BRADSHAIGH, Sir Roger, 3rd Bt. (1675-1747), of Haigh Hall, nr. Wigan, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1695 - 25 Feb. 1747

Family and Education

bap. 29 Apr. 1675, 1st s. of Sir Roger Bradshaigh, 2nd Bt.†, of Haigh; bro. of Henry*.  educ. privately (Mr Francis); Ruthin sch.  m. 22 June 1697 (with £600 p.a.), Rachel, da. of Sir John Guise, 2nd Bt.*, sis. of Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt.*, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da.  suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 17 June 1687.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Wigan 1695, mayor 1698–9, 1703–4, 1719–20, 1724–5, 1729–30.2

Col. of ft. 1706–9.


Elected while still a minor, Bradshaigh’s parliamentary career is notable primarily for its longevity, a distinction achieved against a background of severe financial problems that on occasion threatened his interest at Wigan. Although the discovery of coal on the family’s estates in the 16th century brought the Bradshaighs considerable income in the 18th century, the costs of developing the coal fields meant that Bradshaigh’s father left the estate heavily encumbered with debts, a burden with which the 3rd baronet struggled. These financial difficulties became acute by the 1710s, and the high cost of maintaining an electoral interest in the quarrelsome borough of Wigan forced Bradshaigh into a client–patron relationship with Robert Harley*. Financial pressure forced Bradshaigh to trim his sails to the prevailing political wind in the hope of receiving patronage from the ministry, so that by Anne’s reign he was one of a small number of Members who ‘upheld the ministry of the day through all the fluctuations of party fortunes, supporting the Court whether it leaned to the Whigs or the Tories’.3

Bradshaigh was placed under the guardianship of Peter Shakerley* in 1687, and in 1690 he supported Shakerley’s successful bid for a seat at Wigan. The first indication of Bradshaigh’s political beliefs came in 1694, when, as one of only two surviving trustees for the grammar school at Blackrod, near Wigan, he rejected a list of new appointees, on the grounds that the majority of those proposed were Presbyterians, and instead proposed an alternative list dominated by local Tories. Bradshaigh successfully contested Wigan in alliance with Shakerley in 1695, and their opponent (Sir) Alexander Rigby* conceded that, although aged only 20, ‘Sir Roger Bradshaigh had out-managed him’. Bradshaigh appears to have closely followed Shakerley’s lead on first entering the House, being forecast as a likely opponent of the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, duly voting against the imposition of an abjuration oath on that day, initially refusing to sign the Association, and in March voting against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. This impeccable Tory record was enhanced when in the second session of the 1695 Parliament he voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. The following year he married a wife of moderate fortune, and his good relations with Shakerley were demonstrated in the latter’s assistance in drafting the marriage settlement.4

Bradshaigh was meticulous in maintaining his interest at Wigan, organizing the successful campaign to have George Kenyon* appointed recorder, and in 1698 was returned for the borough with Orlando Bridgeman* despite the opposition of Rigby. His name appears on an analysis of about September 1698 as a supporter of the Country party, and he was also forecast as a probable opponent of the standing army. In 1699 a disagreement over money led to a split with his mentor, Shakerley complaining about Bradshaigh’s tardy repayment of loans, an accusation that Bradshaigh felt breached a previous agreement between the two. He informed Shakerley that

your fast friendship I have acknowledged and always shall, but when a man is resolved to leave me I must endeavour to leave him to make my life easy . . . I am sure there was no one more desirous of continuing a friendship with you than myself, but I find it a thing not always to be relied upon.

This breach heralded a shift in Bradshaigh’s political allegiances. From 1701 he formed a close alliance with the 4th Earl Rivers (Richard Savage*), following Rivers’ political line until the Earl’s death in 1712. In early 1700 Bradshaigh was classed as doubtful, or perhaps as opposition, in an analysis of the House, but at the first Wigan election of 1701 he stood in alliance with the Whig Emmanuel Scrope Howe*. He stood successfully on a joint interest with his former opponent Rigby (like Howe a Whig) at Wigan in December 1701. On 7 May 1702 Bradshaigh was teller against an amendment to apply one third of the revenues from forfeited Irish estates to public uses.5

The decisive shift in Bradshaigh’s politics is indicated by the conduct of the 1702 Wigan election, when the Tory Bridgeman allied with Hon. Henry and Hon. Edward Finch*, younger brothers of Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch*), to make strenuous if ultimately futile attempts to defeat Bradshaigh. The first session of the 1702 Parliament saw Bradshaigh tell, on 9 Dec. 1702, in favour of a motion to go into ways and means to settle the land tax, and in the following session, on 2 Mar. 1704, he told in favour of bringing up a petition relating to the Irish forfeitures bill. In the 1704–5 session he was forecast, in October 1704, as a probable opponent of the Tack. On 29 Jan. 1705 he was appointed to the committee to draft a bill to empower Thomas Kenyon, the brother of George, to compound with the Treasury for a debt incurred as executor for the late receiver of the land tax for Cheshire and North Wales, and Bradshaigh managed this bill through the Commons.6

