EGERTON, John (1579-1649), of Dodleston, Cheshire; Ellesmere, Salop and Little Gaddesden, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1579, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of (Sir) Thomas Egerton I by his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Ravenscroft of Bretton, Flints.; bro. of Thomas II. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1589, BA 1594; L. Inn 1595. m. c.1601, Frances (d.1635), 2nd da. and coh. of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, 4s. 11da. KB 1603. suc. fa. as 2nd Visct. Brackley 15 Mar. 1617; cr. Earl of Bridgwater 27 May 1617.

Offices Held

Baron of the Exchequer, Chester 1599-1605; jt (with fa.) capt. of Lyons castle in the marches of Wales and steward of lordship of Denbigh 1607; j.p. Cheshire from c.1582; custos rot. Salop c.1605; member, council in the marches of Wales 1617, president 1631-42; PC 1626; ld. lt. Salop, Worcs., Herefs. and Mon. 1631-42.1


In 1589 Egerton, at the age of about ten, went up to Oxford with his elder brother Thomas and, on graduating, followed him to Lincoln’s Inn. When Thomas was returned for Cheshire in 1597, John found a seat at Callington, either through the influence of Sir William Paulet, 3rd Marquess of Winchester, or through the mayor, Richard Carew, acting on behalf of Lord Keeper Egerton.

In 1601, as knight of the shire for Shropshire, he would have attended the main business committee (3 Nov.) and the monopolies committee (23 Nov.). He was named to the committee on the penal laws (2 Nov.), and it was probably he who served on the committee for the levying of fines in Chester (25 Nov.). Like his brother, he served in Ireland. On 25 Sept. 1599, through the influence of his father and Sir Robert Cecil, he obtained the office of clerk or baron of the Exchequer at Chester, vacant by his brother’s death, and, like his brother, performed the duties by deputy until he resigned on 95 Feb. 1605. Though rumours of his secret marriage to Frances, daughter of the Earl of Derby, were current as early as October 1600, the news was not made public until March 1603. By marriage he obtained the manors of Brackley (giving him parliamentary patronage there) and Halse in Northamptonshire. In the same year that he became head of the family he was given the earldom for which his father had paid £20,000. Appointed president of the council in the marches in 1631, he did not make his official entry until three years later, when Milton’s Comus was performed for the first time in his honour in Ludlow castle, his children playing the leading roles. A ‘methodical, cautious man, delicate in health and anxious to avoid political strife as far as might be’, Bridgwater lived mainly in London, carrying out his duties through an agent. He died intestate 3 Dec. 1649, administration of his estate being granted the following 30 Apr. He was buried at Little Gaddesden, where a monument was erected. Only one of his four sons, John, survived him, to become 2nd Earl of Bridgwater.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. CP; Ormerod, Cheshire, i(2), p. 445; DKR, 31, pp. 192, 194; Add. 33378, f. 86a; SP14/33; C66/1682.
  • 2. HMC Hatfield, ix. 350; Egerton Pprs. (Cam. Soc. xii), 306-7; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 111, 153, 190; ii. 65; Baker, Northants. i. 564; Collins, Peerage, iii. 193, 194, 196; D’Ewes, 623, 624, 649, 651; C. A. J. Skeel, Council in the Marches, 2, 129.