BRYDGES, Henry (c.1470-1538/39), of Newbury, Berks.
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Family and Education
Gent. usher by 1509-d.; j.p. Berks. 1510-d.; keeper, Ludgershall, Wilts. 1510- d.; escheator, Oxon. and Berks. 1517-18; sheriff 1520-1, 1530-1; commr. subsidy, Berks. 1524; other commissions 1513-d.4
As a younger son, Henry Brydges appears to have had to make his own way in the world. The general pardon which he received on 15 May 1509 throws some light on his early life: styling him esquire or merchant, it describes him as of Newbury in Berkshire, Faulstone, Ludgershall and Salisbury in Wiltshire, Poole in Dorset, and finally London. Such locations make it all but certain that he dealt in cloth: Newbury in particular was an important centre in the manufacture of kerseys. Here Brydges had as a contemporary the famous clothier whose son and namesake John Winchcombe alias Smallwood, was to witness Brydges’ will in 1538. Like the clothier, Brydges appears to have furthered his fortunes by marrying a local widow, for Margery Bedford was doubtless the relict of one or other of two Newbury residents, John and Richard Bedford, whose wills were proved in 1494, and of whom at least one was a ‘clothmaker’. John Bedford of Poole, who in 1509 bequeathed £10 apiece to his mother Margery Bedford and to Henry Brydges, was probably Brydges’ stepson.5
In 1509 Brydges attended Henry VII’s funeral as a gentleman usher of the royal household, a post which doubtless explains the inclusion of London among his domiciles. His employment at court was either honorary, or intermittent, or perhaps both, but it raised his standing in Berkshire, where in 1510 he was first put on the commission of the peace. When naval preparations were in progress early in 1514 for the war against France, Brydges led a company of men to Portsmouth. In the following year he was nominated but not pricked sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire; his turn was to come in 1520, and in the meantime he served for a year as escheator. In 1536 he and his son were among the gentlemen of Berkshire to whom it was apparently proposed to write in connexion with the outbreak of the northern rebellion, and Brydges himself was appointed to attend the King for the muster at Ampthill, Bedfordshire.6
In November 1510 Brydges had been granted the custody for 30 years of the manor, town and park of Ludgershall at an annual rent of £15. He already had some stake in Ludgershall, which had been included among his domiciles the year before; it may have been an inherited interest, for a Richard Brydges had sat in Parliament for the borough in the early 15th century. Brydges may have done so between 1510 and 1529, in Parliaments for which the names of the Members are lost, and thus have been a seasoned parliamentarian when he and his son Richard shared the representation in 1529. So much is suggested in the letter which John Kingsmill wrote to Sir Thomas Wriothesley on 1 Apr. 1539, some three months after Brydges’ death. Kingsmill’s phrasing also implies that both father and son sat again for Ludgershall in 1536, as indeed they almost certainly did in view of the King’s request for the return of the previous Members. Whether the elder Brydges ever exercised patronage there except in favour of his son it is impossible to say: Richard was to do so later, but at the election of 1539, for which the names are again missing, the borough was evidently open to crown influence.7
On 9 Nov. 1529, five days after the opening of the Parliament, Brydges was passed over as sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire: that his recent election was not the decisive consideration is shown by his being pricked a year later. Of his part in the proceedings of the Commons little can be said. When the visitation of Berkshire was under way in 1532 it was noted that ‘Master Harry Bridges referreth the knowledge of his ancestors till his coming to London’, evidently a reference to one of the two journeys necessary for the third and fourth sessions of the Parliament. In a letter to Cromwell, requesting a parsonage in Berkshire, Richard Brydges wrote, ‘I perceived by my father at his coming home from the last Parliament, you had me in your gentle remembrance’: the letter is undated, and its ascription to 1532 should perhaps be revised to a later year, possibly 1536. Beyond these indications of his attendance, Brydges’ role in the House is hinted at only by a piece of negative evidence. When in the spring of 1533 Cromwell drew up what is believed to be a list of Members opposed to the bill in restraint of appeals to Rome, it included those of several men identified with the wool and cloth trades and among them a number from Berkshire and Wiltshire. The fact that Brydges is not among them could mean that he did not share, or had not voiced, the fear that the bill would provoke retaliation against English trade, although by this date he may have ceased to be as actively interested in cloth as he had once been.8
Between 1533 and 1538 Sir William Gifford, whose son John had married Brydges’ daughter Joan, brought a suit against Brydges in Chancery; Gifford had lost his copy of the indentures containing the marriage settlement and Brydges refused to let him see his copy. Brydges’ will of 5 Dec. 1538 was proved on the following 28 Jan. His son Richard was residuary legatee and executor.9
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. R. Johnson
- 1. LP Hen. VIII, xiv(1), 662.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. Date of birth estimated from that of elder brother c.1463, CIPM Hen. VII, i. 857. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 236-7; PCC 24 Dyngeley.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, i, ii, iv, v, xiv.
- 5. Ibid. i; VCH Berks. i. 387; G. D. Ramsay, Wilts. Woollen Industry in 16th and 17th Cents. 19; PCC 24 Dyngeley, 11, 16 Vox, 26 Bennett.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, i-iv, xi.
- 7. Ibid. i, xiv; SP1/146, f. 238.
- 8. LP Hen. VIII, ii, iv, v; ix. 1077 citing SP1/99, p. 234; SP1/73, f. 103; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 3.
- 9. C1/803/25; PCC 24 Dyngeley.