Bourchier, Henry (d.1539) (DNB00)

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BOURCHIER, HENRY, second Earl of Essex (d. 1539), was the son of William Bourchier and the grandson of Henry Bourchier, first earl [q. v.] His mother was Anne Woodville, sister of the queen of Edward IV. He succeeded his grandfather in 1483. He was a member of the privy council of Henry VII. In 1492 he was present at the siege of Boulogne. At the knighthood of Henry, duke of York (Henry VIII), the earl took a prominent part in the ceremonies, and was one of the challengers at the jousts held in honour of the event. In 1497 he commanded a detachment against the rebels at Blackheath. He accompanied the king and queen when they crossed to Calais in 1500, to hold an interview with the Duke of Burgundy. The next year he was one of those appointed to meet Catherine of Arragon. On the accession of Henry VIII he was made captain of the new bodyguard. During the early years of the king's reign he took a prominent part in the revels in which Henry delighted. Constant references may be found in the State Papers to the earl's share in these entertainments. For example, in 1510 he and others, the king among the number, dressed themselves as Robin Hood's men in a revel given for the queen's delectation. He was also constantly employed in state ceremonies, such as meeting papal envoys, as in 1514, when the pope sent Henry a cap and sword; in 1515, when he met the prothonotary who brought over the cardinal's hat for Wolsey; and in 1524, when Dr. Hanyball came over with the golden rose for the king. These and such like engagements necessarily put him to great expense. He received some grants from Henry, and appears both as a pensioner and a debtor of the crown. On one occasion his tailor seems to have had some difficulty in getting his bill settled. He served at the sieges of Terouenne and Tournay as 'lieutenant-general of the spears' (Herbert) in 1513, and the next year was made chief captain of the king's forces. When the king's sister Margaret, widow of James IV and wife of the Earl of Angus, sought refuge in England, the Earl of Essex, in company with the king, Suffolk, and Sir G. Carew, held the lists in the jousts given in her honour. In 1520 he attended the king at the celebrated meeting held at Guisnes. He sat as one of the judges of the Duke of Buckingham, and received the manor of Bedminster as his share of the duke's estates. In 1525, when engaged in raising money for the crown from the men of Essex, he wrote to Wolsey, pointing out the danger of an insurrection, and by the king's command took a company to the borders of Essex and Suffolk to overawe the malcontents. On a division being made of the council in 1526 for purposes of business, his name was placed with those who were to treat of matters of law. He joined in the letter sent by a number of English nobles to Clement VII in 1530, warning him that unless he hastened the king's divorce, his supremacy would be endangered. While riding a young horse, in 1539, he was thrown and broke his neck. As he had no male issue by his wife Mary, his earldom (of Essex) and viscounty (Bourchier) became extinct at his death. His barony descended to his daughter Anne, who married William Parr, afterwards Earl of Essex.

[Hall's Chron. (Hen. VIII), f. 6, 8, 26, 63, ed. 1548; Stow's Annals; Polydore Vergil's Historia Anglica, 1437, 1521, ed. 1603; Letters, Ric. III and Hen. VII, Rolls Series; Herbert's Life and Reign of Henry VIII, 34; Cal. of State Papers, Hen. VIII, ed. Brewer, passim; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 130.]

W. H.