Anne BOURCHIER

(16th B. Bourchier)

Acceded: 1539/40

Died: 28 Jan 1570/1

Father: Henry BOURCHIER (2 E. Essex)

Mother: Mary SAY (C. Essex)

Married: William PARR (1 M. Northampton) 9 Feb 1526, London DIVORCED

Associated with: John 'Huntley' LYNGFIELD

Children:

1. Son LYNGFIELD

2. Mary LYNGFIELD (m. Thomas York)


Lady Anne Bourchier was born in 1517, the only child of Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Mary Say, who was a lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII's first Queen consort, Catalina of Aragon. Her paternal grandparents were Sir William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier and Lady Anne Woodville, a younger sister of the English queen consort Elizabeth Woodville. Her maternal grandparents were Sir William Say and Elizabeth Fray. Anne was related to three queen consorts of Henry VIIIAnne BoleynJane Seymour, and Catherine Howard who all shared the same great-grandmother Elizabeth Cheney, Lady Say.

As the only child of the last Bourchier, Earl of Essex, as well as the contingent heiress of the Countess of Oxford, Anne was one of the wealthiest heiresses in England. The Bourchier wealth derived from the 14th century marriage of Sir William Bourchier to Eleanor de Lovayne (27 Mar 1345 5 Oct 1397), a rich heiress in her own right.

On 9 Feb 1526/7, Anne was married to her third cousin, Sir William Parr, the only son of Sir Thomas Parr, Sheriff of Northamptonshire and Maud Green, and brother of Catherine Parr. Anne was approximately ten years old at the time of her marriage which had been diligently arranged by her mother-in-law. Anne later succeeded to the titles of suo jure 7th Baroness Bourchier and Lady Lovayne on 13 Mar 1540 at the time of her father's accidental death. His viscounty of Bourchier and earldom of Essex did not pass to her, however, and both titles became extinct upon his death. William Parr had been created 1st Baron Parr of Kendal in 1539, and in 1540 the King titled Thomas Cromwell as Earl of Essex.

Anne and Parr were unhappy from the very start of their marriage. The couple did not live with each other until twelve years later. Anne was described as having been poorly-educated; and she appeared to prefer the peace of the countryside to the excitement of Henry VIII's court, as her first recorded appearance at court where she attended a banquet was on 22 Nov 1539 when she was aged 22.

In 1541, Anne surprised everyone by running off with John Lyngfield, alias Huntley or Hunt, prior of St. James Church, Tandridge, Surrey. Parr secured a legal separation on grounds of her adultery and secured a bill in Parliament on 13 Mar 1543  to protect his own interests, lest the baby should later in the future lay claim to his estates. From the Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of Henry VIII, dated 22 Jan 1543, there is the following itemto bar any child Anne bore, and by whom she had an illegitimate childrom succeeding to her inheritance:

"Whereas lady Anne, wife of Sir Wm Parre lord Parre continued in adultery notwithstanding admonition, and, finally, two years past, left his company and has since had a child begotten in adultery and that the said child and all future children she may have shall be held bastards."

Some records give Anne a son by Lyngfield and a daughter by an unknown father, while others say she and Lyngfield/Huntley had several children of whom only Mary lived to marry.

In 1541, after Anne had left Baron Parr, he began an affair with Dorothy Bray, who served as a Maid of Honour to Catherine Howard.

Parr's sister, Catherine Parr, in Mar of 1543 used her influence to help her brother and on 17 Apr 1543, he obtained an Act of Parliament, repudiating Anne and her child, who was declared a bastard, and unfit to inherit. The act was styled in the Lords' journal as a Bill "to bar and make base and bastards, the child which be, or shall be borne in adultery by the Lady Anne, wife of the Lord Parr". This act was read for the first time on 13 Mar 1543. The Act stated in the 34th Year Hen. VIII:

"That for the last two years she [Anne] had eloped from her husband, William Lord Parr, and had not in that time ever returned to nor had any carnal intercourse with him, but had been gotten with child by one of her adulterors and been delivered of such child, which child 'being as is notoriously known, begotten in adultery, and born during the espousals' between her and Lord Parr 'by the law of this realm is inheritable and may pretend to inherit all &c;' and the Act therefore declared the said child to be a bastard."

At this time, his sister Catherine was being courted by King Henry VIII. Catherine Parr petitioned the King to grant clemency for Anne; Henry agreed, provided Parr himself pardoned her. After much pleading on Catherines part, Parr relented and Anne received the Kings pardon. She was, however, constrained to forfeit her titles and estates to her husband, and spent the next few years living in exile at the manor of Little Wakering, in Essex. She was allegedly reduced to a state of poverty.

In that same year, 1543, William Parr had begun his courtship of Elizabeth Brooke, who was the niece of his mistress, Dorothy Bray, as well as a former Maid of Honour of Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. He was created 1st Earl of Essex on 23 Dec 1543. On 31 Mar 1552, a bill was passed in Parliament which declared the marriage between Parr and Bourchier to be null and void.

Upon the ascension of Queen Mary, Parr was arrested and was committed to the Tower after his traitorous complicity with John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland's failed plot against Mary to place Lady Jane Grey upon the throne. After Parr was sentenced to death on 18 Aug 1553, Anne went to court and intervened on Parr's behalf with Mary I in hopes that they [she] would be able to keep their estates. Parr was released. The bill which had declared their marriage null and void was reversed on 24 Mar 1554. That Dec, Anne used the reversal to her advantage and was granted an annuity of 100. Again in Dec 1556, Anne was granted another annuity of 450. She remained at the royal court until the ascension of Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth held Parr in high favour and Anne most likely knew that her adulterous history would not endear her to the Queen. Parr was restored to blood and was re-created Marquess of Northampton, re-elected to the Order of the Garter, and was made a privy councillor among other things.

Sir Robert Rochester and Sir Edward Waldegrave held Benington Park, in Hertfordshire, as feoffees for her use; however, upon the death of Rochester in 1557, Waldegrave transferred the property to Sir John Butler. In response, Anne brought a lawsuit against Waldegrave and Butler which was heard in the Court of Chancery. She won the case but Butler petitioned to retry the case and continued to regard the park as his own. Butler's petition was apparently unsuccessful because following Elizabeth I's accession to the throne, Anne had retired to Benington Park where she quietly spent the rest of her life.

Anne Bourchier died on 28 Jan 1571 at Benington. Parr died the same year and was buried in the Collegiate Church of St. Mary in Warwick. His funeral and burial was paid by the Queen. He had married two times after Anne, but only his third wife, Helena Snakenborg, whom he had married after Anne's death in May was considered legal. He fathered no children by any of his wives and the little money and estates he had left were passed to his cousins.

Upon Anne's death, the titles of the Bourchier family passed to her cousin, Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex.

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