|Notes for John Chaucer Le De Denington|
|"He was also known as John Chaucer alias de Dennington 1313-1366-7". 202|
"Geoffrey Chaucer's father was vintner John Chaucer (b. abt 1312; d. 1366), who is known to have been in attendance on the Edward III and his queen, Philippa of Hainault, in their 1338 edpedition to Planders and Cologne. . . John Chaucer was 'married at least twice,' his first wife being 'probably'Joan de Esthalle, according to the DNB. He also married (late 13330s/bef 1343) Agnes de Cop[ton (d. prob. 1381), daughter of John de Copton and niece of Hmo de copton. The date of the marriage of John and Agnes is not known, but Joan was alive in 1331 and Agnes was wife of John Chaucer in 1349. John Chaucer died in 1366, and, according to the DNB, Geoffrey Chaucer's 'widowed mother soon after married one 'Bartholomew Attechapel,' or Chappel. John Chaucer was a wealthy wintner who rendered military and civilian services to the king. Silva-Vigier notes that a John Chaucer was an active participant in support of Edward III ashe seized control of power from Roger Mortimer in 1327 and that a John Chaucer was in military service in Flanders in 1338 with Edward III." 201
"Robert's son John Chaucer was a prominent London wine merchant, who became a freeman of the city, and a man 9of standing and influence." 203
"John le Chaucer (42), the poet's father, must have been born before 1309, as he was of full age in 1330.
The descent is proved by a deed dated 1343, which describes him as son of Robert, son of Andrew de Dynyton of Ipswich (Redstone p. 16).
In 1324, litigation was begun at Ipswich on his behalf in which he is called John, son of Robert de Dinnington of Ipswich. The suit was against Agnes de Westhale (Redstone p. 257).
In 1326-7 his stepfather Richard le Chaucer and his mother Mary also brought the well-known action against the same Agnes for the abduction of John, set out by Kirk, pp. 142-3
Possibly he was the John of London, who in 1330 with other were vintners of the Duchy of Acquitane and were to be repaid for goods taken by Walter de Waldeshef. (Close Roll Calendar, p. 83).
Probably he was the John Chaucer who went abroad with John Heron in 1338.
Witnessed a grant in 1339 to his stepfather, Richard Chaucer, vintner (Riley).
In 1343 he sold land in Ipswich (Redstone p. 16).
Deputy King's Butler 1348 (Writ of Privy Seal).
Proved his half-brother Thomas Heyroun's will in 1349 (Kirk p. 149).
In 1349 he sold to William de Thorney, houses in London belonging to his half-brother (Kirk p. 150).
In the same year he had a lease of a house, formerly the property of Hamo de Copton (Kirk p. 151).
In 1354 he and his wife Agnes sold a house in Aldgate Street, formerly the property of Hamo de Copton, uncle of such Agnes (Kirk p. 152). Arms Erm, a chef 3 birds' heads.
Between 1342-1365 he was connected eight times with John de Stody, Mayor of London. (see post, sub Stody).
Possibly he was the John of London, one of the valets of the King's Chamber in 1361 (Kirk p. 161). (N.B. - The poet himself was called the king's valet in 1367).
Possibly he was the John de London of Lynn in 1363.
In 1363 he and his wife sold to John de Stody (see post), in Stepney, etc., and other property (Kirk p. 156).
Granted property in London, 1366 (Ancient Deeds A. 1471).
In 1365 he was bail for William Dyne (Kirk p. 157) and also for William Cornewaille.
Died 1366-7 (Kirk p. 152), (Kern p. 97)." 200
"There was another John le Chaucer (who has been confused with John le Chaucer, the poet's father, but who could not havve been so, for he died in 1302 and John the father was under age in 1326).He may have been the John Chaucer of Lynn who entered the Lynn Guild (see ante pp. 2-3).
He was of London in 1278 (H. 279).(Under this year Kern, p. 22, incorrectly states that he is mentioned in London Letter Book, B. 115, as being associated with John de Suffolk).
He may possibly be the John le Chaucer of Abbeville in France, a vintner in London, in 1293 (Kern p. 21). In 1297 John le Chaucer and Simon de Paris (one of a Lynn name) were of the Ward of Cheap. (Letter Book B., p. 239). Next year (1298) he was at the Assembly at the Guildhall, whenit was agreed that the Sandwich merchants should not traffic with foreigners. (B. 217).
In 1302 he was killed in a fray with John de Guildford near the house of John Heyroun, the first hyusband of the poet's grandmother (Kern pp. 22 and 23, quoting Assize Rolls).
