BRADSHAW, JOHN, president of the High Court of Justice which tried Charles I., appears to have been born in 1602 at Marple Hill, near Stockport in Cheshire. He was of good family, and is belieVed to have been connected with Milton, the mother of the latter having married a Bradshaw. At all events, whether connected or not, the two knew and respected each other. Milton gives a highly eulogistic account of Bradshaw's character in his Defensio Secunda, and Bradshaw left by will £10 to Milton. His education seems to have been carried on at Stockport free school, and afterwards at Bunbury and Middleton. He was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in April 1627, and in 1645 became a bendier. For sonic time he .acted as judge in the Sheriff-Courts of London. As a lawyer he had considerable chamber practice, especially among those whom Clarendon calls the " factious." ln 1644 he was employed by Parliament as one of the prosecutors of the Irish Lords Macguire and Macmahou. In October 1646 he was voted by the Commons as one of the commissioners of the Great Seal, and in March of the following year lie was appointed chief-justice of Cheshire. On October 12, 1648, he was raised to the rank of serjeant. In January 1649, when it was found difficult to compose a court of justice for the trial of t-he king, Bradshaw was proposed as president, and at once elected. His demeanour on the trial is well known, but has been variously judged. He continued to retain the title of Lord President for some time after the trial, rotation, and held their appointment for a month. When, on the 20th April 1653, Cromwell, after dismissing the Parliament, came to dissolve the council, Bradshaw is said to have confronted him boldly, and denied his power to dissolve the Parliament. This story rests on the authority of Ludlow, who was not a witness, and who does not say and on 1st August of the same year Cromwell ordered him to be dismissed from the chief-justiceship of Chester. It is not quite certain that this order was carried out. After the abdication of Richard Cromwell, Bradshaw again be found very differently drawn by Clarendon (History of the Rebellion, bk. xi.) and Milton (Defensio Secunda).
See Foss, Lives of Judges ; Orinerod's Chester, iii. 403-9 ; Beauties of England and Wales, ii. 264; sqq.; Noble, Lives of the English Regicides, vol. i.; Caulfield, High Court of Justice; Godwin, History of the Commonwealth ; Ludlow's Memoirs; Forster's Stales, men of the Commonuvalth. On Bradshaw's connection with Milton see Masson, Life y Milton., i.