Egerton, John, third Earl of Bridgewater 1646-1701, was the eldest surviving son of the second earl [qv.], by his wife, the Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, daughter of the first Duke of Newcastle. Born 9 Nov. 1646, he was made one of the knights of the Bath at the coronation of Charles II; and in the parliament called by James II he was returned as one of the knights for Buckinghamshire, sitting by his courtesy title of Viscount Brackley. In 1686 he succeeded his father in the peerage, and in the following year King James removed him from the lord-lieutenancy of Buckinghamshire, as he was then counted among the disaffected peers. At the Revolution of 1688 Bridgewater concurred in the vote of the House of Lords for settling the crown on the Prince and Princess of Orange. Upon his accession William III reconstituted the earl lord-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire. He was also sworn a member of the privy council, and appointed first commissioner of trade and the plantations. In March 1694-5 Bridgewater bore one of the banners of England and France at the funeral of Queen Mary. On 31 May 1699 he was nominated first commissioner for executing the office of lord high admiral of England; and on 1 June following he was appointed one of the lords justices of the kingdom during the king's absence beyond the seas, being subsequently confirmed in the office. Bridgewater was a man of excellent character, and well proved in the public business. He presided in the House of Lords, during the absence of Lord-chancellor Somers, on the occasion of the important debates on the Resumption Bill. On several occasions he prorogued parliament at the command of the king. He stood high in his sovereign's confidence, and died during his tenure of office as first lord of the admiralty, 19 March 1700-1. He was much lamented as a just and good man, a faithful friend, and a wise counsellor. He married first, Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl of Middlesex (who died in 1670); and secondly, Jane, eldest daughter of the Duke of Bolton. He was succeeded in the earldom by his third son, Scroop Egerton, who, after holding important posts in the state, was created Duke of Bridgewater, 18 June 1720. It was this duke who first conceived the idea of the great Bridgewater canal, and he obtained the first of the acts for putting the project in force.

     Collins's Peerage of England, ed. Brydges, vol. iii., 1812
     Macaulay's Hist. of England, vol. v.

Contributor: G. B. S. [George Barnett Smith]

Published: 1888