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Geoffrey CHAUCER 3361
THE PROLOGUE, THE KNIGHTES TALE
THE NONNE PREESTES TALE
THE CANTERBURY TALES
REV. RICHARD MORRIS, LL.D.
Author of Historical Outlines of English Accidence
Member of the Council of the Philological Society
A NEW EDITION
REV. WALTER W. SKEAT, Litt.D.
O maister dere and fader reverent,
HOCCLEVE, De Regim. Princ. st. 281.
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CHAUCER was, like Spenser, Ben Jonson, Milton, etc., a Londoner born and breda. In his Release of his right to his father's former house in Thames-street, London, to one Henry Herbury, the poet describes himself as son of John Chaucer, citizen and vintner of London (City Hustings Roll, 110, 5 Ric. II, membrane 2). His mother was no doubt Agnes Chaucer, who is described in another Roll as the wife of John Chaucer in 1349. Chaucer's grandfather was Robert Chaucer, of Ipswich and London, who married a widow, Maria Heyroun, with a son Thomas Heyroun. (Her third husband was Richard Chaucer, a London vintner.) This Thomas Heyroun left his land to be sold by his brother (that is, brother of the half-blood) John Chaucer, the poet's father. As John Chaucer's house in Thames-street was by Walbrook-a stream flowing from Finsbury Moor-it must have been near the spot where the South Eastern Railway (from Cannon street) now crosses Thames-street. There, on Thames bank, the poet spent his earliest days; there for twelve and a half years later, 1374-1386, he did his daily work in the Custom House, after his marriage and settling down in his rooms at Aldgate. Near there he must have gone to school. Out of school and after play, the boy would probably sometimes help his father in his wineshop and cellar, and fill citizens' pots with the wine they required.
Young men in Chaucer's time finished their education either at the University, or in some nobleman's house as pages. Chaucer's father (John) was in attendance on Edward III and his queen Philippa in their expedition to Flanders and Cologne in 1338 (Rymer, v. 51); and to the father's connection with the court, the son no doubt owed his training and first appointment.
The first records of the name of Geoffrey Chaucer are on two parchment leaves, fragments of a Household Account,
a The Testament of Love, which names London as the birthplace of its writer, contains internal evidence that it was not the poet's work.