BRADSHAW, JOHN (1602-1659), president of the "High Court of Justice" which tried Charles I., was the second son of Henry Bradshaw, of Marple and Wibersley in Cheshire. He was baptized on the 10th of December 1602, was educated at Banbury in Cheshire and at Middleton in Lancashire, studied subsequently with an attorney at Congleton, was admitted into Gray's Inn in 1620, and was called to the bar in 1627, becoming a bencher in 1647. He was mayor of Congleton in 1637, and later high steward or recorder of the borough. According to Milton he was assiduous in his legal studies and acquired considerable reputation and practice at the bar. On the 21st of September 1643 he was appointed judge of the sheriff's court in London. In October 1644 he was counsel with Prynne in the prosecution of Lord Maguire and Hugh Macmahon, implicated in the Irish rebellion, in 1645 for John Lilburne in his appeal to the Lords against the sentence of the Star Chamber, and in 1647 in the prosecution of Judge Jenkins. On the 8th of October 1646 he had been nominated by the Commons a commissioner of the great seal, but his appointment was not confirmed by the Lords. In 1647 he was made chief justice of Chester and a judge in Wales, and on the 12th of October 1648 he was presented to the degree of serjeant-at-law. On the 2nd of January 1649 the Lords threw out the ordinance for bringing the king to trial, and the small remnant of the House of Commons which survived Pride's Purge, consisting of 53 independents, determined to carry out the ordinance on their own authority. The leading members of the bar, on the parliamentary as well as on the royalist side, having refused to participate in proceedings not only illegal and unconstitutional, but opposed to the plainest principles of equity, Bradshaw was selected to preside, and, after some protestations of humility and unfitness, accepted the office. The king refused to plead before the tribunal, but Bradshaw silenced every legal objection and denied to Charles an opportunity to speak in his defence. He continued after the king's death to conduct, as lord president, the trials of the royalists, including the duke of Hamilton, Lord Capel, and Henry Rich, earl of Holland, all of whom he condemned to death, his behaviour being especially censured in the case of Eusebius Andrews, a royalist who had joined a conspiracy against the government. He received large rewards for his services. He was appointed in 1649 attorney-general of Cheshire and North Wales, and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, and was given a sum of £1000, together with confiscated estates worth £2000 a year. He had been nominated a member of the council of state on the 14th of February 1649, and on the 10th of March became president. He disapproved strongly of the expulsion of the Long Parliament, and on Cromwell's coming subsequently to dismiss the council Bradshaw is said, on the authority of Ludlow, to have confronted him boldly, and denied his power to dissolve the parliament. An ardent republican, he showed himself ever afterwards an uncompromising adversary of Cromwell. He was returned for Stafford in the parliament of 1654, and spoke strongly against vesting power in a single person. He refused to sign the "engagement" drawn up by Cromwell, and in consequence withdrew from parliament and was subsequently suspected of complicity in plots against the government. He failed to obtain a seat in the parliament of 1656, and in August of the same year Cromwell attempted to remove him from the chief-justiceship of Cheshire. After the abdication of Richard Cromwell, Bradshaw again entered parliament, became a member of the council of state, and on the 3rd of June 1659 was appointed a commissioner of the great seal. His health, however, was bad, and his last public effort was a vehement speech, in the council, when he declared his abhorrence of the arrest of Speaker Lenthall. He died on the 31st of October 1659, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His body was disinterred at the Restoration, and exposed on a gibbet along with those of Cromwell and Ireton. Bradshaw married Mary, daughter of Thomas Marbury of Marbury, Cheshire, but left no children.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)