Golden Valley Study Group
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The Bourne Identity

by Steven Edwards and CJF Comyn

One of the oldest monuments to a named individual in St Bartholomew’s, Vowchurch dates to 1625 and reads:


Making assumptions about some of the missing letters, and based on supporting documentary evidence, this could be rendered in modern English as
“.... Bourne Esq married ..... the daughter of Edward Kemp Esq. He died 16 July 1625, leaving children John and Elizabeth.”

So who was Bourne?  The will of Elizabeth Kempe of “Shenstone” [Chanstone] was proved 31 Dec 1631. Among other bequests was one to her daughter “Margaret Bourne.”  Further details come from the Herald’s Visitation of Herefordshire in 1634: Elizabeth was the widow of Edward Kempe, second son of Edward Kempe of Ginnes in Beauley (Hants).  Edward and Elizabeth of Chanstone had three children, Robert, Anne and Margaret. Robert married Anne Cardiff of Bolas, Salop, and they had three children. Anne Kempe married William Geffreys, while Margaret was wife of … Borne.  This supports our assumption that the missing word ending in “...MP” on the monument was KEMP.

The full article (available on request) details the supporting documentary evidence that Bourne’s first name was John and that he was the son of Francis Bourne (lawyer) of Sutton St Clere, Somerset, and Benedicta (née Moyle). Francis died in 1600/01 and was buried in Bath Abbey.  Benedicta (described as a wealthy widow) remarried later the same year to John Hoskyns, another lawyer, of the Morehampton and Harewood family. The chart also shows some of the complex interrelationships between the Hoskyns and Bourne families, derived in part from papers in the Herefordshire Record Office.

John Bourne married Margaret Kemp of Chanstone on 1 April 1618 at Ledbury, by licence. John and Margaret had a son John who married Dorothy Godfrey  and a daughter Elizabeth who married Philip Jackson. There were children from both these marriages. John Bourne (jr.) inherited the family manor in Somerset; however Chanstone had passed to Sir Thomas Morgan, one of Cromwell’s senior officers, bringing to an end the brief flowering of the Bourne family in the Golden Valley, and the name has not persisted in the area.