(2nd B. Berners)

Born: 1467, Bourchier, Devonshire, England

Died: 16 Mar 1533

Father: Humphrey BOURCHIER (Sir Knight)

Mother: Elizabeth TILNEY (C. Surrey)

Married 1: Catherine HOWARD 8 Nov 1497, Tendring, Essex, England. DIVORCED


1. Joan BOURCHIER (B. Berners)


3. Christopher BOURCHIER

Married 2: Elizabeth BACON ABT 1505, Stoward Peel, Northumberland, England




Associated with: ?


6. Humphrey BOURCHIER


Bourchier,John(2B.Berners)01.jpg (16597 bytes)

Born around 1468 in Beningbrough, Yorkshire, England, son of Sir Humphrey Bourchier and Elizabeth Tilney. He had royal descent through his great grandmother on his father's side, Anne of Woodstock, Countess of Buckingham, the granddaughter of King Edward III. Humphrey Bourchier was heir to the title Baron Berners but died before his father, being killed during the Wars of the Roses at the Battle of Barnet. John succeeded to the title as second Baron Berners. His mother remarried at Sir Humphreys death; her second husband was Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. This connection made him uncle to Anne Boleyn as well as a member of the wider circle of kin and dependents around the Howard family. John Bourchier was brother of Margaret, lady Bryan, governess of the three children of Henry VIII.

Little is known of his career till after the accession of Henry VII. In 1492 he entered into a contract 'to serue the King in his warres beyond see on hole yeere with two speres' (Rymer, Foedera, xii. 479). In 1497 he helped to repress the Cornish rebellion in behalf of Perkin Warbeck. It is fairly certain that he and Henry VIII were acquainted as youths, and the latter showed Berners much favour in the opening years of his reign. In 1513 he travelled in the King's retinue to Calais, and was present at the capture of Terouenne. Later in the same year he was marshal of his step father, the Earl of Surrey's army in Scotland. When the Princess Mary married Louis XII (9 Oct 1514), Berners was sent with her to France as her chamberlain. But he did not remain abroad. On 18 May 1514 he had been granted the reversion to the office of chancellor of the exchequer, and on 28 May 1516 Berners was sent with John Kite, Archbishop of Armagh, on a special mission to Spain to form an alliance between Henry VIII and Carlos V of Spain. The letters of the envoys represent Berners as suffering from severe gout. He sent the King accounts of the bull-baiting and other sports that took place at the Spanish Court. The negotiations dragged on from Apr to Dec, and the irregularity with which money was sent to the envoys from home caused them much embarrassment (cf. Berners to Wolsey, 26 Jul 1518, in Brewer's Letters &c. of Henry VIII).

Early in 1519 Berners was again in England, and he, with his wife, attended Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in the next year. The privy council thanked him (2 Jul 1520) for the account of the ceremonial which he forwarded to them. Throughout this period Berners, when in England, regularly attended parliament, and was in all the commissions of the peace issued for Hertfordshire and Surrey. But his pecuniary resources were failing him. He had entered upon several harasssing lawsuits touching property in Staffordshire, Wiltshire, and elsewhere. As early as 1511 he had borrowed 350 pounds of the King, and the load was frequently repeated. In Dec 1520 he left England to become deputy of Calais, during pleasure, with 100 pounds yearly as salary and 104 pounds as "spyall money".

His letters to Wolsey and other officers of state prove him to have been busily engaged in succeeding years in strengthening the fortifications of Calais and in watching the armies of France and the Low Countries in the neighborhood. In 1522 he received Carlos V. In 1528 he obtained grants of manors in Surrey, Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Oxfordshire. In 1529 and 1531 he sent Henry VIII gifts of hawks (Privy Purse Expenses, pp. 54, 231). But his pecuniary troubles were increasing, and his debts to the crown remained unpaid. Early in 1532-3, while Berners was very ill. Henry VIII directed his agents in Calais to watch over the deputy's personal effects in the interests of his creditors. On 16 Mar 1532-3 Berners died, and he was buried in the parish church of Calais by his special direction. All his goods were placed under arrest and an inventory taken, which is still at the Record Office, and proves Berners to have lived in no little state. Eighty books and four pictures are mentioned among his household furniture. By his will (3 Mar 1532-3) he left his chief property in Calais to Francis Hastings, his executor, who became Earl of Huntingdon in 1544 (Chronicle of Calais, Camd. Soc. p. 164).

Berners married Catherine, daughter of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, by whom he had a daughter, Joan or Jane, the wife of Edmund Knyvett of Ashwellthorp in Norfolk, who succeeded to her father's estates in England. Small legacies were also left to his illegitimate sons, Humphrey, James, and George. The Barony of Berners was long in abeyance. Lord Berners daughter and heiress died in 1561, and her grandson, Sir Thomas Knyvett, petitioned the crown to grant him the barony, but died 9 Feb 1616-7 before his claim was ratified. In 1720 Elizabeth, a great-granddaughter of Sir Thomas, was confirmed in the barony and bore the title of Baroness Berners, but she died without issue in 1743, and the barony fell again into abeyance.

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