The Reeve of Bawdeswell – a character in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
CHAUCER & BAWDESWELL Robin Taylor, Feb. 1998
An article, said to be from The Byntre & Bawdeswell Magazine dated January 1908 says:
“Mr Walter Rye, the learned antiquarian has been able to identify
John Chaucer of
On reading Walter Rye's book "Chaucer, A
Norfolk Man" which he published In 1915 after a lifetime of researching
the poet, one is left with little doubt Chaucer was well acquainted with
His grandfather was a Customs Officer at
Various individuals from Bawdeswell crop up from time to time in old records. Thomas de Baldeswell who was admitted Freeman of London In 1312 on the same day as William de Knapton (his sister-in-law was once betrothed to Chaucer's father)... a remote family acquaintance and a bit before he was born.
of the name Thomas de Baldeswell who became a
Freeman of Lynn in 1382 and afterwards an assessor of Taxes at
third possibility. It is thought Chaucer might have been at
The poet is also believed to have been a friend of the Countess of Pembroke who was Patron of Bawdeswell Church Living - sponsoring the local clergyman.
How he came to use the village's name in his story can only be guessed at.
A possible theory is that in his work as a Collector of Revenue in the Eastern Counties for the King, and through various people connected with the village, he would know of Bawdeswell and the sound of the name suited the rather bawdy character of his Reeve.
Rye never turned up any connection between Bawdeswell and Chaucer other than
that he was a
throw in the suggestion that Chaucer must have travelled between King's Lynn
Maybe he just liked the name of the place or he based his Reeve on one of the people that came from Bawdeswell - either Thomas de Baldeswell the Tax Assessor whom he would have met at Lynn in the course of his own work, or the Franciscan monk at Oxford whom he might have known, or somebody he met whilst passing through.
I am indebted to Dr Andrew Macnair for the loan of 'Chaucer A