and heir
of Sir John Gousall. [Footnote: Hasted's Kent II, 428.] Collard
Dabrichecourt married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sibilla, daughter
of Thomas de Saye, and held in her right Strathfield-Saye. [Footnote:
Beltz. Mem. of Garter, p. 90 ff, Woodworth, Wilks, Lockhart, Hampshire
III, 274.] George Felbrig married Margaret, daughter of Elizabeth dame
de Aspall, and received with her certain lands in Norfolk and Suffolk.
[Footnote: Abstracts and Indexes--Duchy of Lancaster I, 157.] Robert
Ferrers married Elizabeth Boteler, daughter and heir of William Boteler
of Wemme. [Footnote: Dugdale I. 269. Cal. Inq. P.M. Ill, 333.] John Legge
married Agnes de Northwode, coheir of the manour of Ertindon in
Surrey. [Footnote: Manning's Surrey I. 85.] Hugh Wake married Joan de
Wolverton and received lands with her. [Footnote: Baker's Northampton II,
252.] Walter Walssh married Joan Duylle, widow of John Fletcher, called
"bel," and received with her the house of Gravebury, which she and her
former husband had held. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 290, mem. 14.] Walter
Whithors married Mabel, daughter and coheir of Philip Niweham (or
Newnham.) [Footnote: Dugdale's Warwickshire, p. 86.]

Even more interesting--because of their analogy with Chaucer's
marriage--are the instances of marriage with the queen's damsels. In one
case, at least, this kind of alliance was considered a meritorious
action on the part of the esquire concerned, for not only did he receive
an annuity therefor, but ever afterwards when a payment was made on the
annuity, the circumstances were given in full. "To Edmund Rose,
valletus, to whom the King has given ten pounds per annum to be received
at the Exchequer, for good service rendered to the King and because he
has married Agnes Archer formerly damsel to Queen Philippa." [Footnote:
Issues, P. 210, P. 204; mem. 5, etc.] Similarly Roger Archer (called
"esquier ma dame," and, in the grant, valet to Isabella, daughter of
Edward III) married Alexandra de la Mote damsel to Isabella. [Footnote:
Pat. Roll 273, mem. 8. Issues, p. 213, mem, 22.] It is curious that in
both these cases the maiden name of the wife is given in the Issue Rolls
for years after the grant of the annuities. In the other cases only the
surname of the husband is given. These cases are: Walter Wyght and
Margaret Wyght, [Footnote: Issues, p. 221, mem. 11.] Thomas and Katherine
Spigurnell, [Footnote: L.R. p. 172, C.R. 1357, p. 351, 404, 438.] John
and Almicia de Beverle, [Footnote: L.R. p, 172, Cal. Inq. P.M. III, 29.]
John and Stephanetta Olney, [Footnote: L.R. p. 172. Issues, P. 241, mem,
8.] Robert and Joan Louth, [Footnote: L.R. p. 172, Pat. Roll 264, mem.
39.] Piers and Alice Preston, [Footnote: Pat. Roll 1378, p. 125.] Hugh
and Agatha Lyngeyn [Footnote: Issues, P. 272, mem. 13.] and John and
Margaret Romsey. [Footnote: idem, P. 200, mem. 19, Home's Wilts, Hundred
of Cawdon, p. 13.]


In the preparation of this study, I have collected all the facts I could
find about the esquires of 1368. [Footnote: A statement of the facts
will be found deposited in the University of Chicago Library.] Since the
essential facts about them have been discussed in the preceding pages,
however, I shall present in detail the careers of only three or four
typical esquires. Of the others, John de Herlyng, for many years usher
of the King's chamber, received many grants from the King and held many
offices; Thomas Cheyne, [Footnote: Cf. Froissart XX, 562.] keeper of the
royal jewels, fought in the wars in France and received grants of lands
and wardships; John de Romeseye acted at various times as royal
messenger, and as royal treasurer at Calais; Walter Walssh, another
usher of the King's chamber, received the custody of the possessions of
an alien abbey, and the grant of a house and land; Hugh Wake made
journeys on the King's service and received some grants; Roger Clebury
and Piers de Cornewaill received a few grants; Robert de Ferrers had the
grant of a manor; Helmyng Leget, for years receiver of the King's
Chamber, had many grants of land and custodies; Robert de Corby had the
grant of a manor; Collard Dabrichecourt had grants of 'manors and
offices; Thomas Hauteyn received one custody and one grant of land in
Ely; Hugh Cheyne had a few grants; the only Thomas Foxle I find trace
of, who died in 30 Edward III, received some grants; Simond de Burgh is
mentioned in many financial transactions of the time, and he was for
some time treasurer of Calais; of John Tichemerssh, I find no mention,
and of Robert la Souche very little; Esmon Rose was keeper of the King's
horses; information about Laurence Hauberk is ambiguous since there seem
to have been two or more men of that name; Griffith de la Chambre and
John de Thorpe received minor grants; of Raulyn Erchedeakne I find no
mention; Thomas Hertfordyngbury, Hugh Strelley, Hugh Lyngen, Nicholas
Prage and Richard Torperle received various small grants; Richard de
Wirle appears only as an esquire of John of Gaunt; about John Northrugge
and Hanyn Narrett, I find very little; Simond de Bokenham was chief
sergeant of the King's larder; and John Legge, who seems to have been
really an esquire at arms, met his death in the Peasant's Revolt.


Walter Whithors is mentioned in the records first in 1343 when he
received an order granting him his wages for life, and the custody of
the River Posse for life. [Footnote: C. R., p. 203.] In 1346 he was
granted two marriages, in 1347, five marks a year, the tronagership of
Lenn, and the constableship of Conisborough Castle. [Footnote: Cal. Pat.
Roll, pp. 37, 69, 234, 451, 545.] In 1348 the King granted Whithors all
the tenements and rents in the city of London which were in the King's
hands by reason of the forfeiture of a certain William de
Mordon. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 48.] In the same year he was given
the custody of the smaller piece of the seal for recognizances of debts
in the city of York. [Footnote: idem, p. 148.] In 1349 he received a
grant of forfeited houses in the county of York, [Footnote: idem, p.
261.] and likewise a mill and more lands forfeited by William de
Mordon. [Footnote: idem, p. 333.] Furthermore he was given in the same
year the right to dispose of some of these latter lands. [Footnote: idem,
p. 440.] In 1349 further he was granted the stewardship of the forest of
Galtres, and the roots of all trees cut down in that forest. [Footnote:
idem, pp. 368, 433--apparently with deputy, for in Cal. Pat. Roll 1352,
p. 214, a lieutenant is mentioned.] In 1352 the office of tronage of the
wools at Lenne was granted to his former deputy, at the request of
Walter Whithora who surrendered a grant of that office. [Footnote: idem,
pp. 267, 293.] Next year he was given an annuity of twenty marks, and
also the right to exercise the office of recognizances of debts by
deputy, "because he stays continually in the King's service, at his
side." [Footnote: idem, pp. 380, 498.] In the same year he was granted
the custody of the forest of Lynton, adjacent to Galtres. [Footnote: Cal.
Pat. Roll, p. 417.]

In 1360 Whithors was granted certain houses in York formerly belonging
to Richard de Snaweshull, [Footnote: Pat. Roll 256, mem, 5.] and also the
custody of the lands and tenements formerly belonging to Nicholas de
Litton, during the minority of the heir. [Footnote: idem, mem. 18.] In
1361 he was given a messuage and shop formerly owned by Walter Ragoun in
London and worth forty shillings yearly. [Footnote: idem 261, mem, 12.]
From a document of the same year we learn something about the marriage
of his daughter. By this document Stephen Wydeslade, cousin and heir of
Thomas Branche, acknowledged a debt of two hundred pounds to Whithors,
which is to be paid in the form of an annuity of twelve marks to Mary,
daughter of Whithors and widow of Thomas Branche. She is to have further
as dower certain manors in Norfolk and Surrey. Her husband had been a
ward of her father's and had died a minor. [Footnote: C. R., p. 134.] In
1363 Whithors was pardoned the payment of all moneys which he had drawn
in advance from the wardrobe. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 262, mem. 15.]
Likewise in the same year he had a grant of the marriage of the son and
heir of John Colvyll, Chivaler, defunct. [Footnote: idem 262, mem. 18.]
In 1363 he received a grant of the custody of the Palace of Westminster
and the prison of the Fleet, [Footnote: idem 265, mem. 15.] and of the
custody of all lands and tenements formerly the property of William
Bruyn, defunct. [Footnote: idem, mem. 17.] In 1365 Whithors had a grant
of the manour of Naburn with pertinences in York, formerly the property
of a felon. [Footnote: idem 270, mem. 34.]

In 1370 he was granted free warren in Brenchesham, Surrey. [Footnote:
Cal. Rot. Chart, p. 187.] And in the same year and nearly until his
death, he had an annuity of forty marks a year as usher or doorkeeper of
the King's free chapel of Windsor. For this office also he received
twelve pence a day "because that the same Lord the King charged the same
Walter to carry a wand in the presence of the said Lord the King, before
the college" when the King personally should be there, "and that the
same Walter might be able more easily to support that charge."
[Footnote: Devon's Issues, p. 101.] In that year likewise he was sent to
York to borrow money from divers abbots, priors and others for the
King's use. [Footnote: idem, p. 111.] In 1373 he and Isabella his wife
acquired by a devious series of transfers a messuage of land with
reversion to their son Walter. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 287, mem. 4.] In
1377 Gerard Brocas acknowledged a debt of 160 m. to Walter Whithors.
[Footnote: C. R. 216, mem. 8 dorso.] In 1377 he was granted the lands
and tenements of Simon Raunville, defunct, and the marriage of his
heiress to Ralph, son of Walter Whithors. In 1383 he was still
exercising the office of custodian of the smaller piece of the seal for
York by deputy. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 242.] Three years later
the King at his supplication granted his annuity of forty marks to
another. [Footnote: idem, p. 146.] In 1387 he was apparently dead, for
the King granted to another the office of usher of St. George's Chapel,
and the house which he had occupied. [Footnote: idem, p. 297.]

According to Dugdale, Walter Whithors married Mabel, daughter  and
coheir of Philip Neweham (or Newnham) of Neunham Padox in Warwick. Their
son and heir was Sir Ralph Whitehorse Kt. [Footnote: Warwickshire, p.

John de Beverle is particularly interesting to us because in 1376 he was
joined with Chaucer as surety for William de Beauchamp when the latter
received the custody of the castle and county of Pembroke. [Footnote: L.
R., p.213] The first mention of him in the public records occurs in 36
Edward III when he was granted the custody of all the lands and
tenements of James de Pabenham, Knight, defunct, during the minority of
the heir, [Footnote: Pat. Roll 265, mem. 17.] and when he and Amicia de
Bockeshill his wife were granted twenty pounds yearly by the king.
[Footnote: idem 266, mem. 29.] In the next year he was granted the
office of constable of the castle of Limerick and certain water rights
at the same place. [Footnote: idem 267, mem. 6, 8.] In 38 Edward III
John de Beverle, who was holding the manor of Pencrich, Staffordshire,
from the king in capite, having acquired it from John, son and heir of
Hugo Blount, was pardoned the transgression committed in entering upon
it. In the same year he was granted the right to hold a fair at
Pencrych. [Footnote: Cal. Rot. Chart, p. 185.] In 39 Edward III, he
received a grant of two tenements in the parish of St. Michael atte
Corne, London, [Footnote: Cal. Rot. Pat. Tur. Lon., p. 179 b] at the
customary rent; he established a chantry; [Footnote: Inq. Ad. Quod
Damnum, p. 335.] and received a grant of the constableship of the castle
of Leeds for life, with wages 100s. therefore. [Footnote: Cal. Rot. Pat.
Tur. Lon., p. 180.] In 39-40 Edward III, he was granted the right of
free warren in Mendlesden, [Footnote: Cal. Rot. Chart, p. 185.]
Hertfordshire. In 39 Edward III, he was granted the manor of Mendlesden
[Footnote: Pat. Roll 272, mem. 4.] and two dolia of Gascon wine yearly.
[Footnote: idem 271, mem. 21.] In 40 Edward III, the king granted his
mother, Matilda, a number of tenements and shops in London. [Footnote:
idem 274, mem. 2.] He himself was in that year granted the manor of
Bukenhull for life, with reversion to his heirs, [Footnote: idem 278,
mem. 37.] and the custody of the manor of Melton in Kent during the
minority of the heir. [Footnote: idem 274, mem. 43.] He seems also in
that year to have sold to the Count of Arundell and others his manor of
Pencrych. [Footnote: idem 273, mem. 13.]

