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Brydges
Brydges
165

dence was brought forward from time to time, and the matter was not finally settled till June 1803, when a majority of the lords resolved that the claim to the title and dignity of Baron Chandos had not been made out. Brydges, who was the moving spirit on the claimant's side, was greatly mortified, and never ceased to maintain in his writings that the claim was just. He inserted a special account of the Chandos case in his edition of Collins's ‘Peerage,’ and in 1831 wrote his ‘Lex Terræ, a Discussion of the Law of England regarding Claims of inheritable Rights of Peerage,’ to prove that by the common law he was not bound to abide by the peers' decision, which did not take from him the right to resort to a legal trial by jury. The Brydges, however, never actually appealed to the law courts, though Egerton, after the death of his brother, was accustomed to style himself ‘Per legem terræ, Baron Chandos of Sudeley.’ The Chandos case was in 1834 made the subject of a thorough investigation by Mr. G. F. Beltz, Lancaster herald, who in his book relating to it conclusively proves that the claim was not well founded. John Brydges, first baron Chandos [q.v.] (created by patent in 1554), had three sons, Edmund, Charles, and Anthony. After his death the barony descended to his eldest son, Edmund, and then to the heirs male of Edmund. On the failure of that line, the barony passed to the heirs male of Charles, second son of the first Lord Chandos, and this line became extinct in 1789. Edward Tymewell Brydges, who then came forward, claimed the barony as the descendant of Anthony, the third son of the first baron Chandos. He traced back his descent through the Bridges of Wootton to a certain Edward Bridges of Maidstone (baptised 25 March 1603), who was, according to the claimant's contention, the grandson of Anthony Brydges, the third son of the original Baron Chandos. The connection of Edward Bridges of Maidstone with Anthony Brydges was, however, strenuously denied by the claimant's opponents, and was certainly not satisfactorily proved by him. The counsel for the crown showed, moreover, that there were good grounds for believing that the claimant was really descended from an obscure family of yeomen of the name of Bridges who had lived at Harbledown, near Canterbury, and who were quite unconnected with the Chandos family. It was further suggested by the crown—and, according to Mr. Beltz, not without good reason—that there had been foul play with parish registers and other documents in order to support the claim. No distinct attempt, however, seems to have been made to bring home the charge of falsification to any particular person. In 1808, five years after the decision of the Chandos case, Egerton Brydges accepted with considerable gratification the knighthood of the Swedish order of St. Joachim. He henceforward wrote after his name the letters K.J., styling himself ‘Sir,’ though of course without heraldic propriety. He was not created an English baronet till 1814.

In October 1810 Brydges removed from Denton to Lee Priory at Ickham, near Canterbury, the residence of his eldest son. In 1812 he was elected M.P. for Maidstone, and sat in parliament till 1818. He seldom spoke in the house, though he took an active part in connection with the poor laws and the Copyright Bill. During this period he managed to find time for a good deal of literary work. In 1813 a private printing press had been established at Lee Priory by a compositor and a pressman (Johnson and Warwick). Brydges engaged to provide ‘copy’ gratuitously, and the printers undertook to pay all expenses, making what profits they could. The editions of the various works issued from the press were purposely limited to a small number of copies, and were sold by the printers to book-collectors at high prices. In spite of these arrangements, considerable expenses were incurred by Brydges and his son, though the press was not finally given up till about December 1822. A list of the books printed at Lee Priory Press will be found in Lowndes's ‘Bibliographer's Manual’ (vi. 218–25). By the works—chiefly reprints—produced at the press under his editorship, Brydges justly claims to have rendered a service to the students of old English literature, particularly literature of the Elizabethan period. Among his productions were many rare and interesting tracts, especially poetical, which had hitherto been unknown, or only accessible to rich collectors, ‘such as poems of Nicholas Breton and William Browne, Raleigh and Margaret, duchess of Newcastle, Davison's “Rhapsody,” Robert Greene's “Groatsworth of Wit,” Lord Brook's “Life of Sir Philip Sydney,” and the Duchess of Newcastle's “Autobiography.”’ Brydges's chief bibliographical works at this period of his life were the four volumes of the ‘British Bibliographer’ (1810–14), in which he was assisted by Mr. J. Haslewood, and the ‘Restituta, or Titles, Extracts, and Characters of Old Books in English Literature revived’ (4 vols. 1814–16). He also compiled ‘Excerpta Tudoriana, or Extracts from Elizabethan Literature with a critical Preface’ (2 vols. 1814–18), and wrote a series of original essays called ‘The Sylvan