Bridget Hodgson's Friends

Thanks to her marriage into the Hodgson clan, Bridget formed close and lasting friendships with York’s most powerful men and women, and these relationships flourished for decades after Phineas’s death. When Bridget planned her funeral, she made the following remarkable request:

And I do direct that Sir John Hewley, Sir Henry Thompson, Sir Stephen Thompson, George Pricket Esq., Edward Thompson, Alderman, Robert Waller, Alderman, William Breary Doctor of Laws, and Thomas Fairfax Esq. be invited to carry me to my grave.

As their titles and honorifics indicate, these men came from York’s economic and political elite. Henry Thompson was a wealthy wine merchant, and served as Lord Mayor in 1663 and 1672, after which he was elected to Parliament. The will of his brother Stephen included £1000 for each of his children, and Edward Thompson left £2000 to his son Luke. Even in light of these bequests Robert Waller (who also witnessed Bridget's will, along with his wife Jane) may have been the wealthiest of the group, for his home in St. Martin Coneystreet included sixteen hearths, in a city where the city average dwelling had just three.

While Bridget’s connections to York’s leading families are clear, it is difficult to know whether she was also midwife to this group. While her will does not mention any of their children, it may simply mean that (for whatever reason) she was not their godmother, or that she chose to direct her charity to her less affluent godchildren; Luke Thompson had no need of a ₤1 bequest. Despite the lack of direct evidence, it seems likely that she delivered at least some of these men’s children, for while there were other midwives in York, few had Bridget’s social standing. Moreover, court documents from a defamation case show that Bridget attended other wealthy women; it is to Bridget’s clients that we will now turn.