In 41 Edward III John de Beverle was granted the manor of Bofford in
Oxford. [Footnote: idem 276, mem. 6.] In the next year he was granted
the right to hunt in the parks and forests of the king, with this
prologue: "Redeuntes ad memoriam obsequia et servicia placida que
dilectus armiger noster Johannes de Beverlee nobis non absque periculis
et rerum despendiis a longo tempore impendit" etc. [Footnote: Pat. Roll
278, mem. 8.] In 43 Edward III permission was given to Walter Bygod,
miles, to grant at farm to John de Beverle the manors of Alfreston
(Essex) and Marham (Norfolk) at a rent of L200 to Walter Bygod.
[Footnote: idem 279, mem. 12.] In that year also a grant by Ingelram de
Courcy to John de Beverle of the manor of Tremworth in Kent was
confirmed by the king. [Footnote: idem 280, mem. 28.] Finally he was
granted the parkership of Eltham forest for life with pay of three pence
per day. [Footnote: idem 279, mem. 28.] He was at this time drawing an
annuity of L40, 8s. 9d. for life and he was also paid (in this year,
1370) L107, 15s. 5d. for his wages and those of his men at arms and
archers in the war. [Footnote: Devon's Issues 1370, pp. 35, 81.] In 1371
he was paid 100m. [Footnote: Rymer, old ed. VII, 178.] In 44 Edward III
the king granted John de Beverle the manor of Rofford in Oxfordshire,
[Footnote: Cal. Rot. Pat. Turr. Lon., p. 186. Error for Bofford?] and
the custody of the lands of John de Kaynes, defunct, during the minority
of his heir. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 281, mem. 2] In 46 Edward III the king
granted him the custody of all the lands of Walter Bygod, chivaler, in
Essex and Norfolk, with marriage of the heir. [Footnote: idem 287, mem.
5.] He was also in that year granted an annuity of 33s. 4d. and the
manor of Rodbaston in Staffordshire. [Footnote: idem 287, mem. 18, 34.]
The next year, John de Beverle received a grant of the reversion to two
parts of the manor of Godyngdon in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and
also of the manor of Bokenhull in Oxfordshire. [Footnote: idem 289, mem.
17.] He was at that time paying ten pounds yearly for the farm of the
manor of Godingdon. [Footnote: Cal. Rot. Pat. Turr. Lon., p. 188.] In 48
Edward III he received a grant of the goods and chattels of Thomas de la
Bere, an outlaw, [Footnote: Pat. Roll 290, mem. 8.] and also of all the
trees cut down in Eltham forest. [Footnote: idem 290, mem. 10.] Finally
he had a grant of the manor of Bikenhull (sic). [Footnote: idem 290,
mem. 30.] In 49 Edward III he was granted certain tenements and rents in
London. [Footnote: idem 292, mem. 28.] In 50 Edward III, he and his wife
acquired the manor of Pencrych (Stafford) from Thomas, son of Hugo
Blount, Knight, [Footnote: C. R., mem. 1.] and he was granted custody of
the lands of John Ferrers, Knight, with marriage of the heir. [Footnote:
Pat. Roll 295, mem. 23.] In 1377 he was one of the witnesses to Edward
III's will. [Footnote: Test Vet., p. 12.] In 1377 he testified against
Alice Perrers before Parliament. He said that she took care not to say
anything about the matter under dispute before him. (Ele soi gardst bien
de lui qu'ele ne parla rien en sa presence.) [Footnote: Rot. Parl., p.

In 1377 we find an acknowledgement of one hundred marks which John de
Beverle had lent to the king for the expeditions over sea, [Footnote:
Cal Pat. Roll, p. 29.] and in this year he is said to have been
armour-bearer to the king [Foornote: Dunkin's Oxfordshire I, 197.]
(Edward III). In 1 Richard II, he acquired a rent of forty shillings
from lands and tenements in Buckenhull. [Footnote: Ms. Cal. C. R., p.
14.] In 1378 certain men were imprisoned for a debt of one hundred
pounds to John de Beverle and Joan de Bokkyng, [Footnote: Cal. Pat.
Roll, p. 130.] and in that year he paid twenty pounds for leave to
alienate certain property of six marks rent which he held from the king.
In 1378 he was retained to serve Richard II and confirmed in his
possession of the office of parker of Eltham parks, an annuity of ten
pounds and the fee farm rent of eighty-one pounds for the manor of
Hedyngdom. [Footnote: al. Pat. Roll, p. 143.] In 1380 his office of
constable of the castle of Leeds, the profits of the mills there and the
custody of the park there, were exchanged for ten pounds to be deducted
yearly from his rent of twenty pounds paid to the king for the manor of
Tremworth. [Footnote: idem, p. 506.]

In 1381 John de Beverle was dead leaving seven manors and other
property. [Footnote: Cal. Inq. P. M. III, 29.] In 17 Richard II his
wife, Amicia, had become the wife of Robert Bardolf, miles. [Footnote:
C. R. 235, mem.]

In the index to his Froissart, Kervyn de Lettenhoeve describes John de
Beverle as "moult grant baron d'Angleterre" and refers to a list of
chevaliers who were going to Portugal in 1384 with the master of the
order of St. James. [Footnote: Cf. Rymer old ed. VII, 451.] This was
certainly not our John de Beverle because the latter was dead in 1381.


The first mention I find of Geffrey Stucle is in 1347 when he had a
grant of the bailiwick of Cork in Ireland made at the request of Henry,
Earl of Lancaster. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 367.] This grant was
confirmed by one of 32 Edward III--an inspeximus and confirmation of
letters patent of Maurice, Count Dessemond, according to which Maurice
granted the bailiwick of Cork to Geffrey Styeucle at the request of
Lionel, Count of Ulster. According to this last document Stucle had the
office with all its fees and privileges and was to pay for it a rose
yearly at the feast of St. John the Baptist. [Footnote: Pat. ROLL 255,
mem. 29.] In 1348 also a statement is made that Stucle is going to
Brittany on the king's service.

In 29 Edward III Stucle appears under entirely different circumstances:
he is then "vallettus" of the Countess of Ulster and is paid forty
shillings and sixty shillings for attending to certain business of the
countess. [Footnote: Issues, P. 212, mem. 22, 27]. Again he is mentioned
as "vallettus" of the Countess of Ulster, staying in London on her
affairs, and paid sixty shillings therefor. [Footnote: idem, P. 294,
(214?) mem. 23.] In 31 Edward III he had a grant--as "vallettus" of the
king's household--of ten marks per annum, "for good services to the
king," etc. [Footnote: Issues, P. 217, mem. 14.] Evidently then Stucle
came into the king's household, just as Chaucer did, from the household
of Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster, and it is to be noted that he received
an annuity within a year or a little more, possibly as soon as he
shifted to the king's service. In the same year he was sent on a mission
of the king's and paid 26s. 8d. [Footnote: idem, mem. 18] In 33 Edward
III he was sent on the king's secret business to Normandy and paid
L16,13s.4d. for his wages. [Footnote: idem, P. 223, mem. 17] He was paid
ten pounds more in the same year for a mission of the king--possibly the
same as the foregoing. [Footnote: idem, P. 222, mem. 20.] In 35 Edward
III he was sent on the king's business to Normandy and paid ten pounds
for his wages. [Footnote: idem A 169, mem. 30.] Likewise in the same
year he was paid twenty pounds for his wages in going to France and
Normandy in the diplomatic service of the king--possibly the same as the
foregoing. [Footnote: idem A 169, mem. 38.] In 36 Edward III he was paid
ten pounds for going on another journey [Footnote: ISSUES P. 228, mem.
2.] and L6,13s.4d. for a journey on the king's business to Britanny.
[Footnote: idem, P. 229, mem. 25] In the same year he was paid sixty
shillings for his robe. [Footnote: idem] In 37 Edward III he was sent to
Jersey in the company of Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster, [Footnote: idem,
P 232, mem. 20.] and his annuity was increased to twenty marks.
[Footnote: Pat. Roll 267, mem. 21.]

In 38 Edward III Stucle was granted, at his own request, custody of all
lands and tenements which were formerly the property of Richard de la
Rynere, defunct, during the minority of the heir. [Footnote: idem 269,
mem. 43.] In 39 Edward III he went on a diplomatic mission to the duke
of Britanny, and was paid L26,13s.4d. therefor. [Footnote: Issues, P.
239, mem. 31] In 40 Edward III he was granted one tenement and two shops
in the parish of St. Michael over Cornhill, London. [Footnote: Pat. Roll
273, mem. 35.] In 41 Edward III he was paid forty pounds for a mission
to Spain. [Footnote: Issues, P. 248, mem. not numbered.] In 42 Edward
III he was paid forty pounds for a journey to the Prince of Aquitain.
[Footnote: Issues, P. 249, mem. 4.] In 1370 he was given ten marks in
addition to his wages for the five voyages which he had made to Calais
for the king. [Footnote: Devon's Issues, p.409.] In that year also he was
sent on secret business of the king to Nottingham. [Footnote: idem.]

In 47 Edward III, Stucle was sent to Flanders with certain letters of
privy seal 'directed to various bannerets and knights of the king's
retinue who were staying in Germany, directing them to prepare
themselves to go with John, duke of Lancaster, to France on the king's
business. [Footnote: Issues, P. 262, mem. 9.] For this he was paid
L13,6s.8d. and he received ten pounds more for a journey to Flanders
with letters directed to Simon, Archbishop of Canterbury. [Footnote:
idem 264, mem. not numbered.] In 49 Edward III he was sent to Brugges to
report to the council the results of the conference between the
ambassadors of the king and the king of France for a treaty of peace.
[Footnote: idem, P. 271, mem. 17.] In the same year he was granted
custody of all the lands and tenements formerly belonging to John
Dakeneye, chivaler, defunct, with marriage of the heir. [Footnote: Pat.
Roll 293, mem. 19. GEORG FELBRIGG]

In 50 Edward III he was paid ten pounds for transacting certain arduous
business pertaining to the king in Flanders. [Footnote: Issues, P. 273,
mem. 20.] In 1 Richard II, Stucle was sent to Leycester with a letter of
private seal directed to John, King of Castile and Leon, Duke of
Lancaster, certifying to the duke the death of the countess of March and
excusing the count of March on that account from his journey to the
north. [Footnote: idem 295, mem. 11.] In the same year he was sent to
the north with a letter directed to John of Lancaster ordering the
latter to come to London to the king's council. [Footnote: idem 295,
mem. 17.] In 2 Richard II he was paid a hundred shillings for a journey
to various parts of England to get money for a royal expedition.
[Footnote: idem, P. 298, mem. 23.] In 1378 his grant of an annuity--here
stated to be twenty pounds--was confirmed and he was retained in the
king's service. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 181.] In 10 Richard II it
is stated that Richard de la Panetrie had married his widow; evidently
he had not been dead long for the king paid to his widow L37, es.8d. due
to him. [Footnote: Issues, P. 315, mem. 11.]

Mention of George Felbrig first occurs in 34 Edward III when he was
granted an annuity of twenty marks. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 261, mem. 2.]
In 37 Edward III George Felbrigg and William Elys were granted the farm
of all the customs except those of wool and wool-fells in the town of
Magne Jernemuth for one year. [Footnote: idem 268, mem. 49.] They seem
to have held this farm for a number of years, certainly in 40 and 41
Edward III, by yearly grants and at a rent of twenty-two pounds per
annum. [Footnote: Fine Roll 167, mem, 10, 168, mem.16] In 1370 he was
paid L31, 11s. 10 d. for the expenses of himself his men at arms, and
archers in the war. [Footnote: Devon p. 440.] In 44 Edward III he was
receiving an annuity of twenty pounds, [Footnote: Devon's Issues, p.
66.] and in the same year he had a grant at farm of the hundred of
Northerpyngham, and Southerpyngham, paying fifty pounds yearly
therefor. [Footnote: Fine Roll 171, mem. 26.] In 47 Edward III he was
granted custody of the priory of Tostes at a farm of sixty-three pounds
yearly. [Footnote: idem 174, mem. 16.] In 48 Edward III the bailiff of
fees, etc., in Norfolk and Suffolk was ordered by the Duke of Lancaster
to deliver the lands and tenements late belonging to Elizabeth, Dame de
Aspall, to George de Felbrigge who had married Margaret, daughter of the
said Elizabeth. [Footnote: Abstracts and Indexes (Long Room-Rec. Off.)
I, 157 dorso.] In 49 Edward III he was granted a messuage with
pertinences in Grippewic. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 293, mem. 3.] In 50
Edward III he had a grant of the "balliva" of the hundred of Rockeford
in Essex, and also of the custody of Haddele Castle. [Footnote: Abb.
Rot. Orig. II. 310.] In 51 Edward III he was sent on secret business of
the King to John, duke of Brittany, in Flanders, and paid L13, 6s. 8d.
for his wages for the journey. [Footnote: Issues, P. 274, mem. 11.]

In 1377 he is said to have been one of the jury that found Alice Perrers
guilty of maintenance [Footnote: Blomefield's Norfolk VIII, 107 ff.];
certainly he witnessed against her before Parliament. [Footnote: Rot.
Parl. p. 14.] In 2 Richard II he was sent on secret business of the King
with John de Burle and others to Milan; for the voyage he received L23,
6s. 8d. [Footnote: Issues, P. 298, mem. 20.] In 4 Richard II he was sent
to the King of the Romans and of Bohemia on secret business connected
with the marriage of the King, and paid L66, 13s. 4d. for the journey.
[Footnote: Issues, P. 303, mem. 2.] In 1382 he and John Herlyng acquired
a messuage and sixty acres of land. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 121.]
In 5 Richard II he was paid for a certain voyage to Germany L75, 6s. 8d.
and for a voyage on king's secret business to Flanders, ten
pounds. [Footnote: Issues, P. 304, mem. 19, P. 305, mem, 13.] In 1384 he
was granted for life the ten pounds yearly due from him from the issues
of the Castle of Colchester. In this document his services as King's
messenger beyond the seas are expressly mentioned. [Footnote: Cal. Pat.
Roll, p. 367.] He seems to have had custody of the castle of Colchester,
for when later in 1384 the King granted it to Robert de Veer, he gave
instead forty pounds yearly to George Felbrigg. [Footnote: idem pp. 440,
442] In 7, 8 Richard II he was granted free warren for certain estates
in Suffolk. [Footnote: Cal Rot. Chart., p. 190.] In 1385 the King granted
to George Felbrig, whom the King on his entry into Scotland had advanced
to the rank of Knight, forty pounds yearly to enable him to support his
estate more honorably. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 18.] He had with him
when he was in the King's expedition to Scotland eight esquires and
bowmen. [Footnote: Issues, P. 312, mem. 17.]