It is, to say the very least, a very curious coincidence that this John de guildford in 1305 was sued by the Henry de Say, who in 1308 found young Robert le Chaucer or de Gunthorpe a berth as his attorney as King's Butler. If John Chaucer the Elder were the uncle of this Robert as he may well have been, this nepotism would be very natural." 200
"Agnes abducted her teenaged nephew John and tried to force him to marry her daughter, (and his double first cousin) Joan Ipswich. Yound John Chaucer was rescued by his stepfather and half-brother, and Agnes was imprisoned in Marchelsea Gaol. . . John Chaucer, having survived this mishap, went on to become a wealthy vintner and married Agnes de Copton, the niece of Hamo de Copton, 'was apparently the same John Copton who lived outside Aldgate and was slain in 1313 or '14, when Agnes was a child.' "197
"Englishmen did sometimes slip into the army at fifteen, as the poet's father seems to have done." 193
"The decisive factor in eliminating 1328 as a possible birth date of [Geoffrey] Chaucer is the legal proceedings in connexion with the abduction on 3 Dec. 1324 of John Chaucer, the poet's father, in an attempt to marry him to Joan, daughter of Walter de Westhall. In the efforts of the abductors to clear themselves, the statement was made in a petition dated 2 Edw. III  that John Chaucer was still unmarried." 194
Chaucer [son Geoffrey] was born, most likely some time in the early 1340s, into a family of quite well-to-do vintners living and traidng in the City of London, whither they ahd come from Ipswich within the two previous generations. The family home is supposed to have been the house on Thames Street, in the parish of St. Martin, Vintry, belonging to John Chaucer, which his son Geoffrey was finally to relinquish in 1381 (although he apparently had not lived there since his father's death in 1366). Besides that dwelling, John owned at one time or another various properties in and about the City (some inherited from his own and his wife's kinsfolk in the plague year of 1349), including land in Stepney and in the parish of St. Mary Matfelon without Aldgate." 204
"The poet's father, John Chaucer, was about thirty when Chaucer was born. He was a prominent and well-to-do citizen of London, a vintner (an importer and wholesale merchant of wines), as his own father had been. Chaucer's paternal grandmother, Mary was married three times - to John Herson, then to Robert Chaucer, and then to Richard Chaucer, a relative of Robert's. Cahucer's grandfather, Robert, died when John Chaucer was an infant; John was raised by his mother and her third husband. As a child of about twelve John Chaucer had had a bizarre experience: he was spirited away at sword's point on a December night by his aunt, Agnes Westhall of Ipswich, and one Geoffrey Stace (later her second husband), with the idea of marrying him to his cousin Joan, her daughter. The purpose of this rash act was to secure his inheritance from his own father and so keep in the Westhall family certain properties in Suffolk. The boy's stepbrother (his mother's son by her first husband, John Heron) and his stepfather (his mother's third husband) rode to Ipswich, entered the house, liberated him, and - so Agnes claimed later- seized goods worth £40. There followed a trial and numerous appeals. In the end, Aunt Agnes was imprisoned in the Marshalsea and fined £250 - a consideraable sum if you consider that even a century later one could live modestly on £5 a year. The amount was paid in full to John Chaucer by the time he was eighteen, and his Aunt Agnes, now Mrs. Stace, ended up buying the property she had tried to seize." 195
"This quarrelsome and litigious community left behind countless records of indictments, suits, pleas, writs, inquests, trials, and battles. In three of these a John Chaucer appears as mounted warrior on an unsuccessful English expedition against the Scots, 1327; in the next eyar as a ringleader in an attack on the abbot of Saint edmund (the band kidnapped the abbot and seized his valuables); and in January of the year following, 1329, as a participant in an attempted coup for which he was outlawed. Whether the John chaucer of these records was Cahucer's father or a relative, one can't be certain: John Chaucer had a cousin of the same name and maybe a stepbrother too (who should, however, have been called John Heron). . . So John Chaucer, briefly outlawed during a setback, was fighting on the winning side, the Lancastrian side - as were his stepbrother Thomas Heron and others of the Herson clan. Tene years later, 1338, John Chaucer was doing military duty in the army of King Edward III on an expedition into Flanders, the beginning the Hundred Years War. . . John Chaucer from his mid-twenties was a busy member of the London merchant community. We find him - age thirty - backing a law against bad wine sold in taverns, shipping wheat to Flanders. At thirty-five he was deputy to the king's chief butler in the port of Southampton, then shortly customs collector on exports of cloth and beds from five ports - appointments he help only a few years, not unlike appointments his own father and grandfather had held and his son Geoffrey would hold at about the same age. And real estate: when Geoffrey was a child, John Chaucer was busy with properties inherited from various kin wiped out by the Black Death. These were extensive, income-producing properties - at one time or another he owned buildings and land in London and Middlesex, a brewing establishment, twenty-odd shops outside the city wall of London at Aldgate, ten and a half acres nearby, and various properties in Middlesex and Suffolk."195
