BURNEBURY, Edward (d.1432), of Bosmaugan in St. Winnow, Cornw.
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Family and Education
Commr. of inquiry, Devon, Cornw. Aug. 1416 (estates of William, Lord Zouche), Cornw. Nov. 1418 (treasons and felonies), May 1427 (estates of John Chenduyt*); to hold an assession court of the duchy of Cornw. May 1420 (q.).
Coroner, Cornw. by Aug.-Oct. 1423.2
Burnebury’s background is obscure, but he may have come from Fawton in the parish of St. Neot, where he is known to have held land, and he lived at ‘Bodmalgan’ (now Bosmaugan), a duchy estate near Lostwithiel. Under a settlement made in 1415 he obtained a reversionary interest in substantial properties in Bodmin, Grampound and elsewhere in Cornwall, after the deaths of John Nanskelly and his descendants. Burnebury’s brother John (d.1459), parson of Exbourne, who was also named in this transaction, achieved success in the Church, eventually serving, under Bishop Lacy, as treasurer of Exeter cathedral, and it may have been with his help that, in June 1421, Edward and his wife obtained a licence from the bishop to have their own oratory in any suitable place within the diocese.3
Although he is not known to have owned property in Launceston, Burnebury was certainly a frequent visitor to the town, and built up a practice as an attorney at the Cornish assizes which normally took place there. He attended the shire elections held at Launceston in 1419, and was subsequently present at all the Cornish elections (usually at Lostwithiel) between March 1421 and April 1432, with the exception only of those for the Parliament of 1431. The borough of Launceston formed part of the duchy of Cornwall, and Burnebury evidently became involved in the administration of other estates pertaining to it: in 1420 he was appointed along with the steward and other duchy officials to demise certain of its properties on seven-year leases; and, accordingly, in June and July that year, he assisted in holding assession courts.4 Burnebury briefly occupied the office of coroner in Cornwall, being replaced, however, in October 1423 on the grounds that he was ‘too sick and aged’ to continue. Burnebury’s advice was occasionally sought by members of the local gentry: in 1416, for example, he had been counsel to (Sir) John Colshull II*. The burgesses of Launceston retained his services, too, in 1432 paying him a fee of 10s., and in the same year the town also gave him a pottle of wine for consumption at the funeral of his mother.5
That summer, on 24 July, Burnebury was found drowned in a well near his house at Bosmaugan, but it was not until November that suspicions were openly voiced that he had committed suicide. Two royal commissions were set up to investigate the matter and, when these failed to report, further commissions were issued, in October 1435. Even so, it was not until 1437 that a jury met at Launceston to give evidence. They said that Burnebury had been lifting a bucket full of water when he had tripped on the chain attached to the bucket, slipped on a wet stone and fallen into the well, and that the bucket, chain and stone which caused his death (and so were deodands) were worth 3s.6d. It was probably their statement that Burnebury had occupied no property whatsoever in Cornwall which caused their evidence to be viewed with scepticism; in December 1439, more than seven years after Burnebury’s death, commissioners were again ordered to hold inquiries.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Bornebury, Burneby.
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 334.
- 2. JUST 1/1536 m. 27; CCR, 1422-9, p. 86.
- 3. Feudal Aids, i. 232; CAD, iv. A9992; Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lx), 78; Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. ed. Emden, 315-16.
- 4. JUST 1/1519 m. 116d; C219/12/3, 5, 6, 13/1-5, 14/1, 3; E306/2/10; CCR, 1419-22, p. 75.
- 5. R. and O.B. Peter, Hist. Launceston, 124-5; C139/89/67.
- 6. CPR, 1429-36, pp. 273, 279, 518; 1436-41, p. 371; C145/306/7.