In 11 Richard II George de Felbrugg was sent to the Duke of Gueldres at
Middleburgh to receive his homage on the part of the King; for his
expenses on the journey he was paid thirty pounds. [Footnote: idem, P.
316, mem. 2.] In 1389-92 he was mentioned frequently in the Patent Rolls
as justice of the Peace in Suffolk. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll index.] In
14 Richard II he was paid forty pounds for a journey to the King of the
Romans, and in 15 Richard II a hundred pounds for the same
journey. [Footnote: Issues, P. 323, mem. 5, P. 324, mem. 5] In 1399 nine
grants made by Richard II to him, were confirmed by Henry IV. [Footnote:
Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 77.] In 1401 a George Felbrig married Anne, late the
wife of Robert Charles, Knight. [Footnote: idem, p. 539.]

Blomefield gives the following additional information about Felbrig. In
7 Richard II he and Margery his wife held the manors of Wortham and
Ingham in Suffolk. About the same time Roger Mortimer, Earl of March,
granted to him and Roger Mareschall, esquire, the manor and park of
Standon in Hertfordshire, at farm. He was one of the King's protectors
in the latter's tenth year, and in 15 Richard II, he was one of the
Lieutenants in the court of chivalry to try the case of Lords Morley and
Lovell. His will was dated 3 February 1400. [Footnote: Blomefield, VIII,
pp. 107 ff.] The office of Justice of the Peace developed in England in
the fourteenth century. The main outlines of its growth can be indicated
by the statement of a few significant facts. In 1327 it was enacted that
"good and lawful men" be assigned to keep the peace. In 1330 they were
given power to return indictments. In 1360 one lord and with him three
or four of the most worthy of the county, with some learned in the law,
were given power to arrest malefactors, to receive indictments against
them, and to hear and determine at the King's suit all manner of
felonies and trespasses done in the county. In 1362 it was directed by
statute that the justices should hold sessions four times a year, and,
in 1388, that they should be paid four shillings a day during the
sessions. [Footnote: Summarized from Maitland's Constitutional History
and G. E. Howard. Neb. U. Studies, pp. 44, 53.] In 13* Richard II it was
enacted that the justices should be "the most efficient Knights,
esquires and gentlemen of the law" of the county. [Footnote: Though
enacted after Chaucer's time as justice, this indicates very nearly a
contemporary attitude toward the office.]

The justices of a given county were derived from three classes.
[Footnote: Encyclopaedia of Laws of England, vol. 7, p. 587.]

(a) those appointed by being named in the schedule. (The Lord Chancellor
made the appointment, usually relying upon the Lord Lieutenant, or the
custos rotulorum, of the county.)

(b) virtute officii--i.e. the Lord Chancellor, Lord President of the
Privy Council, Lord Privy Seal, Justices of the Supreme Court, etc.

(c) holders of minor judicial offices, county judges, etc.

Of those named in the list of Justices of the Peace for Kent in 1386 at
least four fall under class (b); Robert Tresilian, Robert Bealknap,
David Hannemere, and Walter Clopton were at that time Justices in the
King's courts and their names occur (evidently ex officio) in the lists
of justices for many of the counties of England. Since they very likely
never sat with the Justices of the Peace in Kent, they may, for our
purposes, be disregarded.

We cannot be sure that Chaucer ever actually sat on this commission  or
that he knew personally any one of his fellow justices. Consequently
there is no intrinsic interest in a study of their individual careers
and personalities. But a few notes about them will give us some
impression of the type of men with whom Chaucer was associating and the
importance of his social position.

In the fourteenth century the name of the Constable of Dover and Warden
of the Cinque Ports always heads the list of justices in Kent. The
holder of that office in 1387 was SIMON DE BURLEY, one of the most
influential men in Richard II's court. This man was not of noble birth.
Barnes (quoted by Kervyn de Lettenhoeve) [Footnote: Froissart XX, 487.]
says that Walter Burley was so renowned for his learning at Oxford that
he became the almoner of the queen (Philippa (?)) and the tutor of the
prince of Wales. One of his relatives, Simon de Burley, was included
among the group of young people brought up with the prince, and soon he
became the latter's intimate friend, and afterwards one of the tutors of
his son, Richard II. He enjoyed the greatest favour under Richard II,
and belonged to the group of the King's friends, Robert de Vere, Michael
de la Pole and Nicholas Brembre. He had been connected always with the
family of Richard II (a fact illustrated by his being named by Joan,
mother of Richard II, one of the executors of her will, 1385).
[Footnote: Test Vet, p. 15.] In 1377 Richard II confirmed to him--"the
King's father's Knight"--a grant of a hundred pounds yearly made by the
King's father and the custody of Kerwerdyn castle. [Footnote: Cal. Pat.
Roll, p. 223.] In the same year he granted de Burley the office of
constable of Windsor Castle for life, the abbot of Fecampe's manor of
Sloghtre, [Footnote: idem, pp. 78, 21, 223.] rent free, during the war,
and the office of master of the falcons. In 1378 he confirmed to de
Burley the custody of the manor of Chiltenham (Gloucester) and the fee
simple of the castle and lordship of Lanstephan. [Footnote: idem, p.
119, 256.] In 1382 Richard granted him the office of under-chamberlain
of the King's household for life, and appointed him surveyor of the
lands in South Wales in the King's hands during the minority of the heir
of Edmond Mortimer. [Footnote: idem, p. 164.] In 1384 the King granted
him for life the constableship of Dover Castle and the wardenship of the
Cinque Ports, and three hundred pounds yearly therefor (and for the
maintenance of himself, chaplains, etc.) with provision that he exercise
the office himself. [Footnote: idem, p. 367.] In 1388 he was attainted
of treason with the other favourites of the King and executed. It is
reported that people in Kent rose in rebellion to [Footnote: idem, p.
78] demonstrate their loyalty to him. At his death Michael de la Pole,
William Wingfield and he possessed together extensive lands, and he
himself had some seven manors in Kent. [Footnote: Cal. Inq. P. M. III,
111, 119.]

The JOHN DE COBEHAM whose name follows that of de Burley in the list,
was one of the most eminent barons of his day. I shall merely outline a
few of the most important features in his career. He came of one of the
oldest families in Kent. [Footnote: Ireland's Kent V, 240 ff.] His father
had been at various times admiral of the King's fleet in the west,
justice in Kent, and constable of Rochester. His mother was Joan,
daughter of John, lord Beauchamp of Stoke. In 40, 41 Edward III John de
Cobeham served in the wars in France; in 41 Edward III he was ambassador
to Rome. In 1 Richard II he was a member of the King's council, served
later in France with three Knights, 105 esquires and 110 men at arms,
and was made a banneret. In 10 Richard II he was one of the thirteen
lord governours of the realm, appointed to oversee the government of the
King. From 1377 on he was on many commissions to treat for peace with
foreign powers. In 1387 he was with the five lords appellant at Waltham
Cross (evidently then he was of the party of Gloucester and Arundel). He
was Member of Parliament from Kent in 1390, 1394 and 1398. In 1392 he
was lieutenant to the constable of England, and in the same year he was
given a cup in the Earl of Arundel's will. [Footnote: Test. Vet., p.
133.] With the downfall of Gloucester he fell out of favour. He died in
1409, leaving extensive possessions ( forty-three items in all) in
London, Wiltshire, Kent and Surrey. He married Margaret, daughter of
Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire. [On Cobeham cf. Nicolas Hist.
Peerage, and Kent. Arch. Soc. II, p. 71.]

JOHN CLINTON came of a prominent Kentish family. He was son of John de
Clinton of Maxtoke and Ida d'Odingsel. [Footnote: Froissart XXI, pp. 17
ff.] He was in the French and Scottish campaigns, was appointed on
commissions and was at one time lieutenant of John Devereux, warden of
the Cinque Ports. He died in 1396, leaving extensive lands in Kent
(twenty-six items in all). [Footnote: Cal. Inq. P. M. III, 228.] He
married Margery Corbet, of a good Kentish family.

JOHN DEVEREUX was son of William Devereux. Edward III attached him to
the person of his grandson (Richard II?) and gave him two hundred marks
as a pension. [Footnote: Froissart XXI, p. 94 Statham Hist. of Dover, p.
380.] He was in Spain with the Black Prince. In 1377 he was appointed
one of the King's council, [Footnote: Rymer old ed. VII, 161.] in 1378
constable of Leeds Castle for life, and in 1380 Captain of the city of
Calais. [Footnote: idem, p. 259.] He was on many commissions to treat of
peace with France and Flanders [Footnote: idem, 308, 338, 248.] and from
1384 on he was frequently summoned to Parliament. In 1386 he was one of
the council of eleven appointed to govern England. From 1386 to 1390
(and perhaps longer) he was steward of the King's household. [Footnote:
Rymer old ed. VII, 495, 675.] In 1387 he was with the lords appellant at
Waltham Cross. [Footnote: Rot. Parl. III, 229.] In 1387 he succeeded
Simon de Burley as Constable of Dover and Warden of the Cinque Ports.
[Footnote: Ireland's Kent I, 710.] He died in 1394, a Knight of the
Garter [Footnote: Beltz, p. 323.] and the possessor, in right of his
wife, of the manor of Penshurst, Kent. His only other property seems to
have been the manor of Donyngton in Buckinghamshire. [Footnote: Cal.
Inq. P. M. III, 174.]

THOMAS CULPEPER came from a great Kentish family which at one time could
boast of having twelve members bearing the order of Knighthood.
[Footnote: Kent. Arch. XXI, 212.] A Thomas Culpeper was Member of
Parliament for Kent in 1361 and in other later years.

THOMAS FOGG was Member of Parliament for Kent in 1378, 1380, 1383, 1384,
1388. He held lands by Knight's service of the Lord of Ponynges, and
came, through right of his wife, into part of the property of Warresins
de Valoynes. In 1377 he was constable of the castle of Calais.
[Footnote: Rymer IV, 2.] He was prominent in the wars of the time,
especially in naval action. In 1386 he went to Spain with John of Gaunt.
[Footnote: Rymer old ed. VII, 499.] In 1405 he died. [Footnote: Kent.
Arch. XVIII, p. 360.]

WILLIAM RIKHILL was a justice of the King's bench. He may have been in
the list for that reason, or perhaps because he was an inhabitant of
Kent. At any rate he came of a landed family in Kent. [Footnote:
Ireland's Kent, IV, 416.] He died in Henry IV's reign.

JOHN FREMINGHAM, son of Sir Ralph Fremingham of Lose, was derived from a
prominent Kentish family. [Footnote: idem, III, 111. Kent Arch. XXI,
214, XXIII, 57.] He himself is called "chivaler;" was sheriff of Kent in
1378 and 1393, and a Member of Parliament in 1377, 1381 and 1399. He was
executor of the will of William Courtenay, Archbishop of Canterbury. He
died 12 Henry IV, possessing the manor and advowson of the church of
Otham, and Read Court.

JAMES DE PEKHAM was of another old Kentish family which can be traced as
far back as Richard I. [Footnote: Ireland's Kent III, 529. Kent Arch.
Soc. XXI, 214, XXVIII, 210.] His great grandfather possessed the manor
of Pekham in Hadlow (temp. Edward I) and the estates had been increased
since that time. James Pekham was sheriff of Kent in 1377 and 1380 and a
member of Parliament in 1372, 1377, 1383, 1388.

WILLIAM TOPCLYF was apparently the only man in the list (except Chaucer)
who did not come from a landed Kentish family. He was, however, in 1382
and doubtless later, land steward to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He
held a manor in Kent, whether as steward of the Archbishop or of his own
right, I have not been able to find out. [Footnote: Kent Arch. IV, 125.]

THOMAS BROKHILL, of Saltwood, chivaler, derived from a good Kentish
family, was Sheriff in 1382, 1383, 1385, 1395, 1397, 1399, and 1402. He
died in 1437-38, leaving no male heirs. [Footnote: Ireland's Kent II,
218. Kent Arch. XXI, 215, XVIII, 422, 3.]

WILLIAM BRENCHESLEY was lord of the manor of Benenden, near Dartford,
and a justice of the Common Pleas (in Henry IV's time). [Footnote: Kent
Arch. V, 27.] THE CUSTOMS [Footnote: Atton & Holland: the King's

The duties of the collectors of customs were to ensure payment on all
wools and leather shipped from their port, to have the wool or leather
weighed at the wool-beam and each bale tested and sealed with the
Government stamp or "coket" seal. The collectors, of whom there were two
in every important port, were clerical officers rather than coast
guards--their most arduous duty the preparing and balancing of the
accounts which had to be written by their own hands. Their salary was
twenty pounds a year each. The controller, who was intended as a check
on the collectors, prepared and presented an independent account to the
Exchequer. He seems to have had no fixed salary, but the collectors were
empowered to pay the controller's salary out of the takings. [Footnote:
Summarized from Hubert Hall: History of the Customs Revenue.] The sums
thus paid, were however, mostly nominal, (in Chaucer's case ten pounds a
year) and it is evident that both collectors and controllers were
allowed to levy fees.

The collectors of the Port of London during Chaucer's service as
controller were:

1374 John de Bernes and Nicholas Brembre. 1375 Brembre and William de
Walworth. 1376 John Warde and Robert Girdelere. 1377 Warde and Richard
Northbury. 1378-1384 Brembre and John Philipot. 1384-1386 Brembre and
John Organ.