"In Ipswich lived Robert Chaucer's contentious sister Agnes - she was also his sister-in-law, as widow of Walter of Westhale, Mary Chaucer's brother. Agnes of Westhale, nee Malyn, is a lady remarked by history because after the death of Robert Chaucer (Geoffrey's grandfather), she made a snatch at his Ipswich property, hoping to consolidate his holdings and her own by conspiring with one Geoffrey Stace and others, and abducting the late Robert Chaucer's son John, then in his early teens, and trying to force the boy to marry her daughter (his double cousin) Joan. In righteous indignation John Chaucer's stepfather Richard and John's half brother Thomas Heyroun, probably with armed and eager servants, rode to Ipswich and captured young John Chaucer back, along with property worth, according to Agnes Malyn's suit, £40 (about $9,600). In the drawn-out counter-suit proceedings which folloowed, the Chaucers of London were awarded damages of £250 ($60,000) and both Agnes of Weshale and Geoffrey Stce, her collaborator, were imprisoned in Marshalsea Gaol for inability to pay. Two years later, Stace, now Agnes Malyn's husband, testified that John Chaucer had been satisfied concerning the fine, and the pair was released from prison. Geoffrey Chaucer's biographers have sometimes imagined that John Chaucer generously forgave the debt. But that seems unlikely. Just a few days before he testified that his debt was taken care of - on July 13, 1328 - Stace had borrowed exactly £250. Geoffrey Chaucer's forebears were, in short, a tough, grasping, fairly well-heeled breed, typical of the early fourteenth-century merchant family of rising fortunes, quick to draw their swords (John Chaucer was dignapped by force of arms, 'viz. swords, bows, and arrows'), quick to marry, if it seemed profitable, and quick to call in lawyers. They were not the type to throw away money with indifferent and saintly caritas - though neither was John Chaucer the type to nurse grudges. Not long after the debt to him was paid (if it was), he allowed his Aunt Agnes and Geoffrey Stace to buy the property they'd tried to steal from him." 193
"In the train of John Bedford, London skinner, he had followed the noble old early of Lancaster in a rising against Roger Mortimer - adviser and consort to Queen Isabella (mother of Edward III) and chief architect of the recent ignominious peace with Scotland - and had shared in Lancaster's defeat. In January 1329 John Chaucer had been indicted for his part in the revolt, and when he failed to appear in court to defind himself, he'd been declared an outlaw (May 22, 1329), which he remained until Mortimer's overthrow and execution, engineered by the young king, Edward III, in 1330, at which time the now blind earl of Lancaster ('blind Henry') and all those charged with him received pardon. Resurfacing in public, a well-built, war-toughened man of nearly twenty, John Chaucer was in a mood to forget old annoyances, especially those far off in Ipswich. Once he had comfortably settled into life as a London businessman, petty official, and social climber, drawing on his service to the house of Lancaster, in alll probability, and doubtless on friendships among the wealthy importers with whom he now moved daily and from whose ranks (lest anyone underestimate their clout) London would choose a good number of its mayors - he showed no mor disposition than would his gifted heir, in later years, to let any opportunity for increased prosperity or advancement slip past, much less to leave debts uncollected. John Chaucer was by all evidence an admirable and extraordinary man, well-liked by his fellow vintners, respected by the courts and money-lenders, amiable, gracious, and properly defenential in the presence of the nobility, who frequently employed him, yet decisive, even fierce, when times required - not a man to flinch from a just waar or a tavern brawl. His work was heartily approved and regularly rewarded, as his son's was to be. He was apparently elevated, by 1338, when he ws twenty-five or -six (early middle age by medieval standards), to the train of King Edward III when the king and his entourage visited Flanders and then traveled up the Rhine to negotiate an alliance with the Flemish king, Louis IV. (Since records are sketchy, there is a faint possibility that we may be dealing here with some other John Chaucer and that the mission was a military expedition, but it is very faint indeed). What John Chaucer's function was on that occasion is uncertain; his letter of protection says only that he went in the king's service and at the king's command. He may have gone, as scholars have traditionally assumed, as an authority on wine, a provider for the king's vast, sprawling household. If so, and if Edward III followed, John Chaucer traveled around the countryside as a member of the chief butler's stff on the look-out for first-class wines and buying them 'for the sustenance of [the king's] household,' making sure that 'the purveiances & buyinges by made to the le[a]st damage 7 disturbance of the merchants as the butler can or may devise, so alwaies as our lord the kinge have his auncient prises & al aother advantages which of right he ought to have bi reson of his seigniory.' . . If not a searcher or buyer, John Chaucer may have served as an experienced taster . . or he helped to convey, unload, and store the wine; or finally, he scheduled and kept records on the use of wine (also beer and ale) by the king's household, and kept track of the king's expensive cups." 193
"It seems to me unlikely . . . John Chaucer was not a household regular but an outsider, a specialist brought in for the occasion, apparently the diplomatic journey of 1338. Then what did he really do?
