Chaucer's Official Life
The Esquires Of The King's Household
We have the names of the esquires of the king's household in two lists of 1368 and 1369,
printed in the Chaucer Life Records [Footnote: See page 13 ff.]. In the study of the
careers of these esquires the most difficult problem is to determine the families from
which they were derived. Had they come from great families, of course, it would not have
been hard to trace their pedigrees. But a long search through county histories and books
of genealogy, has revealed the families of only a few, and those few in every case come
from an unimportant line. It is clear then that they never were representatives of highly
important families. A statement of the antecedents of such esquires as I have been able to
trace, the names arranged in alphabetical order, follows.
John Beauchamp was almost certainly either that John Beauchamp of Holt who was
executed in 1386, or his son. In either case he was descended from a younger branch of
the Beauchamps of Warwick. [Footnote: Issues, p. 232, mem. 26, Peerage of England,
Scotland, etc., by G. E. C., vol. 1, p. 278.]
Patrick Byker, who was King's "artillier" in the tower of London, [Footnote: 1362 Cal. C.
R., p. 373.] was the son of John de Byker who had held the same office before him.
[Footnote: 35 Edw. III, p. 174 Cal. Rot. Pat. in Turr. Lon.] William Byker, probably a
relative, is mentioned from about 1370 on as holding that office [Footnote: Devon's
Issues, 1370, p. 33, Issues, p. 303, mem. 14.]. I have been able to learn nothing further
about the family.
Nicholas Careu: in the records one finds reference to Nicholas Careu the elder and
Nicholas Careu the younger [Footnote: Ancient Deeds 10681.]. Since the elder was
guardian of the privy seal from 1372 to 1377 [Footnote: Rymer, p. 951, 1069.] and in
1377 was one of the executors of the will of Edward III, it seems likely that the esquire
was Nicholas Careu the younger. At any rate the younger was the son of the older
[Footnote: C. R. 229, mem. 33 dorso, 12 Rich. II.] and they were certainly members of
the family of Careu in Surrey [Footnote: 1378 Cal. Pat. Roll, p. 143, 1381-5 Cal. Pat.
Roll, passim, Cal. Inq. P. M. III, 125.]. The pedigrees of this family do not show Nicholas
the younger (so far as I have found). But a Nicholas, Baron Carew, who may have been
the keeper of the privy seal, does occur [Footnote: Visitation of Surrey Harleian Soc. p.
17.]. The name of his son, as given in the pedigree, is not Nicholas; consequently
Nicholas, the younger, was probably not his eldest son. This last supposition is supported
by certain statements in Westcote's Devonshire [Footnote: p. 528. Of course it is not
certain that this Sir Nicholas was the Keeper of the Privy Seal.] where we are told that
"Sir Nicholas Carew, Baron, of Carew Castle, Montgomery in Wales, married the
daughter of Sir Hugh Conway of Haccomb, and had issue Thomas, Nicholas, Hugh," etc.