Tuesday, 21 December 2010

John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater

Egerton, John, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater
John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater PC, (30 May 1623 – 26 October 1686) was a son of John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater and his wife Lady Frances Stanley. His maternal grandparents were Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, and his wife Alice Spencer.

According to the will of Henry VIII, his mother, at one time, was second-in-line to inherit England's throne. However, Lady Frances Stanley's older sister, Anne Stanley, Countess of Castlehaven, was passed over for James VI of Scotland.

He served as Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire (1660–1686), Cheshire (1670–1676), Lancashire (1670–1676), and Hertfordshire (1681–1686), in addition to being invested as a Privy Councillor in 1679. He was buried in Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire.

In 1641 he married Elizabeth Cavendish (1626–1663), a daughter of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle and his first wife Elizabeth Basset. They had four children:

* John Egerton, 3rd Earl of Bridgewater (9 November 1646 - 19 March 1701). 
* William Egerton (born 15 August 1649). He married Honora Leigh.
* Thomas Egerton of Tatton Park.
* Elizabeth Egerton (24 August 1653 - 1709). Married Robert Sidney, 4th Earl of Leicester.

Like his father, the second Earl combined prudence with loyalty, suffering little or nothing under the Commonwealth, and dying in 1686 Lord-Lieutenant of four counties - Lancashire among them. The author of Comus and the personator of the Elder Brother diverged in their politics, and any connection - probably there was none - that may have existed between Milton and the Egertons was dissolved by the poet's fervid espousal of the popular cause. The late Earl of Ellesmere (the literary and art-loving Earl) possessed a copy of Milton's Defensio pro populo Anglicano which had belonged to this second Earl of Bridgewater, and on the title-page of which the loyal nobleman had written: Liber z,,ne, auclorfured dt,,,nissi.vii:-"A book richly deserving to be burned, and its author to be hanged." He was "a learned man," was this original personator of the Elder Brother in Comus,-"delighted much in his library," in which, as has been seen, was a copy of Milton's Defensio, and among the honours conferred upon him was the High Stewardship of the University of Oxford. One composition of his, though not of a literary kind, survives, and is printed in the History of Ashridge by Todd, who was also the editor and biographer of Alilton. It consists of a series of detailed instructions for the management of his household, and testifies to the careful and orderly, nay, almost prince-like, organisation of a great English nobleman's establishment in the seventeenth century, as well as to the precise and rigorous character of this particular Lord of Ashridge who had played the part of the Elder Brother in Comus, and who thought its author worthy of the gallows.

At Ashridge there are domestic functionaries of every kind and degree, and each of them is copiously instructed by my Lord how to conduct himself, from "the steward," "the gentleman of my horse," "my gentleman usher," down to "the porter" and the clerk of the kitchen,"who is admonished to curb the wasteful expense of butter." On the other hand, among the "orders for the huisher -  usher - "of my hall" is one conceived in a liberal spirit, and smacking pleasantly of the olden time. He is bidden "Gather together the broken meate that remaynes after meales, and carry it to the gate, that there it may be, by himselfe and the porter, distributed among the poore." "June 24, 1652. These are the orders which I require and command to be observed by all the servants in my family in their several and respective degrees.-J. BRIDGWATER."

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