Let us look again at his later employment of deputy to the king's butler for Southampton. . . It was drudgery in fact, though exalted drudgery. John Chaucer was thus neither as eminent as a role in the king's personal household would imply, nor as lowly as Chaucer's biographers have imagined. . . He may have been valued not directly for his expertise in wine but for the charm and diplomacy of a talented though relatively minor civil servant, or as a skillful keeper of difficult accounts, or as a man whose business and social connections might prove useful to the crown. . . John Chaucer probably traveled, then, as a minor assistant in a company of full-fledged merchant-diplomats." 193
"He is first definitely identified as a vintner on August 1, 1342, when he was one of fifteen vintners who agreed to an ordinance made by the mayor, the aldermen, and the commonality of London prohibiting the watering down of tavern wine; and in all the later records concerning the property of his half brother Thomas Heyroun, he is explicitly 'John Chaucer, vintner.' . . .In March of 1356, at forty-four . . .he wads appointed as one of two fuild collectors in the Vintry Ward to gather money to equip two light boatds for the English fleet." 193
"Chaucer's father, John Chaucer, was born around 1312 or '13 and died in 1366. He was 'a citizen of London,' as he was proud to say, a rich and influential vintner - which is roughly the fourteenth-century equivalent of the modern large brewer in Ireland or England, though John Chaucer was not by any means a personage up to the enormous wealth and power of, say, the Busch family . . .He was a master craftsman, a guildsman, which, in the case of a vintner, is not like saying a member of a trade union but more like saying a senior professor in a major university . . or a senior partner in a large, politically oriented law firm. . . This Londoner John Chaucer was wealthy enough, thanks partly to his wife, to have diversified financial interests. He owned property scattered here and there throughout London and at least as far away as Ipswich, including one London house suitable only for a person of well-above-average means, the stond and timber house on narrow, heavily shaded Thames Street in the posh end of the Vintry Ward (near the present Strand) overlooking the river and the orchards beyond - the house he bequeathed to his son Geoffrey. When John Chaucer first occupied this house is impossible to say. The first record of his connection with the place is from July 25, 1345, when he was summoned to answer the prioress of Chestnut Convent, from whom he held the house in fief, for his failure to pay the past two years' rent (not rent in the modern sense but in the sense, rather, of feudal tribute). He apparently settled the account and kept the house until the time of his death, when it went to his wife Agnes and eventually, no doubt when Agnes died, to Geoffrey who released it in 1381 to one Henry Herbury. . . " 193
"In October 1349 a man named Nigel of Hackney . . brought a plea of intrusion against 'John Chaucer, vintner, and his wife Agnes,' with reference to the St. Botolph property formerly owned by Hamo Copton. If the property mentioned in these various records is all the same property,then what happened was, perhaps, that John Copton left his house to his brother Hamo; Hamo's executor tried to seize it for himself upon the death of Hamo's last surviving son; but the Chaucers rushed up from Southampton, where they'd been iving - bringing along with them their nine-year-old son - and immediately moved in, enforcing their claim by occupancy. Agnes later proved her right to the house in court. "193
"She [Agnes] and her husband John Chaucer in 1354 held property which they granted by deed to Simon de Plaghe, physician, citizen of London, and Joan, his wife - a brewing tenement with houses, buildings, and garden adjancent, and two shops and solars, formerly just outside the city wall. And later, in 1363, John and Agnes Chaucer agreed to the transfer of some nearby property, ten and a half acres of land with valuable appurtenances - twenty-four stops and two gardens - in Stepney and in the parish of st. Mary Mattefalon, outside Aldgate." 193
"John Chaucer's business career can be traced mainly through royal grants and appointments and through court appearances on his own behalf or on behalf of others. In 1343 he received a permit from the king to ship forty quarters of weat from Ipswich to Flanders, with the proviso tht he not take out of England any wool, hides, and wood'fells no customed. That grant, in effect, gave him large powers as an exporter,not only of wheat but of wood, etc., as long as the duty was paid; and there were few kinds of business in England more profitable - if one could get past the pirates - than trade with Flanders. In February 1347, when he was still in his mid-thirties - his son Geoffrey was now seven or eight - he was appointed deputy in the port of Southampton to the king's chief butler, John of Wesenham; and in April of the same year, his duties wer increased by his appointment as deputy to Wesenham for customs collection on cloth and beds exported by foreign merchants from Southampton, Portsmouth, and three other shipping centers. . . .John Chaucer gave up these offices, however, on October28, 1349, perhaps because the Black Death had brought him new land holdings, including the Hamo Copton place, where the Chaucers moved that same month. .. . As he grew older, increasingly sedate and substantial - that is, in 1355 and thereafter, or from his early forties onward - John Chaucer