Bernardi, John

, usually called major Bernardi, an adventurer of whom there is a very prolix, but not very interesting account in the Biographia Britannica, was born at Evesham, in 1657, and was descended from an honourable family which had flourished at Lucca in Italy, from the year 1097. His grandfather Philip, a count of the Roman empire, lived in England as resident from Genoa twenty-eight years, and married a native of this country. His father Francis succeeded to this office but, taking disgust at some measures adopted by the senate of Genoa, resigned, and retiring to Evesham, amused himself with gardening, on which he spent a considerable sum of money, and set a good example in that science to the town. John, his son, the subject of this article, of a spirited and restless temper, having received some harsh usage from his father, at the age of thirteen ran away to avoid his severity, and perhaps without any determinate purpose. He retained, notwithstanding, several friends, and was for some time supported by them, but their friendship appears to have gone little farther for soon after he | enlisted as a common soldier in the service of the prince of Orange. In this station he showed uncommon talents and bravery, and in a short time obtained a captain’s commission in the service of the States. In April 1677, he married a Dutch lady of good family, with whom he enjoyed much conjugal happiness for eleven years. The English regiments in the Dutch service being recalled by James II. very few of them, but among those few was Bernard!, would obey the summons, and of course, he could not sign the association, into which the prince of Orange wished the regiments to enter. He thus lost his favour, and having no other alternative, and probably wishing for no other, he followed the abdicated James II. into Ireland who, soon after, sent him on some commission into Scotland, from whence, as the ruin of his master now became inevitable, he once more retired to Holland. Venturing, however, to appear in London in 1695, he was committed to Newgate March 25, 1696, on suspicion of being an abettor of the plot to assassinate king William, and although sufficient evidence could not be brought to prove the fact, he was sentenced and continued in prison by the express decree of six successive parliaments, with five other persons, where he remained for more than forty years. As this was a circumstance wholly without a precedent, it has been supposed that there must have been something in his character particularly dangerous, to induce four sovereigns and six parliaments to protract his confinement, without either legally condemning or pardoning him.

In his confinement he had the courage to venture on a second marriage, which proved a very fortunate event to him, as he thus not only enjoyed the soothing converse of a true friend, but was even supported during his whole imprisonment by the care and industry of his wife. Ten children were the produce of this marriage, the inheritors of misery and confinement. In the mean time he is said to have borne his imprisonment with such resignation and evenness of temper, as to have excited much respect and love in the few who enjoyed his acquaintance. In the earlier part of life he had received several dangerous wounds, which now breaking out afresh, and giving him great torment, afforded a fresh trial of his equanimity and firmness. At length he died Sept. 20, 1736, leaving his wife and numerous family probably in a destitute state; but what | became of them afterwards is not known. Bernard! was a little, brisk, and active man, of a very cheerful disposition;, and, as may appear even from this short narrative, of great courage and constancy of mind. 1


Biog. Brit, from a Life published by himself. Tiadal’s Hist of Evtsham.