James David Bourchier

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James Bourchier in a Bulgarian national costume

James David Bourchier (18 December 1850 Bruff, County Limerick - 30 December 1920 Sofia, Bulgaria) (his last name is frequently misspelled as Boucher, Baucher or Bauchar[1]) was an Irish journalist and political activist. He worked for The Times as the newspaper's Balkan correspondent. He lived in Sofia from 1892 to 1915. Bourchier was an honourable member of the Sofia Journalists' Society and a trusted advisor of Tzar Ferdinand of Bulgaria. He acted as an intermediary between the Balkan states at the conclusion of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.

Life[edit]

Memorial plaque on the building in the centre of Sofia, where J. Bourchier lived between 1892 and 1915 (42°41.749′N 23°19.636′E / 42.695817°N 23.327267°E / 42.695817; 23.327267)

Deeply engaged in the processes that were taking place on the Balkan peninsula at that time, Bourchier supported the idea that the island of Crete be annexed by Greece.[2]

In his writings he criticised certain clauses of the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1913, which he deemed unfair to Bulgaria. As a result of the treaty Bulgaria lost the southern part of Dobrudja (which was annexed by Romania), and part of Macedonia.

Bourchier also expressed his strong support for Bulgaria during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-1920. The conference produced five treaties, including the Treaty of Neuilly (the peace agreement between the Allies and Bulgaria). Under the terms of the treaty, Bulgaria had to cede part of Western Thrace to Greece and several border areas to Yugoslavia. Southern Dobrudja was confirmed in Romanian possession, reparations were required, and the Bulgarian Army was limited to 20,000 men.

With his numerous publications in the British press, and in his private and social correspondence, Bourchier repeatedly voiced his sympathy towards Bulgaria and its people. After his death in December 1920, James Bourchier was buried near the Rila Monastery in southwestern Bulgaria.

Honours[edit]

Bourchier Peak in Rila Mountain, James Bourchier Boulevard and James Bourchier Metro Station in Sofia, and Bourchier Cove on Smith Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica are named after James David Bourchier.

In 1990 the recently established Bulgarian Society for British Studies devoted its first national conference to the 140th anniversary of Bourchier’s birth, in Limerick, Ireland, and 70th anniversary of his death.

Today James Bourchier Boulevard is a busy street in Sofia with numerous administrative and office buildings on it. Its most notable landmark is probably the Kempinski Hotel Zografski. The Faculty of Physics, the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, and the Faculty of Chemistry of Sofia University are also located there, as is the office of the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria and the headquarters of the Bulgarian Red Cross. There are also streets named after him in Varna and Blagoevgrad.

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • W. B. Stanford gives an account of James David Bourchier, b. Bruff, Co. Limerick, Ireland, who assisted the Greeks in the insurrection in Crete of 1896; bibl.
  • Lady Grogan, Life of J. D. Bourchier (London 1926).
  • Michael Foley, a lecturer at the School of Media, Dublin Institute of Technology, wrote an account of Bourchier's life in The Irish Communications Review, Vol 10, 2007, entitled, "James David Bourchier: an Irish Journalist in the Balkans."
  • Harold Williams, "J.D. Bourchier" (obituary), Slavonic Review, v. 1, no. 1 (June 1922), p. 227-228.