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It appearsplainlythat the Duke of Lancaster, who WMROwin the zenith of power.let slip no opportunity of serving so firm a friend and so useful adependent as our Author was, for in the very beginning of this reign it appeals that by lctterspatentsdatedMarch 2^137 7 the King confirmed his grandfather's grant of twenty marks a-year j and by other-letters patents dated the T&thofAppilfollowinghelikewileconfirmedtheother grant of a pitcher of wine daily; but whether Chaucer remained in his office of Comptroller of the Custom* is not so clear, though the contrary seems to be most probable, for in a short time after his affairs were in iuchconfufioawefind that, in the second year of Kingftichard, he was obliged to have recourscto the King's protection in order to screen him from his creditors; but howhe came tofallintothefedifficulties, and whether they were temporary only or of a long continuance, is a point that at this distance it is not possible to
carried his point before John Duke of Lancaster, then acting as Lord High-Steward, as to be allowed to officiate for that time with Afdl-vojurt that it should not infringqvthe right of Kdtnond Staplegate, or any who Ihouhl pretend title for the future. This ward ot' our Author died about thirteen years after, but the manor continued in the famHy till the beginning of-the reifcn of Henry VI. when it passed into that of the Chey"neys, who in 'he beginning of Queer. Elizabeth's reign fold it to Sir Francis Barham of London, and his grandson Mr. Robert Barium was in possession of it at the coronation of King Charles II. when Mr. Erasmus Smith, on the behalf of the said Mr. Barham, assisted at the coronation, and presented the three maj>le cups. This manor has lince passed into other families.
'."tain; bet from a comparison of circumstances it tens so be most likely that it waB from some sudden accident he sell under this-mUfortune, and that he had recourse to the King's protection merely to gain time tofcttfehisconcerns. Onemaybethemoreconfirn:;d ill this by comparing hU circumstances at this junc-i tare with those oi his family soon after. We have no direct historical lights indeed, but methmks though it be a. new it is still a probable conjecture* that aWutrhU time he conTtyed all his estates to his eldest son Thomas Chaucer; and the facts that seem to strengthen this conjecture shall be submitted to the reader's judgment at the bottom of the page*.
* Ax tbs bottom oftbcpageJ] All who hive hitherto attempted to give any account of Chaucer's life have been very much at a low about this circumstance of his having recourse to the Kinj'i protection, which shows that m the very beginning <«f th'sTeign his affairs were in great disorder, and yet M Is very plain that himself and his patron flourished in tbefuirpossessioft of power and plenty aslong as King Edwartf J11, lived. A certain writer hint* that Chaucer exhausted Ms fortune in bib foreign embassies; biit a later writer observes, with-greaterprobahllity, that be made his fortune by them; yet,ashe very justly i eftiarkil, this by no means solves the doubt how ho should come to be so very poor in so short a time, after his pollening so great wealth, for which amongst others we have his own authority. Now this rddlc.Uhink.mavbeveryprobablyexplainedthw. Our Author, Chaucer, about this time found out a very considerable match for his eldest.fbh Thomas Chaucer, and this was Maud, the-second daughter of Sir John Burghcril!e,amr.n of very considetf■Jlt rank, but by no means brother to Sir Bartholomew Burgherthe Knight of the Garter, and of Dr. Henry Eurghcrthe Bfrftop of Lincohl, Chancellor anil Treasurer os England, as A In the fourth year of King Richard the Isd's reign
he procured a confirmation of the grants that had beta
formerly made to himself and to Philippa his wife,
which is a proof that he had a great personal interest
in this court, since at the time of his obtaining this
grant the power and influence of the Duke ofXan
