Bridges, John (d.1618) (DNB00)
BRIDGES, JOHN (d. 1618), bishop of Oxford and controversialist, was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he proceeded B.A. in 1556, and M.A. in 1560. He was elected fellow of Pembroke in 1556, and obtained the degree of D.D. from Canterbury in 1575. He spent some years in Italy in his youth; translated, about 1558, three of Machiavelli's discourses into English, which were not published, and afterwards received a benefice at Herne in Kent. He preached a sermon at Paul's Cross in 1571, which was printed, and published in 1572 a translation from the Latin of Rudolph Walther's 175 'Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles.' In the following year he replied to two catholic treatises—Thomas Stapleton's 'Counterblast' and Sanders's 'Visible Monarchie of the Romaine Church' in a book entitled 'The Supremacie of Christian Princes over all Persons throughout their Dominions.' Bridges was appointed dean of Salisbury in 1577. In 1581 Bishop Aylmer directed him, with other divines, to reply to Edmund Campion's 'Ten Reasons' in favour of the church of Rome. In 1582 he was a member of a commission appointed to hold a conference with some papist dialecticians. But his most important contribution to polemical literature was 'A Defence of the Government established in the Church of Englande for Ecclesiasticall Matters' (London, by John Winder, 1587). It is a quarto of 1412 pages, directed against Calvinism. It undertakes especially to answer two books—Thomas Cartwright's 'Discourse of Ecclesiastical Government,' or a 'briefe and plaine declaration,' 1574 (a translation from the Latin of Walter Travers), and Theodore Beza's 'Judgment,' which had been published in an English translation in 1580. Bridges's ponderous volume was immediately answered in the three tracts, 'A Defence of the Godlie Ministers against the Slaunders of D. B.,' 1587; 'A Defence of the Ecclesiastical Discipline ordayned of God. … Against a Replie of Maister Bridges,' 1588; 'A Dialogue, wherein is … laide open the Tyrannicall Dealing of L. Bishopps … (according to D. B., his "Judgement"),' 1588 (?). The chief interest attaching to Bridges's book lies in the fact that it was the immediate cause of the great Martin Mar-Prelate controversy. About a year after the publication of Bridges's 'Defence' there was issued the earliest of the Mar-Prelate tracts, with the title of 'Oh read ouer D. John Bridges, for it is a worthy worke,' an introductory epistle to a promised 'Epitome of the fyrste Booke of that right worshipfull volume, written against the Puritanes in the defence of the noble cleargie by as worshipful a prieste, Iohn Bridges, presbyter, an elder, Doctor of Diuillitie, and Deane of Sarum.' Scathing criticisms are here made on Bridges's literary incapacity: 'A man might almost run himselfe out of breath before he could come to a full point in many places in your booke.' The satirists state doubtfully that he was the author of 'Gammer Gurton's Needle,' usually attributed to Bishop Still (see Brit. Mus. MS. Addit. 24487, if. 33-7), and add that he had published 'a sheet in rime of all the names attributed to the Lorde in the Bible.' In February 1588-9 the promised epitome of Bridges's first book duly appeared, as the second Martin Mar-Prelate tract. Four bishops who were specially attacked here replied in an 'Admonition,' drawn up by Thomas Cooper, bishop of Winchester; but Bridges does not seem to have been connected with the later development of the controversy. Bridges took part in the Hampton Court conference of 1603, and on 12 Feb. 1603-4 was consecrated bishop of Oxford at Lambeth by Whitgift. He attended the king on his visit to Oxford in 1605, when he was created M. A., and took part in the funeral of Henry, prince of Wales, in 1612. Bridges died at a great age in 1618. Unlike his predecessors in the see of Oxford, he lived in his diocese—at March Baldon (Marshalll, Diocese of Oxford, p. 121). His last published work was 'Sacrosanctum Novum Testamentum ... in hexametros versus … translatum,' 1604.
A son, William, proceeded B.D. of New College, Oxford, on 9 July 1612, and was archdeacon of Oxford from 1614 till his death in 1626 (Wood, Fasti, Bliss, i. 348).
[Strype's Annals, 8vo, ii. ii. 710, iii. i. 414, ii. 96, 97, 151-2, iv. 432; Strype's Aylmer, 33; Strype's Whitgift, i. 198, 549, ii. 518, iii. 219; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 314; Nichols's Progresses of James I; Dexter's Congregationalism, pp. 143 et seq.; Arber's Martin Mar-Prelate Controversy; Tanner's Bibliotheca, p. 122; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books before 1640.]