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Editor of 'Specimens of Early English.'
Member of the Council of the Philological Society.
EVENTFUL as the early life of Chaucer must have been, we have no sources of information from which we can gather even the simplest facts concerning his birth, birthplace, parentage and education, which are thus involved in much obscurity and uncertainty. The Testament of Love cannot be allowed to have any weight as an authentic autobiography, or London a might claim the honour of being the place of the poet's birth. The name Chaucer, though not belonging to any noble or distinguished family, was of some antiquity, and seems to have been borne by persons of respectability and wealth, some of whom were connected with the city of London; and in the local records of the period (twentythird
year of Edward III), mention is made of a certain Richard Chaucer, a vintner of London, 'who,' says Speght, ‘might well be Geoffrey Chaucer's father b.'
The first record of the name of Geoffrey Chaucer was discovered in 1866 by Mr. E. A. Bond, the present Keeper of the MSS. in the British Museum, on two parchment leaves which had, some three or four centuries ago, been pasted down to the covers of an ancient manuscript, purchased a few years before 1866 by the British Museum, and now known as the Additional
• Also the citye of London, that is to me so dere and swete, in which I was forthgrowen; and more kindly (natural) love have I to that place than to any other in yerth (earth), as every kindly creture hath full appetite to that place of his kindely engendrure and to wilne reste and peace in that stede to abyde.' (Test. of Love, Book i. $ 5.)
b See Morley's English Writers, vol. ii. p. 142.