certain writerveryconfidcntlyasserts,but rather, if I gAiessright, the nephew of those great men, and the son of Sir John Burg; hershe, who was truly their brother; and tin? I am led to believe, because it appears upon record that the custody of this John Burgherlhe, the father of Maud, was granted in his non* age to the daughter of Sir Bartholomew Burgherfhc beforementioned. A great fortune she was without doubt, but not the only, daughter oriole heiress of her family, ashasbeen represented, or at least not so at the time ihe married Thomaa Chaucer, though ihe might be and indeed was so afterwards. Neither are we to believe what we are told of her being a ward to the crown, for her father was then living, and lived many years after, that is, to the 19th of Richard II. when he left behind him twodaughters,Margaret the eldest,first married to Sir Jolui Greuville Knight, and then to John Ariir.dei Esq. and this Maud. Now my supposition is that Geoffrey Chaucer, for obtaining this great match, fettled ail his land estate upon his son, an<l that his doing this might bring upon him those demands which put him under the necessity of obtaining the King*5 protection. As to the several facts upon which this conjecture ii built, I think they are supported by as good authorities as can be desired -f nor can any great difficulty arise from the age os this young gentleman, a* may appear thus: Chaucer married his wife Philippa Rouet about the year I 560, and if he had this son the next year he might be of full age in the latter end of the fourth year of Richard 11. when this marriage took place, and before which in all probability the father might make this settlement. We (hall have occasion hereafter to say more of thl* gentleman, who became a much greater man than his father, to whom he wan a support in his declining yean.
caller was very much funk; aWfrrfm a t*ram btsiriifier accidents waiting upon-his'tfor&uct- he was become equally suspected bythe 'King and tfifKlied-bythe people. The great enCGiiragamerrtandsupporrhehad. afforded to Mr. Wicfclifio^wasattended with' conse''' qnencea that he did not in trie least expect, ahclyet found it not in hi« power t6hinder; for without doubt the Duke's great view in supporting this party was-to weaken the power of the ckrgy5 and to hinder them from taking so large a share at) theydidin the manage-' ment of alttemporalatfairs; butfome great men ofh'is party,mi'stakir^hwvievJjpoftedtMngstoexcTem'itieSj and by countenancmgi^meranf preachers without either learning or found principles, made way for a sudden turn, which had'very hear subverted the constituti»irandt>hr»wn-aUtMng^in.t6 confusion iforthecommon people, thus encouraged to shake off the yojre of the clergy, began tcrthfnk-f I«ft of the government'also too heavyyand, taking bcca'sicmfre'm some taxes' lately imposed,-rose up in,arme,£tmderthc conduct-of Wat Tyler, jack Straw, ancjsiierii kitiS os leader.?! with al wilil intention of frceingtflem'setve's from whatever these wise leaders taugM them to look upon as oppressions; Their resentment was chiefly directed a^ gainst she-clergy, a« appears'by t!ieir: beheading the, Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prior cf Sr-John's by Smithfjetd.whb was LoftfTreasurcr.and'jy their burning that stately priory, and plundering the afobies of St. Alban's, Bury, and several others.
As soon as this rebellion was somewhat abated the parliament began to inquire into the cause of it; nor were there wanting enemies of Wickliffe who charged him and his followers with being the encouragers of it: but that is unlikely to be true; for had the rebels been Wickliffe's friends they would never have burnt The Savoy, the palace of his patron the Duke of Lancaster. However, some of hisfollowersgave too much cause for such asurmise, as Pr. Hereford,who asserted that ArchbiihopSudburydescrved that death he found; and the King the year following empowered the Bishops to arrest Wickliffe, and forbad his subjects to. encourage any of that persuasion; yet Wickliffe appeared, and seemed partly to satisfy the Biihops with his opinion.
It is commonly said by most of our historians that from this time forward the Duke of Lancaster disowned the Wicklivites, and charging the late disturbances upon them styled their opinions the doctrine of devils. The writers also of our Author's life give into this opinion, and seem to think that he likewise began to temporize, and did not speak his sentiments sofreely asformerly; but the truth is otherwise, for the Duke of Lancaster didnot condemn Wickliffe's doctrine, but the doctrines of Dr. Hereford and other followers of Wickliiie, who had now deserted him,