BURGHERSH, Sir John (1343-91), of Ewelme, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Sept. 1388

Family and Education

b. Ewelme 29 Sept. 1343, s. and h. of Sir John Burghersh of Ewelme and East Worldham, Hants by Maud, da. and h. of William, Lord Kerdeston of Kerdiston, Norf. and Margaret, da. and coh. of Sir Edmund Bacon of Ewelme. m. aft. 1372 and bef. 1376, Ismania (d. 28 Sept. 1420), da. and coh. of Simon Hanham of Glos., wid. of Sir John Raleigh† of Nettlecombe, Som., 2da. Kntd. bef. 1369.1

Offices Held

Tax collector, Som. Nov. 1377; assessor Aug. 1379.

Sheriff, Som. and Dorset 5 Nov. 1379-18 Oct. 1380, 11 Nov. 1384-20 Oct. 1385.

Commr. of inquiry, Dorset Aug. 1380 (wastes at Frampton priory), Som. May 1389 (services due to Bishop Erghum of Salisbury); to put down unlawful assemblies June 1381; of array Sept. 1386.2


Burghersh’s parents died within a few weeks of each other in 1349 (his mother on 20 May, his father on 30 June) probably of the Black Death. The estates which he, then aged five, inherited were during his minority committed to several hands, but from December 1355 his guardian was Joan, wife of John, Lord Mohun of Dunster, the daughter of Bartholomew, Lord Burghersh, and therefore a relative of her ward. Having been granted the manor of Ewelme, she was expected to find sustenance for the young heir, although the King retained his rights over other parts of the estate including that of presentation to Ewelme church. Burghersh may well have been brought up at Dunster, and although only the estates he acquired by marriage were situated in Somerset his later activities were to be centred on his adopted home county.3

Burghersh failed to make proof of age until he was 23, in November 1366, and only then received his lands back from the several guardians. His inheritance was substantial and derived mainly from his great-grandfather, Sir Edmund Bacon, who had died in 1336. The Bacon estates comprised property in Buckinghamshire, Essex, Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Suffolk, and although Burghersh shared them with his grandmother’s half-sister, Margery, wife of Sir William Moleyns†, his portion was considerable and included, besides the manor and advowson of Ewelme, the manors of Wytham and Hatfield Peverel in Essex. Modest holdings in Norfolk, the manor of ‘Brune’ in Cambridgeshire and that of Kingsey on the border of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire came to him on the death of his grandmother, Margaret, Lady Kerdeston, the widow of Hamon de Felton, in 1368. According to modern theory Burghersh inherited from his maternal grandfather the barony of Kerdeston, though he received only small properties in Lincolnshire from this source, since his grandfather had preferred to bestow the bulk of his estates on his bastard sons. Indeed, in a settlement made some time between 1356 and 1361 his grandfather had expressly stated that he thought Burghersh would have enough to live on, implying that he was therefore justified in disinheriting him. Burghersh disputed ownership of the Kerdeston estates with his illegitimate uncle, Sir William Kerdeston†, until under a concord made on 3 Nov. 1371 it was agreed that he might have the manor of Skendleby and other lands in Lincolnshire, and that of Stratford and its advowson in Suffolk. In the following year, however, Stratford was awarded to Kerdeston in Chancery, and only later came into the possession of Burghersh and his heirs. It was from his father that Burghersh inherited the park and manor of East Worldham, Hampshire, which he later disposed of to the Crown, the former in 1371, the latter in 1373. (His heirs afterwards sought to recover the property.) In 1382 he acquired through purchase the manor of Ravensbury in Surrey and lands at Mitcham and Morden in the same county, buying them from Sir Robert Pleasington, the chief baron of the Exchequer, to whom he had previously sold some of his Lincolnshire property. Meanwhile Burghersh’s marriage to Ismania Hanham had brought him control of part of the Raleigh estates in Somerset (property at Oule Knowle in Carhampton and at Alford), held of the Mohuns of Dunster. These properties, which formed lsmania’s dower from her former husband Sir John Raleigh, returned to the Raleighs only after her death in 1420.4