Bradshaigh’s alliance with north-western Whigs became clearer in the election of 1705, when he canvassed for the county with the support of the Junto Whig the Earl of Derby (Hon. James Stanley*), but defeat by two Tory candidates forced Bradshaigh to take the seat at Wigan he had originally intended for his brother Henry. Listed as ‘Low Church’ in an analysis of the 1705 Parliament, Bradshaigh voted for the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. He told against the Tacker Sir Samuel Garrard, 4th Bt.*, on 1 Dec., on the right of election at Amersham and in February 1706 again divided with the Court on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. In June Bradshaigh secured an address from his constituency praising the conduct of the war and not ‘omitting the Church being out of danger’. Two months prior to this address he had been given a commission to form a new foot regiment. Whether this was a move to improve his financial position, a colonelcy in a foot regiment being worth approximately £800 p.a., is impossible to say, but Bradshaigh proved to be a poor soldier. His regiment, sent to Ireland in 1706, was said to be ‘very thin of officers and soldiers’ with (in the words of one observer) ‘the worst’ clothing ‘I ever saw’. Bradshaigh’s military career was, however, to be brief, as in March 1709 he sold the regiment for £2,700.7

Classed as a Whig in a parliamentary list of early 1708, Bradshaigh found his return at Wigan the following year challenged by Bridgeman and the Finches, but was able to secure his own election and that of his brother Henry. In 1709 he voted for the bill to naturalize foreign Protestants. His worsening financial position, the cost of maintaining his interest at Wigan adding to his inherited debts, led him to petition the Commons on 12 Jan. 1709 for a bill to enable him to sell the portion of the Countess of Oxford’s estate inherited by his family, and to break the entail on his Lancashire estates in order to pay his father’s debts and his siblings’ portions. The bill, management of which was entrusted to Shakerley, Bradshaigh’s brother-in-law, Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt., and (Sir) Gilbert Dolben, duly passed into law in April 1709, but Bradshaigh’s financial problems continued. A protracted dispute with Edward Finch over the pulling down of the corporation’s gallery in Wigan church, and the erection of an organ in its place, drained Bradshaigh’s finances from 1709 onwards. Having voted in early 1710 for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, Bradshaigh’s return for Wigan in 1710 was unchallenged, and he was classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’ of the new Parliament. However, after the ministerial revolution of 1710 he followed the lead of his patron Rivers and joined with Harley. Bradshaigh told on 12 Dec. 1710 against a place bill, demonstrating a loyalty to the ministry that stemmed in large part from an increasing need for financial support. As the case over the Wigan gallery wound its expensive way through the courts Bradshaigh sent Harley a series of increasingly desperate requests for assistance. On 22 June 1711 he wrote to Harley, now Lord Treasurer Oxford, that

The adjournment of the House for above 14 days has laid me open to the law, and I have already been sent to that unless I immediately pay my several debts upon which are obtained judgments, they will put into execution to-morrow or next day. Do but imagine the confusion I am in, and the reasons I have to hope for your favour before this time. My house will be rifled, myself and family exposed.

In November 1711 Bradshaigh requested that Oxford find him a place as a victualling commissioner, and on 17 Mar. 1712 he asked for £1,000, a request necessitated by ‘the misfortune of a law suit I have long been engaged in for the benefit of my corporation and to keep up my interest there’. Bradshaigh’s financial dependence upon the Court at this time may explain his telling on 2 Apr. 1712 against a petition that Arthur Moore* waive his privilege in a case involving a bad debt. On 7 Apr. he renewed his request to Oxford for the victualling commission place, begging the Lord Treasurer to ‘find some way to assist me’. On 24 Apr. Bradshaigh, after prompting from Wigan braziers, told against laying a further duty on wrought brass. His requests for money were answered by Oxford in May 1712, and when he wrote to the lord treasurer regarding the Wigan by-election caused by the death of his brother, he assured Oxford that his own preferred candidate, George Kenyon, demonstrated ‘affection to your Lordship’s interest’. No doubt he expected such assurances to smooth the path of further requests for place or money; on 23 Feb. 1713 he assured Oxford that ‘your Lordship has many friends, but none have been more zealous for your service than myself’. The 1713 session saw Bradshaigh present, on 13 Apr., a bill to make the River Douglas navigable, a scheme supported by the corporation of Wigan and which would have improved the transport links for his own coal pits at Haigh. His continuing support for the ministry, demonstrated by his vote on 18 June for the French commerce bill, yielded £1,000 from Oxford in August 1713.8

