Chauncy, Maurice (DNB00)

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CHAUNCY, MAURICE (d. 1581), Carthusian monk, whose surname is found under the forms of Chamney, Chawney, Chancy, Channy, Chenye, Chasee, and Chawsey, was the eldest son of John Chauncy, esq., of Ardele, Hertfordshire, by his first wife, Elizabeth, widow of Richard Manfield, and daughter and heiress of John Proflit of Barcomb, Sussex. He received his education at Oxford, and Wood conjectures that he prosecuted his studies ‘in an ancient place of literature near to London college, alias Burnel1’s Inn,’ in that university. He next proceeded to Gray’s Inn to study the common law. There he led a life of pleasure with some jovial companions until he was sharply reproved by his father for his conduct, when he laid aside his gay apparel and assumed the habit of a monk in the London Charterhouse. In 1535, when the monks were ordered to take the oath acknowleding the king's supremacy, most of the Carthusians stood firm in their refusal, and eighteen of them suffered martyrdom in consequence, but Chauncy did not share the constancy of his brethren, and reluctantly consented to take the oath. Finally, on 10 June 1537 Prior Trafford and sixteen monks, including Chauncy, surrendered their possessions into the king's hands, when the prior received of his majesty’s ‘mercy and grace’ a pension of 20l. and the monks an annual pension of 5l. apiece. Chauncy's name is not found in the list of those who on this occasion signed the oath of the king’s supremacy, but he acknowledges that he was weak enough to take it, though against his conscience.

Chauncy was allowed to leave England, and retired to Flanders, where he became associated with the Carthusians, who on being expelled from the monastery of Shene in Surrey had settled at Bruges. In Queen Mary's reign Chauncy left that city with several other monks, and came to London in June 1555. In November 1556 they recovered their ancient monastery at Shene, and Chauncy was made prior. On the accession of Queen Elizabeth they were permitted to quit the kingdom unmolested, being in number fifteen monks and three lay-brothers. They returned to Bruges in 1559, and remained in the Flemish monastery of Carthusians, till in 1569 they obtained a house of their own in the street St. Clire. They were obliged to leave Briges in April 1578, in consequence of the tumults raised by the Calvinists, and after experiencing various vicissitudes, they arrived in July the same year at the Carthusian convent at Louvain, where the were received and lodged by order of Don Hahn of Austria. The nor, Either Chauncy, died at Bruges on 12 July (O. S.) 1581. It may be added that the community removed in Louvain to Antwerp (1590), and thence to Mechlin (1591), where they resided till 1626, when they settled at Nieuport. Here they remained till their final sgigpression by the emperor, Joseph II, in 1783. This was the only community of religious men which had continued without dispersion from the reign of Queen Mary.

Chauncy wrgs the author of ‘Historia aliguot nostri sæculi Martyrum cum pia, tum piicunda, nunquam antehac typis excusa,’ Mentz, 1550, 4to (anon.), reprinted at Bruges 1583, 8vo. This second edition has a preface written by Theotonius a Braggpea, archbishop of Evora in Portugal. The book contains the epitaph of Sir Thomas More; the captivity and martyrdom of John Fisher, bishop of Rochester; the captivity and martyrdom of Sir T. More; the martyrdom of Reynold Brigitt, a pious divine, and of others; and the assion of eighteen Carthusians of London. The autograph manuscript of the last four treatises was formerly in the possession of More, bishop of Ely, and is now preserved in the Cambridge University Library, Ff. iv. 23. The last part, illustrated with copper-plate engravings, was reprinted under the title of ‘Commentariolus de vitæ ratione et martyrno octodecim Csrtusianornm qui in Anglia sub Rege trucidati sunt,’ Ghent, 1608, 8vo; and with a slightly different title-page, and more prefatory matter, Würzburg, 108, 8vo. Tanner mentions an edition printed at Cologne in 1607.

Chauncy revised and made some additions to Peter Sutor’s ‘Vita Carthusiana,’ Lonvam, 1572, 8vo. 'Wood ascribes to him ‘A Book of Contemplacyon, the whiche is clepyd the Clowde of Unknowyng’ (Harl. MSS. 674, art. 4, and 959), but this is no doubt the production of a much earlier writer. The same remark applies t.o ‘The Book of Prive Counseling’ (Harl. MS. 074, art. 5), the authorship of which is likewise ascribed by Wood to Prior Chauncy. Sir Henry Chauncy [q. v.], the historian of Hertfordshire, was escen ed from Maurice Chauncy’s younger brother Henry.

[Addit. MS. 9062, f. 64 6; Knox's Letters and Memorials of Card. Allen, 31, 37; Aungier's Hist. of Syon Monastery, 438; Bale, Script. Brit. Cat. i. 713; Bancroft's Account of T. Sutton, 261-3; Cat. of MSS. in Camb. Univ. Lib. ii. 467; Cat. Librorum Impress. Bibl. Bodl. (1843), i. 505; Chauncy's Hertfordshire (1826), i. 116, 117, 121; Clutterbuck's Hertfordshire, ii. 401; MS. Cotton. Cleop. E. iv. f. 247; Dodd's Church Hist. i. 527; Diaries of the Engl. Coll. Douay, 126, 156, 180, 301; Froude's Hist. of England, ii. 343-62; Bibl. Grenvilliana, i. 444; Husenbeth's Colleges and Convents on the Continent, 36, 37; Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, 1st series, 9, 13, 15, 24, 25; Notes and Queries, 2nd series, xii. 226; Petreius, Bibl. Cartusiana, 245; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, 775; Rymer's Fœdera (1712), xiv. 491, 492; Strype's Memorials, fol. i. 199; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. 166; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 459.]

T. C.