These were in every case prominent citizens and merchants of London, and
after 1377, they were members of a clique especially friendly to the
King, and inimical to John of Gaunt. To gain the right conception of
their relations, one must learn something about London politics. I shall
follow Trevelyan's account [Footnote: Age of Wyclif, pp. 278 ff.] of the
factional struggles in the city, which from the documents which he has
published and from such evidence as that afforded by the Rolls of
Parliament, is unquestionably the correct one. The aldermen of London
were the representatives of the companies (the associations of merchants
of different sorts), each company choosing a given number according to
its influence and wealth. Further in 1376 a method of electing the mayor
and the sheriffs, was introduced, which consisted in a vote by
companies. Now the most powerful of these companies was the Grocers'
which at this time had sixteen aldermen--many more than its nearest
competitor. Allied with this company were the other companies of
merchants dealing in provisions, especially the Fishmongers. The chief
opponents of this group were the companies of clothing merchants, the
mercers, drapers, cordwainers, etc. The Grocers' Company and its allies
stood for the established order of things because they were faring well
under it. The Mercers and Drapers were rebellious and ready to take any
opportunity to eject their rivals from power.

At this time (1376) John of Gaunt's clique in the court, especially Lord
Latimer and Richard Lyons, had aroused the enmity of the Londoners
because of their irregular and "grafting" financial operations.
[Footnote: Trevelyan, p. 10.] The Londoners paraded the streets in
demonstration against John of Gaunt. The latter demanded revenge and
gained the deposition of the mayor, Adam Staple. The Londoners rallied
and elected Nicholas Brembre mayor. [Footnote: idem, p. 49.] Brembre and
his allies defended the Londoners vigorously before Parliament.
Naturally then John of Gaunt felt a still greater hatred of Brembre and
his party and was willing to act as patron to their opponents. The
latter in turn, eager to gain any aid they could in their struggles,
willingly accepted John of Gaunt as a friend. This, as clearly as I can
make out, is the train of circumstances which brought about an
unquestioned condition: John of Gaunt's hatred of London and especially
of Brembre and his party, and his patronage of John of Northampton, the
chief representative of the clothiers. Brembre's chief political allies
were Sir William Walworth, Sir John Philipot and Nicholas Exton. These
men were very definitely patronised by Richard II in opposition to John
Northampton, Richard Northbury and John More.

During Chaucer's tenure of the office of controller only one certain
adherent of the Northampton faction acted as collector--Richard
Northbury, who was dropped from the office almost as soon as Richard II
came to the throne. The other men with whom Chaucer had to deal were the
very leaders of the royal faction. Further they were the most eminent
merchants of their time. In the [Footnote: (3) See Robert Girdelere, p.
46.] first half of the fourteenth century the king had been forced to
rely upon foreign, especially Italian, merchants for financial aids,
loans, etc., since no group of Englishmen could control sufficient money
to aid him in an emergency. [Footnote: W. D. Chester, Chronicles of the
Customs Department, pp. 13 ff.] But in the second half he had at his
hand a group of London merchants, powerful enough to meet the sudden
financial needs of government. Moreover they were picturesque
figures-Sir William Walworth striking down Wat Tyler in the presence of
the peasant-host, Sir John Philipot fitting out a fleet at his own
expense, scouring the channel and finally bringing the dreaded pirate
Mercer in triumph to London.

JOHN DE BERNES, Collector in 1374, was, in 1360, Sheriff, in 1363 and
1370 Alderman, of London, and in 45, 46, Edward III, Mayor.' In 1370 he
lent the King L100, in 1363 he was apparently employed in buying for the
king's household. [Footnote: Devon's Issues, p. 170. Rymer III, 696.] He
was dead by 1378, and I have not found out anything more about him.

NICHOLAS BREMBRE, Collector 1374, 1375, 1378-1386. See account in D. N.
B. Brembre was mayor in 1377, 1383-4-5. He was the political leader of
the group of King Richard's friends in London. Of his public career I
shall not treat since that is sufficiently covered elsewhere. To
illustrate his financial dealings, the following abstracts of documents
are important. In September 1377, the King borrowed L10,000 of Brembre,
Wallworth, Philipot and John Haddele (grocer, later Mayor of London),
and certain other merchants, for whom these were attorneys, pledging the
crown jewels. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 25.] In May 1378 this sum
was repaid. In 1378, Hugh de Calvylegh, captain of Calais, Nicholas
Brembre and John Philipot, in the service of the war, agreed to pay to
William von de Voorde of Bruges, the sum of L2,166, 13s. 4d. as directed
by the council, delivered their bond to the King's clerk, and a tally of
that amount was placed in the hands of William de Wallworth. [Footnote:
Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 280.] In 1382 the King granted Brembre in discharge
of 2,000 m. lent by him to the King to discharge a debt to Sir Bretrucat
de Lebret, half a mark from the subsidy of each sack of wool and
wool-fells passing out of the ports of London and Boston, with custody
of one part of the coket seal of the latter port, until the loan should
be fully paid [Footnote: idem, p. 164.]. In 1380 Brembre, Philipot and
Walworth were appointed [Footnote: 2 Riley Memorials, pp. 305, 313, 345.
Gregory's Chronicle (Camden Soc. p. 88.) on a commission to investigate
the finances of the realm--together with the Archbishop of York, Earl of
Arundel, etc. This group of men is, indeed, constantly mentioned
together; throughout such documents as the Patent Rolls, where matters
of national finance are under consideration, Brembre, Philipot and
Walworth, or perhaps two of them, are sure to be mentioned [Footnote: It
is noticeable that from 1377 on John of Northampton is never mentioned
in the Patent Rolls in connection with financial operations, loans to
the King, etc.].

In the latter part of his career complaints were sent to Parliament
against him and Exton, by the Mereers, Cordwainers, Pounders, Sadlers,
Painters, Armourers, Pinners, Embroiderers, Spurriors and
Blacksmiths--obviously the trades belonging to the then defunct party of
John Northampton. [Footnote: Rot. Parl. in, 141 ff. 225.]

He was accused in 1388 together with de la Pole, Robert Tresilian and
other friends of the King of the following: having prevented access by
others to the King, misled the King, caused the King to give manors,
lands, and other offices to persons of their party and to persons from
whom they received gifts or whom they wished to use (such as Usk),
having caused the King to grant them money, etc. [Footnote: Rot. Parl.
III, 230.] As is well known Brembre was condemned and executed.

At his death Brembre left extensive estates (entered in the
Inquisitions) in London and Kent.

WILLIAM DE WALWOKTH was born about 1320. He was apprenticed to John
Lovekin, Stockfishmonger, Mayor of London, 1348, 1358, 1365,
1366. [Footnote: Woodcock, Lives of Lord Mayors, Surrey Arch. Coll. VIII,
277 ff.] He was executor of Lovekin's will and seems to have retained a
special feeling of loyalty for him, because in 1381 he founded a college
of a master and nine chaplains to celebrate divine service for the good
estate of the King, himself, and Margaret his wife, for their souls
after death and for that of John Lovekin, formerly his master. [Footnote:
Cal. Pst. Roll, p. 99.] He was elected Mayor of London in 1374 and again
in 1380. In 1370 he and Simon de Morden lent the king L300. On the day
of Edward Ill's death he and John Philipot went to the young King,
implored his favour for the city of London, and asked him to put a stop
to John of Gaunt's persecutions. When the Commons voted a subsidy to the
King for carrying on the war, they expressed distrust of the management
of it, and demanded that the funds be intrusted to Walworth and
Philipot, treasurers for the war. In 1381 Walworth accompanied the boy
King at his meeting with the Peasant leaders, and he, Brembre and
Philipot were knighted by the King for their bravery on this occasion.
He died in 1381. Walworth was appointed on many commissions of various
sorts and dealt extensively in land.

JOHN WARDE did not bulk so large in London affairs as did the others and
consequently I have been able to learn but little about him. He belonged
to the Grocers' Company and consequently without doubt to Brembre's
faction. [Footnote: Orridge, Citizens of London.] He had been sheriff in
1366 and was elected Mayor of London in 1375. [Footnote: Coll. of London
Cit. (Camden Soc.) pp. 88, 89.]

ROBERT GIRDELERE is even more difficult to trace than Warde. He was
sheriff of London 1368-9. [Footnote: Coll. of London Cit. (Camden Soc,)
p. 88.] I have found reference to a transaction in which Robert Girdler
agreed to buy certain cables and cords [Footnote: Cal. of Letters, City
of London, p. 144.]. Consequently he may not have been a dealer in
provisions and was perhaps a member of John Northampton's party. The
last reference that I have found to him is the date of his
collectorship, 1376.

RICHARD NORTHBURY was a leader of John Northampton's party. He was a
member of the Mercer's Company. [Footnote: Cal. Rot. Pat. Turr. Lon., p.
223.] In 1384 he was found guilty with John of Northampton of sedition,
and imprisoned. Certain tenements which he held in London were forfeited
to the King [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 481.]. In 1385 the King
granted him 10m. a year for clothing and 26m. a year for victuals, while
he was a prisoner in Corfe Castle [Footnote: idem, p. 548.]. In 1391 the
Commons petitioned the King to annul the decision against him and to
restore him his lands, at the same time making similar petitions for
John Northampton and John More. All three were granted [Footnote: Rot.
Parl., p. 292.].

JOHN PHILIPOT is treated in D. N. B. He was apparently a ship owner, and
certainly a member of the Grocers' Company. In 1363 he was appointed on
a commission to seize forfeited goods for the King. In 1364 he was
granted license to buy victuals and take them to Calais. In 1378 he was
elected Mayor. In 1379 Sir Roger Beauchamp, lord chamberlain to the
King's household, bequeathed him "my great cup gilt, which the King of
Navarre gave me," and made him one of the executors of his will. In the
same year he contributed largely to fitting out a fleet against the
French, hiring a number of ships at his own expense and redeeming a
thousand sets of armour and arms which had been pawned. In 1383 he was
appointed on a commission to treat of peace with the Duke of Flanders.
He died in 1384.

JOHN OEGSN was alderman of London and sheriff in 1385. [Footnote: Oal.
Pat. Roll, p. 90.] I have not been able to discover what company he
belonged to. In 1378 he was appointed one of the collectors of the tax
of two-fifteenths. [Footnote: Rymer IV, 34.] In 1383 he was appointed one
of the collectors of the subsidy of 2s. from each tun of wine and 6d. in
the pound from the merchandise in the port of London. [Footnote: Oal.
Pat. Roll, p. 128.] From these appointments it seems likely that he was
friendly to the Brembre faction--note also that he succeeded Philipot at
the latter's death.


John de Burley, with whom Chaucer in 1376 went on a diplomatic mission,
was a brother of Simon de Burley. [Footnote: R. 242 mem, 17.] He was
certainly attached personally to the Black Prince, for in 1378 Richard
II confirmed to him a grant made by himself, when prince (51 Ed. III)
confirming a grant of his father the prince of Wales (41 Ed. III) of L40
yearly for de Burley's services, especially at the battle of Nazare
where he was the prince's bodyguard. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 19*7.]
In 1373 he was appointed Captain of Calais and commissioned to supervise
the fortifications of Oderwyk and other places besides Calais. [Footnote:
Rymer III, 989, 992.] In 1375 he was on a commission to treat for peace
with France. [Footnote: Rymer III, 1021.] In 1377 he was a witness of
Edward III's will, [Footnote: Test. Vet. p. 11.] and stepped out of the
position of Captain of Calais. [Footnote: Rymer IV, 2.] In 1377 he was
granted the constableship of Nottingham Castle for life. [Footnote: Cal.
Pat. Roll, p. 34.] (He gave it up in 1381). [Footnote: idem, p. 60.] In
1378 Richard II confirmed to him a grant (47,50 Edward III) of 40m.
yearly in addition to the L40 already granted. [Footnote: idem, p. 108.]
In 1378, L40 yearly were granted at his supplication, to his son W. de
Burley, esquire, "retained to stay with the King." [Footnote: idem, p,
283.] In 1377 John de Burley, Knight of the King's Chamber, [Footnote: He
was also so mentioned in 1370.] was given the custody of Sherwood
Forest. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 88.] In 1378 he had the King change
his grants of L40 and 40m. to one of 100 m. and give the latter to his
son, John de Burley, Kt. [Footnote: idem, p. 281.] In 1378 he was on a
commission to treat for the marriage of Richard II with a daughter of
the Duke of Milan. [Footnote: Rymer old ed. VII, 213.] Later he was
engaged in negotiations for Richard's marriage with Anne of Bohemia.
While so employed, he and Michael de la Pole and Gerard del Isle were
taken prisoners and held for ransom. On this occasion the King sent
money for the ransom of the three. [Footnote: Devon's Issues III, 224-5.]
On another occasion he was taken prisoner in Germany after having been
sent as messenger to the King of Bohemia, and the King contributed 500m.
to his ransom. [Footnote: Issue Roll (Devon) 7 Rich. II, p. 225. ] In
1381 he gave up the custody of Sherwood forest, and also that of
Nottingham Castle. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, pp. 54, 60.] In that year
and the following he and Simon de Burley are mentioned in connection
with transfers of land. [Footnote: idem, p. 160.] In 1382 he was a
Justice of the Peace in Hereford. In 1385 he was granted for life the
custody of the alien priory of Wotton Waweyn, provided that its value
should not exceed L45, 13s. 4d. yearly, the rent which he was wont to
pay for it. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p, 45.] I find no later mention
of him, except the rather doubtful one of his inheriting land from Simon
de Burley (in 1388).