stood surety for loans and gave guarantee of good behavior for a number of Londoners of his acquaintance. He vouched for, among others, 'two taverners, one of whom had been sued by a woman for drawing blood, two alien vintners who were laater admitted to the freedom of the City of London, and a tailor thrown into the Tun for being a nightwalker [curfew breaker] in the City. Most interesting of the cases in which he stood surety is that in which he and four others gave security, on 9 December 1364, that Richard Lyons, London vintner, would cause no harm to Alice Perrers [Edward III's mistress and friend of Geoffrey Chaucer] or prevent her from going where she pleased and doing the business of the king as well asd her own. . . .John Chaucer was involved in numerous other legal squabbles. In Easter term, 1353, when he was forty, a charge of assault was brought against him in the Court of Common Ploease by one Geoffrey of Darsham, who claimed that at Iseldon (Islington, at that time a village some distance from London on the northeast outskirts) John Chaucer beat and wounded him and 'committed other outrages to his grave injury and against the king's peace.' How John Chaucer came out inthis suit no one knows. In 1357 he was sued for debt by John Long, London citizen and fishmonger. The outcome of that suit, to is unknown. . . He also saw duty on various occasions between 1353 and 1364 as a juryman of the Vintry Ward in the Court of Husting and once (in 1350) as a juror in the trial of a false coincer, that is, an alchemist." 193
"John Chaucer first bore arms alongside his older brother (that is, half brother) Thomas Heyroun in the disastrous campaign against the Scots which was initiated by Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella, and led by boyish, overconfident King Edward III, then fifteen years old (about John Chaucer's age)" 193
"Chaucer's father was not an alderman or, so far as we know, a warden of the Vintner' Company, and since wealth and status went hand and hand, one can infer that he wasn't among the wealthiest. Yet his status among his fellow vintners must have been high: in 1356 the 'wealthier and wiser' of them appointed him a collector of subsidy to be raised in the city to finance two warships. At various times he witnessed deeds, served on juries, and stood surety for friends and associates when they were accused or sued or othaerwise involved with the law." 195
"In one intriquing document dated December 9, 1364, Chaucer's ftaher stood surety with four others for Richard Lyons, vintner, guarenteeing that 'Alice Perrers would be safe from any danager and might go where she pleased and do the king's business or her own.' Alice Perrers, who was to become, if she was not already, the notorious mistress of Edward III, must by this time have been lady-in-waiting to "Queen Philippa, though she was only about sixteen. . . .If John Chaucer stood surety for him [Richard Lyons], they must have had some association, through this doesn't argue for equality of status: members of the merchant community had easy relations with one another in spite of rank, and on the whole with the 'foreigns' beneath them and noblemen above them as well. Perhaps John Chaucer was reckoned a proper person to stand surety because he was more substantial - with wealth going back several generations and of a better and older family - than the arriviste Lyons. Chaucer himself knew Alice Perrers; her father 9if he was Sir Richard de Perrers of Essex, as is thought) had supported Lancaser at the time of Edward II's deposition and could have known Chaucer's father from those old, troubled times. Such ties show that Chaucer by no means came from obscure origins. While his family were not very rich, neither were they newly rich." 195
"The family home on Thames Street in the Vintry Ward was comfortable and, by the standards of the age, large. The wine business was on the premises. There would have been wine cellars, a shop, and perhaps a tavern, and above these the family's rooms: a hall, a kitchen and pantry, two or three chambers, a solalr or sollars (lofts or rooms on an upper story, often overhangind), a yard where some poultry were kept, and a garden of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. A"the construction was the familiar wattle-and-daub of fourteenth-century towns. There might have been before the house a sign bearing a coat of arms, one of the pretensions of mercantile families; these might be legitimate arms claimed from an ancestor or procured from a herald. There were, in addition, coats of arms that signified the nature of the family business. Some families had both kinds. [The Chaucer coat of arms is known only from its use by Chaucer's son Thomas in the early fifteenth century, but John and Agnes Chaucer both had seals." 195
"Inside, the walls would have been whitewashed and hung with woold hangings, possibly some tapestires. Rugs were not yet in use, andthe stone floors were strewn with rushes sprinkled with sweet-smelling herbs. The wooden furniture was simple, but there were colorful cushions everywhere, embroidered, often, with heraldic or religious symbols. Beds were elaborate affairs, canopied for privacy and fitted with embroidered covers andhangings; the family all slept all in one room, private rooms being a newfangled taste. Heat was provided by fireplaces or barziers. Candles, though expensive, were among their luxuries, along with embroidered tableclothes, silver dishes, silver-gilt cups. There might have been two or three household servants, apart form the apprentices and employees of the business.
