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Sir Humphrey Bourchier

Sir Humphrey Bourchier (or Bourgchier) is buried in St Edmund's chapel in Westminster Abbey. The Purbeck marble altar tomb once had a brass figure on it which has been lost but four engraved shields of arms and his crest of a Saracen's head still remain, together with the inscription plate. The Latin inscription can be translated:

Behold lying here the warrior at Barnet, eager for fierce fights; he fights like Eacides [another name for Achilles]; the knight is wounded on all sides; he falls smitten; Mars brings him a wound; his armour spattered in many places with blood grows red. Lo, the tearful grief of the hour. He falls, indeed, from the light, whither Christ rose from the dead. Humphrey Bourgchier, sprung from the glorious line of King Edward, called the Third, the son and heir of John, Lord Berners. And lo, Edward the Fourth has the triumph in the battle, in which Humphrey dies a true servant of the king. He was an attendant at the table of the king's wife Elizabeth; so his virtue grows with honour; once this man was distinguished in arms and dear to Britons; ask in your prayers that he may live in heaven

He died at the battle of Barnet in 1471 fighting for Edward IV. The queen mentioned is Elizabeth Woodville. The coats of arms include those of Bourgchier - a cross engrailed between four water bougets or leather water carriers - Louvain, Berners, Tilney and Thorpe.

He was the son of Sir John Bourchier (died 1474), Lord Berners, and his wife Margery, daughter of Sir Richard Berners, and grandson of Sir William Bourchier and Anne, daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, son of Edward III. He married Elizabeth Tilney. Their son John succeeded his grandfather and married Katherine, daughter of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk. He became Chancellor of the Exchequer to Henry VIII and died in 1533. He had two legitimate daughters (Jane married Sir Edmund Knyvet and Mary married Alexander Unton) and three illegitimate sons and a daughter.

See also Sir Lewis Robessart, Lord Bourchier, an earlier kinsman of Humphrey.

His cousin Sir Humphrey Bourchier, Lord Cromwell is buried in the same chapel, near the grave of Robert de Waldeby, but has no monument. His father was Henry Bourchier or Bouchier, Earl of Essex and his mother was Isabel, daughter of Richard, Earl of Cambridge, aunt of Edward IV. He was Constable of Nottingham Castle and Steward of Sherwood Forest. He married Joan daughter of Sir Richard Stanhope and also died at the battle of Barnet, leaving no legitimate children.

Further reading

Entries for his grandfather Sir William and son John are in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Died

14th April 1471

Field

Soldier

Location

Chapel of St Edmund

Memorial Type

Tomb

Material Type

Marble; brass

Sir Humphrey Bourchier
Sir Humphrey Bourchier brass engraving

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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