Bradshaigh’s return for Wigan in 1713 was fiercely contested by Lord Barrymore (James Barry*), and although Bradshaigh secured the return of himself and Kenyon, the financial cost of victory was one he could not bear alone. Soon after the election he wrote requesting a further £400 from Oxford to defray his election expenses, and his financial problems gave Barrymore the opportunity to petition against Bradshaigh and Kenyon’s return, alleging that they were not qualified to sit in the Commons under the terms of the Landed Qualification Act of 1711. Defending these claims entailed more expense for Bradshaigh, and he consequently renewed his requests for financial support from Oxford, who was assured that ‘your Lordship may depend upon two sure friends’ at Wigan. Bradshaigh told Oxford that such support ‘shall not be like seed thrown on barren ground’, and the requests were of some urgency as in February 1714 Bradshaigh feared ‘an execution upon my goods in the country’. Bradshaigh would no doubt have been relieved at the Commons’ rejection of the petition against Kenyon and himself on 6 Apr., but he was still under financial pressure from the costs of the legal case brought by Barrymore concerning the Wigan mayoral election of October 1713, and these demands led to further requests for financial assistance from Bradshaigh to Oxford. In July 1714 for example, Bradshaigh informed the lord treasurer that ‘since the rising of the House I have had notice to expect the uttermost severity of the law from persons who have obtained judgments against me’. Self-interest probably accounted for Bradshaigh’s distress at Oxford’s dismissal in July 1714, though his surprise did not prevent him making one final request for financial aid. At the end of 1714 Bradshaigh came to an agreement with Barrymore by which they were to split the borough’s representation at the forthcoming election. Although he was described as a Tory in the Worsley list and in two separate analyses comparing the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments, Bradshaigh’s allegiance to the Court continued to be the primary, if not the sole, theme of his political career under the first two Georges. His financial problems did ease somewhat in the 1720s and 1730s, but when he died on 25 Feb. 1747, he still left debts amounting to £8,000.9

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. NLS, Crawford mss 47/1/74, notebk. of Ralph Winstanley; info. from Mrs D. Backhouse.
  • 2. Wigan RO, Wigan bor. recs. AB/MR/10; AB/CL/80, 90, 106.
  • 3. J. U. Nef, Rise of the British Coal Industry, i. 61–63, 203; J. Langton, Geographical Change and Industrial Revol. 74, 88; Cheshire RO, Shakerley mss, draft of Bradshaigh Estate Act; Bull. John Rylands Lib. xxxvii. 123–5; Speck thesis, 95.
  • 4. Crawford mss E3/6, Bradshaigh to William Hulton, 2 Jan. 1693[-4]; Liverpool RO, 920MD 174 Sir Willoughby Aston diaries, 7 Nov. 1695; Lancs. RO, Kenyon mss DDKe/66, brief for Mr Shakerley, c.1695; HMC Kenyon, 398–9; Shakerley mss, John Ward III* to Shakerley, 24 Sept. 1697.
  • 5. HMC Kenyon, 423–4; PC 2/77, p. 160; Crawford mss 47/3/1 petition, c.1697; Kenyon mss DDKe 9/131/56, Bradshaigh to James Harvey, 12 Mar. 1697[-8]; Yale Univ. Beinecke Lib. Osborn coll. Blathwayt mss box 20, Robert Yard* to William Blathwayt*, 9 Aug. 1698; Shakerley mss, Bradshaigh to Shakerley, 28 Apr. 1699; 920MD 174 Aston diary, 22 Dec. 1701.
  • 6. Cheshire RO, Arderne mss DAR/F/33, Samuel Daniell to [?], 31 July 1702.
  • 7. Bagot mss at Levens Hall, Duke of Hamilton to James Grahme*, 16 Jan. 1704–5; Kenyon mss DDKe 9/101/1, Thomas to George Kenyon, 18 Jan. 1704[-5]; HMC Kenyon, 434, 437, 449; Cal. Treas. Bks. xx. 216, 738, 768; xxi. 450, 504; xxii. 15, 195; R. E. Scouller, Armies of Q. Anne, 126–47; London Gazette, 27 June–1 July 1706; HMC Ormonde, n.s. viii. 281; Add. 31143, f. 315.
  • 8. Shakerley mss, Bradshaigh estate bill; Kenyon mss DDKe 9/132/41, Bradshaigh to Henry Mason, 7 Feb. 1710[-11]; Crawford mss 47/3/52, subscription, c.1711; HMC Portland, v. 18, 151; Add. 70213, Bradshaigh to Oxford, 7 Nov. 1711, 7 Apr., 14 May, 9 July, 8 Sept 1712, 23 Feb. 1712[-3], 18, 26 Aug 1713; HMC Kenyon, 450.
  • 9. Add. 70213, Bradshaigh to Oxford, 6 Dec. 1713, 8 Jan., 9 Feb. 1713[-4], 26 Apr., 12 May, 17 July, 22 Aug. 1714; HMC Kenyon, 455; Crawford mss 47/3/38, Kenyon to Robert Hollinshead, 11 Dec. 1714.