Geoffrey Chaucer

“During Chaucer’s lifetime there was a constant tussle between church and state over the question of sanctuary [the option of an accused person to seek protection from civil authorities in the church for a period of 40 days, sometimes longer if he could get there before the civil authorities got to him]. The validity of the concept was regularly challenged. In 1378, for example, Sir Alan Buxhill, Keeper of the Tower, broke into the abbey [the grounds of Westminster Abbey–considerably larger then than now] with forty soldiers to recapture two escaped ‘debtors,’ Robert Haulay and John Shakyl–a clear violation of the sanctuary of Westminster. Buxhill and his men chased Haulay all over the abbey until they eventually killed him–along with the sacristan who was trying to defend him. Three months later, John Wyclif was rolled out at the Gloucester Parliament to make the theological argument against the applicability of sanctuary in cases of debt.”

Excerpted from Who Murdered Chaucer, by Terry Jones et all, Ch 15, pg 287-88.

This is one of the early mentions of a version of the HAWLEY name.  That Haulay was kept in the Tower suggests he was not your common, garden-variety debtor and may appear in Debrett’s Peerage or  the Dictionary of National Biography.


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