Thames Street was a block from the river, and the houses had paths leading to the quays. Between the street and the river was a waterfront chaos of small houses and shops. On the other side of the property from the street ran an open stream, the Walbrook, tht served conveniently as a sewage system, desppite complaints of its unhealthy vapors. The Vintry was one of the more prestigious wards of the city - within it four parishes, each with its church. London, like any such medieval city, was walled; the gates were closed at sundown, the streets were policed, 'nightwalkers' were prosecuted. The areas outside the walls - the 'suburbs' - were sparsely inhabited and disreputable, for thieves and outlaws lurked there in secret after dark." 195
"while Chaucer's father was deputy butler in Southampton, he left his business in the charge of his stepfather, Richard Chaucer, and his step-brother Thomas Heron. They both died of the plague and he inherited their properties. So he had to give up the deputy butlership and bring his family back in haste to London. Perhaps the family's absence from London was after all what saved them, for Southampton, much less populous and cramped, held less danger of contagion. They returned to the crippled city to find their families on either side all but wiped out. They may have viewed with perplexity and distress their own safety among so many dead. They may have been the objects of resentment from the poorer classes, because they could afford to flee." 195,205
"The poet may well have been born while his father (who came of a family of Collectors and Customs Officers at Ipswich, London and elsewhere) was temporarily stationed at Lynn, and that very many Lynn wine merchants and other were closely connected in the 14th century with London in general, and with people of the name of Chaucer in particular." 200
"That Dennington was one of the numerous bynames used by the poet's family has been clearly shown by Mr. Redstone, who pointed out that in 1343 John le Chaucer, of London, son of Robert, son of Andrew de 'Dynyones,' of Ipswich, released certain properties in Ipswich (Ipswich Corporation Records Enrolment, 16-17, Edward III., 25th July, 1343)." 200
"John, son of Robert de Dynnynton, of Ipswich, sued Agnes, widow of Walter de Westhale, in 1324 (Coram Rege, 18 Edward II.). This suit identifies him with the John Chaucer who brought a similar action in London. This John Chaucer was to have married Agnes' daughter, Joan de Westhale, who afters married Robert de Beverley." 200
"Another variorum reading of the name occurs in Feudal Aids of Essec, 1346, p. 175, where the Calendarer has -
'John de Genynton (rectius Benyngton) holds hald a knight's fee and a quarter in High Easter, Dunmow, which John Heyroun formerly held.'
I venture to think that this correction is wrong, for there is no place in England called Genyngton, that the name is really John de Denyngton, that he is the same as John Chaucer, and that the John Heroun was his stepfather John Heroun. Again in Calendar of Ancient Deeds (A, 1323) 1254-1267, a witness is John de Dernynton. Now there is no such place as Dernington. If it is Dennington he would fit in with John le Chaucer (2) on the sheet pedigree." 200
"John Chaucer (the poet's father) in 1324 claimed a tavern at Ipswich in 1324 (Redstone, p.. 257). He was deputy king's butler 1348 (Writs and Privy Seal). He was intimately connected with John Stody of Lynn, Mayor of London eight times between 1342-1365." 200
"A legal deed of 1381, which records Chaucer's giving up a tenement in Thames street, reveals that his [Geoffrey Chaucer's] father was John Chaucer, a vintner of London (c. 1312-1366), who had married agnes Copton (d. 1381) perhaps in the early 1330s. It is likely that Gorffrey was born in Thames Street, in the Vintry ward. He was born into a prosperous merchant family, which had been engaged in the export of wool and the import of wine in Ipwich." 203
"Deed of Geoffrey Chaucer, Son of John Chaucer, Vintner of London, quitclaiming to Henry Herbury, Vintner of London his Right in a Tenement formerly his fAther's in the Parish of St. Martin, Vintry, 19 June 1381. [Latin text to be entered]." 194
"John Chaucer, London vintner, who is named in the above record as the father of Geoffrey Chaucer, was born probably in 1312 or 1313 and died in 1366. He was the son of Robert le Chaucer, known also as Robert Malin le Chaucer, citizen and vintner of London, who was the son of Andrew de Dinnington (Dyny[n]tone, Dyninetone), of Ipswich, sometimes known as Andrew le Taverner." 194
"On 3 December 1324 Agnes de Westhall 9Westhale), paternal aunt of John Chaucer, and other of Ipswich abducted him by force (rapuerunt et abduxerunt) in London from the custody of Richard and Mary Chaucer, his stepfather and his mother, in order to marry him to his cousin Joan, daughter of Walter and Agnes de Westhall. In the course of the resultant legal proceedings (January 1326-October 1327) it was brought out that John Chaucer was under fourteen at the time of the abduction but over twelve before the suing of the writ, the date of which would have to be between 3 december 1324 and january 1326. From these facts the year of John's birth may be deduced as proably 1312 or 1313. The abduction of John in 1324 led to a number of lawsuits relating to his inheritance from his father, Robert le Chaucer, but did not lead to his marriage with Joan de Westhall. In fact he was still unmarried in 1328. The abduction did, however, lead to the imprisonment in the Marshalsea of John's aunt, Agnes de Westhall, with Geoffrey Stace, her collaborator in the abduction and later her second husband, and to their being fined in 1327 £250, which before 26 November 1330 they paid to John in full. The young heir's tenements were at the time valued at not more than 20s. a year. While the outcome of the above legal actions was still pending, a John Chaucer became involved in some military ventures. Along with his half-brother, Thomas Heron, he took part in the ineffectual summer camapign of the English against the Scots in 1327. A Thomas Heron is listed among the mounted men-at-arms raised by the City and also by John de Bedford, London skinner, for this expedition, and this Thomas was accompanied, according to Bedford's list, by a John Chaucer, who has ben identified either as John Heron, full brother of Thomas, or as John Chaucer, half-brother. Also, a 'John le Chaucer, brother of Thomas Heron,' was among persons indicted in Janaury 1329 for having taken part, with John de Bedford's troops, in the earl of Lancaster's abortive attempt to overthrow the government of Queen Isabella and Mortimer. John Chaucer, brother of Thomas Heron, was outlawed on 22 May 1329 for his share in these proceedings."194
