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Sir John and Lord Thomas Burgh

Sir John Burgh [or Borough] and his brother Thomas, 5th Lord Burgh are both buried in the chapel of St Andrew in Westminster Abbey. They were sons of William, 4th Baron Burgh of Gainsborough.

Sir John originally had a plain monument on the east wall of the chapel. It is recorded as still being in position in guidebooks up to 1742 but it had gone by the time of a 1754 guide. It may have been removed in 1749 when a lot of mason's work was being carried out in the chapel and scaffolding for the Lower House of Convocation was erected. William Camden in his guide published in 1600 gives the inscription, which can be translated:

Sir John Borough, died 10 March 1595. Sacred to his memory. His heavenly part is restored to heaven, his earthly to earth. His decline was burdensome, but lightly does he seek the realms above. This church is the mausoleum of his body, the whole world [the mausoleum] of Borough, and the Pole Star [the heavens] [the mausoleum] of his spirit. Here lies the great and most illustrious gentleman John Borough, son of the most noble baron Lord William Borough, son of the most gallant Hubert of Borough, originally of the county of Kent; and of the most noble Lady Catherine Clinton, daughter of Lord Edward Clinton of the county of Lincoln, recently Admiral of England,: a man famed far & wide for his achievements by land & sea, Governor of Duisberg, twice endowed with the honour of knighthood, first in Belgium by the illustrious Earl of Leicester, Governor General of the Belgians, and then by Henri IV King of France after the victory on the battlefield of Sant Andreano. Finally, because he captured and brought to England a huge Spanish ship, the Caraca, laden with jewels, gold, silver, and Indian spices, he was deemed worthy of a naval crown & many plaudits. Despising overmuch & with a fatal unconcern his enemies, though they were cunning & quick & outstripped his own resources, he was seized by an untimely death in the 32nd year of his age, to the great grief of his associates & to the loss of his native land. Here he awaits the trump of the universal resurrection. Meanwhile this token of affection, such as it is, recalls the fleeting memory of this great man, until a more splendid monument, more worthy of his virtues, his genius, and his title, should be provided. My sword shall not save me, Psalm 44.v 6. For thou O Lord, hast power of life & death, Thou leadest men to the gates of death & back again. Wisdom 16 v.13

Sir John fought with Sir John Norris in Holland and was wounded. He was knighted first in 1586 and joined Lord Willoughby's expedition to France to assist Henri IV, taking part in the battle of Ivry in 1590. He travelled to the West Indies with Sir Walter Raleigh. He died of a wound received during a duel on 7th March 1594, which differs from the date given in Camden.

Thomas was a Knight of the Garter, and does not seem to have had any monument (possibly because he died "in penury"). He served as Lord Deputy of Ireland and died while fighting the Earl of Tyrone on 14th October 1597. He had been Governor of Brill in the Netherlands and married Frances Vaughan. She was buried in St Margaret's Westminster and their son Robert died young.

Further reading for Sir John

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Field

Soldier

Location

Chapel of St Andrew

Sir John and Lord Thomas Burgh
St Andrew, St Michael and St John the Evangelist chapels

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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