Open main menu


CHESTRE, THOMAS (fl. 1430), was the author of an English poem on the Arthurian romance of 'The noble Knighte Syr Launfal,' freely adapted from the French. An early manuscript is in the British Museum (MS. Cott. Calig. A. ii.) Ritson printed the poem for the first time in his 'Ancient English Metrical Romances,' London, 1802, i. 170–215. In 1558 John Kynge obtained the Stationers' Company's license to print a book, containing 'Syr Lamwell,' and Laneham mentions a publication of the same name in his famous letter from Kenilworth. This work has been often identified with Cheetre's poem, but it is more probably a later ballad based on Chestre's poem, and printed in Messrs. Furnivall and Hales's edition of Bishop Percy's folio manuscript under the title of 'Syr Lambewell.' Chestre has been claimed as the author of other fifteenth-century romances, such as 'Emare' and the 'Earl of Tholouse,' but there is no evidence to support the conjecture.

[Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Ritson's Ancient Romances, i. 170-216, iii. 242-3; Warton's Hist. of English Poetry. ed. Haslitt, iii. 95-8, iv. 108; Arbor's Transcript of the Stationers' Reg. i. 79; Nichols's Progresses of Elizabeth.]

S. L. L.