Gilbert Bourne

Last updated
The Right Reverend
Gilbert Bourne
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Church Church of England and Roman Catholic
See Diocese of Bath and Wells
In office 1554–1559
Predecessor William Barlow
Successor Gilbert Berkeley
Personal details
Died 10 September 1569
Silverton, Devon
Previous post Archdeacon of Bedford

Gilbert Bourne (date of birth unknown; d. 10 September 1569 at Silverton, Devon) was the last Roman Catholic Bishop of Bath and Wells, England.

Silverton, Devon village and civil parish in Mid Devon, Devon, England

Silverton is a large village and civil parish, about 8 miles (13 km) north of Exeter, in the English county of Devon. It is one of the oldest villages in Devon and dates from the first years of the Saxon occupation.

Devon County of England

Devon, also known as Devonshire, which was formerly its common and official name, is a county of England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is part of South West England, bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north east, and Dorset to the east. The city of Exeter is the county town. The county includes the districts of East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, and West Devon. Plymouth and Torbay are each geographically part of Devon, but are administered as unitary authorities. Combined as a ceremonial county, Devon's area is 6,707 km2 and its population is about 1.1 million.

Bishop of Bath and Wells Diocesan bishop in the Church of England

The Bishop of Bath and Wells heads the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells in the Province of Canterbury in England.


Life to the death of Mary I

Bourne was son of Philip Bourne, of Worcestershire. Entering the University of Oxford in 1524, he became a Fellow of All Souls in 1531, proceeded in Arts in 1532, and in 1543 was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Divinity, having in 1541 been named prebendary of Worcester, on the suppression of the old monastic chapter there. [1]

Worcestershire County of England

Worcestershire is a county in the West Midlands of England. Between 1974 and 1998, it was merged with the neighbouring county of Herefordshire as Hereford and Worcester.

University of Oxford University in Oxford, United Kingdom

The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly called 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

A fellow is a member of a group of learned people which works together in pursuing mutual knowledge or practice. There are many different kinds of fellowships which are awarded for different reasons in academia and industry. These often indicate a different level of scholarship.

Moving to London in 1545, Bourne became a prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral, and in 1549 Archdeacon of Bedford with the benefice of rector of High Ongar in Essex. At the time, the holding of such preferments involved acceptance of the Church of England as brought into being under King Henry VIII and his son Edward VI. Soon after Queen Mary's accession, while preaching at St Paul's Cross, Bourne narrowly escaped a dagger which a fanatic hurled at him on hearing him allude to Bishop Edmund Bonner's recent sufferings under the previous reign. On being appointed to the Bishopric of Bath and Wells, Bourne received absolution from Cardinal Reginald Pole, the papal legate, by letters dated 17 March 1554, from all censures incurred in the time of schism, and on 1 April was consecrated with five others by Bishop Bonner, assisted by Bishop Stephen Gardiner and Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall. [1]

St Pauls Cathedral Church in London

St Paul's Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London and is a Grade I listed building. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the City after the Great Fire of London. The cathedral building largely destroyed in the Great Fire, now often referred to as Old St Paul's Cathedral, was a central focus for medieval and early modern London, including Paul's walk and St. Paul's Churchyard being the site of St. Paul's Cross.

The Archdeacon of Bedford is an ecclesiastical post in the Church of England Diocese of St Albans in the Province of Canterbury. Historically the post was in the diocese of Lincoln, then from 1837 in the diocese of Ely, England. In 1914, the archdeaconry became a part of the diocese of St Albans. The archdeaconry is vacant, awaiting the collation of Dave Middlebrook on 30 March 2019.

A benefice or living is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The Roman Empire used the Latin term beneficium as a benefit to an individual from the Empire for services rendered. Its use was adopted by the Western Church in the Carolingian Era as a benefit bestowed by the crown or church officials. A benefice specifically from a church is called a precaria such as a stipend and one from a monarch or nobleman is usually called a fief. A benefice is distinct from an allod, in that an allod is property owned outright, not bestowed by a higher authority.

Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and an ally of Bourne. Bishopgardner.jpg
Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and an ally of Bourne.

During Bourne's brief episcopate, he seems to have taken no part in the Marian Persecutions, as Francis Godwin admits, he always used kindness rather than severity. There is no record of religious executions in his diocese. Queen Mary showed her high esteem for him by naming him Lord President of the Council of Wales.

