Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Borough, John (d.1643)
BOROUGH, Sir JOHN (d. 1643), Garter king of arms, whose name is often incorrectly written Burroughs, was grandson of William Borough, of Sandwich, Kent, by the daughter of Basil Gosall, of Nieuwkerk, Brabant, and son of John Borough, of Sandwich, by his wife, daughter of Robert Denne, of Dennehill, Kent. It was reported by some of his contemporaries that his father was a Dutchman who carried on business as a gardener or brewer at Sandwich. He received a classical education, and afterwards studied law at Gray's Inn, but he showed more aptitude for the study of records and antiquities than for the practice of the legal profession. In 1622 he was at Venice, and from that city he addressed several letters to Sir Robert Cotton, chiefly about the purchase of manuscripts, subscribing himself ‘Your faithful servant and poore kinsman' (Cotton MS. Julius, C iii, 33, 34, 36). He was appointed in 1623 keeper of the records in the Tower of London. In June of the same year, by the favour of the earl marshal, to whom he was secretary, he was sworn herald-extraordinary by the title of Mowbray, and on the 26 Dec. following he was created Norroy king of arms, at Arundel House in the Strand, in the place of Sir Richard St. George, who was created Clarenceux. On 17 July 1624 he received the honour of knighthood, and in 1634 he was made Garter principal king of arms, in the place of Sir William Seger, deceased.
As keeper of the records, when King Charles I was discussing the propriety of summoning the great council of peers, Borough was to led in to enlighten the council by his learning in the records respecting those assemblies. He attended his sovereign when he went to Scotland to be crowned in 1633. On 14 April 1636 he obtained a grant to entitle him to the fees and perquisites of his office of Garter while employed beyond the seas for the king‘s special service (State Papers, Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxviii. art. 72). As principal king of arms he followed the fortunes of his sovereign in the field during the civil war, and had several narrow escapes while in the royal camp. For instance, Edward Norgate, Windsor herald, writing from Berwick to his cousin Thomas Read, on 3 June 1639, says that the king`s tent was shot through once, and Sir John Borough’s twice (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Charles I , 272).
Borough was an admirable notetaker, and rendered useful service by drawing up accounts of various conferences between the royalists and the parliamentarians. The curious notes of the interview between Charles and the covenanters in the earl marsha1's tent near Berwick on ll June 1639 were in all probability taken by him. When the great council met at York he was appointed its clerk, and in that capacity he took the full and admirable notes of its proceedings which constitute the only record we possess of what took place in that assembly. Again, when the sixteen commissioners went to Ripon, Borough accompanied them as their clerk, and took notes of the treaty there. Finally when the treaty was adjourned to London, Borough resumed his attendance upon the commissioners, and carried on his notes until the treaty was concluded.
While in the service of the court at Oxford that university conferred upon him the degree of D.C.L. on 5 Aug. 1643. He died about two months afterwards, on 21 Oct. 1643, at Oxford, and was buried the next day at the upper end of the divinity chapel adjoining on the north side, the choir of Christ Church cathedral.
He married the daughter of —— Cassy, hy whom he had two sons and two daughters. His eldest son, John, was knighted by Charles II, and had a considerable practice in the court of chancery until the Test Act passed.
He is the author of: 1. ‘The Soveraignty of the British Seas. Proved by Records, History, and the Municipall Lawes of this Kingdome. Vllritten in the yeare 1633,' London, 1651, 12mo , 8vo. There are manuscript copies in the Harleian collection, 1323 H1 95-137, the Lansdowne collection, 806 f. 40, the Sloane collection, 1696, art. 2, and in the State Papers, Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclxxvi. art. 68. 'The work is reprinted in Gerard Ma1ynes's ‘Consuetudo, vel Lex Mercatoria; or, the Antient Law-Merchant,' London, 1686, folio. 2. ‘Journal of Events at the English Camp, extending from the 6th to the 24th of June 1639,' State Papers (Dom.), Charles I, vol. ccccxxiv. art. 63, 64. This journal, which comprises the history of the pacification with the Scottish covenanters, is printed in Rushworth’s ‘ Collections,' iii. 938-946. 3. ‘Notes of the Interview between Charles I and the Covenanters in the Earl Marshal’s Tent near Berwick, on 11 June 1639.' In Lord Hardwicke`s State Papers, ii. 130. 4. ‘Articles of the Treaty between the Commissioners of England and Scotland, 1640–41,' Harl. MS. 455. 5. ‘Minutes of what passed in the Great Councell of the Peers at Yorke from 25 Sept. to 27 Oct. 1640, Harl. MS. 456; printed in Lord Hardwicke’s State Papers, ii. 208–298. 6. ‘Notes of the Treaty carried on at Ripon, between King Charles I and the Covenanters of Scotland, A.D. 1640,’ London, 1869, 4to, edited for the Camden Society by John Bunce, from the original manuscript in the possession of Lieutenant-colonel Carew. 7. ‘Minutes of the Treaty between the English and Scots held at London; from 10 Nov. 1640 to 12 Aug, 1641,' Harl. MS. 457. 8. ‘Burrhi Impetus Juveniles. Et quædam sedatiorisaliquantulùm animi Epistolæ,' Oxford, 1643, 12mo; reprinted at the end of ‘A. Gislenii Busbequii Omnia quæ extant,’ Oxford, 1660, 16mo. Most of the letters are written to Philip Bacon, Sir Francis Bacon (Lord Verulam), Thomas Farnabie, Thomas Coppin, and Sir Henr Spelman. 9. ‘Observations concerning the Nobilitie of England, auntient and moderne,’ Harl, MS. 1849. 10. ‘Commentary on the Formulary for Combats before the Constable and Marshal,' manuscript in the Inner Temple Library. 11. ‘Various interesting letters from the royal camp preserved among the State Papers.'
[Add MSS. 6297, p. 303, 14293, 29316 f. 15, 32102 f. 194 b; Ayscough’s Cat. of MSS. 698; Bruce's pref. to Notes of the Treaty carried on at Berwick; Calendars of State Papers; Catalogues of MSS. and Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Lord Hardwicke’s State Papers; Harl. MS. 7011 ff. 47–54; Noble’s College of Arms, 209, 219, 233, 239; Wood's Fasti Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 62.]