Bridges, John

, esq. of Barton- Seagrave, in Northamptonshire, a celebrated antiquary and topographer, was son and heir of John Bridges, esq. who purchased that estate, by Elizabeth, sister of sir William Trumbull, secretary of state, and was born at Binfield in Berkshire, about 1666. His grandfather was col. John Bridges of Alcester in Warwickshire; not related to the Chandos family, nor bearing arms of any similitude to them, but said to be descended from Ireland. He was bred to the law, and a member of Lincoln’s-inn, of which he at last became bencher. His practical attention to his profession was probably prevented by his prospect of a private fortune, and the lucrative places which he enjoyed. In 1695 he was appointed solicitor of the customs; in 1711, commissioner of the same; and iii 1715, cashier of excise. He | was also one of the governors of Bethlehem hospital, and a fellow of the royal society.

In the latter end of his life, about 1719, he began to form collections towards a history of Northamptonshire; and employed several persons of abilities and skill to make drawings, collect information, and transcribe such monuments and records as were essential to his purpose. In this manner, it is said, he expended several thousand pounds. The transcripts thus collected extend to upwards of thirty volumes in folio; besides five volumes, quarto, containing accounts of churches, &c. and four smaller volumes, in his own hand-writing. But Mr. Bridges never proceeded to compose any part of the work himself. He was a man in the highest degree qualified to direct such an xmdertaking. His judgment was sound, and his learning various and extensive. As an investigator of antiquities, his skill and diligence procured him great respect from many who were most eminent in that study; some of whom, and particularly Hearne, the celebrated Oxford antiquary, have borne very honourable testimony to his knowledge, and professed themselves indebted to his friendly communications. His collection of books was so judicious, that the catalogues of his library, printed after his decease, were long, and are still, retained as valuable by every curious collector. He died July 30, 1724, at his chambers in Lincolu’s-inn. His Mss. came into the hands of his brother and heir, William Bridges, esq. secretary to the stamp office and after many attempts and delays (of which an interesting, but, to county-historians, not a very encouraging account, may be seen in Mr. Nichols’s Life of Bowyer), formed the basis of the “History of Northamptonshire,” published in 2 vols. fol. by the late Rev. Peter Whalley, grammar-school master of Christ’s hospital; the first vol. in 1762, and the second in 1791. It is a very valuable book, but might have been greatly improved, if a parochial visitation had previously taken place. 1

1 Cens. Lit. vol. III. from Whalley’s Preface. Nichols’s Bowyer. Gough’s Topography, vol. II.