John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners

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John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners

Birthplace: Bourchier,Devonshire,England
Death: Died in Calais, Normandy, France
Place of Burial: Calais, Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Humphrey Bourchier, Sir and Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey
Husband of Catherine Howard, Lady Berners
Partner of Elizabeth Bacon
Father of Baroness Jane Bourchier,; Christopher Bourchier; Mary Bourchier; Catherine Bourchier; Adam Bourchier and 5 others
Brother of Margaret Bryan, Lady Bryan and Anne Bourchier
Half brother of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk; Edmund Howard; Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire; Marcella Howard; Sir Edward Howard, KG, High Admiral and 5 others

Occupation: Lord Berners, 2nd Baron of Berners
Managed by: Ann Margrethe Nilsen
Last Updated:

About John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners

John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners

John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners (1467 – 19 March 1533) was an English soldier, statesman and translator.

John Bourchier, born about 1467, was the only son of Sir Humphrey Bourchier (d.1471) and Elizabeth Tilney (d.1497), the daughter and sole heir of Sir Frederick Tilney of Boston, Lincolnshire. Through his father, Bourchier was descended from King Edward III; his great-grandmother, Anne of Gloucester, was the daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, King Edward's youngest son.[1]

By his mother's first marriage, Bourchier had two sisters, Anne, who married Thomas Fiennes, 8th Baron Dacre of Gilsland, and Margaret, who married firstly, John Sandys, secondly, Sir Thomas Bryan, and thirdly, David Zouche.

After the death of Sir Humphrey Bourchier, his widow, Elizabeth, married Thomas Howard, then Earl of Surrey, and later 2nd Duke of Norfolk.[2] By his mother's second marriage Bourchier had ten siblings of the half blood, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Lord Edward Howard, Lord Edmund Howard, Sir John Howard, Henry Howard, Charles Howard, Henry Howard (again), Richard Howard, Elizabeth Howard, and Muriel Howard.[3]

After his father was slain fighting on the Yorkist side at the Battle of Barnet in 1471, Bourchier became a ward of John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk. As noted above, Bourchier's mother, Elizabeth, had married as her second husband Thomas Howard, the eldest son and heir of Bourchier's guardian by his first wife, Katherine Moleyns. In 1474 Bourchier's grandfather, John Bourchier, 1st Baron Berners, died, and Bourchier inherited the title at the age of seven.[4]

He was educated at Oxford University.

Bourchier held various offices of state, including Lieutenant of Calais from 28 November 1520 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 14 July 1524 that of to King Henry VIII.

He translated, at the King's desire, Froissart's Chronicles (1523–1525), in such a manner as to make a distinct advance in English historical writing, and the Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius (1534), as well as The History of Arthur of Lytell Brytaine (Brittany), and the romance of Huon of Bordeaux.[5]

Bourchier died at Calais in 1533.

Before 13 May 1490 Bourchier married his step-father's half-sister, Katherine Howard, the daughter of John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, by his second wife, Margaret Chedworth, daughter of Sir John Chedworth, and by her had a son and three daughters:[6]

  • Thomas Bourchier, who predeceased his father.
  • Joan Bourchier (d.1561), who married Sir Edmund Knyvet (d. 1 May 1539), sergeant porter to King Henry VIII, and was her father's heir.
  • Margaret Bourchier, who predeceased her father.
  • Mary Bourchier, who married Alexander Unton of Wadley, but died without issue, predeceasing her father.

By a mistress[7] Bourchier had three illegitimate sons and an illegitimate daughter:[8]

  • Humphrey Bourchier (d.1540), esquire, who married Elizabeth Bacon, but had no issue. After Humphrey Bourchier's death his widow married George Ferrers, esquire.
  • Sir James Bourchier (d.1554), who married Mary Bannaster, daughter of Sir Humphrey Bannaster.
  • George Bourchier
  • Ursula Bourchier, who married Sir William Sharington.[9]