Sir Edward de Berkeley was a Knight of the chamber to Richard II.
[Footnote: Rymer IV, 53.] In 1376 he was appointed on a commission to
treat for peace with France. [Footnote: idem III, 1067, 9.] In 1378,
Richard II confirmed a grant made by himself when Prince (50 Edward III)
confirming letters patent of his father (45 Edward III)--of fifty pounds
yearly. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 232.] In 1378 he is mentioned as
going on an expedition with John of Gaunt, [Footnote: Rymer IV, 45.] and
is again appointed on a commission to treat for peace with Flanders.
[Footnote: Rymer IV, 53] He died 4 Richard II, leaving a manor and some
lands in Suffolk. [Footnote: Cal. Inq. P. M. III, 28.] His will, which
is extant, [Footnote: Test Vet., p. 113.] directs that his body be
buried in the church of St. Mary Carmelites in Calais; and bequeathes
his "dominion and monastery at Hikeling" to "Sir John Clanbrow"
(probably Sir John Clanvowe),


Sir Thomas de Percy, with whom Chaucer was sent to Flanders in 1377, was
brother of Henry de Percy, count of Northumberland. [Footnote: Rymer IV,
51.] He was with the Black Prince at Bergerath, 44 Edward III.
[Footnote: Dugdale 1, 285.] In 1378 a grant by Edward III to Thomas de
Percy, "whom the King has retained to stay with him," of 100m. yearly
was confirmed. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll,.108.] In that year and at many
times subsequent he was admiral of the north. [Footnote: idem, p. 327.]
In 1378 he was appointed with others to treat with the King of Scotland,
[Footnote: Rymer IV, 51.] in 1379 to treat with the Duke of Brittany.
[Footnote: Rymer old. ed. VII, 223.] From 1381 on many pardons were
granted at his request. In 1381 he was appointed custodian of the Castle
of Brest. In 1383 he was on a commission to treat with Flanders and
France. [Footnote: idem, 412.] In 1386 he was sub-chamberlain in the
King's household (literally "south chamberlain"). [Footnote: idem, 675]
By 1392 he was chamberlain of the household. [Footnote: idem, 721.] In
1398 he was made Earl of Worcester [Footnote: Dugdale I, 285.] and
appointed with John of Gaunt on a commission for redressing violations
of the truce. In 1399 he was appointed executor of the Duchess of
Gloucester's will. He was beheaded in 1403 because of his connexion with
the rising of Hotspur. He was a Knight of the Garter.


That Sir William de Beauchamp was a friend to Chaucer has been
recognized for some time. In May 1888 Mr. W. D. Selby called attention
to this connection with Chaucer in a short article in The Athenaeum. In
this article Mr. Selby gave a few facts about him, gathered professedly
from Dugdale, but omitted all mention of the curious connection Sir
William de Beauchamp had with the property of the Earl of Pembroke, for
his custodianship of which Chaucer was one of the sureties.

William de Beauchamp was a younger son of Thomas, Earl of Warwick.
[Footnote: Cf. Dugdale's Baronage I, 238 ff, Dugdale Antiquities of
Warwickshire II, 1029 ff.] In 40 Edward III he attended John of Gaunt in
his expedition into Spain. In 44 Edward III he served as a Knight in
France, in the retinue of John of Gaunt, and again in 47 Edward III. In
47 Edward III de Beauchamp signed an indenture to serve John of Gaunt in
peace and in war during his life in consideration of one hundred marks
yearly and wages for six horses and four boys. [Footnote: Register of
John, duke of Lancaster, vol. 13. Misc. Books-Rec. Off.] He had been
connected with John of Gaunt's household even earlier, in 1340 and
1346. [Footnote: Same book.] In 1 Richard II he served with Edmund de
Langley, Earl of Cambridge, in Spain with 200 men-at-arms and 200
archers, and in the King's navy at sea under John of Gaunt. In 13
Richard II he served again in France.

In 1377 he was granted for life the custody of Feckanham forest and park
at a farm of L37, 14s. 4-1/2d. From the beginning of his reign, Richard
II granted many pardons at the supplication of William de Beauchamp. In
1379 he was chamberlain of the King's household; in 1380 he was granted
an annuity of 200m. [Footnote: Not L200 as Mr. Selby says. See Pat. Roll
1380, pp. 561, 600.] He was regularly on commissions of the peace in
Warwick, in company with his brother, the Earl of Warwick. In 1379 he
and Lewis de Clifford aided Robert de Ferrers in acquiring the manor of
Wemme in fee. [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p, 332.] In 1383 he was
appointed on a commission to treat with Flanders. In 1384 he was
appointed Captain of Calais--a position he held until 1392.

To return now to one matter in which Chaucer is closely connected with
William de Beauchamp. In 1378 the King granted William de Beauchamp the
custody of the Castle and estates of Pembroke, in his hands by reason of
the minority of the Earl of Pembroke. The father of the last Earl of
Pembroke, John de Hastings, had, by license from the crown, settled all
his possessions, in the event of failure of his own issue, except the
Castle and town of Pembroke, upon his cousin William de Beauchamp (his
mother's sister's son) [Footnote: Surrey Arch. Coll. XVH, 29, 30.] These
lands were in the hands of the King in 1378 because John de Hastings had
died and his son was still a minor; naturally he appointed the next heir
custodian of them. But William de Beauchamp's management of the estates
was certainly not satisfactory and, if the suretyship of Chaucer was
anything but a form, the poet stood a good chance of losing by it. The
first notice we find of Beauchamp's unsatisfactory management is in
1386, when a commission was appointed to enquire touching the waste in
the possessions of John de Hastyngs by William de Beauchamp, to whom the
King had committed the custody of the land. In the same year we find
record of an indenture made between Margaret Mareschall, countess of
Norfolk, guardian of John de Hastyngs, and the said John, on the one
side, and William de Beauchamp on the other, whereby the latter agreed
to surrender his custody of the estates, and the former in return to
free him of liability for the "waste." [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p.
257.] In 1389 the King appointed a commission to enquire touching the
waste in the lands of the alien priory of Kirkeby Monachorum, county
Warwick, in the time of William de Beauchamp, Knight, farmer thereof.
[Footnote: idem, p. 350. i idem, p. 208.]

In 1390 we find a "Revocation for reasons declared before the King and
council in the present parliament, with the assent of the nobles,
magnates, etc., of recent letters granting during pleasure to William de
Beauchamp the custody of the lands, tenements, etc. of John de
Hastyngs." [Footnote: Whether these were part of the Pembroke holdings
or not, I do not know.] In the same year the custody was regranted to
John Golafre, Knight of the King's chamber, at a farm of L600 (Beauchamp
had paid L500). [Footnote: Gal. Pat. Roll, p. 180.] In 1390, however,
the young Earl of Pembroke was killed in a tournament, and according to
the provisions made by his father, the estates devolved upon William de
Beauchamp. Other heirs contested his rights to them, but he won. A
curious story told about his claim, is as follows: "Beauchamp invited
his learned counsel to his house in Paternoster Row in the city of
London; amongst whom were Robert Charlton (then a judge), William
Pinchbek, William Brenchesley, and John Catesby (all learned lawyers);
and after dinner, coming out of his chapel in an angry mood, threw to
each of them a piece of gold and said: 'Sirs, I desire you forthwith to
tell me, whether I have any right and title to Hasting's lordships and
lands!' Whereupon Pinchbek stood up (the rest being silent, fearing that
he suspected them) and said: 'No man here, nor in England, dare say that
you have any right in them, except Hastings [Footnote: Evidently Edward
Hastings, a contesting heir.] quit his claim therein; and should he do
it 'being now under age, it would be of no validity.'" (Dugdale).

In 1387 [Footnote: According to Beltz, p. 229]when Richard II was
preparing for his assault upon the Gloucester faction with which William
de Beauchamp was evidently, as his brother the Earl of Warwick was
certainly, connected, he tried to remove Beauchamp from the office of
Captain of Calais, by messenger. Beauchamp refused to leave the office,
"saying that he received that charge and trust publicly from the King,
in the presence of his nobles, and therefore would not quit it in a
private manner" (Dugdale). When his successor arrived, Beauchamp
arrested him, and took him to England. There Beauchamp himself was
arrested but was soon released. In 1393 he was summoned to Parliament as
Baron Bergavenny (a title received in connection with the Pembroke
estates). From 1390-96 I find reference to grants of land made by him to
religious bodies. He seems to have been rather in disfavour in these
closing years of Richard II's reign, but under Henry IV he received new
grants, of the manor of Feckenham, rent-free, and of the custody of the
Castle and county of Pembroke. He died 12 Henry IV and was buried in
Black Friars, Hereford.

He married Joan, second sister and coheir of Thomas Fitz Alen, Earl of
Arundel. He was a Knight of the Garter. Dugdale prints (in his
Warwickshire) the wills of William de Beauchamp and his wife, remarkable
medieval documents.


The name of Richard Forester is connected with Chaucer's first in 1378,
when Chaucer, about to go abroad on a mission for the King, had letters
of attorney under the names of John Cower and Richard Forester,
[Footnote: Life Records, No. 120, p. 216.] and again in 1386, when a
lease for the house over Aldgate which Chaucer had occupied during his
years as controller of the customs in London was made out by the Mayor
and Aldermen to Richard Forester, citizen of London. [Footnote: Life
Records, No. 192, p. 264.] Various entries with regard to Richard
Forester occur in the public records. Whether all of them refer to one
man or not, and whether any concerns Chaucer's friend, I cannot say. I
shall merely present them in order of their occurrence.

In 37 Edward III Richard Forester was appointed custodian and supervisor
of the river bank called "la Ree de Ettemore." [Footnote: Pat. Roll 267,
mem. 6.] In 1369 he is on the list of esquires of less degree.
[Footnote: L. R., p. 174.] In 1370 ten pounds were paid out of the
Exchequer to Richard Forester, of Stanton, who had been sent with six
archers to Shropshire to carry a certain sum of money from thence to
London. [Footnote: Devon's Issues, p. 170.] Later in the same year he
received ninety-one pounds, two shillings, seven pence half penny for
the expenses of himself, his men at arms and archers in the war.
[Footnote: idem, p. 461.] In 44 Edward III our beloved armiger Richard
Forester of Stanton was granted custody of the manor of Stokelaty in
Hereford which had belonged to Richard Rissholm, deceased. [Footnote:
Pat. Roll 281, mem. 36.] In 47 Edward III, Richard la Forester de
Beckele had a grant of ten pounds and one robe per annum as a
"vallettus" of the royal chamber. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 289, mem. 21.] In
50 Edward III Richard Forester was granted custody of the manor of
Waterpyrye and one messuage in Thomele in Oxfordshire, and the manor of
Wormenhale in Buckinghamshire, during the minority of the heir.
[Footnote: idem 293, mem. 8.]

In 1378 Richard II confirmed to Richard le Forester of Beckele, "whom
the King has retained to stay with him," his annuity of ten pounds.
[Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 126.] In 5 Richard II the King granted to
Richard Forester and his son Lambert custody of the royal manor of
Bekkele with the hamlet of Horton for ten years at a rent of fifty marks
per annum. [Footnote: Fine Roll 184, mem. 14.] In 7 Richard II Forester
is referred to as an inhabitant of Oxfordshire. [Footnote: idem 187,
mem. 25.] In 12 Richard II Richard Forester of Stanton paid two marks
for a confirmation of a grant of Edward III of certain lands in
Oxfordshire. [Footnote: idem 192, mem. 3.] In 16 Richard II Richard
Forester, citizen of London, with a group of London mercers acquired
some land. [Footnote: C. R. 234, mem. 20 dorm.] Again in 21 Richard II
he acquired more land, but later assigned it to his associates.
[Footnote: C. R. 241, mem. 14 dorm, mem. 12 dorm.]


With regard to Henry Scogan I have but few facts which do not appear in
Professor Kittredge's article. [Footnote: Harvard Studies and Notes I.]
In 9 and 10 Richard II he was a vallettus of Simon de Burley's. Many
entries in the Issue Roll of those years indicate that he was employed
to carry money from the exchequer to de Burley, and to arrange for the
fortification of Dover. [Footnote: Issues, P. 313, mem. 12, 13, 19, 21
(2 entries) P. 314, mem. 1, 4, 7, 12, 13. P. 315, mem. 15, 18. P. 316,
mem. 1, 2, 16.] In 15 Richard II ten pounds were given to Henry Scoggan,
scutifer, at Nottingham. [Footnote: Issues, P. 325, mem. 8.] In 20
Richard II Henry Sooggan of Reynham granted to Thomas Wery and others
three pieces of land in Tostes, for which they were to pay him a penny
yearly. [Footnote: C. R. 238, mem. 32 dorso.] In the same year he and
John Hollech, chivaler, went on a bond for Henry Recheford, under
penalty of two hundred pounds each, that the latter should do no harm to
the Gedneys. [Footnote: C. R. 238, mem. 12 dorm.] In 21 Richard II he
conveyed a hundred shillings from the Exchequer into the King's chamber
[Footnote: Issues, P. 343, mem. 12.]--an action which suggests that he
was probably connected with the King's court at this time.


The only important fact which I have found with regard to de
Graunson--aside from those mentioned in Romania XIX--is an indenture
made apparently in 48 Edward III, between Otz de Granson chivaler, and
John of Lancaster. [Footnote: Duchy of Lancaster Registers, No. 13 f,
134 dorm. On de Graunson, see note in Earl of Derby's Expeditions
(Camden Soc.) p. 309.] According to this document de Granson agrees to
serve the Duke in time of peace as well as of war in return for a fee of
a hundred marks a year.