"John Chaucer's business career, chiefly as a London vinatner or wine merchant, can be traced from 26 January 1337 onwards. In a recognizance of that date he is first styled, so far as present records show, as John Chaucer (John le Chaucer), citizen and vintner of London. He was frequently so called in later records. He was also referred to as a merchant of London. On 1 August 1342 John Chaucer was one of fifeen vintners who were present and consenting to an ordinance made by the major, aldermen, and commonalty of London for preventing the sale of bad wine in taverns. Int he following January he received a permit from the king to ship 40 quarters of wheat from Ipswich to Flanders, with he proviso that he should not take out fo the realm any wool, hides, and wool-fells not customed. In February 1347 he was appointed as deputy int he port of Southampton to the king's chief butler, John de Wesenham. In April 1347 his duties were increased by his appointment as Wesenham's deputy for collecting the custom on cloth and beds exported by foreign mercahnts from Southampton, Portsmouth, and three other ports. His office as deputy butler terminated on 28 October 1349, when he was replaced by another. Possibly he gave up the deputy butlership at this time because, in that year of the Black Death, several family properties came into his possession as the result of death among his and his wife's kinsfolk. For some years after 1349 records of John Chaucer relate mainly to dealings concerning these properties." 194
"In addition to the tenement on Thames Street, which Geoffrey CVhaucer quitclaimed in 1381 and which is supposed to have been the family home, John Chaucer owned at one time or another various properties in and about London, including a shop in the parish of St. Anthony which had belonged to his half-brother Thomas Heron; a tenement in the parish of St. Mary Aldermary church, which Thomas bequeathed to be sold; tenements and fre rents in London and Middlesex formerly of Hamo de Copton, Agnes Chaucer's uncle; a brewing tenement (tenementum bracineum) with houses, buildings, and garden adjacent, and two shoops and solars built thereover in the parish of St. Botolph without Aldgate, formerly of Hamo de Copton; 10 1/2 acres of land in Stepney (Stebenheth) and in the parish of St. Mary Matfelon without Aldgate, London; twenty-four shops and two gardens in the parish of St. Mary Matfelon without Aldgate; also quitrents from several other tenements." 194
"In 1355 and in succeeding years John Chaucer stood surety for a number of Londoners - among them two taverners, one of whom had been sued by a woman for drawing blood, two alien vitners who were later admitted to the freedom of the City of London, and a tailor thrown into the Tun for being a nightwalker in the City. Most interesting of the cases in which he stood surety is that in which he and four others gave security, on 9 December 1364, that Richard Lyons, London vintner, would cause no harm to Alice Perrers or prevent her from going where she pleased and doing the business of the king as well as her own [Latin to be entered]. John Chaucer took part in the normal civic duties of a freeman of the City. From 1339 to 1363 he frequently witnessed deeds relating to property in the Vintry, sometimes relating to properties elsewhere, being associated therein with other Londoners. From 1353 to 1364 his name occurs among jurymen of the Vintry ward in four pleas of land in the Court of Husting. In 1350 he served as a juror in the trial of a false coiner, and in the same year acted as surety for a fripperer who had been appointed guardian of two orphan children. In March 1356 the 'wealthier and wiser' of the commoners of Vintry ward, along with those of other wards, met and appointed John Chaucer and one other as collectors of their ward's share of a subsidy to be raised by the city towards providing two war vessels. In 1357 he answered as attorney for a minor when an assize of novel disseizin was summoned concerning the rent charge upon certain tenements in the parish of st. Martin in the Vintry." 194
"Besides the prolonged legal proceedings concerning his inheritance in which John Chaucer as a youth appeared at one time or another as both plaintiff and defendant, he was involved during his lifetime in various other lawsuits. In July 1345 the prioress of Cheshunt sued him for two years' back rent (£6) on the Thames Street tenement, and, after being summoned three times, he appeared in person and satisfied the prioress concerning the said arrears. There is also record of a plaint of intrusion brought in 1349 against John Chaucer and his wife Agnes touching a tenement in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldgate. In Easter term 1353 a charge of assault was brought against him in the Court of Common Pleas byu one Geoffrey de Darsham, who alleged that at Iseldon John Chaucer beat and wounded him and committed other outrages to his grave injury and against the king's peace. The outcome of this suit is not known. Nor is the outcome known of the suit for debt brought against John Chaucer in 1357 by John Long, London citizen and fishmonger. In January and April 1360 John and Agnes Chaucer brought plaints of intrusion against Roger Thorold, father and son, London vintners, concerning the tenement in the parish of St. Martin the Vintry." 194