Francis Godwin English bishop, historian and writer

Francis Godwin (1562–1633) was an English historian, science fiction author, divine, Bishop of Llandaff and of Hereford.

Council of Wales and the Marches administrative body of the Kingdom of England (1473–1689)

The Court of the Council in the Dominion and Principality of Wales, and the Marches of the same, commonly called the Council of Wales and the Marches was a regional administrative body based in Ludlow Castle within the Kingdom of England between the 15th and 17th centuries, similar to the Council of the North. Its area of responsibility varied but generally covered all of modern Wales and the Welsh Marches of Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Cheshire and Gloucestershire/Bristol.

Under Elizabeth

At the beginning of Elizabeth's reign Bourne was kept away from London by illness and official duties, and he is only mentioned once as present in the Parliament. For this reason he was one of the last bishops to be deposed, and he was even named amongst those first commissioned to consecrate Matthew Parker, appointed primate of the queen's new hierarchy. Although Queen Elizabeth expressed herself content with his service, on his refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy, which four Somerset justices were commissioned on 18 October 1559 to administer, his deprivation of office quickly followed. [1]

Matthew Parker Archbishop of Canterbury

Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of a distinctive tradition of Anglican theological thought.

Elizabeth I of England Queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 24 March 1603

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.

Oath of Supremacy

The Oath of Supremacy required any person taking public or church office in England to swear allegiance to the monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Failure to do so was to be treated as treasonable. The Oath of Supremacy was originally imposed by King Henry VIII of England through the Act of Supremacy 1534, but repealed by his daughter, Queen Mary I of England and reinstated under Henry's other daughter and Mary's half-sister, Queen Elizabeth I of England under the Act of Supremacy 1559. The Oath was later extended to include Members of Parliament and people studying at universities. Catholics were first allowed to become members of parliament in 1829, and the requirement to take the oath for Oxford university students was lifted by the Oxford University Act 1854.

Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, removed Bourne from his office. Matthew Parker (Archbishop).jpg
Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, removed Bourne from his office.

For a few months Bourne was left in Somerset, apparently as a prisoner on parole; but on 31 May 1560 he received a summons to appear within twelve days before Parker and the Commissioners in London. He set out, as his reply to Parker shows, well knowing what to expect, and on 18 June was committed to the Tower of London as a close prisoner, joining five other bishops already confined there. He remained in the Tower for three years, for most of that time in solitary confinement, when an outbreak of the plague in September 1563 caused him and his companions to be for a time transferred into the keeping of certain of their Anglican successors in office; Bourne himself was apparently committed to that of Bishop Nicholas Bullingham of Lincoln. [1]

Tower of London A historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London

The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment distinguished by living in single cells with little or no meaningful contact to other inmates, strict measures to control contraband, and the use of additional security measures and equipment. It is specifically designed for disruptive inmates that are security risks to other inmates, the prison staff, or the prison itself. It is mostly employed for violations of discipline, such as murder, hostage-taking, deadly assault, and rioting. However, it is also used as a measure of protection for inmates, whose safety is threatened by other inmates. Prison authorities consider solitary confinement an administrative placement measure, not a punishment.

Anglicanism The practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England

Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.

There began that continual "tossing and shifting" of the deposed prelates "from one keeper to another, from one prison to another", which William Allen describes as one part of their "martyrdom". The Council, in June, 1565, sent them all back to the Tower, although a little later in a letter of Parker (January 1566), Bullingham is mentioned as though again for a time Bishop Bourne's actual or intended keeper, while all the captive prelates continue during the next two years to be referred to as then in the public prisons. After nearly ten years of this, Bishop Bourne died, at Silverton in Devonshire, having been there committed (apparently not long) to the custody of George Carew, Archdeacon of Exeter and Dean of Windsor. There he was buried in the church. [1]

He is one of the "Eleven Bishops", a picture of whose prison was allowed by Pope Gregory XIII to be erected in the English College church at Rome, amongst pictures of the English Saints and Martyrs, with an inscription declaring that they "died for their confession of the Roman See and Catholic faith, worn out by the miseries of their long imprisonment". [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Gilbert Bourne". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Earl of Pembroke
Lord President of Wales and the Marches
Succeeded by
Lord Williams of Thame
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Barlow
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Succeeded by
Gilbert Berkeley