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Thomas Bourchier

Bishop of Worcester
Bishop of Ely
Archbishop of Canterbury
Born: 1404
Died: March 1486

Thomas was born in 1404, the son of William Bourchier, Earl of Eu, and Princess Anne of Woodstock, a granddaughter of King Edward Ill. He went to Oxford and took up his residence at Nevill's Inn.

He, early, obtained several preferments, amongst them being the Deanery of St. Martin-le-Grand, London. In 1434, he also became Chancellor of the University of Oxford. In the following year, he was made Bishop of Worcester and, in 1443, was translated to Ely. His elevation to the Primacy took place eleven years later and it was soon followed by his appointment as Lord Chancellor.

When the Wars of the Roses broke out, Bourchier attempted, for a time, to mediate between the two parties. Finally, he placed himself on the side of the Yorkists and even officiated at the Coronation of King Edward IV. In 1471, together with other peers of the Realm, he took an oath accepting the Prince of Wales as heir to the throne but, upon the death of Edward IV, his son was set aside and Bourchier placed the crown on the head of Richard III.

The closing scene of his public life was in 1486, when the strife between the red rose and the white was ended by his marrying King Henry VII to Princess Elizabeth of York. Bourchier's died two months later.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).      Copyright ©1999, LLC