Bellot Papers relating to the Bradshaw Family

  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MSS 745-746
  • Dates of Creation
      1800 to Early 20th Century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 subfonds
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of three manuscripts relating to the regicide John Bradshaw as well as various other topics on local history in Cheshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The principal item (English MS 745) comprises a copy of a compilation of historical documents originally made by Rev. John Watson in the eighteenth century.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lord John Bradshaw (bap. 1602, d. 1659), lawyer, politician, and regicide, was born in the parish of Stockport. He entered Gray's Inn on 26 May 1620 and was called to the bar on 23 April 1627. He began his legal career in his native Cheshire, and met with considerable success. He served as mayor of Congleton and steward of Newcastle under Lyme. He first rose to prominence in the City of London in 1643 and was controversially appointed as a judge in the Wood Street sheriff's court. In 1647 the House of Lords sent down an ordinance making Bradshaw chief justice of Chester, Flint, Montgomery, and Denbigh, and in 1649 Bradshaw was appointed lord president of the court set up to try Charles I. Bradshaw was to become the only Englishman ever to hand down sentence of death upon his sovereign. On 14 February 1649 Bradshaw was among the forty-one peers, politicians, judges, and soldiers chosen by MPs to sit on the new council of state set up as the principal executive organ of the Commonwealth of England and Ireland, and on 10 March was appointed Lord President of the Council, making him in effect England's first elected executive head of state. Bradshaw held the chair of the Council until 26 November 1651 and retained the title of Lord Bradshaw for the remainder of his political career. He died at Westminster on 31 October 1659 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. In 1660 he was attainted for treason; in January 1661 his body was taken from Westminster and hanged at Tyburn, along with Cromwell, Ireton and Pride.

Source: Sean Kelsey, 'Bradshaw, John, Lord Bradshaw (bap. 1602, d. 1659)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

John Watson (1725-1783) was a Church of England clergyman and antiquary. He was born in Prestbury, Cheshire, and was educated at local grammar schools before matriculating at Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1742. He was ordained deacon in December 1746 and served the curacy of Runcorn for a few months before moving to Ardwick, Manchester. Ordained priest in 1749, he was curate of Halifax from 1750 until September 1754, when he was presented to the perpetual curacy of Ripponden, a chapelry of Halifax parish. Watson's antiquarian activities led to his election as FSA in 1759. He wrote a history of Halifax, published in 1775, which became a standard source. At Ripponden he embarked on research at the behest of Sir George Warren, in order to prove that Sir George was the legitimate heir to the earldom of Warenne and Surrey. It was through his whig connections and the patronage of Warren that Watson secured further advancement, first to the rectory of Miningsby, Lincolnshire, in 1766 and then to the valuable living of Stockport, Cheshire, in 1769. He died at Stockport on 14 March 1783.

Source: William Joseph Sheils, 'Watson, John (1725-1783)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Hugh Hale Leigh Bellot was born on 26 January 1890. He was educated at Bedales School and Lincoln College, Oxford. In 1921 he was appointed an assistant in the Department of History at University College London. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1926 but moved to the University of Manchester in 1927 to become Reader in Modern History. In 1930 Bellot returned to the University of London as Professor of American History, a post that he held until 1955. Bellot was honorary secretary of the Royal Historical Society between 1934 and 1952 and President from 1952 to 1956. He died in 1969.

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The collection was presented to the John Rylands Library by Professor Hugh Hale Bellot in May 1934.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Jo Klett, project archivists, with reference to:

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography articles on John Bradshaw and John Watson;
  • Senate House Library, University of London, catalogue of the Bellot Papers for biographical history of Hugh Bellot (ref.: GB 0096 MS 823): see
  • Falconer Madan, A summary catalogue of Western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895-1953).

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928-35 (English MSS 745-746).

Related Material

Professor Hugh Hale Bellot also bequeathed to the JRUL a collection of correspondence, personal papers and legal records relating to the Bellot, Hale, Killer and Thyer families (ref.: GB 133 BEL ).

The British Library, Manuscript Collections, holds correspondence and papers of Professor Bellot (ref.: GB 058 Add MSS 49970-1), as does Senate House Library, University of London (ref.: GB 096 MS 823). University College London, Manuscripts Room holds Bellot's correspondence and papers relating to the Department of American History at UCL (ref: GB 103 MS ADD 204). Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, holds correspondence with Graham Pollard, 1933-49 (ref: GB 161 MSS Pollard).

Stockport Archive Service holds deeds and papers of the Bradshaw family of Cheshire (Marple Hall, etc.) and Lancashire (Bradshaw Hall, etc.), 14th-19th centuries (ref.: GB 130 D 1277, B/ZZ). Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies holds miscellaneous deeds and papers of the Bradshaw family of Marple Hall, 17th-19th centuries (ref.: GB 017 DDX 69). Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, holds a letterbook of Henry Bradshaw, 1648-60 (ref.: GB 0161 MS Top. Cheshire e. 3).

The JRUL also holds some verses by John Watson within English MS 740 (ref: GB 133 Eng MS 740/17).