BRIDEOAKE, Ralph (1613-78)

BRIDEOAKE (BRIDDOCK), Ralph (1613–78)

cons. 18 Apr. 1675 bp. of CHICHESTER

First sat 20 Apr. 1675; last sat 15 July 1678

bap. 31 Jan. 1613, s. of Richard Brideoake of Cheetham Hill, Lancs. and Cecily, da. of John Booth of Lancs. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. matric. 1631, BA 1634, MA 1636, DD 1660; ord. priest 1636 (John Bancroft, bishop of Oxford); m. (with £2,600),1 Mary, da. and coh. Sir Richard Saltonstall, kt. of Ockenden, Essex, 3s. 1da. (d.v.p.).2 d. 5 Oct. 1678; will admon. 19 ?Nov. 1679 to wid.3

Commr. approbation of ministers 1659; chap. to Charles II 1660–74.

Pro-chap. New Coll. Oxf. 1634; cur. Wytham, Oxon.(unknown dates); chap. to James Stanley, 7th earl of Derby, c.1644–51, to William Lenthall 1651; rect. Standish, Lancs. 1644–d., Witney, Oxon. 1655–63, St Bartholomew Exchange, London, 1660–c.1670;4 preacher Chapel of the Rolls c.1651; preb. Windsor 1660–78; dean and canon residentiary Salisbury 1667–75.

Corrector of press Oxf.; master Manchester Free Sch. c.1638–?.

Also associated with: Cheetham Hill, Lancs.; Isleworth, Mdx.

Likenesses: W. Bird, marble effigy on monument, 1678, St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Ralph Brideoake was born into a well-established Lancashire family. A good scholar of ‘mean’ condition, he was employed in several positions before the first Civil War, including a chaplaincy to the royalist earl of Derby. He had a talent for survival: pleading for Derby’s life in 1651, Brideoake impressed William Lenthall and won appointment as the Speaker’s chaplain and client. The relationship with Lenthall survived until 1662, when Brideoake attended his deathbed.5 During the Interregnum Brideoake was able to forge a working relationship with Presbyterians and the protectorate and even became a trier for the ordination of Presbyterian ministers. His income increased through his marriage to the eldest daughter of Sir Richard Saltonstall, a man ‘of a very good personal estate’.6 By the time of his death his annual income was some £600, enhanced by the valuable commendams of Windsor and Standish. His persistent quest for greater social standing brought him censure for vanity when he decorated the stall of the Salisbury deanery (‘with wit as he thought’) with ‘two hands joining as the emblem of bride holding a bough of oak’.7

To his more critical detractors, Brideoake’s ability to ‘elbow’ his way into patronage at the Restoration allowed him a comfortable and undeserved return to the re-established Church.8 The prestige of his post-Restoration appointments, together with his preferment in 1667 as dean of Salisbury (where Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, was the influential high steward of the local corporation), suggests that Brideoake had powerful friends in the Clarendon circle. The Stanley interest at court was weak, so it seems likely that Brideoake had acquired other patrons.

According to White Kennet (the future bishop of Peterborough) while resident in Windsor Brideoake went out of his way to ingratiate himself with the king’s mistress, Louise de Kérouaille, duchess of Portsmouth.9 A contemporary hinted that it was a bribe to the duchess that secured him a bishopric when Peter Gunning, of Chichester was translated to Ely.10 Dean Prideaux regretted that ‘such a knave as Brideoake should be made a bishop’ but, as a vocal supporter of the king’s absolute supremacy in matters ecclesiastical and happy to turn a blind eye to the monarch’s infidelities, Brideoake was favoured at court.11

Brideoake’s brief but active parliamentary career began when he took his seat in the House on 20 Apr. 1675. During absences there is no evidence that he ever registered his proxy. He attended for some 60 per cent of the first session of 1675 and over 80 per cent of the second. On 20 Nov. he showed solidarity with the king and with Thomas Osborne, earl of Danby (later marquess of Carmarthen and duke of Leeds), by opposing the vote on the address to dissolve Parliament. Despite an almost unbroken record of attendance in the session that ran from spring 1677 to July 1678, there is no accessible record of Brideoake’s voting behaviour other than a dissent on 14 Feb. 1678, when he joined Henry Mordaunt, 2nd earl of Peterborough, William Howard, Viscount Stafford, John Frescheville, Baron Frescheville, and Peter Mews, of Bath and Wells, to protest against the dismissal of a petition by Dacre Barret.

With high levels of Dissent and ‘very troublesome concerns’ in his diocese, Brideoake fell victim to chapter factionalism, which was itself grafted onto disputes within the town, and found himself in a bitter dispute with George Stradling, dean of Chichester.12 The bishop’s overbearing personality led him to overreach his proper remit and in 1676 his unlawful excommunication of a churchwarden who had refused an oath tendered ‘in a cause neither matrimonial nor testamentary’ was overturned by the court of common pleas.13

At the age of 64, Brideoake died suddenly from ‘a raging fever’. He was buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor, where his widow erected an impressive alabaster monument.14 Brideoake left three sons, two of whom followed their father into the church.15 Although the specific nature of his services to the crown is unclear, he was clearly the king’s man through and through: in 1680 the king promoted Brideoake’s son Ralph on account of his father’s ‘zeal, loyalty and many faithful services’.16


  • 1 TNA, C 5/550/62.
  • 2 Monuments of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle ed. S.M. Bond, 24.
  • 3 TNA, PROB 6/53, f. 102.
  • 4 R. Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 292; CSP Dom. 1670 and Addenda 1660–70, p. 216.
  • 5 Salmon, Lives, 196–7.
  • 6 TNA, C 5/550/62.
  • 7 Lansd. 986, f. 141.
  • 8 Salmon, Lives, 194.
  • 9 Lansd. 986, f. 141.
  • 10 CSP Dom. 1675–6, pp. 16, 24, 65.
  • 11 Prideaux Letters, 33; Add. 27382, ff. 275–92.
  • 12 Suss. Arch. Coll. cxxiii. 198; HP Commons, 1660–90, i. 420; CSP Dom. 1678 and Addenda 1674–9, p. 446; Bodl. Tanner 148, ff. 47, 48; Tanner 149, ff. 28, 79, 81, 170.
  • 13 A True Translated Copy of a Writ of Prohibition, Granted … against the Bishop of Chichester [1676].
  • 14 Monuments of St George’s Chapel, 24–25.
  • 15 Al. Ox.
  • 16 CSP Dom. 1679–80, p. 380.