  • Sir John Bourchier, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 2nd Lord Berners, Deputy of Calais1,2,3,4,5,6
  • M, #47707, b. circa 1467, d. 19 March 1533
  • Father Sir Humphrey Bourchier10,7,8,9 b. c 1444, d. 14 Apr 1471
  • Mother Elizabeth Tilney7,8,9 b. c 1445, d. 4 Apr 1497
  • Sir John Bourchier, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 2nd Lord Berners, Deputy of Calais was born circa 1467 at of West Horsley, Surrey, England; Age 7 in 1474.11,2,12,6 He married Katherine Howard, daughter of Sir John Howard, Lord Howard, Duke of Norfolk, Sheriff of Norfolk, Suffolk, & Oxfordshire, Earl Marshal of England and Margaret Chedworth, before 13 May 1490; Fined for marriage in 1491/2. They had 1 son (Thomas) and 3 daughters (Joan/Jane, wife of Sir Edmund Knyvet; Margaret; & Mary).11,2,13,3,4,5,6 Sir John Bourchier, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 2nd Lord Berners, Deputy of Calais left a will on 3 March 1532.3,6 He died on 19 March 1533 at Calais, Normandy, France; d.s.m.legit. Buried at Calais. He also had 3 illegitimate sons (Sir James; Humphrey, Esq; & George, Esq.) and 1 illegitimate daughter (Ursula, wife of Sir William Sherington). Their mother was not Elizabeth Bacon. She was the wife of his illegitimate son, Humphrey.11,2,3,6 His estate was probated on 4 February 1534.3
  • Family 1 Katherine Howard b. c 1468, d. 12 Mar 1536
  • Child
    • Jane Bourchier+14,2,15,4,6 b. c 1492, d. 17 Feb 1562
  • Family 2
  • Child
    • Sir James Bourchier, Lt. of Ambleteuse in Pas-de-Calais+3,6 b. c 1504, d. 1554
  • Citations
  • 1.[S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. II, p. 153-154.
  • 2.[S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 142.
  • 3.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, p. 287-288.
  • 4.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. II, p. 322.
  • 5.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. II, p. 414.
  • 6.[S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. I, p. 487-488.
  • 7.[S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 141-142.
  • 8.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, p. 284-285.
  • 9.[S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. I, p. 484-485.
  • 10.[S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. II, p. 153.
  • 11.[S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. II, p. 154.
  • 12.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, p. 289-290.
  • 13.[S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 236.
  • 14.[S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. II, p. 155.
  • 15.[S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 368.
  • From:


  • John Bourchier, 2nd Lord Berners1
  • M, #25730, b. circa 1467, d. 19 March 1532/33
  • Last Edited=16 Jan 2013
  • Consanguinity Index=0.0%
  • John Bourchier, 2nd Lord Berners was born circa 1467.1 He was the son of Sir Humphrey Bourchier and Elizabeth Tylney.1 He married Lady Katharine Howard, daughter of John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk and Margaret Chedworth.1 He died on 19 March 1532/33 at Calais, France, without legitimate male issue.1 He was buried at Calais, France.1 His will was proven (by probate) on 4 February 1533/34.1
  • He succeeded to the title of 2nd Lord Berners [E., 1455] in May 1474, by writ.1 He was invested as a Knight Bachelor on 17 January 1477/78.1 He wrote the book He translated many of Froissart's works into English.1 He fought in the capture of Thérouenne in 1513.1 He was Marshal of the Earl of Surrey's army in Scotland in 1513.1 He held the office of Chamberlain in 1514, to Princess Mary, wife of King Louis XII.1 He held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1516 and 1527.1 He was at the field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.1,3 He was Deputy of the town and marches of Calais in 1520.1 He and Elizabeth Bacon were associated.1 His last will was dated 3 March 1532/33. He has an extensive biographical entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.4
  • On his death, his Barony by writ lay dormant until it was re-established in 1720.1
  • Children of John Bourchier, 2nd Lord Berners and Lady Katharine Howard
    • Mary Bourchier1 d. b 1533
    • Jane Bourchier+1 d. 17 Feb 1561/62
  • Citations
  • [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume II, page 154. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  • [S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
  • [S2] Peter W. Hammond, editor, The Complete Peerage or a History of the House of Lords and All its Members From the Earliest Times, Volume XIV: Addenda & Corrigenda (Stroud, Gloucestershire, U.K.: Sutton Publishing, 1998), page 89. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage, Volume XIV.
  • [S18] Matthew H.C.G., editor, Dictionary of National Biography on CD-ROM (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1995), reference "John Bourchier". Hereinafter cited as Dictionary of National Biography.
  • From:


  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 06
  • Bourchier, John (1467-1533) by Sidney Lee
  • BOURCHIER, JOHN, second Baron Berners (1467–1533), statesman and author, was the son of Humphrey Bourchier, by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Frederick Tilney, and widow of Sir Thomas Howard. His father was slain at the battle of Barnet (14 April 1471) fighting in behalf of Edward IV, and was buried in Westminster Abbey (Weever's Funerall Monuments, 1632, p. 482). His grandfather, John, the youngest son of William Bourchier, earl of Ewe, was created Baron Berners in 1455, and died in 1474. Henry Bourchier [q. v.], the Earl of Ewe's eldest son and the second Lord Berners's granduncle, became Earl of Essex in 1461. Another granduncle, Thomas Bourchier [q. v.], was archbishop of Canterbury from 1454 to 1486.
  • In 1474 John Bourchier succeeded his grandfather as Baron Berners. He is believed to have studied for some years at Oxford, and Wood conjectures that he was of Balliol College. But 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, Fœdera, 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 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 he appears to have succeeded to the post. In 1518 Berners was sent with John Kite, archbishop of Armagh, on a special mission to Spain to form an alliance between Henry VIII and Charles 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 April to December, and the irregularity with which money was sent to the envoys from home caused them much embarrassment (cf.Berners to Wolsey, 26 July 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 July 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 harassing lawsuits touching property in Staffordshire, Wiltshire, and elsewhere. As early as 1511 he had borrowed 350l. of the king, and the loan was frequently repeated. In December 1520 he left England to become deputy of Calais, during pleasure, with 100l. yearly as salary and 104l. 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 neighbourhood. In 1522 he received Charles 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 March 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 March 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 Knyvet 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's daughter and heiress died in 1561, and her grandson, Sir Thomas Knyvett, petitioned the crown to grant him the barony, but died in 1616 before his claim could be 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. A cousin of this lady in the third degree married in 1720 Henry Wilson of Didlington, Norfolk, and their grandson, Robert Wilson, claimed and secured the barony in 1832. The barony is now held by a niece of Henry William Wilson (1797-1871), the third bearer of the restored title.
  • While at Calais Berners devoted all his leisure to literary pursuits. History, whether real or fictitious, always interested him, and in 1523 he published the first volume of his famous translation of (1) Froissart's Chronicles. The second volume followed in 1525. Richard Pynson was the printer. This work was undertaken at the suggestion of Henry VIII and was dedicated to him. Its style is remarkably vivid and clear, and although a few French words are introduced, Berners has adhered so closely to the English idiom as to give the book the character of an original English work. It inaugurated the taste for historical reading and composition by which the later literature of the century is characterised. Fabian, Hall, and Holinshed were all indebted to it. E. V. Utterson issued a reprint of Berners's translation in 1812, and although Col. Johnes's translation of Froissart (1803-5) has now very generally superseded that of Berners, the later version is wanting in the literary flavour which still gives Berners's book an important place in English literature. But chivalric romance had even a greater attraction for Berners than chivalric history, and four lengthy translations from the French or Spanish were completed by him. The first was doubtless (2) 'Huon of Burdeux,' translated from the great prose French Charlemagne romance, about 1530, but not apparently published till after Lord Berners's death. It is probable that Wynkyn de Worde printed it in 1534 under the direction of Lord George Hastings, earl of Huntingdon, who had urged Berners to undertake it. Lord Crawford has a unique copy of this book. A second edition, apparently issued by Robert Copland in 1570, is wholly lost. Two copies of a third revised edition, dated 1601, are extant, of which one is in the British Museum and the other in the Bodleian. The first edition was reprinted by the Early English Text Society 1883-5. (3) 'The Castell of Love' (by D. de San Pedro) was translated from the Spanish 'at the instaunce of Lady Elizabeth Carew, late wyfe to Syr Nicholas Carewe, knight.' The first edition was printed by Robert Wyer about 1540, and a second came from the press of John Kynge about the same time. (4) 'The golden boke of Marcus Aurelius, emperour and eloquent oratour,' was a translation of a French version of Guevara's 'El redox de Principes.' It was completed only six days before Berners's death, and was undertaken at the desire of his nephew, Sir Francis Bryan [q. v.] It was first published in 1534, and republished in 1539, 1542, 1553, 1557, and 1559. A very definite interest attaches to this book. It has been proved that English 'Euphuism' is an adaptation of the style of the Spanish Guevara. Lyly's 'Euphues' was mainly founded on Sir Thomas North's 'Dial of Princes' (1558 and 1567), and the 'Dial of Princes' is a translation of an enlarged edition of Guevara's 'El Redox,' which was first translated into English by Berners. The marked popularity of Berners's original translation clearly points to him as the founder of 'Guevarism' or so-called Euphuism in England (Landmann's Euphuismus, Giessen, 1881).
  • Berners also translated from the French (5) 'The History of the moost noble and valyaunt knight, Artheur of Lytell Brytaine.' The book was reprinted by Utterson in 1812. Wood, following Bale, attributes to Berners a Latin comedy, (6) 'Ite ad Vineam,' which he says was often acted after vespers at Calais, and a tract on (7) 'The Duties of the Inhabitants of Calais.' Nothing is known now of the former work; but the latter may not improbably be identified with the elaborate 'Ordinances for watch and ward of Calais' in Cotton MS. (Faust. E. vii. 89-102 b). These ordinances were apparently drawn up before 1532, and have been printed at length in the 'Chronicle of Calais' published by the Camden Society, pp. 140-62. Warton states, on the authority of Oldys, that Henry, lord Berners, translated some of Petrarch's sonnets, but the statement is probably wholly erroneous (Hist. Engl Poet. iii. 58).
  • Holbein painted a portrait of Berners in his robes as chancellor of the exchequer (Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum, i. 82). The picture is now at Keythorpe Hall, Leicestershire, in the possession of the Hon. H. Tyrwhitt Wilson. It was engraved for the Early English Text Society's reprint of 'Huon of Burdeux' (1884).
  • [Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 132-3; Marshall's Genealogist's Guide; Burke's Peerage; Foster's Peerage; Bale's Cent. Script, ix. 1; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 72; Brewer's Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, 1509-1534; Utterson's Memoir of Berners in his reprint of the Froissart (1812); Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, i. 239-45; Fuller's Worthies; Introduction to the Early English Text Society's reprint of Huon of Burdeux, ed. S. L. Lee.]
  • From:,_John_(1467-1533)_(DNB00)


