John Bridges 1666-1724

From Book Owners Online

John BRIDGES 1666-1724

Biographical Note

Son of John Bridges and Elizabeth Trumbull, baptised in Binfield, Berkshire. Attended Trinity College, Oxford 1683-4 before entering Middle Temple in 1684. Called to the bar 1691, bencher 1719. Took on a number of government offices, including commissioner of customs and receiver general of excise. Elected fellow of the Royal Society 1708 and fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1718. He is remembered as a county historian, and his instigation of a large project to document the history of Northamptonshire, which was finally printed posthumously in 1791 as The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire: Compiled from the Manuscript Collections of the Late Learned Antiquary John Bridges.


Bridges' will stated that "I do hereby order and appoint all my Books whether printed or manuscripts (except what are hereafter otherwise disposed of) to be sold by my executor with the advice of my brothers...". From the funds raised he ordered that his two brothers should each received £500. Regarding his county history work he requested that "all such manuscripts and related to my intended history of the county of Northampton which together with all brass plates, prints or draughts relating to that design I appoint to remain with my heir as an heirloom in the family to be communicated to such person or persons hereafter as may be thought proper to carry on and promote the said undertaking, and my will is they be kept apart in a distinct press and boxes locked up carefully for that purpose".

Bridges' library was sold at auction in London from 7 February 1726. At least two catalogues were printed, and the auction was advertised in the Daily Courant, the Daily Post and the Daily Journal. Among his manuscripts were Horace, Juvenal and Persius on vellum and Henry VII's illuminated missal. Examples: one book has been identified at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, X1605/3, and can be matched as item 1205 in the sale catalogue.

His county history project manuscripts are in the British Library (Add. MSS 32118–32122, 32467) and the Bodleian Library (Northamptonshire collection).

Manuscript inscription of John Bridges (Harris Manchester College)

Characteristic Markings

He sometimes signed his books "J Bridges" with the date and the price paid.