Lord President John Bradshaw
John Bradshaw was an English judge, best known for sentencing Charles I to death. After the Restoration, he was deemed to be a regicide and his corpse was disinterred and symbolically hanged.
Born in 1602 in Stockport, Bradshaw studied at Stockport Grammar School, where he showed a great aptitude for law. Bradshaw was called to the Bar in 1627 at Gray’s Inn. After having built up a reputation as a skilled lawyer, Bradshaw was employed by Parliament as a prosecutor.
Bradshaw was appointed President to the commission set up for the trial of Charles I. The job was so dangerous that Bradshaw wore a steel lined hat during proceeding out of fear of being assassinated. Records suggest that Bradshaw managed the court well and ensured the trial ran smoothly.
As a result of the trial, Bradshaw was made President of the Council of State of the Commonwealth the following year.
Bradshaw, who was a supporter of the authority of Parliament, was angry when Cromwell seized power in 1653. He said:
Sir, we have heard what you did at the House this morning, and before many hours all England will hear it. But, sir, you are mistaken to think that the Parliament is dissolved, for no power under heaven can dissolve them but themselves. Therefore take you notice of that.
Although the Restoration occurred after his death, Bradshaw’s body was was dug up from Westminster Abbey and hanged on a gibbet after the return of Charles II.
See also: The Trial and Execution of Charles I
“John Bradshaw”. HistoryLearning.com. 2015.