BRIDGEMAN, Sir Orlando, 2nd Bt. (?1679-1746), of Bowood Park, nr. Calne, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. ?1679, o.s. of Sir Orlando Bridgeman, 1st Bt., M.P., of Ridley, Cheshire, and Coventry by Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Cave, 1st Bt., of Stanford, Northants. educ. Rugby 1689, Trinity, Oxf. 10 Nov. 1694, aged 15. m. (lic. 15 Apr. 1702) Susannah, da. of Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Bt., M.P., of West Wycombe, Bucks., 3s. (d.v.p.) 2da.1 suc. fa. 20 Apr. 1701.
Clerk of the household to the Prince of Wales 1716-27; ld. of Trade 1727-37; gov. Barbados 1737-8.
Bridgeman’s father (made a Baronet in 1673) was a younger son of Sir Orlando Bridgeman, 1st Bt., M.P., lord keeper of the great seal under Charles II, who had been granted a lease of Bowood from the Crown in 1644 and 1661. This was renewed in 1702 to his grandson, who acquired the fee simple in 1727 under Act of Parliament 12 Geo. I.2 Returned for Calne in 1715 Bridgeman voted for the septennial bill, but went into opposition with the Prince of Wales in 1717, voting against the Government in the division of 4 June 1717 on Lord Cadogan and on the peerage bill. He lost his seat in 1722 but was provided with government seats elsewhere, voting with the Administration in all recorded divisions. In August 1733 Walpole seems to have tried to get him a seat at Calne from William Duckett, who replied:
I received your commands in relation to Sir Orlando Bridgeman ... but I apprehend great difficulty in executing them; because proposals made to a man, who is neither cautious or secret, may ruin my interest. Colonel Bladen has an influence on Sir Orlando ... Be pleased, Sir, to give him charge of this affair.3
In the end a seat was found for him at Dunwich. On 10 Mar. 1735 he seconded a petition from the Georgia Society for a grant-in-aid to the colony.4
Meanwhile Bridgeman had begun to build a new house at Bowood. The estate, in consequence, became heavily encumbered and Chancery proceedings were begun against him 1737.5 Though made governor of Barbados to improve his position, he never went there, but disappeared, leaving his clothes by the side of the Thames, after writing farewell letters to his family and the King. When some weeks later, on 10 June 1738, a body ‘supposed to be him, though disfigured by lying so long under water’, was taken from the river at Limehouse, ‘the family were then satisfied of their misfortune’.6 However, on 30 Oct. following, the 1st Lord Egmont records,
Sir Orlando Bridgeman who, instead of going to his government of Barbados conferred on him last winter, made his escape (as he hoped) from the world, to avoid his creditors, by pretending to make himself away, and accordingly gave it out that he had drowned himself, was ferreted out of his hole by the reward advertised for whoever should discover him, and seized in an inn at Slough, where he had ever since concealed himself.7
Apparently dying in Gloucester gaol,8 he was buried 5 Dec. 1746 in St. Nicholas’s, Gloucester.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: R. S. Lea
- 1. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. Colls. n.s. ii. 251.
- 2. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xli. 412, 423, 504.
- 3. Wm. Duckett to Sir Robt. Walpole, 17 Aug. 1733, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
- 4. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 159.
- 5. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xli. 504-5.
- 6. Ibid. 505, citing Dr. Hort's narrative in Lady Shelburne's diary, 5 Feb. 1765; Gent. Mag. 1738, p. 324.
- 7. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 510.
- 8. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xli. 505; Gent. Mag. 1746, p. 668.