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Bourne, Gilbert


Last Catholic bishop of Bath and Wells, noted orator and disputant; b. place and date unknown; d. Silverton, Devonshire, Sept. 10, 1569. Bourne's father was Philip Bourne of Worcestershire. Gilbert entered the University of Oxford in 1524 and was a fellow of All Soul's College in 1531. In 1541 he became prebendary of the king's new foundation at Worcester. Dr. Bourne must have conformed to the religious changes under Edward VI because he was prebend at St. Paul's, London, rector of High Ongar in Essex, and archdeacon of Bedford. However, he remained loyal to his patron, Bishop Edmund bonner, during the latter's trial in 1549.

With Mary's accession, Bourne returned to the old religion. Mary utilized his great gifts as a preacher, and as royal preacher, he caused a tumult among the enraged reformers with a sermon in defense of Catholic doctrine and Bonner, delivered on Aug. 13, 1553 at Paul's Cross, London. His eloquence and courage, together with the influence of his uncle, Sir John Bourne, principal secretary of state, won him election as bishop of Bath and Wells on March 28, 1554. After his consecration by Bishop Bonner, Bourne zealously restored Catholic practices and worship.

Bourne was especially noted, even among Protestants, for his kindness. There is no record of any execution in his diocese. Queen Mary showed her esteem by appointing him lord president of the Council of Wales, from which he was removed by Elizabeth in 1558. His refusal to participate in a commission for consecrating Matthew Parker as archbishop of Canterbury and to take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance (Oct. 18, 1559) brought his deprivation and imprisonment in the Tower. In September of 1563, he was removed to house arrest, first with the bishop of Lincoln, and then with Dean Carey of Exeter, where he died.

Bibliography: w. m. brady, The Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland, and Ireland, A.D. 1400 to 1875, 3 v. (Rome 187677). h. tootell, Dodd's Church History of England, ed. m.a. tierney, 5 v. (London 183943). p. hughes, The Reformation in England. (New York 1963). re. w. hunt, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 18851900) 2:936937.

[j. d. hanlon]

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