The Bourchier and Bowker Pages

Discovering the ancestry of the South African Bowkers, and the English Bourchiers

Lord John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners

Lord John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners

Male Abt 1467 - 1533  (~ 66 years)

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  • Name John Bourchier 
    Title Lord 
    Suffix 2nd Baron Berners 
    Born Abt 1467  Tharfield, Hertfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 16 Mar 1533  Calais Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Buried St. Mary's Church, Chalais, Dordogne, Aquitaine, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I113  Bourchiers
    Last Modified 15 Apr 2020 

    Father Sir Humphrey Bourchier, Knight, 1st and last Lord Bourchier of Cromwell,   b. Between 1440 and 1444, Halstead, Essex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Apr 1471, Battle of Barnet, Hertfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 31 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Tylney, Countess of Surrey,   b. 1446,   d. 4 Apr 1497  (Age 51 years) 
    _UID F7E9F64C29D7D711BA22AAFF03D374360FE7 
    Family ID F87  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Lady Katherine Howard, Baroness Berners,   b. Abt 1471, Tendring, Essex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Mar 1536, Tendring Hall, Stoke-By-Nayland, Suffolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 65 years) 
    Married Bef 13 May 1490  [2
    • Marriage Status: Divorced
     1. Thomas Bourchier,   b. Abt 1490,   d. Bef 1533  (Age ~ 42 years)
    +2. Jane Bourchier, Baroness Berners,   b. Abt 1490,   d. 17 Feb 1561  (Age ~ 71 years)
     3. Margaret Bourchier,   b. Between 1490 and 1526,   d. Bef 1533  (Age ~ 42 years)
     4. Mary Bourchier,   b. Abt 1500,   d. Bef 1533  (Age ~ 32 years)
    Last Modified 15 Apr 2020 
    Family ID F183  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Elizabeth Becon,   b. 1474,   d. 1510  (Age 36 years) 
    • Marriage Status: Unmarried Couple
    +1. Sir James Bourchier, Knt,   b. Abt 1492, Beningborough, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1554  (Age ~ 62 years)
     2. Humphrey Bourchier,   b. Abt 1496, Beningborough, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1540, Markeygate, Hertfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 44 years)
     3. George Bourchier,   b. Abt 1500,   d. Abt 1544  (Age ~ 44 years)
     4. Ursula Bourchier,   b. Abt 1502, Beningborough, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 12 Apr 2020 
    Family ID F185  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Picture Note: from,_2nd_Baron_Berners
    Keywords: Picture
    Yorkshire Visitation 1563-64
    Yorkshire Visitation 1563-64
    Keywords: Picture

  • Notes 
    • Born around 1468 in Beningbrough, Yorkshire, England or 1467 in Tharfield, hertfordshire, 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 Humphrey´s 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.

      from De BOURCHIER1


      John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners, (born c. 1467, Tharfield, Hertfordshire, Eng.—died March 16, 1532/33, Calais?, France), English writer and statesman, best known for his simple, fresh, and energetic translation (vol. 1, 1523; vol. 2, 1525) from the French of Jean Froissart’s Chroniques.

      Berners’ active political and military career started early when at the age of 15 he was defeated in a premature attempt to make Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond (later Henry VII), king. He helped to suppress the 1497 Cornish rebellion in favour of Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the English throne, and served the crown in campaigns in France and Scotland. He was involved in English diplomacy concerning Henry VIII’s alliances with France and Spain and was present at the Field of Cloth of Gold, at which Henry and Francis I of France met to pledge their friendship. His appointment in 1520 as deputy of Calais helped him to a stable income, ending the royal loans he had been constantly receiving. He held the post, except from 1526 to 1531, until his death.

      Berners’ translation of the French romance The Boke Huon de Bordeuxe, which introduces Oberon, king of the fairies, into English literature, is almost as successful as his translation of Froissart. Near the end of his life, he translated into English prose two of the newly fashionable courtesy books: The Castell of Love, by Diego de San Pedro, and The Golden Boke of Marcus Aurelius, by Antonio de Guevara. The latter was by far the most popular of his works.