Skeat has supposed the Bukton mentioned in Chaucer's Lenvoy a Bukton, to
be Sir Peter Bukton of York. There is, however, at least one other
possibility. A Robert de Bukton is mentioned in 3 Richard II as armiger
to Thomas de Percy, [Footnote: Issues, P. 301, mem. 21.] with whom it
will be remembered Chaucer had some three years before been associated
in a diplomatic mission. In 14, 15 and 16 Richard II, Robert de Bukton,
scutifer of Thomas de Percy, is frequently mentioned in the Issue Roll
as transmitting money from the Exchequer to de Percy, [Footnote: P. 323,
mem. 11. P. 324, mem. 1, 12, 21. P. 327, mem. 17, P. 328, mem. 16. P.
330, mem. 1, 22.] and in one case to Louis Clifford. [Footnote: p. 323,
mem. 8.] In 15 Richard II, the King inspected and confirmed a patent of
Queen Anne dated 15 Richard II, being a grant for the term of her life
to her esquire Robert Bucton, of a quantity of pasture and wood called
"Gosewold" in her lordship of Eye, "by the yearly service of the rent of
a rose." [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 324.] In 1399 this was confirmed,
[Footnote: idem 1399, p. 16.] and in 1401 Robert de Bukton is mentioned
as constable of the Castle of Eye. [Footnote: idem 1401, p. 540.] Robert
de Bukton was returned to Parliament from the county of Suffolk in 17
Richard II (1393-4), 20 Richard II (1396-7), 21 Richard II ( 1397,
1397-8) and 2 Henry IV, (1400-1). On account of his constant connection
with the court, Robert de Bukton would seem more probably to have been
Chaucer's Bukton, than Skeat's candidate. [Footnote: On Sir Peter
Bukton, see note in Scrope-Grosvenor Roll, II, 466-7, containing many
facts not in Skeat.]


What then is the bearing of all this upon Chaucer's career? Let us take
up the matter point by point. In the first place it is clear that
although in a few cases the esquires were connected with important
families, in none did any come from a major branch of an important
family and in most the derivation is from ordinary stock. Chaucer was
then associated with a group of men who came from much the same class as
himself. [Footnote: Cf., pp. 6-11 above.] Secondly it appears that the
esquires were frequently the sons of men connected in some way with the
court. [Footnote: p. 12.] In this respect also Chaucer, was like his
associates, for his father, in 1338 at least was in the King's service.
[Footnote: L. R. No. 13, p. 145 Intro. p. XI.] Further many of the
esquires had served in the household of one of the King's children
before becoming members of the King's household. In this respect also
Chaucer with his service in the Duke of Clarence's house was like a
number of his fellows.

The exact nature of Chaucer's position in the household it is difficult
to discover. Dr. Furnivall supposed from an entry of May 25, 1368, the
second half yearly payment of Chaucer's annuity, that he was first a
"vallettus" of the King's chamber. [Footnote: L. R. No. 50, p. 161.] But
it is by no means certain that this is correct. Chaucer is called
"vallettus" of the King's chamber only once; in all other early
references he is described, if at all, as "vallectus hospicii Regis."
There is, I believe, a difference between these two. As I have already
pointed out, [Footnote: p. 17 above.] a certain confusion with regard to
the use of such phrases undoubtedly exists in the records. As evidence
of this confusion we find men called "vallettus" after they have been
called "armiger," and sometimes men who are normally called "vallettus
camere Regis" named as "vallettus hospicii Regis." Yet if we look up the
entries with regard to the men called "valletz de la chambre du Roi" in
the list of 1368, [Footnote: L. R., p. 167. 'In many cases, of course,
they are called merely "vallettus noster," "dileatus vallettus" or
"dileatus servitor."] we find that in such records as the Patent Rolls
where _DEFINITELY_ characterized, they are generally referred to as
"vallettus camere nostre." For example, William Gambon is so titled
seven times and never as "vallettus hospicii nostri." [Footnote: Pat.
Roll 285, mem. 2, idem 274, mem. 37, 257, mem. 25. Cal. Pat. Roll 1377,
p. 79. Issues, P. 228, mem. 17. C. R. 207, mem. 12. Pat. Roll 295, mem.
26.] Reginald Neuport is called six times "vallettus camere Regis."
[Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378, p. 139. Issues, P. 237, mem. 17. P. 249,
mem. 3. P. 251, mem. Pat. Roll 288, mem. 21, etc.] John Tipet is called
the same at least five times, and never by any other title. [Footnote:
Issues A 169, mem. 35. P. 228, mem. 17. P. 228, mem. 38. P. 235, mem.
20, etc.] Thomas Cheyne is called "vallettus camere Regis" five times.
[Footnote: Pat. Roll 262, mem. 23, 254, mem. 4, 255, mem. 25. Cal. Rot.
Pat. Turr. Lon. p. 174. Abb. Rot. Orig. II, 222.] Thomas Loveden alone
is called "vallettus hospicii Regis" twice and "vallettus camere" once.
[Footnote: Issues, P. 287, mem. 8. p. 250, mem. 1. Pat. Roll 266, mem.
5.] Under the circumstances, if Chaucer ever was a "vallettus camerae
Regis," we should expect him to have been so called more than once. It
seems rather more likely that his proper position was that of "vallettus
hospicii Regis" [Footnote: The household books, published in the Chaucer
Records, recognize no such classification as "vallettus hospicii Regis,"
pet the records certainly point to the existence of such a
classification.] and later of course, "armiger" or "scutifer." This view
is of course supported by the fact that in the household lists his name
does not appear in 1368 as a "vallet de la chambre du Roi" or in 1369
even near the names of men who had been "valletti" of the King's
chamber. Further that Chaucer's position by 1363 was distinctly
honourable appears from the fact that his name appears as Esquier among
a group of men who were not engaged in menial occupations of any
kind--as distinguished from the cooks and farriers of the groups called
"esquiers survenantz" and "sergeantz des offices parvantz furrures a

With regard to Chaucer's employment as an envoy abroad, it is clear that
he was, when so engaged, performing a customary service, that indeed he
was one of several who were constantly used in minor missions abroad and
that his rank and duties were similar to those of a King's messenger
today. [Footnote: Cf. pp. 19, 20 above.] Likewise the rewards which
Chaucer received were not extraordinary. Practically every esquire of
Chaucer's rank who remained for any considerable time in the court
received an annuity; evidently such pensions were part of the
perquisites of the office. A few esquires received a smaller annuity
than Chaucer's, many received about the same amount, and, many received
more. [Footnote: Cf. p. 21 ff.] Similarly the special offices which
Chaucer held, particularly his controllerships, were not evidences of
remarkable favour: other esquires received the same kind of offices and
indeed they were apparently regular sinecures for the members of the
King's household. [Footnote: Cf. p. 22 ff.] So also the grant of
wardships and forfeited goods can be paralleled in many cases. In two
respects Chaucer received rather less than the other esquires--he was
given no corrody and no grant of land.

In one more respect can Chaucer's career be paralleled by that of other
"esquires"--in that of his marriage. Marriages between the esquires of
the King and the damsels of the queen were decidedly frequent.
[Footnote: Cf. p. 25 ff.]

Indeed, it is clear from the study of the careers of the other esquires
that, so far as we know, Chaucer received no exceptional favours, and
that his career was in practically every respect a typical esquire's

In all this then there is no evidence that Chaucer enjoyed the favour of
any particular patron. Aside from the fact that, like Chaucer, some of
the esquires had served in the household of one of the King's children
before entering the King's, I have been able in no case to find evidence
of connection between them and any patron. Since Chaucer received no
more favours than did the average esquire, there is no particular reason
to suppose that he had any patron.

Now let us examine the evidence in favour of his close connection  with
John of Gaunt. We have two pieces of definite evidence of a connection
between Chaucer and John of Gaunt; Chaucer's writing (probably shortly
after 1369) of the Book of the Duchess, and John of Gaunt's grant of an
annuity of ten pounds in June 1374. The former does not prove anything
with regard to a definite relation; such complimentary poems were
commonly written for nobles who were not special patrons of the poets;
and Chaucer in his Parlement of Foules possibly complimented Richard II
in much the same way. In regard to the latter piece of evidence--John of
Gaunt's grant of an annuity--two things are to be noted, first that John
of Gaunt had previously given an annuity to Philippa Chaucer (in 1372)
and, second, that in the grant he gives the cause of making it to
Chaucer as services rendered by Chaucer to the Duke and by Chaucer's
wife to Queen Philippa and the Duke's Consort. In the grant to Philippa
on the other hand no mention is made of Geoffrey. This greater
particularity in the statement of Philippa's services in Geoffrey's
grant, the fact that Philippa was in the duke's household (evidenced by
the Christmas gifts of silver cups to her) and the fact that nothing
else connects Chaucer definitely with John of Gaunt, make it seem almost
certain that the grant of an annuity to Chaucer was made merely in order
to increase the sum given to Philippa. Grants of this time which mention
the services of both husband and wife are usually made out to both, and
undoubtedly in this case the real purpose was to give it to Philippa and
her husband.

On the other hand, if John of Gaunt really was "Chaucer's great patron,"
why did he not give the poet employment in his own household? Anyone who
will run thru the Lancashire Registers of this time will be struck with
the immensity of the duke's income and the regal scale of his household.
[Footnote: Cf. Abstracts and Indexes I f. 13'7 dorso. Warrant to deliver
to a damsel for the queen (i.e. John of Gaunt's Spanish wife) 1708
pearls of the largest, 2000 of the second sort. Warrant to bring him at
the Savoy all the Rolls of Accounts of all his Recevors General and of
his Treasurers of War and of the Household and other officers of the
Household, there to be deposited and safely kept. Next page-long list of
jewels.] Surely had he wished to patronize the poet, he could have done
so most easily and most surely by giving him some honorable post in his
own control. Why should he have taken the difficult method of procuring
him precarious offices under the King!

Since the assertions with regard to John of Gaunt's ascendancy over
Chaucer's career have been so common, however, we ought to take up the
matter point by point. We have no reason to connect John of Gaunt with
Chaucer's start in the world--his employment in the household of the
Countess of Clarence. We know that Chaucer's father had relations with
the court and, although merely a merchant, he may very likely have
secured Chaucer's appointment to the place in the Countess's household,
as the fathers of Simon de Burley (not a merchant, but a man of no
rank), Michael de la Pole, (a merchant), John Legge, Thomas Frowyk and
Thomas Hauteyn obtained appointments for their children in the
households of the Prince of Wales and of the King. This was an age when
the merchant class was obtaining unusual power and privileges. Richard
II, it will be remembered, was called the "Londoner's King." It has been
shown that John of Gaunt visited the Countess of Clarence at Christmas
1357, and it has been suggested that he may have met Chaucer then and
taken a liking to him. Of actual meeting, however, we have no proof.
Chaucer was in the service of the Duke of Clarence in October 1860.
[Footnote: See Modern Lang. Notes March 1912 article of Dr. Samuel Moore
on The New Chaucer Item.]; the Duchess of Clarence died in 1363; and we
learn of him next in the King's household in 1367. The transition from
the household of the wife of one of the King's sons to that of the King
himself is one which can be paralleled in many cases; we have no need to
suppose patronage on the part of the Duke of Lancaster to account for
it. As a matter of fact we have no reason to suppose that John of Gaunt
knew anything of Chaucer at this time.

The diplomatic missions, and the grants of annuities and offices were
not, as I have shown, evidences of special favour; they were a regular
thing in the King's court. We have no reason to suppose that John of
Gaunt's influence in favour of Chaucer was a cause for any of them.
Further John of Gaunt's influence would have been worthless in helping
Chaucer to become Justice of the Peace in Kent in 1385. This appointment
must have been made by the Chancellor--Michael de la Pole--possibly at
the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant of the County or the Custos
Rotulorum. Whether there was a Lord Lieutenant of Kent or not, I do not
know. At any rate the constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque
Ports (at this time Simon de Burley) held powers in Kent similar to
those of a lord lieutenant, and he occupies the position of the lord
lieutenant in the list of Justices of the Peace--at the top. Both de la
Pole and de Burley were enemies of John of Gaunt. Even if the
appointment was not due to them, we cannot ascribe it to John of Gaunt,
for I have been able to find no evidence that John of Gaunt had
influence in Kent, or that he controlled any of the other Justices.

Furthermore that Chaucer did not owe his place in the customs to the
influence of John of Gaunt is clear from the fact that the
collectorships of customs in London, at any rate, were controlled by the
duke's enemies. If they had sufficient power with the king to gain
control of those offices, it hardly seems likely that the King would
appoint a member of the faction opposed to them to serve with them. It
is to be noted also that Chaucer on account of the business connections
of his family--his father was a vintner and another relative evidently a
pepperer--would be more likely to sympathize with the party of Brembre
than with that of Northampton.

Now we come to a point where nearly all writers on Chaucer make
inferences in regard to John of Gaunt's influence--Chaucer's separation
from the office of controller of the customs. Most writers have said
more or less directly that Chaucer lost the office because John of Gaunt
had left England earlier in the same year. The facts themselves show
indubitably that Chaucer's leaving office was in no respect due to John
of Gaunt's departure. Before discussing this matter, I must say a word
about the political situation before 1386 and in that year. At the very
end of Edward III's reign John of Gaunt, who had been the real power
since the death of the Black Prince, became extremely unpopular because
of his bad administration of the government and his quarrels with the
Condoners. This unpopularity continued both in the court and without.
Under the new King the great duke had little influence; he was not even
included in the great council appointed to control the government during
the King's minority. Further a group of young men, connected with the
King, gradually assumed charge of affairs--Michael de la Pole, Robert de
Vere and others. These men were outright enemies of John of Gaunt;
according to the stories of the time they even made plots to poison and
to stab him. He himself retired from active political life and,
apparently, largely because he saw no chance for gaining great power in
England, turned his attention to his Spanish projects; [Footnote:
Trevelyan's view.] and in 1386 he left England for Spain. Others of the
great lords, however, were not content to play a passive role; the
brother of John of Gaunt, Gloucester, as leader, and the Earl of Arundel
and Warwick, most prominent followers, were particularly violent in
their attacks on the King and his friends. To revert now to Chaucer's
case: these are the significant facts in their order:

End of March, 1386 [Footnote: Or July 7 according to Oman.] John of
Gaunt leaves England.