Burghersh, therefore, held lands in six counties, but, probably as a result of his early connexions with Lady Mohun and the acquisition of estates in Somerset through marriage, he chose to perform his public service in that part of the country. As early as 1369 he was made one of the trustees in a feoffment of the extensive Dunster estates, his associates being Bishop Sudbury of London and Sir Aubrey de Vere. In 1374 they were pardoned for trespass in taking on this trusteeship without royal licence, but two years later they conveyed the property to Lady Mohun with remainder to Elizabeth Luttrell, by a settlement which was to bring the latter’s son, Sir Hugh Luttrell*, considerable trouble but, in the end, much wealth and prestige. The connexion with Dunster and the Mohuns continued through Burghersh’s life and after his death Lady Mohun was to be granted the wardship and marriage of Maud, his younger daughter.5

Like his father, who had fought at Crécy, Burghersh took part in military expeditions abroad. In May 1369 he received royal letters of protection as being a member of the retinue of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, and in April 1373 he was preparing to embark with the army commanded by John of Gaunt, on the latter occasion serving alongside John, Lord Mohun. Of his parliamentary service one item of interest has survived: before the Parliament met on 24 Apr. 1379 Burghersh and his fellow Member from Somerset, John Raddington, received letters of privy seal ‘to come from the county aforesaid ... upon certain affairs concerning the King’. The wording suggests that the two men had already been elected and that special information was required from them, perhaps in connexion with assessment of the projected tax, which both of them were later commissioned to collect.6

Burghersh died on 21 Sept. 1391, aged just under 48. His widow received a substantial dower, after the completion of the several transactions and divisions to be expected in such a scattered estate, and married, thirdly, Sir Laurence Berkerolles, son and heir of Sir Roger Berkerolles of Coity, Glamorgan. Burghersh’s daughters and coheirs were both married into well-known families: Margaret, then aged 15, was already the wife of Sir John Grenville* of Bideford and later married John Arundell II*; and Maud, then aged 12 and unmarried, was later wedded to Thomas Chaucer*, son of the poet and cousin of the Beautorts.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421


Variants: Borewassche, Burghers, Burwaysch.

  • 1. CIPM, xii. 88; CCR, 1364-8, pp. 259-60; CP, vii. 193-5; CPR, 1367-70, p. 256; H.A. Napier, Swyncombe and Ewelme, 21, 42-43.
  • 2. C76/71 m. 19.
  • 3. CPR, 1350-4, p. 14; 1354-8, p. 322; 1361-4, pp. 56, 83, 232, 516; 1364-7, p. 235; CCR, 1360-4, pp. 336-7; 1364-8, p. 330; CFR, vi. 144, 258, 293, 405; CIPM, xii. 190; Abbrev. Rot. Orig. 245.
  • 4. CIPM, ix. 570; x. 82, 314, 315; xi. 19, 21; xii. 88, 190, 224; xiii. 200; xvi. 1093-7; CCR, 1360-4, pp. 336-7; 1364-8, pp. 259-60, 330; 1369-74, p. 346; 1374-7, pp. 85-87; CFR, vii. 18, 48, 192; viii. 172, 346; CPR, 1370-4, pp. 24, 459; CP, vii. 193-8; ix. 14; Some Som. Manors (Som. Rec. Soc. ex. ser. 1931), 79-80, 369-70; Som. Feet of Fines (ibid. xvii), 147; CAD, ii. A3249, B2608; iii. D1093; E143/17/1; C138/53/114.
  • 5. CPR, 1367-70, pp. 256, 293; 1374-7, p. 26; CFR, xi. 30; Som. Feet of Fines, 87, 89.
  • 6. Crécy and Calais ed. Wrottesley, 83; CCR, 1369-74, p. 260; C76/52 m. 22; Reg. Gaunt 1371-5, i. 33; CP, vii. 194-5; Issues ed. Devon, 210; CFR, ix. 162.
  • 7. CCR, 1389-92, pp. 405, 453; CFR, xi. 43; CP, vii. 195; CIPM, xvi. 1093-7.