BRADSHAW, William (aft. 1567-c.1626), of St. Dogmaels, Pemb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. aft. 1567,1 1st s. of John Bradshaw II† of Presteigne, Rad. and St. Dogmaels, and his 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of William Gerard II†. m. by 1588, Elizabeth, da. of Richard Tothill of London, 1s. 1da.2 suc. fa. 1588.3 d. aft. 28 May 1626.4

Offices Held

J.p. Rad. 1595-d., Pemb. 1602-Jan. 1616, Feb. 1616-d.;5 commr. subsidy, Pemb. 1608, 1621-2, 1624,6 aid 1609,7 i.p.m. George Owen 1614;8 dep. lt., Pemb. by 1614-d.;9 commr. survey, Cilgerran Forest, Pemb. 1617-18, 1620.10

Alderman, Cardigan, Card. by 1604.11


The Bradshaw family originated in Lancashire, arriving in the Welsh borders after the Member’s paternal grandfather, John I†, married a niece of Bishop Rowland Lee, president of the Council in the Marches. John acquired leases of land from the dissolved monastery of St. Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire, and purchased Wigmore properties in Presteigne, Radnorshire, where the Member’s father represented the county in 1554. It is unclear whether the Member himself was raised in Pembrokeshire or Radnorshire.

It does not appear that William Bradshaw attended university or an inn of court, but he acquired metropolitan contacts by marrying a Londoner’s daughter in the 1580s. In 1589, shortly after his father’s death, Bradshaw secured a lease of his family’s Pembrokeshire estates by letters patent, while a further grant in 1592 secured a reversion for his new son, Edmund. The properties included not only the St. Dogmaels abbey site but also land in several north Pembrokeshire parishes.12 Given this grant, it is rather surprising that Bradshaw did not make his first appearance on the public stage until 1595, and only then as a justice in Radnorshire, as his interests seem to have centred on Pembrokeshire. Elevated to the Pembrokeshire bench in 1602, he was described as being ‘of St. Dogmaels’ in contemporary documents.13

St. Dogmaels is situated immediately across the River Teifi from Cardigan, where Bradshaw involved himself in the town’s government, becoming an alderman by the time of the confused parliamentary election of 1604. After receiving a precept from Sheriff Sir Richard Price* of Gogerddan, Cardigan returned Bradshaw as its representative. The mayor at this time was Richard Mortimer of Coedmor, who would later act as a witness to the deed of settlement for the marriage of Bradshaw’s daughter.14 However, Price, ‘minding to make choice of a friend of his’, made another election at Aberystwyth, where the voters returned the lawyer Richard Delabere, who had represented Cardigan Boroughs in 1601.15 There is no evidence that Bradshaw was one of Price’s political opponents, although given the scarcity of source material that remains a possibility. Rather it seems that Bradshaw was caught up in the wider issue of Price’s desire to control borough elections, the question of precedence among the constituency’s contributory boroughs, and the fact that the original statute of enfranchisement had allowed both Cardigan and Aberystwyth alternately to hold the county court. After a hearing on 13 Apr. 1604, the Commons admitted Bradshaw and ordered Price’s arrest. However, Bradshaw made no impact in the Commons, except to move on 21 May 1604 to be granted leave of absence ‘for his urgent occasions’, which request was granted.16

In 1607 Bradshaw brought an Exchequer suit against his constituents, whom he accused of withholding his ‘fees and wages’.17 In response the mayor of Cardigan, Richard Mortimer, claimed that the town had raised its share of his wages, amounting to £14, and that it was the out-boroughs (perhaps unhappy that it had been Bradshaw rather than Delabere who had been seated) which were in default. In the event, the boroughs persuaded the court that the matter lay outside its jurisdiction, being determinable at Common Law.18 Although Bradshaw appealed, this verdict was upheld in 1611. 19

In 1613 Bradshaw stood surety for (Sir) John Lewis* of Abernantbychan in the purchase of the wardship of Rowland Mortimer, probably a relation of the Cardigan mayor of 1604.20 However, he remained principally concerned with the affairs of Pembrokeshire, where he had secured the position of deputy lieutenant by 1614.21 In April of that year his daughter Joan married Alban Owen, son and heir of the Pembrokeshire antiquary George Owen of Henllys, at whose inquisition post mortem Bradshaw had recently acted as a juror. The marriage consolidated Bradshaw’s links with a powerful family in north Pembrokeshire.22

Bradshaw remains a shadowy figure throughout the Jacobean era. Early in 1616 he was briefly removed from the Pembrokeshire bench for outlawry, a symptom, perhaps, of financial difficulties.23 In the following year he brought an Exchequer suit over duties owing to him as owner of a mill in Fishguard, in which he accused his tenants of diverting the mill-stream and encroaching upon his lands.24 He also became involved in disputes with the heirs of his brother, Dr. Roger Bradshaw of Hereford, over the inheritance of the Pembrokeshire rectory of Mathry, which resulted in a lawsuit in 1619, and with Maurice Canon of Haverfordwest, who accused him among others of depriving him of the profits of three Pembrokeshire lordships.25 By March 1626 he was no longer a member of the bench, and later that year he and his son and heir Edmund became embroiled in another Exchequer lawsuit, this time in connection with the debts of Edmund’s late father-in-law, Sir Thomas Mildmay ‘of London’.26 Bradshaw may have died soon thereafter, although no will has been traced. Edmund continued the line, but was even less significant than his father, failing to become a magistrate or to hold any other prominent local office. In the 1640s David Parry of Noyadd Trefawr, a son-in-law of John Lewes* of Abernantbychan, purchased St. Dogmaels for a purported £4,500, suggesting either that the Bradshaw line had died out or that it was in dire straits financially. No subsequent member of this family sat in Parliament.27

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Lloyd Bowen


  • 1. He was still a minor at his father’s death in 1588: PROB 11/67, f. 390v.
  • 2. Dwnn, Vis. Wales ed. S.R. Meyrick, i. 257; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 4), iii. 12; E.M. Prichard, Hist. St. Dogmaels Abbey, 181-4.
  • 3. PROB 11/67, ff. 390v-1; Y Cymmrodor, xxvii. 6.
  • 4. This is the date of death of Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Suffolk, which is mentioned in an Exch. lawsuit of 1626 brought by Bradshaw and his son: E112/277/3.
  • 5. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 321-30, 210-15.
  • 6. SP14/31/1; C212/22/21-3.
  • 7. SP14/43/107.
  • 8. G. Owen, Taylors Cussion, xiv.
  • 9. NLW, Bronwydd 379; Salop RO, 151/2903.
  • 10. E112/151/64.
  • 11. C219/35/2/186.
  • 12. Prichard, 177-84; C66/1389, mm. 12-13.
  • 13. NLW, Noyadd Trefawr 55; E112/151/29, 49; REQ 2/415/11.
  • 14. NLW, Bronwydd II/1548.
  • 15. CJ, i. 170a.
  • 16. Ibid. 221b.
  • 17. E112/151/29.
  • 18. E124/5, f. 45.
  • 19. E124/13, f. 8.
  • 20. WARD 9/162, f. 151.
  • 21. NLW, Bronwydd II/379, 360, 3364, 3342.
  • 22. NLW, Bronwydd II/1548, 1587, 1589, 7220-1.
  • 23. JPs in Wales and Monm. 212; C231/4, ff. 26, 33.
  • 24. E112/49/13; E134/14Jas.I/Mich.24.
  • 25. REQ 2/415/11; E112/277/1.
  • 26. E112/277/3.
  • 27. NLW, ms 5603; NLW, Noyadd Trefawr 486; Prichard, 185, 204.