Bridgwater, John (Savan) of (John de Ponte) (c.1248–1306/7), administrator, lawyer, and justice, was born no later than 1248 and perhaps several years before that (he was acting as an attorney by 1269 and therefore probably 21 or older in that year); his birthplace was probably the town of Bridgwater in Somerset, from which his name was derived and where he himself later held property. His father's name is unknown, but John seems to have been related both to Henry of Bridgwater, to whom he granted land in Bridgwater for life in 1285, and to Roger of Bridgwater (alias Roger Savan), a clerk of Thomas Weyland, the chief justice of the Westminster bench, who was disgraced and exiled from England in 1289–90. Roger came to Ireland in 1290 in the service of William de Vescy (qv). Henry and Roger were probably John's brothers.
By 1269 John had apparently entered the service of the future Edward I, and by 1280 he was in the service of his wife, Queen Eleanor, as a local administrator of her lands in Somerset and then in Kent. By 1290 he had become constable of her castle of Leeds in Kent. In 1289 he is also described as the queen's under-steward, the second in command in the administration of her resources. It was probably Eleanor's death in late November 1290 that led him to follow his brother Roger to Ireland some time between February and June 1291. On 22 July 1292 he became one of the king's serjeants in Ireland and can be traced acting on the king's behalf, mainly in the justiciar's court but also occasionally in the Dublin bench, down to 1300. John does not seem to have acted as a serjeant on behalf of any other private clients during this period, unlike most other king's serjeants, but from 1294 onwards he acted regularly as an assize and gaol-delivery justice in many of the counties of Ireland. He is also found acting as a justice of the Dublin bench for several terms in 1295–6 (perhaps as a temporary replacement for Thomas of Chedworth) and in Michaelmas term 1299 (again probably only on a temporary basis).
His first permanent appointment as a royal justice did not come till 1301, when he was appointed as a justice (second in precedence after the senior justice) of the eyres of Co. Louth and Co. Cork, and then of the eyre of Co. Meath, which continued to Easter term 1303. The ending of this eyre overlapped with his first term as a permanently appointed junior justice of the Dublin bench (also in Easter term 1303), where he served continuously to Hilary term 1306. This appointment, in turn, overlapped with his period as a junior justice of the Tipperary eyre, which began on the morrow of Hilary 1306 and continued to Michaelmas term 1306. He is also recorded as serving one last time in the Dublin bench in Michaelmas term 1306.
John was granted the custody of two-thirds of the lands of Jordan Dardyz, a tenant-in-chief of the crown, at ‘Grelly’, Co. Dublin, in 1293, and was still holding them in 1303. This may have provided him with a residence in Ireland as well as a source of income. John was probably a cleric in minor orders (though by 1299 he was thought to be a layman) and seems not to have married. From a complaint made against him in 1291, we learn of an incident in mid-December 1288 when he was staying in the house of the cellerar of Norwich cathedral priory and brought a prostitute to spend the night with him. When the cellarer attempted to remonstrate with John, John's servants attacked the cellarer and then had him imprisoned by the local sheriff. John of Bridgwater may also be the John de Ponte, clerk, to whom Avelina atte Cruche, the tenant of an Essex manor, claimed to be bound by pre-contract of marriage when securing an annulment of her marriage to Alan Waldeschef some time before 1297.
Although it was not until June 1308 that a replacement (William of Bardfield (qv)) was appointed for him in the Dublin bench, it seems likely that John had died late in 1306 or some time in 1307 after his final appearance in the Dublin bench in Michaelmas term 1306.