BOURNE, William (by 1499-1545), of Bedford.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1499. m. by 1520, Elizabeth, at least 2s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Mayor, Bedford 1538-9.2


William Bourne’s parentage is unknown and his early career obscure. He may have been related to a namesake, a serjeant-at-arms, who died in 1543 or to a Thomas Burne who had held an unspecified Household office in the 1520s. It was also presumably a namesake, a resident of Faversham, who profited from the Dissolution in Kent, acquiring land which had belonged to Faversham abbey. If the Member was the William Bourne who in 1543 held a lease in Droitwich, he may have been related to Secretary Bourne, a Worcestershire man.3

It is easier to believe, however, that Bourne came of a Bedfordshire yeoman family mentioned in the cartulary of Newnham priory: it was from the priory that he received his first known lease of land in 1525, a rectory and adjoining property in Wootton, Bedfordshire, at an annual rent of £20. Thereafter he acquired more land in the county, although the source of his original capital remains unknown. He may have begun his career in trade: he owned the Falcontavern, and at least one other house, in the Poultry Market at Bedford, and further property in Fish Row, adjoining St. Paul’s churchyard. His most extensive possession in the town, the house and site of the Grey Friars, he bought in 1540 from John Gostwick, and he had another tenement, known as ‘Abbas’, earlier held by the abbess of Elstow and after the Dissolution part of the crown manor of Aldermanbury in Bedford. Sir John Gascoigne sold him land in Bedford and at Biddenham, two miles away, and his inquisition post mortem mentions other property elsewhere in the county.4

By returning William Bourne and John Baker III to the Parliament of 1529 the borough of Bedford secured its representation in that assembly by two townsmen; it probably re-elected them to the succeeding Parliament, that of 1536, in accordance with the King’s request for the return of the previous Members, and may have chosen one or the other again in 1539, when the name of only one of the borough’s Members has survived. Nothing is known of Bourne’s part in the proceedings in the Commons.

Bourne died on 12 Jan. 1545. His will, made on the previous 4 Dec., has apparently not survived, but the inquisition post mortem cites the settlement of his lands. His wife was to have a life interest in much of the property, which was then to be divided between their children. Richard, the heir, was in his mid 20s at his father’s death.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. C142/73/6; LP Hen. VIII, xv; VCH Beds. iii. 22.
  • 2. Bedford yr. bk.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xv-xix; Egerton 2604, f. iv.
  • 4. Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xli. 120; xliii. 75, 221, 227; VCH Beds. iii. 23, 335; LP Hen. VIII, xv, xx.
  • 5. C142/73/6, 122/2.