BRIDGEMAN, William (c.1646-99), of Pall Mall, Westminster and Combs Hall, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1646, o.s. of Richard Bridgeman, merchant, of Amsterdam, Holland by Catherine, da. of William Watson, merchant, of Amsterdam. educ. Westminster 1656; Queen’s, Oxf. matric. 17 Dec. 1662, aged 16. m. Diana (bur. 11 Dec. 1707), da. of Peter Vernatti, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. fa. 1659.1

Offices Held

Under-sec. of state c.1667-81, 1683-9, 1690-2, 1693-4; clerk of the PC 1685-Dec. 1688, 1693-d.; registrar, eccles. commission 1687-Oct. 1688; sec. of Admiralty 1694-8; chairman, Charitable Adventure 1699.2

J.p. Mdx. 1677-89, Westminster 1678-89, Mdx. and Westminster 1689-d.; asst. Clothworkers’ Co. 1685, master 1686-7; commr. for assessment, Westminster 1679-80, 1689-90, superstitious uses 1690; dep. lt. Mdx. 1692-d.; member, R. Fisheries [I] 1692.3

FRS 1679-d.


Bridgeman’s father, a younger son of the bishop of Chester, spent most of his working life as Amsterdam agent for the East India Company. He was said to hold ‘great correspondence with the royalist party’ during the Interregnum. Nevertheless Bridgeman himself was naturalized as a schoolboy in 1657. Doubtless introduced into government service by his uncle, the lord keeper, he became personal secretary to Lord Arlington (Sir Henry Bennet) about 1667, and bought the manor of Combs Hall. His brother-in-law, Philibert Vernatti, as Lord Belasyse’s man of business, was implicated in the Popish Plot, but Bridgeman retained office until the fall of Sunderland in 1681. He was reappointed two years later with Sunderland, who enlisted the Sidney interest on his behalf at Bramber in the general election of 1685. In a hasty note written at one a.m. on 30 Mar. he announced that he would set off for Sussex the same morning with Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys, but presumably did not arrive in Bramber in time for his own election.4

Bridgeman was an active Member of James II’s Parliament. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges and to eight others in the first session, including that for the loyal address on Monmouth’s invasion. In the short second session he was named only to the committee to estimate the yield of the duty on French wines. In 1688 he assisted Sunderland in preparing lists of court candidates, and was himself approved for Droitwich, although James’s electoral agents also expected him to be returned for Bury St. Edmunds. But it is not likely that he stood again.5

After the Revolution Bridgeman was questioned about the quo warranto proceedings and the activities of the ecclesiastical commission and the regulators, but he gave little away. Despite the ‘clamour against King James’s justices’ he was soon replaced on the commission of the peace, and he served Sunderland’s cousin Henry Sidney as under-secretary. He acted as chairman of the Charitable Adventure, a lottery for the benefit of Greenwich hospital, and when he died on 10 May 1699, Evelyn wrote that his death was ‘a great loss’, and described him as ‘a very industrious, useful man’. His son sat for Ipswich in Queen Anne’s last Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: B. M. Crook / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Hist. Weston-under-Lizard (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. ii), 238; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 286.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1667, p. 163; July-Sept. 1683, p. 369; 1684-5, p. 282; 1693, pp. 13, 417; 1694-5, p. 188; 1698, pp. 322, 335; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1230; x. 747; Evelyn Diary, v. 325; Hist. Acct. R. Hosp. Greenwich, 49.
  • 3. Foxcroft, Halifax, ii. 230-1; SP44/335/236; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 265; 1691-2, p. 112; Evelyn Diary, v. 325; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 710.
  • 4. Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, iv. 178; Thurloe, ii. 374; Denization and Naturalization (Huguenot Soc. Pubs. xviii), 70; Copinger, Suff. Manors, vi. 154; P. Fraser, Intell. of Secs. of State, 58; Fenland N. and Q. vi. 133-5; Kenyon, Sunderland, 73, 91; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 79; Add. 41803, f. 205.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 279.
  • 6. Grey, ix. 340-1; Foxcroft, Halifax, ii. 230-1; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 265; 1698, p. 325; LJ, xiv. 338; Evelyn Diary, v. 325; Luttrell, iv. 515.