The 17th century was a time when one surname dominated the town -BRIDGES. During the Commonwealth, the Alcester Marriage Register has most weddings signed by 'Matthew Bridges':- this has led some, including the compiler of a list of clergy in the parish church, to consider him to have been the rector. In fact, he was a Justice of the Peace and Parliament had ruled that magistrate should sign marriage entries. Matthew was also the steward of Lord Brooke of Warwick Castle, who was lord of Alcester manor: he would have chaired the local manor court. Matthew was also a captain in the Parliamentary army. In fact, for many years he was Alcester. But there were many Bridges and compiling a family tree is no mean feat. A John Bridges was governor of Warwick Castle during the Great Rebellion and no doubt the citizens of Alcester were kept up to date with news of the campaigns of the two armies.
The Lords Brooke of Warwick Castle, who were originally the Grevilles of Alcester, were obviously the patrons of the Bridges,who gave the name 'Brooke' to their children. Although domiciled further south, they remembered Alcester when they gave the town an alms house. By the mid 18th century the family had ceased to influence Alcester but for the whole of the previous century, they had been all honoured institution.
Winter 1995 Index