BERNARD, Sir John (1604-74), of Abington, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. 23 Aug. 1604, 1st s. of Baldwin Bernard of Abington by 2nd w. Eleanor, da. and coh. of John Fullwood of Fordhall, Warws. educ. King’s, Camb. 1621; G. Inn 1624. m. (1) Elizabeth (d.1642), da. of Sir Clement Edmondes of Preston Deanery, Northants., 4s. d.v.p. 4da.; (2) 5 June 1649, Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Hall, physician, of New Place, Stratford on Avon, Warws., wid. of Thomas Nash of Welcombe, Warws., s.p. suc. fa. 1610; kntd. 25 Sept. 1661.1
Commr. for midland assoc., Northants. 1642, assessment 1643-52, Jan. 1660-d., sequestration 1643, levying of money 1643, new model ordinance 1645, militia 1648, Mar. 1660, j.p. 1661-?d.
Bernard’s ancestors had been lords of the manor of Abington on the outskirts of Northampton for 200 years, but none had entered Parliament. His step-father, Sir Edmund Hampden, was a cousin of the statesman, and Bernard himself, after contesting Northampton in 1640, took the parliamentary side in the Civil War. But puritan sympathies did not preclude a second marriage to a Warwickshire heiress whose grandfather had made a fortune on and by the stage. Bernard continued to hold local office after the execution of Charles I, but was reckoned ‘inclinable’ to royalism. He went out of political life under the Protectorate, returning to local commissions only in 1660 and accepting a knighthood in the following year. A zealous supporter of Christopher Hatton at the 1663 by-election, he no doubt enjoyed the support of the Langham interest and the dissenters when Richard Rainsford I vacated the other seat in November. After a lavish distribution of alms at Christmas he was duly returned, but unseated after a month in favour of Sir Henry Yelverton without serving on any committees. In 1669 he sold Abington for £13,750 to William Thursby, who was to sit for the borough under William III. Lady Bernard, the last of Shakespeare’s direct descendants, died in the following year, and Bernard followed her on 5 Mar. 1674.2