BRYDGES, Richard (c.1500-58), of West Shefford, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1500, o.s. of Henry Brydges. educ. M. Temple, adm. 2 Nov. 1518. m. (1) by 1525, Anne, da. of Richard Norris of West Shefford; (2) by 1543, Jane, da. of Sir William Spencer of Althorp, Northants., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. Dec. 1538/Jan. 1539. Kntd. 19 Oct. 1553.5
Commr. tenths of spiritualities, Berks. 1535, relief, Berks. and Wilts. 1550; other commisions, Berks. and Oxon. 1538-54; steward, Benham Lovell and Hampstead Marshall, Berks. by 1537; j.p. Berks. 1538-d., Wilts. 1543-7; sheriff, Oxon. and Berks. 1539-40, 1554-5; keeper, Ludgershall, Wilts. 1539-d.; jt. (with William Thornhill) receiver, duchy of Lancaster, Berks., Bucks., Dorset, Glos., Hants, Herefs., Oxon. and Wilts. 1541-d.6
What gave Henry and Richard Brydges their niche in parliamentary history was their custodianship of Ludgershall. When in 1539 John Kingsmill was hoping for one of its two seats he wrote that Ludgershall ‘is in the rule of Master Brydges ... whose father and he in his life were ever burgesses there’. Unfortunately, evidence of their joint Membership for the borough survives only for the Parliament of 1529, but there had been an earlier opportunity in 1523, and there was to be another in 1536, when the King’s request to that effect would hardly have been necessary to produce their re-election. If they were returned again then, Richard Brydges’ allusion, in a letter to Cromwell, to his father’s return home from Parliament—as if he had not been there himself at the time—presumably relates to a session of the previous Parliament from which he had either been absent or had departed early.7
This father-and-son partnership, which had also manifested itself in local administration, ended with Henry Brydges’ death in the winter of 1538-9. Richard Brydges was granted livery of his inheritance in April 1539. He had presumably already settled at West Shefford which had come to him through his first marriage. In the Parliament of 1539 and perhaps in that of 1545 (for which the names are lost), he sat for Berkshire, as he was to do again twice under Mary; but in two other Marian Parliaments he reverted to Ludgershall and we may fairly conclude that its representation throughout these years depended upon his approval. Shortly before his death he purchased Ludgershall from Richard Taverner.8
It was, however, local rather than national affairs that seem to have filled Brydges’ life. He was among those who welcomed Anne of Cleves at Blackheath in January 1540, but at about the same time he was responsible for committing to trial at Oxford a priest who had loudly regretted the pope. In May 1541 Brydges had to be pardoned for a mass escape from gaol, fortunately by common criminals, while he was sheriff, and in July 1549 the Protector Somerset’s agent at Savernake complained that ‘lewd people’ had broken into Somerset’s park at Ludgershall, with no resistance from the custodian. Brydges showed more energy in his own cause, for his seizure of deeds relating to land at Upton, Berkshire, led to a chancery suit by the late owner’s executors in 1552 or 1553. In the meantime, he had engaged in various land transactions, on several occasions making purchases of former monastic lands in Berkshire, Wiltshire and elsewhere in partnership with John Knight I. In 1553 he received a lease of the alnage in Berkshire and Oxfordshire.9
In spite of his gains from the Dissolution, Brydges was probably always conservative in religion, like his cousin Sir John Brydges, Baron Chandos. He never sat on a commission for despoiling the Church and in Parliament he presumably supported Queen Mary, who knighted him three months after her accession. He died on 1 Aug. 1558, in the interval between the first and second sessions of her last Parliament, but although he is marked ‘mortuus’ on a list of Members he is not known to have been replaced. He had made his will a week earlier. His 15 year-old son and heir, Anthony, who had been betrothed to Barbara, daughter of Sir Richard Pecksall, was to inherit all the estates except Bradley in Somerset, which was assigned to the younger son, Edmund. Cattle, plate and other goods were divided between Anthony and his mother, while the two daughters were to have 500 marks each on their marriage. The supervisors, Sir Anthony Hungerford and Sir Richard Pecksall, were charged with seeing that ‘good government’ was given to the children. The widow and executrix later married Simon Harcourt† and survived till 1593, when she was laid beside her first husband in Ludgershall church.10
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: T. F.T. Baker
- 1. LP Hen. VIII, xiv(1), 662.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
- 4. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 5. Date of birth estimated from education. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxx. 138-9; PCC 24 Dyngeley, 40 Noodes; VCH Berks. iv. 239.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, viii, xii, xiii, xvi, xviii, xx; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 81, 91, 118-19; 1550-3, p. 142; 1553, pp. 351, 359; 1553-4, pp. 17, 27, 34; 1555-7, p. 372; Somerville, Duchy, i. 624.
- 7. LP Hen. VIII , v, xiv.
- 8. Ibid. xiv; VCH Berks. iii. 459; iv. 293; VCH Wilts. v. 115, 121; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvii), 186.
- 9. LP Hen. VIII , xv, xvi, xviii-xxi; Wilts. Arch. Mag. viii. 299; C1/1287/8; VCH Berks. iii. 449, 460; CPR , 1553, p. 389.
- 10. PCC 40 Noodes; C142/124/191; E150/999/1; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264; CPR, 1563-6, p. 212; Hoare, Wilts. Ambresbury, 87.