October 24, 1386     Gloucester, Arundel et al. succeed in ousting
Michael de la Pole and the King's other cabinet officers.

December, 1386     Adam Yardley and Henry Gisors are appointed to
Chaucer's places in the customs.

These dates speak for themselves; they show indubitably that Chaucer was
not removed from office shortly after John of Gaunt's departure; that he
was not removed from office (if at all) until the friends of John of
Gaunt, the men who represented his interests, [Footnote: In the
following year his son and heir, the Earl of Derby, was one of the "lord
appellants"] had in some measure at least gained the government of the

A similar condition of affairs appears when Chaucer was appointed  to
his next office in 1389.

May, 1389           The King regained power--dismissed Gloucester's
                    friends from office and appointed his own.

July 12, 1389       He made Chaucer clerk of his works at Westminster.

August, 1389        He seems to have asked John of Gaunt to return to

November, 1389      John of Gaunt actually returned.

Richard II then appointed Chaucer to that place a little over a month
after he had regained his authority, and four months before John of
Gaunt appeared in England.

Finally we cannot connect John of Gaunt in any way with Chaucer's
departure from the office of Clerk of the Works in June, 1391. From John
of Gaunt's return to England in 1389 until 1395 he seems to have been
influential with the King. In 1390 he was made Duke of Aquitaine for
life. In 1392 he was ambassador to France, in 1393 he aided in putting
down a revolt in Chester. He was in England, apparently, most of this

Certainly the analysis of Chaucer's life does not confirm the theory
that John of Gaunt exercised a ruling influence over his destiny. Nor
does a study of the connections of his associates indicate his
dependency on John of Gaunt. His friend William de Beauchamp was at a
later date certainly a member of the Gloucester--Warwick faction. But in
1378 and 1380, when Chaucer was apparently connected with him, Beauchamp
was a member of the King's household (from 1379 on chamberlain of the
household), evidently in favour with the King and not a partisan of the
Lancaster-Gloucester faction. Further we know that Chaucer associated in
a business way at least with Brembre, Philipot and Walworth, that he
probably knew Thomas Usk, that the latter admired him, and that in the
King's household he was connected with some men like John de Beauchamp
and John de Salesbury who were not friends to John of Gaunt. Yet toward
the end of Richard II's reign we find Chaucer connected in some way with
John of Gaunt's son, and when a few years later that son ascended the
throne as Henry IV, Chaucer received new annuities and aids. The fact
then that Chaucer was friendly with prominent men in both factions makes
it incredible that his fortunes were dependent on those of John of

One other suggestion-was John of Gaunt likely to have had enough
interest in poetry to patronize a poet? I have found no evidence that he
did patronize other poets or artists of any kind, and the impression of
his character which a careful scholar like Mr. Trevelyan has gained from
a study of his career, is not that he was such a man as would be
interested in the arts.

From all these facts, I do not see how it can be maintained that John of
Gaunt was Chaucer's "great patron." The evidence, so far as I can make
out at present, leads one to the conclusion that Chaucer must have
received his offices and royal annuities from the King rather than from
John of Gaunt, at times when John of Gaunt's influence would have been
harmful rather than beneficial, or when John of Gaunt was not in England
to exercise it.


Certain recent investigations have suggested that Richard II and his
consort Anne may have been patrons of Chaucer. For this theory the most
definite evidence is derived from references to Queen Anne in several of
the poems. The most obvious of these references is that in Prologue to
L. G. W., version F. 11. 496, 7; another is the one implied in Koch's
explanation for the writing of P. F.; and Professor Lowes finds two more
in his interpretations of a line in K. T. (M. L. N. XIX, 240.242) and of
one in the Troilus. (2 p. M. L. A. 32; 285 ff) Since this investigation
has to do wholly with external evidences as to Chaucer's life, it is not
my business to deal with these references. I would merely point out that
they can derive no active support from the facts which we know about
Chaucer's life, for there is no exceptional feature of his career as an
esquire which points toward patronage by anyone. We have no right from
the circumstances of his rewards and appointments to suppose that
Richard even knew that he was a poet, certainly none to suppose that
Richard enjoyed his poetry and patronized him because of it.

To be sure we have certain evidences of Richard II's interest in
literature, especially the well known stories of his suggestion to Gower
that the poet write the Confessio Amantis, his gift to Froissart for the
latter's book of poems, and the payment entered in 1380 on the Issue
Roll of twenty-eight pounds for the Bible written in French, [Footnote:
Devon's translation, p. 213, is incorrect; the phrase in the document is
"lingua gallica." Issues P. 301, mem. 16.] the Romance of the Rose and
the Romances of Percevale and Gawayn. But those are all; a careful
reading of the Issue Roll for all the years of Richard's reign has
failed to turn up another entry which would indicate an interest in
literature. It is to be noted further that in the entire body of poems
left to us by Chaucer but a few unmistakable references to the queen
occur, and none to the King. If Chaucer is compared in this respect with
his successors Hoccleve and Lydgate a marked difference appears. In a
single volume of Hoccleve before me [Footnote: Hoccleve's works I, E. E.
T. S. 1892.] occur three "balades" to Henry V, one to the Duke of York,
one to the Duke of Bedford, and one to the Lord Chancellor. Perhaps the
striking contrast between this and Chaucer's practice is due to
different notions as to the function of poetry, perhaps to some other
cause, but it exists, and it causes one to feel that, in comparison with
Hoccleve at least, the internal evidences of patronage in Chaucer's
poems are slight indeed. Finally the fact that Chaucer was treated
favourably by the government of Henry IV would suggest that his personal
relations with Richard II had not been very close.


Although I have objected to some of the inferences drawn by others,
nevertheless it seems to me that from the facts viewed in their new
relations, some legitimate inferences may be drawn. In the first place
it seems almost certain that by 1386 Chaucer held considerable land in
Kent. Every other man on the list of Justices of the Peace (with the
single possible exception of Topclyff) held fairly extensive lands in
the county; all except de Burley, Topclyff and Chaucer were of old
Kentish families. De Burley's importance as Constable of Dover (indeed
he undoubtedly held the office of Justice ex officio) and Topclyffs
position as steward of the Archbishop of Canterbury counterbalanced the
fact that they were not of Kentish stock. What then of Chaucer? He
surely must have held a manor and lands of considerable value or he
could never have been high enough in the estimation of the landed
proprietors to gain the Justiceship and even the membership to
Parliament. Now, he apparently did not receive this land by royal grant;
consequently it would appear that he must have had it by grant of some
great noble or by purchase. In any case we have no record to indicate
what land he held or by what tenure he held it.

Again we do not know what Chaucer's income as controller of the customs
amounted to. It is apparent, however, that the returns from the office
of controller of the greater custom must have been very considerable. If
the collectorship of the customs was not a profitable office, it is
impossible to see why such men as Walworth, Philipot, and Brembre should
have cared to hold it. That the twenty pounds which was their nominal
salary was anything like all that they received is unbelievable. To
suppose that a man who could fit out a fleet at his own expense and
successfully campaign with it against a powerful pirate, should allow
himself to be annoyed by so paltry an office is absurd. Yet the office
was apparently not farmed, and so it seems likely that the income from
fees was large and attractive. [Footnote: The View of W. D. Chester:
Chronicles of the Custom's Dept., p. 30.] To how great an extent
Chaucer, aside from the ten pounds yearly that he received, shared in
the profits, we do not know. From the fact that the King in giving the
collectors and the controller extra rewards seems to have rated the
latter at about a third of the importance of the former, we might get
some hint of the proportion in which he would share in the fees.

Chaucerian scholars have laid great stress upon the grant of permission
to Chaucer in 1385 to appoint a permanent deputy in his office in the
greater customs. They have even assumed that the L. G. W. was dedicated
to the queen out of gratitude for her supposed intercession with the
king, and the consequent permission, and have used these suppositions as
evidence for dating L. G. W. Surely too much has been made of this
matter. Not only have we no evidence whatever to connect Queen Anne with
the granting of the deputyship; we do not have to assume any
intercession with the king. [Footnote: See forthcoming article: Chaucer
and the Earl of Oxford, in Modern Philology.] We know that esquires who
were granted offices in the customs frequently did have deputies in
their offices; [Footnote: Of. cases of John de Herlyng, Helming Leget,
John Hermesthorpe et al.] probably leave to have a deputy could be had
almost for the asking.

Moreover, the office of controller, if we can judge from the records of
Chaucer's time (cf. Mr. Kirk's print in the Chaucer Society--not yet
issued) could not have been a very burdensome one. Yet even the
provision that Chaucer write the records with his own hand was not--in
the opinion of the officials of the Record Office--held to even as early
as 1381. The reason for this judgment is that the preserved records are
written in a decidedly good Chancery hand, a style of writing which only
a professional Chancery clerk is supposed to have been master of.
[Footnote: See Tales of the Canterbury Pilgrims, Stokes & Co., Intro.,
by Furnivall, p. X note.] Consequently either Chaucer must have been a
regular Chancery clerk, or he employed a clerk to write up the records.
If he did the latter--as seems most likely--it is hard to see what work
of importance can have been left to himself. Why then should he care for
a permanent deputy? If we look at the circumstances of his life in 1385,
we may discover a possible reason. In that year, he first appears
prominently in connection with Kent. The sequence of events is:

    February, 1385--deputy appointed.
    October, 1385-Justice of the Peace in Kent.
    June, 1386--Justice of the Peace in Kent.
    August, 1386--Member of Parliament for Kent.

He must have been out of London at latest some time early in 1385, and
he may have been occupied with the purchase and management of whatever
land he possessed in Kent, and with the politics of that county.
Consequently, he may have desired to have a recognized deputy in the
office who would relieve him of all official responsibility. One can see
no reason why he should have felt particularly grateful for the grant of
this merely technical freedom.

Furthermore we can have no knowledge, with our present information
alone, of why Chaucer ceased to be controller at the end of 1386. I have
already shown that this could not have been due to John of Gaunt's
absence from England. It is almost equally certain that it was not due
to the fact that Chaucer was a partisan of the King or that the council
of thirteen was instructed to inquire into the conduct of the King's
offices and to initiate reforms. [Footnote: As Colton in his book on
Chaucer's England assumes, pp. 58-59.] The proof of those statements is
this: so far as we know Chaucer's only fault in the conduct of these
offices was the fact that he "performed" them by deputy; now, although
the two offices were granted in December to Adam Yardley [Footnote: Adam
Yard&y, clericus, was in 1383 joined with a sergeant at arms to take and
arrest mariners for the passage of the Bishop of Norwich across the
channel. This would suggest that he was connected in some way with the
court, since such duties were commonly assigned to esquires and clerks
of the court.]--and Henry Gisorz, [Footnote: Henry Gisors seems to have
come from an eminent London family. (Riley Memorials pp. 74, 185.
Ancient Deeds; A 7833. Maitland History of London, p. 825). In 11
Richard II and 16 Richard II he was concerned with John Hermesthorpe in
certain transfers of land in London. (Ancient Deeds; B 2118, 2121).] the
controllership of the greater custom was re-granted scarcely six months
later to John Hermesthorpe [Footnote: John Hermesthorpe was a very much
more important person. He was for some years one of the chamberlains of
the King's exchequer, probably as early as 1370 when on one day he
conveyed payments of their annuities to Philippa Chaucer and three other
damsels of the queen. He was likewise ft priest, for a time confessor to
the King, and holder of various ecclesiastical preferments, in London
and elsewhere. He was in particular Master of the Hospital of St.
Katherine from 1368 till a few years before his death in 1412. The fact
that he was in favour with the King and that he was allowed to exercise
the office by deputy, makes untenable the supposition that Chaucer was
dismissed because he was a friend to the King, or because he did not
actually conduct the office himself. (Devon's Issues, p. 359, Cal. Pat.
Roll 1379, p. 386. Full statement of ecclesiastical offices in
Bibliotheca Topographies Brittanica II, 82.)] (July 2, 1387) and with
that very grant he was empowered to exercise the office by deputy.