      { this is the first and only mention I have found of Tharfield outside the Eastern Cape - Paul TT}


      from : -
      John Bourchier, or Bouchier, afterwards Lord Berners, was descended from a family of great distinction, which could claim kinship with the Plantagenets, and which had already furnished a long list of men high in Church and State. The Bourchiers had at first been supporters of the Lancastrian House: but had afterwards joined the Yorkist party, on whose behalf our author’s grandfather, Lord Berners (whom he succeeded), fought at St. Albans, while his father, Humphrey Bourchier, fell at Barnet fighting on the same side. John Bourchier was born about 1467, and succeeded to the title in 1474. Even as a child he seems to have lived at the Court, and was knighted in 1477; but, according to the growing custom of the day which no longer countenanced the complete separation of arms from letters, he was sent to Oxford, where, according to Anthony Wood, he belonged to Balliol College. After his stay at the University he travelled abroad, returning to England when the Earl of Richmond became Henry VII., with the Bourchier family amongst his chief supporters. It was a member of that family, Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, who placed the crown on Henry’s head. In the following years Lord Berners distinguished himself in military service, and he continued as high in favour with Henry VIII. as with his father. He served under Lord Surrey in Scotland, and was employed on embassies of high importance. About 1520 he seems to have been appointed Governor of Calais, and there he spent his last years, employed at Henry’s command, upon the translation of Froissart’s Chronicles from the French. He died in 1532.

      BY birth, by education, by association and employment; as the head of a great family, from his youth a courtier; as the companion in arms as well as in letters of his kinsman, Surrey; as conversant not only with the learning of Oxford, but with the active life of the counsellor and the soldier; as acquainted not only with the languages but with the rulers of all the leading European states—Lord Berners was one on whose head all that was choicest in the England of his day seemed to unite, so as to make him in truth one of the most typical figures in an age when the chivalry of the past was linked, as it were, with the intellectual activity of the future. His work has precisely the qualities which such a training and such opportunities were likely to give: and it is perhaps not too much to say that there is no one who, without producing a work of original genius or research, has laid English literature under such a heavy debt of obligation, as Lord Berners by his translation of Froissart. From the abundance of French and Spanish romances he translated a few specimens: and he also made a translation from a French version of the Spaniard Guevara’s work entitled the Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius, or El Relox de Principles. As Guevara’s work was not published until 1529, and as no French version is known to have appeared in Berners’ time, some doubt may be felt as to the genesis of the book. But these works have long been forgotten: his chief achievement, and that by which his name must live, is his reproduction of the French Chronicle in a translation, which, by the rarest of literary gifts, has all the energy and verve of an original work.
      Berners’ work is an advance no less upon the laboured ponderousness of works which produced, in an English dress, the old chroniclers, than upon the more ornate, but fantastic and shadowy translations of the romances. He had the good fortune in following a royal order (which is enough of itself to prove a rare literary sagacity in Henry VIII.), to find an author between whom and himself—though separated by a century of time—there was a close sympathy of thought and interest. This was the first condition of success; but that success was made still more sure by the union of a romantic fancy with experience of active life, and of the pomp and pageantry that surround the great. Nor was Berners simply the laureate of chivalry. Faithful as he is to his original, we can yet trace his own feeling through his choice of words, and he is able to give us an impression of earnest sympathy with every phase of the amazingly varied scene through which the Chronicle leads us.
      We have seen how even in Fabyan’s Concordance of Histories, with all its roughness and coldness, the interest grows, and the force of the narrative increases as he comes nearer to the events of his own days, and more especially when he tells of that Government of London, in which he had himself borne a part. But in Berners we have got many strides further away from the monkish chronicler, to whom it never even remotely occurred that any words that fell from his pen should recall scenes of real life—of a life, heard in his cloister only as a confused and distant babble of noise. It is the very opposite of the mood of the monkish chronicler which gives to Berners’ translation those qualities that make it a model of style, simple, direct, and unaffected, and yet with a force and intensity of feeling which the most elaborate affectations of more laboured ingenuity would seek in vain to reproduce.
      The translation undoubtedly marks the highest point to which English narrative prose had as yet reached. It attains its effect by no straining after a purity of Saxon diction, which some are pleased to consider the distinctive mark of excellence. Like all the early masters of English prose, Berners was bold in his appropriation of foreign words. Occasionally he reminds us even of the perfect English of the book of Common Prayer in his harmonious variations between words of Teutonic and of Romance origin. But his style was far too flexible and mobile to be confined to the narrow range, within which are to be found the meagre currents that go to feed the beginnings of our language, and to which the pedantry of the Teutonic purist would confine the ideal of English prose.
      Lord Berners is a master of English style, then, partly because he found in his author one with whose subjects and whose methods he was in complete sympathy: partly because by the teaching of the university, the training of the Court, and the discipline of experience, he had learned to realise what he described, and thus to impart to it a force which no laboured art could improve: and partly because his intimate acquaintance with the Romance languages opened to him a wide range of words which he made no scruple of appropriating at his need. We are perhaps apt to persuade ourselves, in reading these early authors, that the harmonious charm of their style comes in great measure from their almost childish simplicity. The persuasion is more flattering to ourselves than true. Artistic skill like that of Berners is rarely unconscious: that it conceals itself does not rob it of the character of art. And the particular instance of Berners suggests a contrast that is not soothing to our self-respect. Froissart has been twice translated into English; by Berners, and again in the early days of this century by Mr. Johnes, a Welsh squire and member of Parliament, of literary tastes and most creditable industry. The work of Mr. Johnes obtained much favour from our grandfathers; but a comparison with that of Berners shews us at least to what a bathos English prose can fall. Let us take a few sentences at random, from Berners and from Johnes.
      First this from Lord Berners—
      “Wherefore he came on a night and declared all this to the queen, and advised her of the peril that she was in. Then the queen was greatly abashed, and required him, all weeping, of his good counsel. Then he said, Madame, I counsel you that ye depart and go in to the Empire, where as there be many great lords who may right well aid you, and specially the Earl William of Hainault, and Sir John of Hainault, his brother. These two are great lords and wise men, true, dread, and redoubted of their enemies.”

