Chaucer, Thomas (DNB00)

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CHAUCER, THOMAS (1367?–1434), speaker of the House of Commons, in all likelihood elder son of Geoffrey Chaucer [q. v.], by his wife Philippa, daughter of Sir Payne Roet and sister of Catherine Swnyford, mistress and afterwards wife of John, duke of Lancaster, was probably born in 1367. Early in life he married Matilda, second daughter and coheiress of Sir John Burghersh, nephew of Henry Burghersh [q. v.], bishop of Lincoln, treasurer and chancellor of the Kingdom. His marriage brought him large estates, and among them the manor of Ewelme, Oxfordshire. It is evident that his connection with the Duke of Lancaster was profitable to him. He was appointed chief butler to Richard II, and on 20 March 1399 received a uension of twenty marks a year in exchange for certain , offices granted him by the duke, paying at the same time five marks for the confirmation of two annuities of 10l. charged on the duchy of Lancaster and also granted by the duke. These annuities were confirmed to him by Henry IV, who appointed him constable of Wallingford Castle, and steward of the honours of Wallingford and St. Valery and of the Chiltem Hundreds, with 40l. a year as stipend and 10l. for a deputy. About the same time he succeeded Geoffrey Chaucer as forester of North Petherton Park, Somersetshire (Collinson, Somersetshire, iii. 62 ; Mr. Selby's Athenæum, 20 Nov. 1886). On 5 Nov. 1402 he received a grant of the chief butlership for life. On 23 Feb. 1411 the queen gave him the manor of Woodstock and other estates during her life, and on 16 March the king assigned them to him after her death. Chaucer sat for Oxfordshire in the parliaments of 1400-1, 1402, 1405-6, 1407, 1409-10, 1411, 1413, 1414, 1421, 1422, 1425-6, 1427, 1429, 1430-1. He was chosen speaker in the parliament that met at Gloucester in 1407, and on 9 Nov. reminded the king that the accounts of the expenditure of the last subsidy had not been rendered. The chancellor interrupted him, declaring that they were not ready, and that for the future the lords would not promise them. He was chosen again in 1410 and in 1411, when, on making his 'protestation' and claiming the usual permission of free speech, he was answered by the king that he might speak as other speakers had done, but that no novelties would be allowed. He asked for a day's grace, and then made an apology. He was again chosen in 1414. In that year he also received a commission, in which he is called 'domicellus,' to treat about the marriage of Henry V, and to take the homage of the Duke of Burgundy. The next year ne served with the king in France, bringing into the field twelve men-at-arms and thirty-seven archers, and was present at the battle of Agincourt. In 1417 he was employed to treat for peace with France. On the accession of Henry VI he appears to have been superseded in the chief butlership, and to have regained it shortly afterwards. In January 1424 he was appointed a member of the council with a salary of 40l., and the next year was one of the commissioners to decide n dispute between the earl marshal and the Earl of Warwick about precedence. In 1430-1 he was appointed one of the executors of the will of the Duchess of York. He was very wealthy, for in the list drawn up in 1436 (he was then dead) of those from whom the council proposed to borrow money for the war with France, he was put down for 200l., the largest sum asked from any on the list except four. He died on 14 March 1434, and was buried at Ewelme, where his wife, who died in 1436, was also buried with him. He left one child, Alice, who married first Sir John Philip (d. 1415); secondly, Thomas, earl of Salisbury (d. 1428), having no children by either; thirdly, William de la Pole, earl and afterwards duke of Suffolk (beheaded 1450), by whom she had two sons and a daughter.

[Sir Harris Nicolas's Life of Geoffrey Chaucer in vol. i. of the Aldine edition of Chaucer's Works, containing references to and extracts from original authorities, has afforded the main substance of the above notice; Manning's Lives of the Speakers, 44-52; Return of Members of Parliament, i. 261-319 passim; Rolls of Parliament, iii. 609, 648, iv. 35; Stubbs's Constitutional History, iii. 60, 63, 67, 90, 259.]

W. H.