BRIDGMAN, John (d.1581), of Hythe, Kent.
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Family and Education
m. ?27 May 1543, Godly Chapnell.1
Chamberlain, Hythe 1545, jurat by 1555, bailiff in 1561, bailiff and subsequently mayor 1575; brodhull rep. in at least the years 1545, 1546, 1547, 1551, 1558, 1561, 1567, 1572, 1573.2
Bridgman was the last bailiff and first mayor of Hythe. In 1575, when the town received a new charter from the Queen, he had already served the borough for 30 years in various capacities, starting as chamberlain, and including two periods as Member of Parliament. He was a representative at the brodhull meetings of the Cinque Ports on a number of occasions, and in 1574 was one of those sent to see Lord Cobham to resolve ‘the controversy between the lord warden and the ports, now in question’.3
Little is known about Bridgman’s background and family. He was one of those presented by a jury at Hythe during Mary’s reign for visiting persons imprisoned for heresy there. He may be the man who married Godly Chapnell in Tunstall parish church in 1543, a reasonable date, though Tunstall is a long way from Hythe. The Hythe records are scanty before 1580, but the little they tell about Bridgman is not to his credit. Early in April 1563, for example, while he was attending Parliament, a sentence of excommunication (for an unknown offence) was removed from him by Archbishop Matthew Parker.4 Later, some of his fellow-townsmen complained to the government in London that Bridgman and other prominent citizens were taking advantage of their powers to indulge in corrupt and illegal practices. Bridgman, described as ‘jurat and innholder’, was accused of keeping a common inn and selling wine, contrary to the statute, and also of carrying on the trade of baker while not permitting ‘any common baker to dwell in the town’. Finally, he was charged with keeping a house for card and dice playing, even though ‘the justices of the county will suffer no such things’. Bridgman himself was a victim of horse-stealing.5
Bridgman remained eminent in the town until his death on 3 Dec. 1581. He was buried in the south aisle of Hythe parish church, where his brass bears this inscription:
Whilst he did live, which here doth lie,
Three suits gat of the Crown,
The mortmain, fair and mayoralty,
For Hythe, this ancient town,
And was himself the baylye last,
And mayor first by name.
Though he be gone, time is not past
To praise God for the same6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. E. R. Mores, Hist. Tunstall, ed. Nichols, 89.
- 2. Cinque Ports white bk. ff. 63, 236, 237, 238, 239, 245, 255, 258; black bk. ff. 1, 4; Arch. Cant. li. 37.
- 3. G. Wilks, Barons of the Cinque Ports and the Parl. Rep. Hythe, 51, 61-2; black bk. f. 9.
- 4. Arch. Cant. xxxi. 106; Hythe, Cat. of Docs. no. 179.
- 5. CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, pp. 251-2. The document in question (SP15/30/104) is tentatively dated 1588, but internal evidence makes 1568 or 69 more likely.
- 6. Wilks, 51.