BRIDGEMAN, John (by 1489-1523), of Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1489, s. of John Bridgeman by Isabel. m. Alison, da. of Richard Bartlett, wid. of one Philip.2

Offices Held

Bailiff, Exeter 1515-16, member of the Twenty-Four 22 Sept. 1520-d.3


Of west country stock, John Bridgeman was probably the first member of his family to settle at Exeter, where he was admitted a freeman in 1509-10. By trade a tailor, he was described by John Hooker as ‘a wise man ... of great experience’ gained in the service of Robert, Lord Willoughby de Broke in the Spanish campaign of 1512, when he had charge of Willoughby’s wardrobe. He had been a member of the city’s governing body less than three years and had held no office of importance when he was elected to the Parliament of 1523 with the ex-mayor John Noseworthy. They were given £8 between them before the opening and a further £10 before the second session of the Parliament, £2 being earmarked for civic business presumably connected with the King’s confirmation of Exeter’s charter, which they took with them. ‘No man spoke more overtly and much effectually’ than Bridgeman against the subsidy demanded by Wolsey, whose rebuke did not deter him, for at ‘his next coming into the Lower House’ he again objected and was again rebuked; all the same, his forthrightness earned him ‘so little thanks ... that he never again enjoyed himself but returned to his lodging where he fell sick and died’, presumably a victim of the current epidemic. Neither his death nor his burial in the Savoy can be dated, but their location shows that he died before or soon after the dissolution on 13 Aug. 1523 and that his naming to the subsidy commissions of that and the following year was an oversight. By a will written in his own hand on 1 Apr. 1523, before he set out from Exeter, he had left money for masses to be said for his soul and provided for his wife, kinsmen and servants. He named his wife executrix and William Hurst overseer, and the will was proved on 1 Mar. 1524. His widow was to complain about her assessment to the subsidy which he had resisted. His place on the Twenty-Four was taken by Robert Hooker alias Vowell*, whose recollections of Bridgeman probably contributed to the pen-portrait of him by John Hooker.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; Exeter act bk. 1, f. 100.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. PCC 17 Bodfelde.
  • 3. R. Izacke, Exeter (1681), 108; Exeter act bk. 1, f. 35.
  • 4. Exeter Freemen (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. extra ser. i), 65; Exeter, Hooker’s commonplace bk. f. 339; act. bk. 1, ff. 100-2; PCC 17 Bodfelde; E179/96/147; LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv; Tudor Exeter Tax Assessments (Devon and Cornw. eRc. Soc. xxii), pp. xiii-xiv.