Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bourchier, Thomas (d.1586?)

BOURCHIER, THOMAS (d. 1586?), was a friar of the Observant order of the Franciscans. He was probably educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, but there is no record of his having graduated in that university. When Queen Mary attempted to re-establish the friars in England, Bourchier became a member of the new convent at Greenwich; but at that queen's death he left the country. After spending some years in Paris, where the theological faculty of the Sorbonne conferred on him the degree of doctor, he travelled to Rome. He at first joined the convent of the Reformed Franciscans at the church of S. Maria di Ara Coeli, and subsequently became penitentiary in the church of S. Giovanni in Laterano, where John Pits, his biographer, speaks of having sometimes seen him.

He wrote several books, but the only one that survives is the 'Historia Ecclesiastica de Martyrio Fratrum Ordinis Divi Francisci dictorum de Observantia, qui partim in Anglia sub Henrico octavo Rege, partim in Belgio sub Principe Auriaco, partim et in Hybernia tempore Elizabethæ regnantis Reginæ, idque ab anno 1536 usque ad hunc nostrum præsentem annum 1582, passi sunt.' The preface is dated from Paris, 'ex conventu nostro,' 1 Jan. 1582. The book was very popular among catholics, and other editions were brought out at Ingolstadt in 1583 and 1584, Paris in 1586, and at Cologne in 1628. Another of his works was a treatise entitled 'Oratio doctissima et efficacissima ad Franciscum Gonzagam totius ordinis ministrum generalem pro pace et disciplina regulari Magni Conventus Parisiensis instituenda,' Paris, 1582. This was published under the name of Thomas Lancton, or Lacton, which appears to have been an alias of Bourchier.

Wadding, the historian of the Franciscans, calls him, in his supplementary volume, 'Thomas Bourchier Gallice, Lacton vero Anglice, et Latinis Lanius, vel Lanio, Italis autem Beccaro' (an alternative form of Beccajo), and elsewhere expresses himself convinced of the identity of Lancton and Bourchier. It is but fair to say that Francis a S. Clara and Parkinson, the author of 'Collectanea Anglo-Minoritica,' consider them two distinct persons, who both took their degree of D.D. at Paris about 1580. These writers are however, of no better authority than Wadding. Another treatise by Bourchier, 'De judicio religiosorum, in quo demonstratur quod a sæcularibus judicari non debeant,' is mentioned by Wadding as in his possession, but only in manuscript; this was written at Paris in 1582. In 1584 he edited and annotated the 'Censura Orientalis Ecclesiæ de præcipuis Hæreticorum dogmatibus,' which was published by Stanislaus Scoluvi. Bourchier died, according to Pits, at Rome about 1586.

[Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, 789; Wadding's Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, pp. 219, 221; Suppl. ad Scriptores trium Ordinum, 671; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. i. 525; Joannes a S. Antonio; Bibliotheca Univ. Franciscana, iii. 116; Franciscus a S. Clara, Hist. Min. Provin. Angl. Frat. Min. 48-55.]

C. T. M.