John Bradshaw (1602-59) was one of the judges to preside over the trial and subsequent death sentence of Charles I of England. In 1649 he was made president of the parliamentary commission to try the king. Other lawyers of greater prominence had refused the position. For a short time he was rewarded with honors and offices and acted (1649–53) as president of the council of state. He was forced to retire when Oliver Cromwell dissolved the council, and he became an opponent of the Protectorate.
(1602-59). Born at Wibersley Hall near Stockport, Cheshire, the younger son of a minor gentry family. Educated at Gray's Inn, Bradshaw became Mayor of Congleton in 1637. Around 1643, he moved to London where he was appointed judge of the Sheriff's Court. In 1645, he acted as counsel for John Lilburne in his appeal to the House of Lords against the sentence pronounced upon him by Star Chamber in 1637. Bradshaw was appointed Chief Justice of Cheshire and North Wales in 1647.
With some reluctance, Bradshaw accepted the office of Lord-President of the High Court of Justice in 1649 when other prominent lawyers and magistrates declined. He therefore presided over the King's trial and pronounced the sentence of death on him. After the King's execution, Bradshaw was richly rewarded with lands and property. He also presided over the trials of the Royalist leaders of the Second English Civil War.
Appointed first President of the Council of State in March 1649, Bradshaw was in close correspondence with Oliver Cromwell on his campaigns in Ireland and Scotland during 1649-50. However, Bradshaw and Cromwell were soon to disagree as Cromwell sought greater glory. Bradshaw quarrelled with Cromwell over the dismissal of the Rump Parliament in April 1653 and opposed all Cromwell's moves towards personal power. During the elections for the Second Protectorate Parliament in 1656, Major-General Bridge worked to prevent Bradshaw's candidacy for Cheshire, and Cromwell tried to deprive him of his office as Chief Justice for Cheshire and North Wales.
Bradshaw died in October 1659 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His body was exhumed after the Restoration and hung in chains at Tyburn.