Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Braddon, Laurence

BRADDON, LAURENCE (d. 1724), politician, the second son of William Braddon of Treworgy, in St. Genny's, Cornwall, was called to the bar at the Middle Temple, and for some time worked hard at his profession. When the Earl of Essex died in the Tower in 1683, Braddon adopted the belief that he had been murdered, and worked actively to collect sufficient evidence to prove the murder. He set on foot inquiries on the subject in London, and when a rumour reached him that the news of the earl's death was known at Marlborough on the very day of, if not before, the occurrence, he posted off thither. When his action became known at court, he was arrested and put under restraint. For a time he was let out on bail, but on 7 Feb. 1683-4 he was tried with Mr. Hugh Speke at the king's bench on the accusation of conspiring to spread the belief that the Earl of Essex was murdered by some persons about him, and of endeavouring to suborn witnesses to testify the same. Braddon was found guilty on all the counts, but Speke was acquitted of the latter charge. The one was fined 1,000l. and the other 2,000l., with sureties for good behaviour during their lives. Braddon remained in prison until the landing of William III, when he was liberated. In February 1695 he was appointed solicitor to the wine licence office, a place valued at 100l. per annum. His death occurred on Sunday, 29 Nov. 1724.

Most of Braddon's works relate to the death of the Earl of Essex. The 'Enquiry into and Detection of the Barbarous Murther of the late Earl of Essex' (1689) was probably from his pen, and he was undoubtedly the author of 'Essex's Innocency and Honour vindicated' (1690), 'Murther will out' (1692), 'True and Impartial Narrative of the Murder of Arthur, Earl of Essex' (1729), as well as 'Bishop Burnet's late History charg'd with great Partiality and Misrepresentation' (1725) in the bishop's account of this mysterious affair. Braddon also published 'The Constitutions of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen,' and an 'Abstract of the Rules, Orders, and Constitutions' of the same company, both of them issued in 1708. 'The Miseries of the Poor are a National Sin, Shame, and Danger' was the title of a work (1717) in which he argued for the establishment of guardians of the poor and inspectors for the encouragement of arts and manufactures. Five years later he brought out 'Particular Answers to the most material Objections made to the Proposals for relieving the Poor.' The report of his trial was printed in 1684, and reprinted in 'Cobbett's State Trials,' ix. 1127-1228, and his impeachment of Bishop Burnet's 'History' is reprinted in the same volume of Cobbett, pp. 1229-1332.

[Hist. Register (1724), 51; Kippis's Biog. Brit. iii. 229-30; North's Examen, 386-8; Wilts Archæological Mag. iii. 367-76; Notes and Queries (1863), 3rd ser. iv. 500; Ralph's Hist. of England, i. 761-5; Luttrell's State Affairs, i. 286, 299-306, iii. 441; Bibl. Cornub. i. 40, iii. 1091; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Report, 406-7.]

W. P. C.