  • Sir John Bourchier
  • Birth: 1469
  • Death: Mar. 16, 1533
  • Family links:
  • Parents:
  • Humphrey Bourchier (1435 - 1471)
  • Elizabeth Tilney Howard (1446 - 1497)
  • Spouse:
  • Katherine Howard Bourchier (1467 - 1536)
  • Children:
    • Jane Bourchier Knyvet (____ - 1562)*
  • Siblings:
  • Katherine Howard (____ - 1554)**
  • John Bourchier (1469 - 1533)
  • Thomas Howard (1473 - 1554)**
  • Edmund Howard (1478 - 1539)**
  • Elizabeth Howard Boleyn (1480 - 1538)**
  • Muriel Howard Knyvet (1485 - 1511)**
  • *Calculated relationship
  • **Half-sibling
  • Burial: Église Notre-Dame de Calais, Calais, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
  • Find A Grave Memorial# 137635930
  • From:


  • John BOURCHIER (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
  • Children:
    • 1. Joan BOURCHIER (B. Berners)
    • 2. Mary BOURCHIER
    • 3. Christopher BOURCHIER
  • Married 2: Elizabeth BACON ABT 1505, Stoward Peel, Northumberland, England
  • Children:
    • 4. James BOURCHIER
    • 5. Ursula BOURCHIER
  • Associated with: ¿?
  • Children:
    • 6. Humphrey BOURCHIER
    • 7. George BOURCHIER
  • From:



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John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners's Timeline

Age 20
Age 23
November 8, 1497
Age 30
Age 31
Of, Ashwillthorpe, Norfolk, England
Age 33
of, Ashwillthorpe, Norfolk, England
Age 43
Benningborough, Yorkshire, England
March 19, 1533
Age 66
Calais, Normandy, France
December 4, 1928
Age 66
April 13, 1929
Age 66