Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
BATTLE ABBEY ROLL.
ACCOUNT OF THE NORMAN LINEAGES.
IN THREE VOLUMES.—VOL. I
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2007
or Bourchier: not the original form of this great name, which, derived from Boursseres in Burgundy, passed through various stages of transmutation as Berseres, Bursers, Boussers, Burcer, Bowser (as it is given by Duchesne) Burghcher, &c, &c, before it finally reached the one in which it is familiar to us. Urso de Berseres, in 1086, held Senly in Buckinghamshire (Domesd.) and Sylvester de Bursers, in 1165, was a tenant of the Honour of Clare, in Suffolk (Liber Niger). Nearly two hundred years after this, the name first comes to the front, on the marriage of Sir John, the son of Robert de Burser, with the heiress of Stansted Hall in Essex, "where his posterity grew in time so famous." She was the only child of Walter de Colchester and his wife Joan, one of the sisters and co-heirs of Roger de Montchensie, thus succeeding to a great estate, and bringing her husband an important position in the county. He was one of the justices in 1318: a Conservator of the peace in 1319, and a Justice of the Common Pleas in 1321. His son and successor Robert rapidly rose into eminence. He was Justiciar of Ireland, Lord High Chancellor of England, a baron by writ in 1342, and with the Black Prince "in the very heat of the battle" at Cressy. He had the King's license to hold his court leet at Halsted, to impark his woods there, and to make a castle of his manor house at Stansted. Edward III. further selected him as one of the ambassadors sent to treat for a peace with France in 1347. He died two years afterwards, cut off by the plague that then universally raged in England; and left two sons: John, second Lord Bourchier, and William, father of the first Earl of Eu. He, again, had found a wealthy wife, Margaret, sole heiress of Sir Thomas Prayers, by Anne, daughter and heir of Henry de Essex, one of the descendants of an earlier Henry, who was Baron of Rayleigh and Standard Bearer of England.
John de Bourchier, who succeeded to his father's barony at twenty, "was one of the Lieutenants appointed by Edward III. to prosecute his right and title to the Crown of France, and spent a considerable part of his life in the wars of that kingdom, where he acquired great reputation."—Morant. He was some time Governor of Flanders and Captain of Ghent;—appointed, it is said, at the request of the Flemings themselves; and lived to be an old man—old enough to claim exemption from further service, either in the field or in the council chamber. The next Lord obtained a similar immunity on the same score of age and infirmity, and yet only out-lived his father nine years. The barony passed to his daughter Elizabeth, who successively carried it to Sir Henry Stafford and Sir Hugh Robsart, but died childless in 1432, when it retorted to her cousin Henry, the second Earl of Ewe.
He was the grandson of William de Bourchier (the younger son of the first Baron), and the Louvaine heiress whom he had married. His father, a second William, had been made Constable of the Tower and created Earl of Ewe by Henry V., being the second husband of Anne Plantagenet, Countess of Stafford, daughter and eventual sole heir of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, the sixth and youngest son of Edward III. They had four sons, who in honour of their royal blood, all filled high positions in the world, and were prominent in the bloody conflicts of the Red and White Rose. The eldest, Henry, second Earl of Ewe, became, as Lord Bourchier, the head of the house. Thomas, the second, first Bishop of Ely, and then for thirty-two years Archbishop of Canterbury, "wore a mitre fifty-one years, the like not to be paralel'd in any other Dignitary of the Church, before, nor since." William, the third, was summoned to parliament as Baron Fitz Warine in right of his wife. John, the youngest, married the heiress of another barony, and had summons to parliament as Lord Berners.
