Chaucer's Official Life
by James Root Hulbert
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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.




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 steward.

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 7833].

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. 254.]

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. 397.]

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) follow:

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. 19.].

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 made.

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 deputy.

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. 86.] JOHN DE BEVERLE

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. 14.]

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.]

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