John Bradshaw


Biography of John Bradshaw

John Bradshaw (15 July 1602 – 31 October 1659) was an English judge. He is most notable for his role President of the High Court of Justice for the trial of King Charles I and as the first Lord President of the Council of State of the English Commonwealth.

John Bradshaw (sometimes spelt Bradshawe) the second son of Henry Bradshaw and Catherine Winnington was born in 1602 probably at Wybersley (Wyberslegh) Hall in the village of High Lane near Stockport or possibly at the nearby Peace Farm, Marple (his father farmed at both) and baptized on 10 December in Stockport Church. As a child he attended the free school at Stockport, as well as schools in Bunbury, Cheshire, and Middleton. During his teenage years he also attended Macclesfield Grammar School (now The King's School in Macclesfield). According to local tradition he wrote the following inscription on a gravestone at either Macclesfield or Bunbury:

"My brother Henry must heir the land,
My brother Frank must be at his command;
Whilst I, poor Jack, will do that
That all the world will wonder at!"

He was articled as clerk to an attorney in Congleton. Almost opposite the town hall, the White Lion public house bears a blue plaque, placed by the Congleton Civic Society, which reads: "The White Lion, built 16-17th century. Said to have housed the attorney's office where John Bradshaw, regicide, served his articles."

After studying English law in London, he was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn on 23 April 1627. He served on the provincial bar of Congleton until he became mayor in 1637. John Milton wrote highly of Bradshaw’s aptitude during his public service, saying that “All his early life he was sedulously employed in making himself acquainted with the laws of the country; he then practiced with singular success and reputation at the bar.”

At some time between 1640 and 1643, Bradshaw moved from Congleton to Basinghall Street in London. In 1643, he was elected judge of the London sheriff’s court. He maintained the post until his death. Following the death of the Earl of Essex in 1646, Parliament voted Somerhill House to Bradshaw. He was appointed a serjeant-at-law by Parliament and in 1648 Chief Justice of Chester and North Wales.

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