"The year of John Chaucer's death was 1366, as shown by the following evidence: On 16 January 1366 he executed a deed with his wife, Agnes, the last action of his of which we have record. In a plea of land dated 13 July of the same year Agnes is referred to as the wife of Bartholomew Chappel (atte Chapel). that this Agnes had been wife of John Chaucer is shown by two quitclaim deeds enrolled in the Court of Husting, both made in May 1367 by Bartholomew Chappel and his wife Agnes, the latter being described as formerly wife of John Chaucer, late citizen and vintner. John Chaucer, therefore, must have died between 16 Janaury and 13 July 1366, and in the same period his wife remarried. No will of John Chaucer has come to light, either among the will sproved and enrolled in the Court of Husting or among those proved in the various eccesiastical courts of London - records of the latter, however, not being entirely complete for the period. If he had retained any property in Suffolk as well as in London, his will should have been proved in the court of the archbishop, records of which begin after John Chaucer's time. Nor has the place of his burial been ascertained. The church of St. Martin in the Vintry, within which parish the Chaucer home lay, would seem to have been the most likely place of burial, but no record of a Chaucer monument in it has been found." 194
"The earliest recorded connexion of John Chaucer with the Vintry tenement on Thames Street is dated 1345, when on 25 July he was summoned to answer the prioress of Cheshunt convent concerning two years of back rent. The exact date when John Chaucer's ownership and/or occupation of the house began is not known; thereofre it cannot be inferred with any certainty that Geoffrey Chaucer was born there, though he was probably brought up there. If Geoffrey Chaucer's release in 1381 was based upon the deed whereby his father obtained the tenement, the acquisition presumably took place before the death in 1343 of William Gager (le Gauger), vintner, whose tenement is described in the release as adjoining the Chaucer property of the east." 194
"John Chaucer presumably retained possession of the tenement until his death in 1366. . . We have but meagre descriptive detail concerning the Chaucer tenement on Thames Steet. In the record of purchase by Nicholas de Bristol in 1331 it is described merely as a tenement with appurtenances in the parish of St. Martin in the Vintry, London, between the former tenement of Robert de Gunthorp on the east and that of John le Mazeliner on the west, and extending from Thames Street on the south to the water of Walbrook on the north. In the agreement of 12 March 1367, made by Bartholomew Chappell and his wife Agnes with Henry Herbury, this property is described as a tenement with houses built above, solars, cellars, and other appurtenances [Latin to be entered], situated between the tenement of William Nafferton on the east and that of the heirs of John Long on the west, and extending from Thames street on the south to the water of Walbrook on the north. In Geoffrey Chaucer's quitclaim of 1381 only the location is given- between the tenement of William le Gager toward the east and that which was formerly John le Herbury's alienation of the tenement to Cheshunt priory in 1395 the jurors describe it as a messuage and two cellars in the parish of St. Martin in the Vintry, worth 13s. 4d. a year beyond reprises and held in free burgage of the king, without mesne lord. The deeds relating to Herbury's alienation of the tenement show that it lay between other tenements east and west, abutting on Thames Street to the south and the river Walbrook to the north." [More details to be entered] 194
"The seals of John and Agnes were affixed to three of the deeds. All three of John's seals are the same; the one attached to the deed of 1363 is described by Mr. Selby, Acad., XII, 364. Only helf a seal, which was of red wax and about the size of a shilling, has come down to us, but what remains is amply sufficient to construct a facsimile of the complete impression. The legend runs thus: -
AIGILLUM JOH[ANNIS CHAU]CER, the portion between the brackets having been lost. The field is - Ermine, on a chief three birds' heads issuant." 194
"The term wealthy, or its equivalent, has often been applied to John, and a survey of the real estate which is known to have been in his possession at various times confirms the use of the word, and also the deduction which was drawn from the omission of his name from his step-father's will (p. 79). [details to be entered] The above enumeration includes a fair amount of real estate, and when to this is added the property of which no record exists, it must be admitted that John was a person of considerable wealth and importance. The increase of the Chaucers in prosperity and influence seems to have been one of steady growth . . . There are several points concerning his possessions that deserve attention: first, it would appear that most of them came through his wife."202
"John's dwelling-place cannot be accurately located. In 1328 he was living with Richard and Mary in Cordwanerstrete Ward, but after that we have no clue to the house in which he lived. Professor Skeat and Mr. Kirk state that he lived in Cordwainer street, but they have apparently confused the ward with the street. He is usually represented as having dwelt in his Thames street house, and as this is the only house which we know him to have had in London that was not granted to some one else, the conjecture is the most probable that can be made (cf. p. 101)." 202
"Chaucer's father in his younger years had done military duty. . . Several years before, his father was charged with assault in the court of Common Pleas by a certain Geoffrey Darsham, who testified that John Chaucer had beaten and wounded him at Iseldon, just outside London. Even now, as he is leaving home, his father is being sued for debt. But fights and lawsuits were quotidian affairs. . .. In the early months of 1366, Chaucer's father died." 195
He "was alive in January 1366 but dead by May 6, 1367, when his widow remarried."193
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