Henry, the second Earl, began life, as did his brother, a zealous Lancastrian, and received many favours at the hand of Henry VI. He was only once summoned in his Norman dignity, for in 1446 he received the English title of Viscount Bourchier, and eight years later was Lord Treasurer of England. But his marriage changed his politics. The Bourchiers had become a power to be reckoned with in the State; and a princess of the blood, Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Earl of Cambridge, Lord Protector of England, and aunt of Edward IV., was given him in marriage by her brother the Duke of York, "in the firme hope and sure confidence that he and hys generacion should be a perpetual ayde to the duke and his sequele, as well in prosperitie as in aduersitie, associate together in all chance of fortune." Nor was this hope deceptive. Not only did Lord Bourchier forsake his old master and attach himself to the House of York, but his brothers followed in his wake, and Lord Berners, who had been installed a Knight of the Garter for his valour in the Lancastrian army at St. Albans, was five years afterwards appointed Governor of Windsor Castle by Edward IV. Lord Bourchier himself was loaded with honours and estates it the accession of the new dynasty. He was re-appointed Lord Treasure, created Earl of Essex, and received the castle and honour of Wark, with Tyndale in Northumberland, forfeited by Lord Ros; Aylesbury and other Buckinghamshire manors that had been the Earl of Devon's; the possessions of the attained Earl of Wiltshire in Essex, Suffolk, and Lancashire, and the Cambridgeshire estate of "John Ormund, alias Boteler." Nor were these lavish grants deemed sufficient; for in 1464, the King, "in recompense of the charge he had been at in his service, granted him Licence to transport 1,600 Woolen Clothes, of his proper Goods, or any others, without any Accompte, or Customs for the same." He died the same year as the King, having had, besides a daughter, Isabel, who only lived a few days, seven sons, almost all of whom advanced their fortunes by marriage, but, with the one exception of the eldest, left no posterity:
1. William, whose wife was the Queen's sister, Anne Wydeville.
2. Sir Henry, married to Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Thomas, Lord Scales.
3. Sir Humphrey, married to Joan, daughter and co-heir of Sir Richard Stanhope, who, on the death of her elder sister, Maud, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, brought him their mother's barony of Cromwell, by which title he was summoned to parliament in 1460. Eleven years after that, he and another Humphrey Bourchier .(the son of the first Lord Berners) fell fighting for the House of York at the battle of Barnet.
4. Sir John, married to Elizabeth, grand-daughter and sole heir of William, fifth Lord Ferrers of Chartley, and widow of Sir Edward Grey.
5. Sir Thomas married to Isabel, daughter and heir of Sir John Barre, and widow of Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Devon, beheaded in 1469.
6. Sir Edward, slain at Wakefield.
7. Fulke, died young.
William, the eldest, who had died in his father's life-time, and was the only one of these childless brothers that did not die s. p., left a son and two daughters; Henry, the second Earl and last heir-male; Cecily, married to John Devereux, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, in whose descendants the Earldom of Essex was ultimately vested; and Isabel, probably died young.
Henry succeeded to the Earldom on his grandfather's death in 1483, when he was not more than eleven; yet Dugdale asks us to believe that, only two years afterwards, he was selected by "that prudent Prince," Henry VII., as one of his Privy Council. Though he is described as "a person of singular endowments," this is as astounding as the statement that his cousin, the second Lord Berners, had been made a Knight of the Bath by Edward IV. at the unripe age of eleven. It should, however, be borne in mind that the Bourchiers, with their usual felicitous tactics, had turned their faces to the rising sun, and earned the gratitude of the new Tudor dynasty. They had all taken part with the Earl of Richmond. Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated at his coronation; and the same Lord Berners who had been so prematurely knighted by the Yorkist king was among the hostages left with the King of France "as security for the re-payment of the charges incurred in fitting out the expedition." One of the new King's first acts was to redeem them.
