Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bridgewater, John

BRIDGEWATER, JOHN (1532?–1596?), a catholic divine, the latinised form of whose name is Aquepontanus, was a native of Yorkshire, though 'descended from those of his name in Somersetshire.' He received his education at Hart Hall, Oxford, whence he migrated to Brasenose College soon after he had taken his degrees in arts, that of master being completed in 1556. On 5 Feb. 1559-60 he was collated to the archdeaconry of Rochester, and on 1 May 1562 he was admitted to the rectory of Wotton-Courtney, in the diocese of Wells. As a member of convocation he subscribed the articles of 1562, and in the same year he voted against the six articles altering certain rites and ceremonies prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer. On 14 April 1563 he was elected rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, on the resignation of Dr. Francis Babington. In the following month he was admitted rector of Luccombe, Somersetshire, and soon afterwards he was appointed canon residentiary of Wells. He was also domestic chaplain in London to Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. On 16 April 1565 he was admitted rector of Porlock, Somersetshire; on 28 Nov. 1570 he became master of the hospital of St. Katharine, near Bedminster; and on 29 March 1572 he was admitted to the prebend of Bishop's Compton in the church of Wells.

In 1574 he resigned the rectorship of Lincoln College, probably to avoid expulsion, as he was a catholic at heart and had given great encouragement to the students under his government to embrace the old form of religion. Leaving Oxford the same year, he crossed over to the English college of Douay. Wood asserts that he took with him some of the goods belonging to the college, and also 'certain young scholars.'

Bridgewater probably passed the remainder of his life on the continent, at Rheims, Paris, and other cities of Flanders, France, and Germany. In 1594 he was residing at Trèves. Wood mentions a rumour that he joined the Society of Jesus, and he is claimed as a member of it by Father Nathaniel Southwell and Brother Foley. There is no proof, however, that he was a jesuit. Indeed the evidence seems clearly to point the other way, for it is certain that he was one of the exiles in Flanders who in 1596 refused to sign the address in favour of the English fathers of the Society of Jesus (Records of the English Catholics, i. 408).

He is the author of:

  1. 'Confutatio virulentæ Disputationis Theologicæ, in qua Georgius Sohn, Professor Academiæ Heidelbergensis, conatus est docere Pontificem Romanum esse Antichristum à Prophet is et Apostolis prædictum,' Trèves, 1589, 4to. Sohn published a reply at Würzburg in 1590, entitled 'Anti-Christus Romanus contra Joh. Aquepontani cavillationes et sophismata.'
  2. 'Concertatio Ecclesiæ Catholicæ in Anglia adversus Calvinopapistas et Puritanos sub Elizabetha Regina quorundam hominum doctrina et sanctitate illustrium renovata et recognita. Quæ nunc de novo centum et eo amplius Martyrum, sexcentorumque insignium virorum rebus gestis variisque certaminibus, lapsorum Palinodiis, novis persecutorum edictis, ac doctissimis Catholicorum de Anglicano seu muliebri Pontificatu, ac Romani Pontificis in Principes Christianos auctoritate, disputationibus et defensionibus aucta,' three parts, Trèves, 1589-94, 4to. The original work was printed at Trèves in 1583, 8vo, its principal compiler being John Gibbons, rector of the Jesuit college in that city, though some of the lives of the martyrs were written by John Fenn, a secular priest. Bridgewater greatly enlarged the work, which is of great biographical and historical value. An account of its multifarious contents will be found in the Chetham Society's 'Remains,' xlviii. 47-50.

[Douay Diaries, 99, 119, 128 bis, 129, 130, 146, 169, 408; Letters and Memorials of Card. Allen, 77; Strype's Annals (folio), i. 327, 330, 338, iii. App. 259; Dodd's Church Hist. i. 510, ii. 60; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 625; Wood's Colleges and Halls (Gutch), 241; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. 124; Foley's Records S. J., iv. 481, 482, 485, vii. 299; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, 868; Southwell's Bibl. Script. Soc. Jesu (1676), 402; Backer's Bibl. des Ecrivains de la Compagnie de Jésus (1869), 253; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), i. 229, ii. 581, iii. 577.]

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