Bradshaw, John

, president of what was called the “high court of justice” in which Charles I. was condemned to be beheaded, was oue of an antient family in the county of Lancaster, but of a branch seated, some say, at Bradshaw, or Bradshaigh, in Derbyshire, others at Marple, in Cheshire: where he was educated is not recorded; the first notice we have of him is that he studied law in Gray’s-inn, and after being admitted to the bar, had much chamber practice among the partizans of the parliament, to which he was zealously devoted. Lord Clarendon says he was not without parts, but insolent and ambitious. In 1644, he was appointed by the parliament to prosecute lord Macquire and Macmahon, the Irish rebels. In Oct. 1646, he was a joint commissioner of the great seal for six months, by a vote of the house of commons, and in Feb. following, both houses voted him chief justice of Chester. In June of the same year (1647) he was named by parliament one of the counsel to prosecute the loyal judge Jen kins; and was called to the rank of Serjeant Oct. 12, 1648. When the death of the king was determined upon, Bradshaw was one of die few lawyers who could be preraile4 upon to act, and was appointed President, an office which, had he declined, there is some reason to think it would hav$ been difficult to find a substitute. When called upon, Jan, 12, 1648, by the court to take his seat as President^ he affected to make an earnest apology and excuse. Lord Clarendon, says that he seemed much surprized and very resolute tp refuse it, and even required time to consider of it, but next day accepted the office, and soon demonstrated tba.t he was exactly fitted for it, by his contemptuous treatment of his unnappy sovereign, The court then bestowed on | him the title of Lord President, without as well as within the court, during the commission and sitting of the court. A retinue of officers was appointed to attend him, going and returning from Westminster-hall; lodgings were provided for him in New Palace-yard; he was to be preceded by a sword and a mace, carried by two gentlemen, and in court he had a guard of two hundred soldiers; he had a chair of crimson velvet in the middle of the court; he wore his hat when his majesty appeared, and was highly offended that his sovereign should not be uncovered in his presence, which was, however, after the first day of the trial, duly enjoined. Besides these pompous honours, he was rewarded for his coarse and brutal behaviour on his majesty’s trial, with the deanery house in Westminster, as his residence; the sum of 3000l. was given him to procure an equipage suitable to his new rank: he received also the seat of the duke of St. Alban’s called Summer-hill, and lord Cottington’s estate in Wiltshire, valued at 1500l. -per annum, with other landed property, amounting in all to about 4000l. per annum, to him and his heirs. He was also made chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. Those writers, therefore, who represent him as no more accessary to the murder of Charles I. than any other members of the council, or court, must see from these circumstances, which would not otherwise be worth repeating, that the republicans attached the greatest importance to the part he had to perform, and considered it as worthy, not only to be honoured with the most splendid accompaniments, but to be rewarded with the richest gifts and -grants. Bradshaw was in truth a more thorough republican than most of the party, and became obnoxious to Cromwell for disapproving of the latter placing himself at the head of the government. This occasioned frequent disputes between them, ajid Cromwell at length prevailed in depriving him of the office of chief justice of Chester. On the death of Cromwell, when the long parliament was restored, Bradshaw obtained a seat in the council, was elected president, and would have been appointed commissioner of the great seal, but his infirm state of health obliged him to decline the latter. He died Nov. 22, 16.59, declaring, consistently enough with his former principles, that if the king were to be tried and condemned again, he would be the first man that should do it. He was pompously interred in Westminster abbey, from whence his body was taken up, at the restoration) and exposed on the gibbet with those of | Cromwell and Ireton. Doubts have been entertained as to this fact, and some have supposed he went abroad and died at Jamaica, because a cannon was found therewith an inscription signifying that his dust was deposited near it. Nothing, however, can be better ascertained than his death in. England. 1


Noble’s Lives of the Regicides.—Gent. Mag. (see index.) where are many inquiries and discussions on his history.—Barwick’s Life.—Peck’s Desiderata, vol. II. and —Gent. Mag. vol. LXIV. p. 115.