The young Lord Essex took the field betimes. In 1492 he went with the King to the siege of Boulogne; and in 1496 was one of the three Earls that commanded the first division of the army at Blackheath. "Great confidence," Lord Bacon tells us, "was reposed in these three Leaders: All, men famed and loved among the people." On the accession of Henry VIII. he was named Captain of his Horse-guard, a newly formed and gorgeous corps of "Fifty Horse, trapp'd with Cloth of Gold, or Goldsmith's work: whereof every one had his Archer, a Demi-Lance, and Coustrill." From this time forth he belonged to the brilliant train of knightly courtiers that attended the King in peace and in war. As Lieut.-General of all the spears he went with him to Therouenne and Tournay; and was one of the four challengers at the famous Jousts held in honour of the King's sister, Queen Margaret; where he, with the King himself, the Duke of Suffolk, and Nicholas Carew, "answered all corners." His was among the stateliest figures in the magnificent pageant known is the Field of the 'Cloth of Gold, where the two Kings of France and England met to outvie and outdazzle each other in splendour. But in 1539, "adventuring to ride a young unruly Horse, at his Manor of Basse in Com. Hertf., he had the bard hap to be overthrown; and by the fall, to break his neck." He had increased his vast patrimony by the acquisition of one of the Duke of Buckingham's forfeited manors, granted to him by the King, and his marriage with the elder co-heir of Sir William Say. But he left no son to inherit it. His only child, Lady Anne, was Baroness Bourchier in her own right, and the wife of William, Lord Parr of Kendal, who in 1541 had livery of all her lands. A horrible mystery of some kind enshrouds the history of this most unhappy woman. Her children were bastardized by Act of Parliament in the following year: notwithstanding which her husband was created Earl of Essex in 1543 (a few months after his sister Katherine had become Queen of England), "with the same place and voice in Parliament" that had belonged to his father-in-law. Edward.VI., on his accession, advanced "his honest uncle," as he was pleased to call him, to the Marques-sate of Northampton, and constituted him Lord Great Chamberlain for life in 1550. "Having," says Dugdale, "about this time married Elizabeth, daughter of George Lord Cobham, in 5 Ed. 6 he obtain'd a special Act of Parliament for the disannulling of his marriage with the Lady Anne Bourchier, and also for ratifying his marriage with the said Elizabeth." The reasons—whatever they were—for this foul treatment of the great heiress, in whose veins flowed the haughty blood of Plantagenet, are carefully suppressed: but it is noted that four of the peers "dissented to the Bill." Of the fate of the poor, disgraced, and disinherited children we hear nothing. The barony of Bourchier passed to the last Earl's nephew, Walter, Lord Ferrers of Chartley.
The line of Lord Berners had terminated with a grandson in 1532; but there yet existed descendants of the first Earl's third son, William, Lord Fitz Warine. He had acquired his barony through Thomasine his wife, daughter and heir of Sir Richard Hanckford, by Elizabeth, sister and heir of Fulk. seventh and last Lord Fitz Warine. At the downfall of the House of Lancaster, he participated in the benefits heaped upon his family by the new Yorkist King. and was named Master Forester of Exmoor and Racche in Somersetshire, with a license (similar to that granted to his elder brother, who, like him, was a trafficker in woollens), for the yearly export of 1000 cloths of his own goods, free of charge. His son married the heiress of Lord Dynham, and his grandson, who was created Earl of Bath in 1536 by Henry VIII., obtained another great fortune through his wife Cecily, daughter of Giles, Lord Daubeny, and sister and heir of Henry Daubeny, Earl of Bridgewater. Their estates lay, as the title implies, in the West of England, and their manor house was at Tawstock, near Barnstaple, in Devonshire, where the last Earls of this name lie buried. There were in all five; but the direct line ended with the fourth, who left only three daughters; Elizabeth, Countess of Denbigh: Dorothy, Lady Grey of Groby; and Anne, Countess of Middlesex, among whom the old barony of Fitz Warine fell into abeyance. The Earldom passed to a cousin, Henry Bourchier, who had no children, and became extinct at his death in 1654. A monument erected to him in Tawstock Church records the long descent and illustrious alliances of the great house of which he was the last heir.
With him, the name disappears from its pride of place in the Baronage; yet it would seem not to have altogether passed away. Dugdale, in his 'Visitation of Yorkshire,' gives the pedigree of a family of Bourchier then existing in the county, that bore the arms of the Earls of Essex. It is brief: commencing with Sir Ralph Bourchier of Beningborough, from whom Barrington Bourchier, then (in 1665) fourteen years of age, was fourth in descent.