Thomas Chaucer

(c. 1367—1434) administrator and speaker of the House of Commons

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(d. 1434), the son of the poet. He is first named as a son of Geoffrey Chaucer in a London lawsuit of 1396. He became a wealthy landowner and an influential figure in early 15th-c. England. His early marriage to Maud Burghersh brought him large estates, including the manor of Ewelme in Oxfordshire. He received annuities from John of Gaunt, Richard II, and Henry IV, and served as chief butler to three successive kings. Henry IV made him constable of Wallingford Castle and steward of the honours of Wallingford and St Valery and of the Chiltern Hundreds. In 1405 he became forester of North Petherton Park, as his father had been, and a farmer of the forests of Somerset. In 1411 the queen gave him the manor of Woodstock and other estates. He sat as MP for Oxfordshire in successive parliaments, and was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons in 1407, 1410, 1411, and 1414. He served with Henry V in France, and was present at the battle of Agincourt. In 1424 he was made a member of the council. His only daughter, Alice Chaucer, became duchess of Suffolk; her grandson John, earl of Lincoln, was designated heir to the throne by Richard III, and continued to maintain his claim even after Richard's defeat at Bosworth. Thomas Chaucer was the recipient of an eloquent poem by Lydgate on the occasion of his departure (possibly for France in 1414, when he was sent to treat with the ambassadors of the duke of Burgundy); Lydgate pays him a nice compliment by an allusion to his father's generous Franklin (‘Saynt Julyan … come hoome ageyne’; cf. I.340).

From The Oxford Companion to Chaucer in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval).

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