Furthermore Henry Gisorz, who succeeded Chaucer in the controllership
of the petty customs, was appointed by Chaucer as his deputy, in 7
Richard II [Footnote: C. R. 224, mem. 36. Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 502.] in
that office. This office was re-granted September 2, 1388 to Robert
Kesteven. Now in the case of the controllership of the greater customs,
it seems evident that Adam Yardeley was merely put into the office as a
stop-gap. Note that he was not considered of sufficient importance to be
given another grant in 1387 to compensate him for the loss of the
office. And similarly in that of the lesser customs, it seems clear that
Gisors, Chaucer's deputy in the office, was appointed temporarily to the
office, on the departure of Chaucer, and deprived of it again as soon as
the King found some one to whom he wished to give a sinecure. Surely, if
one may be allowed to draw inferences from facts, it seems most likely
that Chaucer resigned the offices either to take up some work not now
known to us, or to have leisure after more than ten years' occupation in
office and missions, and that on his resignation the King made merely
temporary appointments and later filled the offices according to his

The theory that Chaucer's surrender of his annuity indicates any
extraordinary condition or disfavour on the part of his patrons is
likewise not supported by the facts. In the introduction to the Chaucer
Records, Mr. Kirk writes: "It may be asserted without fear of
contradiction, that it was a most unusual thing for any man to surrender
a pension, and for the King to grant it to someone else. Lands and
tenements, or offices, were frequently surrendered in this way, but not
pensions." [Footnote: p. XXXVI.] Surely Mr. Kirk's statement is too
strong, for it is easy to find plenty of examples of transfers of
annuity quite, analogous to Chaucer's. For example, in 38 Edward III a
grant of ten marks yearly to John Gateneys was, with his consent, taken
from him and given to Thomas de Fysshebone. [Footnote: Pat. Roll 269,
mem. 12.] Later an annuity held by John de Stone, a valet, was
transferred by his request to Peter de Bruge. [Footnote: idem 273, mem.
10.] Other examples are a transfer of an annuity from Hugh Ferrour to
John Spencer at the request of the former; [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll
1378, p. 248.] from T. de Laleham to John Stapenhull--at request of the
former [Footnote: idem, p. 150.]--from Richard des Armes to John
Andrews--"at supplication" of Richard [Footnote: Cal. Pat. Roll 1378,
p, 146, 1389, p. 95.]--from John Roose to Roger Lestrange--granted by
the former, [Footnote: Pat. Roll 1378, pp. 112.113.]--from Peter de
Saneto Paulo to John de Ilerlyng--made by the former and confirmed by
the King. [Footnote: Cal. pat. Roll 1350, p. 574.] Doubtless many other
examples could be found since I have not attempted to do more than note
the cases that fell under my eye. Apparently the sale of annuities was
quite as ordinary and recognized a practice as that of offices or
lands. [Footnote: John Scalby, to whom Chaucer's annuity was granted,
seems to have been an esquire in the King's household. The first record
of him is a grant for life to John de Scalby of the forestership and
custody of the forest of Parkhurst and Odepark, Isle of Wight (1382). In
1386 John de Scalby the elder was on a commission in East Riding
(Yorkshire). In 12 Richard II John Scalby, esquire of the bishop of
Sarum, borrowed twenty shillings from the Exchequer. In 17 Richard II he
and his wife Mathilda borrowed L 26, 13s. 4d. i. e. the forty marks of
his annuity, from the Exchequer. In 1396 the King granted to his
esquires Richard Cardemewe and John de Scalby the goods and chattels of
a certain outlaw, to the value of thirty-Seven pounds]. In 22 Richard H
John Scalby, soutifer, was sent from Lichfield to Conway on secret
business of the King, and was paid sixteen, shillings eight pence for
his expenses. In 1399 Henry IV confirmed the grant of forty marks a year
to John Scalby. (Cal. pat. Roll, 1382, p. 150. idem p. 261. Issues, P.
319, mem. 18. idem, P. 332, mem. 23. Cal. Pat. Roll, 1396, p, 48.
Issues, P. 344, mem. 11. Cal. Pat. Roll 1399, p. 62).]

That Chaucer was out of favour from 1391 on, and in financial trouble is
again difficult to establish. Mr. Kirk has shown that his "borrowings"
at the Exchequer, in those years, were for the most part no borrowings
at all but simply a device for getting money that was due him. [Footnote:
L. R. pp. XLV, XLVI.] Furthermore, many examples of the drawing of money
"de prestito" from the Exchequer may be found in the Issue Roll. In 11
Richard II Philippa Duchess of Ireland drew L 133, es. 8d. in this
way. [Footnote: Issues, P. 316, mem. 18.] In the same year Bdmond Rose
borrowed money from the Exchequer. [Footnote: idem.] As shown above, John
Scalby twice drew money in advance in this way. John Herlyng, who in
Chaucer's time, was usher of the Chamber, borrowed seven pounds four
pence in 28 Edward III, repaying it later; [Footnote: idem, p. 294, mem.
18.] and in 29 Edward III drew forty pounds in the same way. [Footnote:
Issues, P. 212, mem. 1. On Herlyng's financial position see p. 27
above.] So hosts of examples could be collected from the Issue Roll, of
such "borrowings." Certainly they do not indicate that the "borrowers"
were financially insolvent.

Moreover none of the other facts which we have, warrants us in assuming
that Chaucer was pressed for money and out of favour. In January 1393 he
was granted ten pounds for good service rendered in this year now
present, i.e. apparently the later part of 1392--the year following his
"dismissal." In addition he was in 1394 granted another annuity of
twenty pounds. In view of these facts it would seem that the only
definite evidence of Chaucer's poverty was the action for debt of L 14.
1s. 11d. in 1398, but the circumstances connected with it--the King's
letters of protection and the sheriffs inability to find Chaucer--are so
remarkable that we cannot draw certain inferences from it. [Footnote: See
Kirk L. R., p. XLVII f.]

Looking at all the facts, then, we must admit that they do not form any
proper basis for most of the assertions that have been made. They do not
constitute even the suggestion of proof that, when Chaucer lost his
controllerships and gave up his annuity, he was out of favour with the
King, that he was soon in dire financial straits, and that when again in
1391 he lost the clerkship of the works, he was out of favour and
pressed for money.

If we wish to guess at the reasons why Chaucer gave up his offices and
his pension, we can find plenty of sufficient motives. He may have left
the offices for several reasons; he had held the controllership of the
customs of wool for twelve years, a long time for the holding of such an
office in those days; he may therefore have left because he was tired of
them. He may have left them because some one had given him something
better-we know, for example, that in the year after he left the
clerkship of the works he was employed in some way by the King; so in
the earlier case he may have received some other office or employment
the record of which has not come down to us. From November 1386 until
November 1387 we know that Richard II was scouring the Midlands trying
to gather a force with which to oppose Gloucester; he may have employed
Chaucer as a secret messenger throughout that year. As to the annuity,
Chaucer may have surrendered it because he could get a good price for it
and wanted a large sum of money for some purpose, perhaps to buy land or
improve it. Or his surrender of the annuity may have been made by
arrangement with the King, who may have wished to give an annuity to a
comparatively new esquire, and who may have recompensed Chaucer in some
other way.

Every fact that we have would fit into the theory that Chaucer led a
prosperous and important life (in a business and financial way) from
1374 to the end of his life. Certainly he must have received a large
amount of money in that time; we have no evidence of his having lost
any; we know of nothing in his character which would lead us to suppose
him a spendthrift or inefficient in financial affairs.

I do not wish to maintain that he was always prosperous, but only that
the facts do not warrant us in assuming that he was constantly on the
verge of ruin in the years when, so far as we know, he held no office.

In connection with the Piers Plowman controversy, I have been struck
with Mr. Jusserand's insistence that Chaucer did not touch upon social
or political matters in his poems. That was, as Mr. Manly has indicated,
very probably due to a theory of the proper subject matter of poetry-an
idea current in his time and enunciated by Alan Cliartier most
distinctly. But back of that may have been in Chaucer's case certain
peculiar traits of character. Chaucer was in direct connection with the
court and with the city at the time when political enmity between two
main factions was very bitter-so bitter that in 1386 it led to the
killing of Simon de Burley and Sir Nicholas Brembre as well as
less-known men like Beauchamp and Salesbury and Berners, and to the
flight of men like Michael de la Pole and Robert de Vere, and again in
1392 led to the execution of the Earl of Arundel, the murder of
Gloucester, and almost to the murder of the Earl of Warwick. Chaucer was
in daily contact with men connected with one faction or the other. What
was his attitude? What party did he follow? I have tried to suppose that
he was a member of the Gloucester or Lancaster faction but I have found
facts such as his retention by Richard as controller of the customs from
1383-4 on, and his subsequent appointment to the clerkship of the works,
that could scarcely have been brought about by Lancastrian influence.
Then I have tried to use as a hypothesis the conception that he was a
partisan of the King. But I have not been able to reconcile with that
idea the fact that he had the grant of the annuity from John of Gaunt,
that Henry IV in the year of his accession granted him an extra annuity
of 40 marks in addition to the L20 which he confirmed to him, and that
in 1395 or 1396 he seems to have been in the employment of either John
of Gaunt or Henry, his son. Consequently it seems to me that Chaucer can
not have been active in politics. At the very time when factional strife
was waging about him he must have kept practically free from both
parties. He seems to have had friends in both camps, though by far the
greater number were in that of the King: Oto de Graunson-a member of
John, of Gaunt's household-and in later years apparently Henry of Derby,
represent the Lancastrian side; on the other hand, Louis Clifford, John
Clanvowe, John Burley--men apparently attached to the Black Prince, his
wife and his son,--Brembre and Philipot with whom he must have been on
fairly good terms, and probably even Thomas Usk, were men strongly
opposed to John Of Gaunt. Too many things connect Chaucer with both
parties to make his identification with either possible. The reasons why
Chaucer did not dabble pronouncedly in politics may have been various--a
clear perception that such was the only safe course for him--an entire
indifference and lack of understanding of politics--or what you will. At
any rate his connection with both parties is certainly in consonance
with the exclusion from his poetry of political matter of the kind which
appears for example in Cower.


Almannia, Henricus, (Almaigne),
Archebald, William,
Archer, Agnes,
Archer, Roger,
    Alexandra de la Mote, wife of,
Armes, Richard des. See, Careswell, Richard de,
Barbour, Reynold (le),
Bardolf, Robert,
Bealknap, Robert,
Beauchamp, John,
    Joan, wife of,
Beauchamp, Sir William de,
Berkeley, Sir Edward de,
Bernes, John de,
Beverle, John de,
    Ahnicia, wife of,
Blacomore, William,
Bokenham, Simond de,
    See Bukenham,
    Matilda Gerounde, wife of,
Bonyngton, Roger,
Brembre, Nicholas,
Brenchesley, William,
Brokhill, Thomas,
Bukenham, Simon,
Burele, William de, (Burley),
Burgh, Simon,
Burley, Sir John de,
Burley, Simon de,
Byker, Patrick,
    See Edmund, Count of,
Careswell, Richard,
Careu, Nicholas, the elder,
         the younger,
Cat, John,
Chambre, Griffith de la,
Cheyne, Hugh,
    Joan, wife of,
Chippenham, Walter,
Clanvowe, Sir John, (or Clanbrowe),
Clarence, see Lionel,
    Countess of,
    See Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster.
Clebury, Roger,
Clifford, Lewis de,
Clinton, John,
Clopton, Walter,
Clopton, William,
Cobeham, John de,
Conyngsby, John de,
Corby, Robert de,
    Alice, wife of,
Cornewaill, Piers de,
Culpeper, Thomas,
Dabrichecourt, Collard, or, Nicholas,
    Elizabeth, wife of,
Devereux, John
Edward, the Black Prince
Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster
Felbrigge, George
    Margaret, wife of
    Anne, wife of
Ferrers, Robert de
    Elizabeth, wife of
Ferrour, Roger,
    see Bonyngton, Roger
Fogg, Thomas
Forester, Richard
Foxle, Thomas
Fremingham, John
Frowick, Thomas
Gambon, William
Girdelere, Robert
Gisors, Henry
Goderik, John
Gosedene, John
Graunson, Oto de
Hannemere, David
Hauberk, Laurence
Hauteyn, Thomas
Herlyng, John de
Hermesthorpe, John
Hertfordyngbury, Thomas
Irlonde, Richard
Isabella, wife of Ingelram de Courcy
Joce, John
John of Gaunt
Knyveton, Rauf de
Lancaster, see John of Gaunt
Larderer, Robert see Maghfeld, Robert.
Leche, Richard see Irlonde, Richard.
Leget, Helmyng Edmund, Count of Cambridge
    Alice, wife of
Legge, John Erchedeakne, Raulyn
    Agnes, wife of
Lionel, duke of Clarence
Loath, Robert
    Joan, wife of
Loveden, Thomas
Lyngeyn, Hugh
    Agatha, wife of
Maghfeld, Robert
Mareschall, Roger
Markham, Richard
Narrett, Hanyn
Neuport, Reginald
Northbury, Richard
Northrilgg, John
Olney, John
    Stephanetta, wife of
Organ, John
Padbury, John
Pekham, James de
Percy, Thomas de
Philipot, John
Pole, Michael de la
Prage, Nicholas
Preston, Piers
    Alice, wife of
Richard II
Rikhill, William
Risceby, William de
Romesey, John de
    Margaret, wife of
Romylowe, Stephen
Roos, John
Rose, Esmon
    Agnes Archer, wife of
Salesbury, John de
    Johanna, wife of
Scalby, John,
Scogan, Henry,
Souch, Robert la, see Zouche,
Spigurnell, Thomas,
    Katherine, wife of,
Stanes, Thomas de,
Strelley, Hugh, (Straule),
Strete, William,
    Joan wife of
Stucle, Geoffrey, (Styuecle),
Talbot, Gilbert
Tettesworth, Edmond de,
Thorpe, Johan de,
Tichemerssh, Johan, see Tyschemerssh
    Mabel, wife of
Tipet, John,
Topclyf, William,
Torperle, Richard,
    Margaret, wife of,
Tresihan, Robert,
Tyehemerssh, John de, see Tichemerssh
Tyndale, Andrew,
Ursewyk, Robert,
Usk, Thomas,
Vere, Robert de,
Vynour, Robert,
Waffrer, Richard, see Markham, Richard.
Wake, Hugh,
    Joan wife of
Walssh, Wauter,
Warde, John,
Wbifrors, Walter
Wyght, Walter
Yardley, Adam,
Ybernia, Cornelius de,
York, William
Zouche, Robert la, See Souch.

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