Earl of Bradford

Earl of Bradford is a title that has been created twice, once in the Peerage of England and once in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was first created in 1694 for Francis Newport, 2nd Baron Newport. However, all the Newport titles became extinct on the death of the fourth Earl in 1762. The Earldom was revived in 1815 for Orlando Bridgeman, 2nd Baron Bradford. The Bridgeman family had previously succeeded to the Newport estates. The title of the peerage refers to the ancient hundred of Bradford in Shropshire, and not, as might be assumed, to the city of Bradford, Yorkshire.

Newport creation

Earldom of Bradford
1st Creation
Creation date 11 May 1694
Monarch King William III
and Queen Mary II
Peerage Peerage of England
First holder Francis Newport, 1st Viscount Newport
Last holder Thomas Newport, 4th Earl
Remainder to the 1st Earl's heirs male of the body lawfully begotten.
Subsidiary titles Viscount Newport
Baron Newport
Extinction date 18 April 1762
Francis Newport,
1st Earl of Bradford.

The Newports were an ancient Shropshire family. One member of the family, Richard Newport, represented Shropshire and Shrewsbury in Parliament and was a supporter of King Charles I during the Civil War. In 1642 he was raised to the Peerage of England as Baron Newport, of High Ercall in the County of Shropshire. His son Francis, the second Baron, represented Shrewsbury in the Long Parliament and fought as a Royalist in the Civil War. After the Restoration he served as Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, as Comptroller of the Household and as Treasurer of the Household. In 1676 Newport was created Viscount Newport, of Bradford in the County of Shropshire, and on 11 May 1694 he was further honoured when he was made Earl of Bradford, in the County of Shropshire. Both titles were in the Peerage of England.

Lord Bradford was succeeded by his eldest son, the second Earl. He sat as a Whig Member of Parliament for Shropshire and served as Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire. In 1681 Lord Bradford married Mary Wilbraham, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilbraham, Bt, and Elizabeth Mytton. Through this marriage Weston Park in Shropshire came into the Newport family. Their eldest son, the third Earl, represented Bishop's Castle and Shropshire in the House of Commons and was also Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire. He had no legitimate children and on his death the peerages passed to his younger brother, the fourth Earl. When he died in 1762 all the Newport titles became extinct. The family estates, including Weston Park, were inherited by his nephew, Sir Henry Bridgeman, 5th Baronet, of Great Lever (see below).

The Hon. Thomas Newport, younger son of the first Earl, was created Baron Torrington in 1716.

Bridgeman creation

Earldom of Bradford
2nd Creation
Creation date 30 November 1815
Monarch The Prince Regent (on behalf of George III)
Peerage Peerage of the United Kingdom
First holder Orlando Bridgeman, 2nd Baron Bradford
Present holder Richard Bridgeman, 7th Earl
Heir apparent Alexander Bridgeman, Viscount Newport
Remainder to the 1st Earl's heirs male of the body lawfully begotten.
Subsidiary titles Viscount Newport
Baron Bradford
Baronet Bridgeman of Great Lever
George Bridgeman, 2nd Earl of Bradford, by Sir George Hayter

The Bridgeman family originally stems from Devon. One member of the family, John Bridgeman, grandson of Edward Bridgeman, served as Bishop of Chester from 1619 to 1652. His son, Orlando Bridgeman, was a prominent lawyer and politician. In 1660 he was created a baronet, of Great Lever in the County of Lancaster, in the Baronetage of England. His great-grandson, the fourth Baronet, represented Shrewsbury in Parliament. In 1719 he married Lady Anne Newport, daughter of Richard Newport, 2nd Earl of Bradford. Their son, the fifth Baronet, was a Member of Parliament for Ludlow and Wenlock for over forty years. In 1762 he succeeded through his mother to the Newport estates, including Weston Park, on the death of his uncle, the fourth Earl of Bradford (see above). After Bridgeman's retirement from the House of Commons in 1794, the Bradford title held by his mother's family was revived when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Bradford, of Bradford in the County of Shropshire.

His son, the second Baron, represented Wigan in Parliament. In 1815 the Earldom of Bradford was revived when he was created Viscount Newport, in the County of Shropshire, and Earl of Bradford, in the County of Shropshire. His grandson, the third Earl, was a Conservative politician and notably served as Lord Steward of the Household and as Master of the Horse. He was also Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire. His eldest son, the fourth Earl, represented North Shropshire in Parliament as a Conservative. He was succeeded by his eldest son, the fifth Earl. He was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the army and fought in the Boer War and in the First World War. Lord Bradford was also Private Secretary to both Prime Minister Lord Salisbury and to Prime Minister Arthur Balfour and held office as a Government Whip in the House of Lords from 1919 to 1924. The present holder of the titles is his grandson, the seventh Earl, who succeeded in 1981.

Another member of the Bridgeman family was the Conservative politician William Bridgeman, 1st Viscount Bridgeman. He was the son of Reverend the Hon. John Robert Orlando Bridgeman, third son of the second Earl of Bradford.

Coat of arms

The heraldic blazon for the coat of arms of the Bridgeman earldom is: Sable, ten plates, four, three, two, and one, on a chief argent a lion passant ermines.

Family seats

John Bridgeman by Johann Closterman

The family seat is Weston Park in Staffordshire. They also held Castle Bromwich Hall, a manor in Warwickshire, along with the adjoining Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. The Hall is now a hotel, and its gardens have been restored by a Trust and are open to the public.

Weston Park was held by the family until 1986. Gerald, the 6th Earl of Bradford, who had succeeded to the title in 1957, died in 1981, leaving the family with large death duties. After five years of negotiations with the Treasury, Weston Park was donated to the nation via a Foundation established in 1986.

Since then, a G8 Summit Retreat was held at Weston Park in 1998 with the heads of State or Government present including US President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin and, since 1999, the grounds of Weston Park have been used as one of the sites of the annual dual-site Virgin sponsored V Festival. While the Family of the 7th Earl of Bradford has no remaining claim to Weston Park, much of the artwork (including works by van Dyck and others) remains privately held.

Barons Newport (1642)

Earls of Bradford, first creation (1694)

Bridgeman baronets, of Great Lever (1660)

Funeral monument in St Michael the Archangel, Llanyblodwel to John Bridgeman

Barons Bradford (1794)

Earls of Bradford, second creation (1815)

The heir apparent is the present holder's son Alexander Michael Orlando Bridgeman, Viscount Newport (b. 1980).

See also


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