BRIDGES, Giles (c.1573-1637), of Wilton Castle, Bridstow, Herefs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1573, 1st s. of Charles Bridges of Wilton Castle and Jane, da. of Sir Edward Carne† of Ewenny, Glos.1 educ. St. Alban Hall, Oxf. 1590, aged 17.2 m. 16 Jan. 1620, Mary, da. of Sir James Scudamore* of Holme Lacy, Herefs., 3s. 2da. suc. fa. 1619;3 cr. bt. 17 May 1627.4 d. 2 Sept. 1637.5
J.p. Herefs. 1618-d.,6 capt. of militia ft. by 1619-?d.,7 commr. subsidy 1621-2, 1624, 1626,8 sheriff 1625-6,9 commr. Forced Loan 1627,10 knighthood 1630-1,11 dep. lt. by 1633,12 commr. repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Herefs. 1633.13
Commr. wood sales 1617, licensing of innkeepers 1617.14
The Bridges family took their name from a Herefordshire estate on which they were residing under Henry III, and first represented the county in 1322. The Wilton branch was founded by Bridges’ father, a younger son of Sir John Brydges†, 1st Lord Chandos, who purchased Wilton castle, situated on the River Wye in south Herefordshire, from William, 13th Lord Grey of Wilton early in the reign of Elizabeth I. Bridges’ father was assessed at £20 p.a. in lands for the subsidy in the 1590s, suggesting he was a moderately prosperous Herefordshire gentleman, and served as sheriff in 1590-1, but was removed from the bench soon after and seems subsequently not to have played much role in county affairs. Little is known of Bridges early life, during which time he is easily confused with his cousin and namesake, the younger brother of Gray Brydges†, 5th Lord Chandos, who was not knighted until 1616. One or other man was in Paris in May 1614, from where he sent a pair of gloves to Sir Edward Cecil*.15
In March 1617 Bridges was included in two notorious patents procured by (Sir) Giles Mompesson* for the benefit of the Villiers family. One was for the licensing of innkeepers while the other was for selling timber. Although he does not seem to have been active in administering either grant, Bridges received a salary of £100 a year from the profits of the first and presumably also gained from the second.16 The following year Bridges was added to the county bench, and in 1619 he inherited his father’s estate. However it was his marriage in January 1620 to the sister of (Sir) John Scudamore*, which brought him into the front rank of the Herefordshire politics, as the Scudamores were the most powerful family in the county. Ten months later Scudamore was elected to Parliament for Herefordshire. Bridges was party to the agreement of the county’s leading gentry on 7 Dec. 1620 for regulating Herefordshire’s elections, and was himself returned for the Gloucestershire borough of Tewkesbury on the recommendation of his cousin, the 5th Lord Chandos. When the storm broke over the inn licensing patent in the third Jacobean Parliament, Bridges tried to distance himself from his fellow patentees, stating on 20 Feb. 1621 that he ‘cares not whether it stand or fall. He will be ready to answer anything that may be objected against him’. However, on the report of Sir Edward Coke, he was suspended from sitting the following day. It was recognized that he had ‘discountenanced’ the patent, and a month later, after he had given evidence to the committee, Sir Edward Sackville moved that he might be restored to the Commons. It was not, however, until passions had been cooled by the long recess that he was allowed to resume his seat. He owed his restoration to Sir John Strangways, who on 21 Nov. pointed out that he had been ‘found nothing faulty, and only his name used as a patentee in that business’. However, he took no other part in the debates or received any committee appointments either before or after his sequestration.17
Lord Chandos died during in August 1621 leaving an infant heir and placing the family interest at Tewkesbury in abeyance. It is not known if Bridges sought election in 1624, but in 1625 he was a candidate for one of the Herefordshire seats. Indeed, he had thrown his hat into the ring by 18 Apr., when William Scudamore wrote to his cousin Sir John Scudamore that it was ‘constantly believed’ that Sir John was ‘privy and consenting’ to Bridges candidacy ‘as a thing done of practice between you two’. In William’s opinion Bridges was the strongest of all the other candidates ‘and yet I think he is not safe’. Despite these reservations, Bridges proved successful, being named second in the return, but he left no trace on the records of the first Caroline Parliament.18
Bridges was ineligible for election in 1626 as he was then serving as sheriff of Herefordshire. An active Forced Loan commissioner, in May 1627 he was granted a baronetcy without being required to pay the usual purchase price, a reward, perhaps, for his diligence.19 He was re-elected for Herefordshire in 1628, when he was again named second in the return, but is mentioned only twice in the surviving records. The first occasion was on 28 Jan. 1629, when he claimed privilege in a suit brought against him by Viscount Wimbledon (Sir Edward Cecil*), and the second was on 20 Feb., when he applied for three weeks’ leave.20 In 1631 he allowed Mompesson to use Wilton as a base for enclosures and coal mining in the Forest of Dean, which provoked a riot.21
Bridges drew up his will on 4 Sept. 1634, in which he bequeathed portions of £1,500 and £1,400 to his daughters, and annuities to his brothers and younger sons. He originally intended to entrust his eldest son to Scudamore’s guardianship, but altered the arrangement in a codicil added on 28 Aug. 1637, presumably because his brother-in-law was then absent, being ambassador to France. He died five days later, and was buried in accordance with his wishes with his wife in Peterstow church, but without the memorial which he had requested. His son attempted to maintain neutrality in the Civil War, but joined the forces of Parliament after the royalists sacked Wilton Castle. His grandson succeeded to the barony of Chandos in 1676, and his great-grandson sat for Hereford from 1698 to 1714 before being created 1st duke of Chandos in 1719.22
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. Collins, Peerage, vi. 727.
- 2. Al. Ox.
- 3. W.R. Williams, Parlty. Hist. of Co. of Gloucester, 233; Collins, vi. 727; PROB 11/175, ff. 312v-14.
- 4. C66/2419/6.
- 5. C142/856/98.
- 6. C231/4, f. 75; C193/13/2, f. 30.
- 7. Add. 11050, ff. 90, 93v, 102.
- 8. C212/22/20-1, 23; Add. 11051, f. 141.
- 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 61.
- 10. Add. 11051, f. 33v.
- 11. E178/7154 f. 91C; 178/5333 f. 10.
- 12. SP16/247/15.
- 13. Add. 11051, f. 195.
- 14. C231/4, ff. 35v, 36.
- 15. Collins, vi. 706-7, 724, 727; Oxford DNB sub Grey, William, 13th Bar. Grey of Wilton; Hatfield House, ms 278; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 61; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 159; HMC Downshire, iv. 399.
- 16. Add. 74241, f. 37.
- 17. FSL, V.b.2(21); CJ, i. 540b, 566b; CD 1621, ii. 113; v. 285; vi. 256; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 182.
- 18. Hereford City Lib., L.C. 929.2, p. 109 (ex inf. Dr. Ian Atherton).
- 19. SP16/54/2i; 16/80/31; SCL, EM 1284(b).
- 20. CJ, i. 923b, 931b.
- 21. HMC Cowper, i. 429-30.
- 22. PROB 11/175, ff. 312v-14; CB, ii. 15; C.J. Robinson, Castles of Herefs. 144-5.