The Medieval Combat Society
Born: 12 March 1329, Tolleshunt, Essex
Died: 21 May 1400
Buried: Halstead, Essex
Parents: Robert 1st Lord Bourchier (b about 1306, died 18 May 1349) married Margaret Prayers (b about 1307, Sible Headingham)
Siblings: William (b 1330, d 1375) married (1359) Eleanor de Louvaine (b 25 March 1345 Little Easton, Essex, d about 1400, probably buried in the abbey church at Beeleigh, Essex, the wall monument being removed to Little Easton after the Dissolution)
Married: about 1365 Stansted, Essex
Spouse: Elizabeth Coggeshall
Offspring: Bartholomew 3rd lord Bourchier (b 1374, d 18 May 1409, buried Halstead, Essex) married 1: (before 5 July 1396) Margaret widow of Sir John Sutton, married 2: Idoine Lovey (d 12 September 1410) widow of 1): Edmund Brooksburn and 2): John Glevant
Heraldic Coat of Arms: Argent a cross engrailed gules between 4 water bougets sable D
Knight of the Garter 1392, Stall 16, became a member of the order of the garter after the death of Robert de Namur
Before 1348 John was involved in legal action over the families property. From evidence given during the Scrope and Grosvenor enquiry John was at the siege of Calais during 1346-7 but there is no evidence to support this. John had been knighted by 1353 and was under protection and service of the king in 1355. In the Autumn of 1355 John was with the Prince of Wales and was probably at Poitiers in 1356 but there is no evidence to support this. Froissart states that he was with the Duke of Lancaster in Normandy and Brittany during 1357. On 8 September 1359 John was in London and testified in the Scrope and Grosvenor enquiry. In 1359/60 John was in the army of Edward III that was in France. In 1361 John was known to be back in England.
In 1362 John was in Brittany assisting Jean de Montfort and on 24 July 1363 John was one of the guarantors in the truce between Jean de Montfort and Charles de Blois at Landes d'Evran where he was exchanged with a Breton hostage until 18 November 1363 to ensure the treaty. For a while John was in the company of Jean de Montfort and on 28 October 1363 accompanied Jean to Poitiers where Prince Edward arranged a further truce between Jean de Montfort and Charles de Blois from 26 November 1363 to February 1364. Guy de Rochefort sire d'Acerac was the Breton counterpart of John and he released John from parole from 26 December 1363 to 11 June 1364, and John returned to England during this time, gathering more soldiers and taking them to Brittany. John was present on 29 September at the battle of Auray where Jean de Montfort defeated Charles de Blois, who was killed in the battle. In the winter of 1364-1365 John took part in destroying the remaining towns and castles still loyal to the Blois faction, such as Redon and St Malo. John remained in Brittany until 1366 serving as part of an English contingent serving with Jean de Montfort.
In 1367 John accompanied Prince Edward into Spain and fought at the battle of Najera on 3rd April 1367. John returned to Guyene and served with his uncle also John Bourchier. John was summoned with sir Thomas de Grandison as lieutenants to Sir Robert Knolles who was leading 2000 men at arms and 2000 archers to France later in April 1370. On the 4 December 1370 Bertrand du Guesclin and Olivier III de Clisson defeated a contingent of Robert Knolles forces, led by Thomas de Grandison at Pontvallain, near Le Mans. On the 5 June 1371 John was at Derval, a stronghold owned by Robert Knolles and with Sir Robert Warde lent sir William Flete 640 marks to be repaid by the feast of Angevin on 8th September1371. On 14 June 1471 John in London agreed to pay a debt of 100 marks by Easter 1372. John was captured by Girard Chabot probably in the Autumn of 1371, but was certainly a captive on 10 June 1372 and forced to pay a ransom for his release. By May 1374 a sum was negotiated of 1200 Francs of which 4000 were for his expenses and 8000 for the ransom, a sum difficult for him to obtain 26 years after the start of the first outbreak of the black death, made worse by subsequent outbreaks. The ransom due for John was eventually sold to Olivier de Clisson and on 29 April 1378 John acknowledged his obligation to pay 8000 francs after which he was allowed to return to England. How John raised the ransom is unknown but Olivier de Clisson in 1380 notified the earls of Arundel, Warwick and Suffolk that the money due to him had been paid.
Froissart states that John was on the 1379 expedition of Sir John Arundel that ended in disaster when the fleet sank in storms. However this is unlikely and could have breached the convention and promises that those paying off their ransoms should not fight their captors, and Froissart is the only evidence for John taking part in this expedition.
John received an indenture on 2nd May 1380 for the service of Buckingham and on 12 June 1380 John received a protection to accompany Buckingham abroad, although John was still in London on 20 October 1380, arranging the digging of a moat around his manor at Stanstead. Jean IV besieged Nantes with Buckingham's army in 1380 and John was probably present, but in early 1381 the English were keen to lift the siege. On 27 February John was at Vannes with Buckingham and Latimer. The French signed an agreement with Jean IV who paid off the English with 50,000 francs. On 12 April 1380 John was still at Vannes and received 300 francs as the payment of himself and his retinue.
Buckingham's army returned to England during the peasants revolt and the army was used in putting it down. John was put into various commissions for the punishment of rebels. John was also summoned to parliament and was now able to give attention to his home estates. John was asked to take part in the crusade of Bishop Despencer to Flanders but he did not take part. In November 1384 the royal council sent John with a small force of 100 men at arms and 300 archers to support the men of Ghent led by Frank Ackerman in revolt against Philip of Burgundy who had succeeded Louis de Male the Count of Flanders when he died in February 1383. In the spring of 1385 the English were on the offensive including the men of Ghent who captured Damme in August 1385. However Philip of Burgundy counter attacked and isolated Ghent with further English reinforcements arriving too late and too few in number. John was to be appointed Governor of Ghent but on 18 December 1385 a peace treaty was signed between Ghent and Philip of Burgundy at Tournai and the English were permitted to leave with full military honour's. John retreated to Calais where he stayed until 1386.
Knighton records John as taking part in the Chevauchée against Boulogne in late May 1386 led by Henry Percy, also known as Hotspur. In 1387 John was summoned by Richard II to Nottingham to discuss the state of the realm. John was present at the merciless parliament of 3 February1388 which condemned the kings favourite's and restricted his powers. It is unknown what the attitude of John was but he was friendly with Robert de Vere who fled and was sentenced in his absence.
On 5 May 1390 John obtained a license to cross the sea to 'Barbary' and arranged letters of exchange for £300 with Angelo Cristoforo a Lombard banker in London. John took with him a retinue of 6 esquires, 15 valets and 8 stable boys. In the summer of 1391 at Koningsberg English lords including Clifford, Despencer, Fitzwater, Beaumont and John Bourchier were hearing mass in a church where the celebrant stopped when the Scottish knight Sir William Douglas entered as the celebrant would not continue in the presence of a schematic as the Scots supported the Pope in Avignon and the English supported the Pope in Rome. Douglas left the church in anger and attacked the English when they left the church but Douglas was killed. Others joined in the affray and it was a while before peace was restored.
John returned to England and was made a knight of the garter in 1392. On 26 July 1392 John was ordered to release 5 prisoners whom he had captured after they tried to hold the 'logge' at Tolleshunt. John received garter robes in 1399 but he was in ill health by the winter of 1399 and exempted from parliament on 14 February 1400.