Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bourchier, Robert

BOURCHIER or BOUSSIER, ROBERT (d. 1349), chancellor, the eldest son of John Bourchier [q. v.], a judge of common pleas, began life in the profession of arms. He was returned as a member for the county of Essex in 1330, 1332, 1338, and 1339. In 1334 he was chief justice of the king's bench in Ireland. He was present at the battle of Cadsant in 1337. He sat in the parliament of 1340 (Rolls of Parliament, ii. 113). When on his return to England the king displaced his ministers, he committed the great seal, which had long been held by Archbishop Stratford and his brother, the Bishop of Chichester, alternately, to Bourchier, who thus became, on 14 Dec. 1340, the first lay chancellor. His salary was fixed at 500l., besides the usual fees. In the struggle between the king and the archbishop, Bourchier withheld the writ of summons to the ex-chancellor, interrupted his address to the bishops in the Painted Chamber, and on 27 April 1341 urged him to submit to the king. When the parliament of 1341 extorted from the king his assent to their petitions that the account of the royal officers should be audited, and that the chancellor and other great officers should be nominated in parliament, and should swear to obey the laws, Bourchier declared that he had not assented to these articles, and would not be bound by them, as they were contrary to his oath and to the laws of the realm. He nevertheless exemplified the statute, and delivered it to parliament. He resigned his office on 29 Oct. He was summoned to parliament as a peer in 16 Edward III. In 1346 he accompanied the king on his expedition to France. He was in command of a large body of troops, and fought at Crecy in the first division of the army. He married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Preyers. He founded a college at Halstead for eight priests; but it probably never contained so many, as its revenues were very small. The king granted him the right of free warren, and license to crenellate his house. He died of the plague in 1349, and was buried at Halstead.

[Rolls of Parliament, ii. 113, 127, 131; Return of Members, i. 89-126; Murimuth, 111, Eng. Hist. Soc.; Froissart, i. 151, 163 (Johnes); Foss's Judges of England, iii. 399-402; Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors, i. 234-41; Stubbs's Constitutional History, ii. 387, 391; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 126; Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 1453.]

W. H.