      Then the parallel passage in Mr. Johnes:—
      “He therefore came in the middle of the night to inform the queen of the peril she was in. She was thunderstruck at the information, to which he added, “I recommend you to set out for the Empire, where there are many noble lords who may greatly assist you, particularly William, Earl of Hainault, and his brother, who are both great lords, and wise and loyal men, and much dreaded by their enemies.”

      Let us next compare a few sentences (taken from one of the extracts which follow) with their counterparts in Johnes. This is from the scene at Bruce’s death-bed, as given by Lord Berners.
      “Then he called to him the gentle knight, Sir James Douglas, and said before all the lords, Sir James, my dear friend, ye know well that I have had much ado in my days to uphold and sustain the right of this realm: and when I had most ado, I made a solemn vow, the which as yet I have not accomplished, whereof I am right sorry: the which was, if I might achieve and make an end of all my wars, so that I might once have brought this realm in rest and peace, then I promised in my mind to have gone and warred on Christ’s enemies, adversaries to our holy Christian faith…. Then all the lords that heard these words wept for pity. And when this knight, Sir James Douglas, might speak for weeping, he said, Ah, gentle and noble King, an hundred times I thank your grace of the great honour that ye do to me, sith of so noble and great treasure ye give me in charge: and, sir, I shall do with a glad heart all that ye have commanded me, to the best of my true power: howbeit, I am not worthy nor sufficient to achieve such a noble enterprise. Then the King said, Ah, gentle knight, I thank you, so ye will promise to do it. Sir, said the knight, I shall do it undoubtedly, by the faith that I owe to God, and to the order of knighthood.”

      Here is Mr. Johnes’s version of the same lines:—
      “He after that called to him the gallant lord James Douglas, and said to him in presence of the others: “My dear friend, lord James Douglas, you know that I have had much to do, and have suffered many troubles during the time I have lived, to support the rights of my crown: at the time that I was most occupied I made a vow, the non-accomplishment of which gives me much uneasiness—I vowed that if I could finish my wars in such a manner that I might have quiet to govern peaceably, I would go and make war against the enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the adversaries of the Christian faith…. All those present began bewailing bitterly, and when the lord James could speak, he said, “Gallant and noble King, I return you a hundred thousand thanks for the high honour you do me, and for the valuable and dear treasure with which you entrust me, and I will willingly do all that you command me with the utmost loyalty in my power: never doubt it, however I may feel myself unworthy of such a high distinction. The King replied, “Gallant knight, I thank you—you promise it me then?” “Certainly, Sir, most willingly,” answered the knight. He then gave his promise upon his knighthood.

      If we wish to measure the decadence of English prose in the course of three centuries, no description can help half so much as the comparison of these few paragraphs, sentence by sentence and word by word. The same lesson might be drawn from any page taken at random of the old and the new translation. Yet in 1812 the editor of Berners actually offers an apology for reproducing “the venerable production,” now that “the elegant modern translation by Mr. Johnes has made the contents generally familiar!” Perhaps we have recovered somewhat from the style of Johnes,—it is so much gained that we know that it is not elegant, but execrably bad,—but the grace of Lord Berners is something that we can never by any possibility recover. An affected archaicism will not bring us one hair’s-breadth nearer to it. 11
      The translation was printed by Pynson in 1523 and 1525. The best modern edition is that published in London in 1812, with a memoir of Lord Berners, and an index."

      end of from :

      see also :,_2nd_Baron_Berners

  • Sources 
    1. [S6] Tudor Place Website, (

    2. [S1870] Wikipedia, (,,_2nd_Baron_Berners.