Thomas Chaucer bigraphy, stories - Speaker of the British House of Commons

Thomas Chaucer : biography

ca. 1367 - 18 November 1434
Thomas Chaucer

Life

Chaucer seems to have done well from his father's standing (as both a poet and also an administrator); this despite suggestions that Geoffrey Chaucer fell out of favour with Henry IV. Early in life Thomas Chaucer married Matilda (Maud), second daughter and coheiress of Sir John Burghersh, nephew of Henry Burghersh. The marriage brought him large estates, and among them the manor of Ewelme, Oxfordshire. His connection with the Duke of Lancaster was also profitable to him: his mother's sister, Katherine de Roet, was Katherine Swynford, first the mistress of John of Gaunt, and then his third Duchess of Lancaster. Swynford had four children by John of Gaunt: John, Henry, Thomas and Joan Beaufort, all of whom became very powerful - John's family becoming Earls and later Dukes of Somerset, Henry a Cardinal, Thomas became Duke of Exeter, Joan, Countess of Westmorland, and grandmother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III. Thomas Chaucer's Beaufort first cousins became even more powerful when their half-brother Henry IV became King. Thomas was able to buy Donnington Castle for his only daughter Alice.

He was Chief Butler of England for almost thirty years, first appointed by Richard II, and on 20 March 1399 received a pension of twenty marks a year in exchange for offices granted him by the Duke, paying at the same time five marks for the confirmation of two annuities of charges 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 Chiltern Hundreds. About the same time he succeeded Geoffrey Chaucer as forester of North Petherton Park, Somerset. On 5 November 1402 he received a grant of the chief butlership for life.

He served as High Sheriff of Berkshire and Oxfordshire for 1400 and 1403 and as High Sheriff of Hampshire for 1413. He attended fifteen parliaments as knight of the shire for Oxfordshire (1400–1, 1402, 1405–6, 1407, 1409–10, 1411, 1413, 1414, 1421, 1422, 1425–6, 1427, 1429, 1430–1) and was Speaker of the House five times, a feat not surpassed until the 18th century. He was chosen speaker in the parliament that met at Gloucester in 1407, and on 9 November 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. On 23 February 1411 the queen gave him the manor of Woodstock and other estates during her life, and on 15 March the king assigned them to him after her death.

In 1414 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 he 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, and the next year was one of the commissioners to decide a 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.

Thomas Chaucer died at Ewelme on 18 November 1434.

Family

Alice married William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk and her grandson John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln was the designated heir of Richard III. John and several of his brothers were later executed when Richard lost power. They left descendants, however, who included the Earls of Rutland and Portmore, William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, who foiled the Gunpowder Plot and Sir Francis Sacheverel Darwin (through his mother, Elizabeth Collier, natural daughter of the Earl of Portmore).

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine