Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Boorde, Andrew

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BOORDE or BORDE, ANDREW (1490?–1549), traveller and physician, ‘Andreas Parforutus’ as he jocosely calls himself, was born at ‘Boords Hill in Holms dayle,’ near Cuckfield, Sussex, some time before or about 1490, as by 1521 he was appointed suffragan bishop of Chichester, and must have therefore then been thirty years old. He was brought up at Oxford, and was received under age—and consequently against their rules—into the strictest order of monks, the Carthusians, evidently at the London Charterhouse. Andrew Boorde is therefore not to be identified with his namesake (the son of John Borda), the bondman or villein regardant-attached to the soil, and sellable with it-of the manor of Ditchling, Sussex, whom Lord Abergavenny manumitted on 27 June 1510 (Madox, Form. Ang. 1702, p. 420), for, if not a free man by birth, his monkhood had made him one, About 1517 he was falsely accused of being ‘conversant with women;’ and in or about 1521 was ‘ dyspensyd with the relygyon by the byshopp of Romes bulles, to be suffrygan off Chycester: the whych I neuer dyd execute the auctore' or authority. About 1528, after some twenty years of vegetarianism and fasting with the Carthusians, Boorde writes to the prior of the Hinton Charterhouse in Somerset, ‘I am nott able to hyd the rugorosite off your relygyon;‘ and he accordingly gets a dispensation from this religous or monkish vow from Prior Batmunson [q.v.], and over sea to school to study medicine. There he ‘travelled for to have the notycyon and practes of Physycke in diners regyons and countres, and returned into Englande’ in 1530. He stayed with Sir Robert Drewry, attended and cured the Duke of Norfolk, and was by him ‘conuocated to wayte on his prepotent Mageste,’ Henry VIII. Then, desiring ‘to haue a trewe cognyscyon of the practis of Physyckef he passed ‘ouer the seas agayne, and dyd go to all the vnyuersities and scoles approbuted and beynge within the precinct Chrystendom.' Of these he names Orleans, Poictiers, Toulouse, and Montpelier in France, and Wittenberg in Germany, and he quotes the practice of surgeons in Rome, and Compostella. in Navarre, whither he went on pilgrimage with nine English and Scotchmen. By 29 May 1534 Boorde was back at the London Charterhouse, and took the oath of conformity (Rymer, xiv. 491-2). He was then ‘keppt in thrawldom' there, and freed by Cromwell, whom he visited in Hampshire. Cromwell appears to have sent him abroad (on his third tour) to report on the state of eeling about Henry VIII; and to Cromwell he writes from Bordeaux on 20 June 1535: ‘Sens my departyng from yow, I have perlustratyd Normandy, Frawnce, Gascony, and Byon [Bayonne]: the regyons also of Castyle, Byscay, Spayne, paarte of Portyngale, and returnyd thorow Arogon, Nauerne, and now am att Burdyose . . . and few frendys Ynglond hath in theys partes of Europe, as Jesus your loner knowth.’ The pope, emperor, and all other christian kings (save the French) were, with their people, set against Henry. Boorde then fell ill; but he sent to Cromwell, doubtless from Spain, and with directions for their culture, ‘the seedes off reuberbe, the whiche come owtt od Barbary. In thes purtes ytt ys had for a grett tresure.’ This was nearly two hundred years before the plant was cultivated in England (1742). On his recovery, Boorde returned to England, and went to Scotland, whence he wrote to Cromwell on 1 April 1536: ‘I am now in Skotland, in a lytle vnyuersyte or study named Glasco, wher I study and ‘practyce physyk . . . for the sustentacyon of my lynyng.’ He disliked the Scotch: ‘trust yow no Skott, for they wyll yowse flatteryng wordes ; and all ys falshode.' ‘Also, it is naturelly geuen, or els it is of a deuellyshe dysposicron of a Scottysh man, not to loue nor fauour an Englishe man.' After a year’s stay in Scotland, Boorde came back to London, attending a patient in Yorkshire on his road, and saw Cromwell. In London two horses were stolen from him; and in 1537-13 Aug. from Cambridge-he appealed to Cromwell to get them back from their buyers, and also recover 53l. owed to him by Londoners, who called him ‘ appostata, and all-to-nowght’ (good-for-nothing), and otherwise slandered him. Late in 1537, or after the dissolution of the religious houses in 1538, Boorde must have started for his longest tour abroad, and gone through Calais, Gravelines, Antwerp, Cologne, Coblentz, Worms, Venice, thence by ship to Rhodes and Joppa, and on to Jerusalem to see the Holy Sepulchre. He probably came back through Naples and Rome, crossed the Alps, and settled down for a time at his favourite university, Montpelier, ‘the most nobilis vniversite of the world for phisicians and surgions,' ‘the hed vniuersite in al Europe for the practes of physycke.' There, by 1542, he had written his ‘Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge' (publ. 1547 ?)-the first printed ‘Handbook of Europe’—his ‘Dyetary’ (publ. 1542 ?), his Breuyary of Health’ (publ. 1547), and his lost ‘Boke of Berdes’ (beards). In his ‘Dyetary’ he embodied a little anonymous treatise (‘The boke for to Lerne a man to be wyse, in buylding of his howse for the helth his soule and body. The boke for a good of body to holde quyetnes for the helth of husbands to lerne;’ Robert Wyer [London, 1540 ?], which he had either written previously himself, or which he then stole. His ‘Boke of Berdes’ (condemning them) we know only from the imperfect copy of an answer to it by one Barnes-‘Barnes in the defence of the Berde 'or ‘The treatise answeryng the hoke of Berdes,' London, 1543 ?, in which he accuses Boorde of getting drunk at a Dutchman's house, and vomiting over his long beard, which stank so next morning that he had to shave it off.

Boorde was no doubt in England when his ‘Dvetary’ was published in 1542, though its dedication to the Duke of Norfolk is dated from Montpelier, 5 May, for Barnes says that on Boorde's return, evidently to London, where many patients resorted to him, he ‘had set forth bokes to be prynted in Fleet Strete.’ He probably settled at Winchester, and in 1545 published a ‘Pronosticacion,' as he most likely did in earlier and later years. In 1547 he may have been for a time in London—a ‘Doctor Borde’ was then the last tenant of the house appropriated to the master of the hospital of St. Giles’s-in-the-Fields—to see to the publication of his books, which had been five years in the press: the ‘Breuyary’ (a medical treatise), its companion ‘Astronamye’ (‘I dyd wrett and make this boke in iiii dayes, and wretten with one old pen with out mendyng’), and his ‘Introduction of Knowledge,' besides a second edition of his ‘Dyetary.' Soon after this, ‘within this eight yere,’ says the Bishop of Winchester, Dr. John Poynet, in 1556, Boorde was proved before the justices to have kept three loose women ‘in his chamber at Wigchester,’ ‘and the harlots openly in the stretes and great churche of Winchester [were] punished,' Whether for this, or some other and later offence, Boorde was put into the Fleet prison in London, and there, on 9 April 1549, made his will, leaving two houses in Lynn (which Recorder Conysby had given him), tenements in Pevensey, Sussex (which he got on the death of his brother), and houses and chattels in and about Winchester. He died soon after, probably near sixty years old, and his will was proved on 25 April 1549.

Besides the books above named, Boorde’s ‘Itinerary of England,' or ‘Peregrination of Doctor Boorde,’ was printed by Hearne in 1735 (Ab. Pet. de Hen. III et Ric. II, ii. 764-804); his ‘Itinerary of Europe’ (Introduction, p. 145), and his ‘Boke of Sermons’ (Extrauagantes, fol. vi.) are not known to exist ; two bits of ‘Almanacs’ or ‘Prognostications’ in the British Museum for 1537 and 1540 (?) may or may not be his. The books &c. assigned to him without any evidence are: ‘The Merie Tales of the Mad Men of Gotam,’ ‘Scogins Jests’ (‘an idle thing unjustly fathered upon Dr. Boorde,’ says Anthony à Wood), ‘The Mylner of Abynton,’ and a jocose poem on friars, ‘Nos Vagabunduli.’ He is also absurdly supposed to have been the original Merryandrew. The ‘Promptuarium Physices’ and ‘De iudicijs urinarium,’ which Bale assigns to Boorde, maybe his ‘Breuyary,' and its second part, ‘The Extravagantes.' Besides the first Handbook of Europe, we owe to Boorde the first printed specimen of the Gypsy language, given in his description of Egypt in his 'Introduction.' His anticipation of Shakspere in the close of the passage following is well known: ‘Englishmen be bold. strong, and mighty; the women be ful of bewty, and they be decked gaily. They fare sumptiously; God is serued in their churches deuoutly; but treson and deceyt among them is vsed craftyly, the more pitie; for yf they were true wythin themselfs, thei nede not to fere although al nacions were set against them’ (Introd. ch. i. p. 119). For his treatment of another of Shakspere’s topics, Englishman's fantasticality in dress, Boorde made himself famous by his woodcut of an Englishman standing naked, with a pair of shears in one hand and a piece of cloth over the other arm, above the lines—

I am an English man, and naked I stand here,
Musyng in my mynd what rayment I shal were;
For now I wyll were this, and now I wyl were that;
Now I wyl were I cannot tel what.

In spite of Boorde's sad slip at the end of his life, no one can read his racy writings without. admiring and liking the cheery, frank, bright, helpful, and sensible fellow who penned them.

[Dr. F. J. Furnivall's edition of Boorde`s Introduction and Dyetary for the Early English Text Society (extra series), 1870.]

F. J. F.