Bourchier, Thomas

, archbishop of Canterbury in the successi^eio-ns of Henry VI. Edward IV. Edward V. Richard III. tf Henry VII. was son of William Bourchier earl of Ewe in Normandy, and the countess of Stafford, and brother of Henry earl of Essex, and, consequently, related to the preceding lord Berners. He had his education in Neville’s-inn at Oxford, and was chancellor of that university three ears viz. from 1433 to 1437. His first dignity in the church was that of dean of the collegiate church of St. Martin’s in London; from which, in 1433, he was advanced, by pope Eugenius IV. to the see of Worcester but his consecration | was deferred to May 15, 1436, by reason (as is supposed) of a defect in age. He had not sat a full year, before he was elected by the monks of Ely bishop of that see, and confirmed by the pope: but, the king refusing his consent, Bourchier did not dare to comply with the election,' for fear of incurriig the censure of the laws, which forbad, under very sevtfe penalties, the receiving the pope’s bull without the khg’s leave. Nevertheless, seven or eight years after, the see of Ely still continuing vacant, and the king consenting, he was translated thither, the 20th of December 1443. The author of the “Historia Eliensis” speaks very disadvantageously of him, as an oppressor, and neglectfi of his duty during his residence on that see, which was ten years twenty-three weeks and five days. At last he was elected archbishop of Canterbury, in the room of John Kemp, the 23d of April 1454. This election was the irre remarkable, as the monks were left entirely to trir liberty of choice, without any interposition either frc the crown or the papal chair. On the contrary, pof Nicolas Vth’s concurrence being readily obtained, t> archbishop was installed with great solemnity. In the m^th of December following, he received the red hat from vome, being created cardinal-priest of St. Cyriacus in Ttemis, but Bentham thinks this was not till 1464, The next ear, he was made lord high chancellor of England, but‘esigned that office in October the year following. So’ after his advancement to the see of Canterbury, he be^aia visitation in Kent, and made several regulations fothe government of his diocese. He likewise publish* 3 - constitution for restraining the excessive abuse of papa’rovisions, but deserved most highly of the learned world, r being the principal instrument in introducing the no 2 art of printing into England. Wood’s account^ althou not quite correct, is worth transcribing. Bourchier being informed that the inventor, Tossan^ alias John -ithenberg, had set up a press at Harlem, was extremely desirous that the English might be made masters of s^ 6116 ^ ^ an art. To this purpose he persuaded fcino Henry VI. to dispatch one Robert Tournour, belong to the wardrobe, privately to Harlem. This man, f ur ed with a thousand marks, of which the archbishop suried three hundred, embarked for Holland, and, to disise the matter, went in company with one Caxton, a, nnhant of London, pretending himself to be of the same | profession. Thus concealing his name and his business, he went first to Amsterdam, then to Leyden, and at last settled at Harlem where having spent a -great deal of time and money, he sent to the king for a fresh supply, giving his Highness to understand, that he had almost compassed the enterprize. In short, he persuaded Frederic Corselli, one of the compositors, to carry off a set of letters, and embark with him in the night for London. When they arrived, the archbishop, thinking Oxford a more convenient place for printing than London, sent Corselli down thither. And, lest he should slip away before he had discovered the whole secret, a guard was set upon the press. And thus the mystery of printing appeared ten years sooner in the university of Oxford than at any other place in Europe, Harlem and Mentz excepted. Not long after, there were presses set up at Westminster, St. Alhan’s, Worcester, and other monasteries of note. After this manner printing was introduced into England, by the care of archbishop Bourchier, in the year of Christ 1464, and the third of king Edward IV."

Bourchier, we are told, was strangely imposed upon by the specious pretences of Richard duke of Gloucester, when he undertook to persuade the queen to deliver up the duke of York, her son, into the protector’s hands. He presided over the church thirty-two years, in the most troublesome times of the English government, those of Henry VI. and Edward IV. He also performed the marriage ceremony between Henry VII. and the daughter of Edward IV.; and had the happiness to be contemporary with many prelates of distinction in English history. He was certainly a man of learning; though nothing written by him has come down to us, if we except a few Sy nodical decrees. Dart tells us, he founded a chantry, which was afterwards surrendered to king Henry VIII. Archbishop Bourchier died at his palace of Knowle, on Thursday the thirtieth of March 1486, and was buried on the north side of the choir of his cathedral, by the high altar, in a tomb of marble, on which is an inscription merely recording the event.

Archbishop Bourchier’s benefactions are stated by Mr. Bentham as follows: He gave to the prior and convent of Christ Church in Canterbury, the alien priory of Cranfield in Essex, a grant of which he had obtained from the crown in the time of Edward the Fourth. To the church of Canterbury, besides the image of the Trinity, he bequeathed | twenty-seven copes of red tissue, and left to his successor, in recompence for dilapidations, 2000l.; also 12 5l. to each of the universities, to be kept in chests, for the support of the poor scholars. The chest at Cambridge, which was united with Billingford’s, was in being in 16O1, when 10O/. was borrowed out of it for the use of the university; but this fund was afterward embezzled, through the iniquity of the times. The archbishop left also legacies to several monasteries. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Bentham’s Ely.