Select Bradley Miscellany



Here are some Bradley stories and accounts over the years:

Bradley Place Names


The earliest mention of Bradley as a surname appears to have been in Durham, from the Bradley lands near Wolsingham on Lanchester Moor.  But the Bradley place name has also appeared in other counties:

Yorkshire.  Bradley is a village in North Yorkshire, between Skipton and Keighley.  It is divided into two parts, High Bradley and Low Bradley.  Bradley is also today a district of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire.
Lincolnshire.  Bradley is a village in northeast Lincolnshire.  There is a Bradley Woods as well.  They lie just outside of the western boundary of Grimsby.
Derbyshire.  Bradley is a parish in Derbyshire just to the east of Ashbourne.  Its name can be found in the Domesday Book.
Staffordshire.  Bradley is also a south Staffordshire village near Bilston.  This Bradley was home to John Wilkinson, first of the mighty ironmasters of the area.
Cheshire.  Bradley Green was the name of a deserted medieval village in Cheshire.

Bradley as a surname followed in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire.


The Yorkshire Giant

Standing almost eight feet tall and weighing 27 stone it goes without saying that William Bradley had some problems finding somewhere to live.  If he wasn't banging his head on the ceilings his huge bulk was forever getting stuck in the doorways.  In the end the giant Mr Bradley, the tallest man to have lived in Britain, had no choice but to have a house specially designed.

This house - Bradley House in Market Weighton - went on the market in 2006 for the first time in eighty years after its owners decided that it was time to "downsize."  The three-storey town house has extra high ceilings and big wide doors as well as a bedroom named the Long Room, where Mr Bradley, who was seven foot nine inches, slept.

Nicknamed "the Yorkshire Giant," he was born in February 1787 and weighed 14 pounds.  By his 19th birthday he tipped the scales at 27 stone and measured seven foot eight inches.  The following year he grew another inch.  His father John was just five foot nine inches while his mother Ann was of average height.  His twelve brothers and sisters were also not exceptionally tall, although one sister would have been almost as tall if she had not died at the age of sixteen.

The house was built over two hundred years ago to accommodate his huge bulk.  It had high wide doors and massive high ceilings to allow him to move around freely.  Other features - including the high ceilings, the Long Room, and the huge fire place with black and white marble surrounding - also remain.  An imprint of Mr Bradley's foot, which was fifteen inches long and five and three quarter inches wide, hangs outside on a plaque.  The giant used to hang his walking sticks from hooks on the ceiling. 

William Bradley made a small fortune as a fairground freak before deciding the cramped caravan that he travelled in was bad for his health.  He returned to live in his four-bedroomed property.  When he died in 1820 at the age of 33 he was buried inside a local church for fear that someone would steal his body.


The Brolchains of Ireland

The Brolchains claimed descent from Neill "of the Nine Hostages" to their forebear Brollachan of the 11th century.  They were described in Keating's History of Ireland as follows:

"The Brolchains, a name often changed to Bradley, were a numerous clan near Derry, but originally of the Kinel Feradaigh in the south of Tyrone and a branch of the Kinel Owen.  The sept was adventurous and not only did they establish a branch in Cork, but a number of them also moved to Scotland.  From them descend the O'Brologhans of the Western Highlands whose name was subsequently anglicized to Brodie.  A small group of the Derry sept also settled in county Cavan in Ireland where, strangely, they adopted the Norman name Brabazon."


Reader Feedback - Isaac Bradley of New Haven


My ancestor Isaac Bradley is mentioned as an early settler in New England in the colony of New Haven.  True enough.  

However, he is first recorded in the town of Brainford (now Branford in Connecticut) on the 20th of January 1667, he and others signing a church covenant.  He milled about in New Haven but finally settled in the East Haven part of the colony of New Haven.   All three towns are in a row and East Haven were once called the East Farms - of New Haven as well as being a physical part of New Haven, hence the reference to New Haven.  


It was in 1683 that he finally sold out his land in Branford and was allowed to settle in East Haven, the colony of New Haven.  

Leslie C. Bradley from Cebu, Philippines  (lcbradley_mactan@hotmail.com)


Two Heroines in Wartime and One in Peacetime

The wartime heroines were Sarah Bradlee in the Revolutionary War and Amy Morris Bradley in the Civil War and the peacetime heroine Lydia Moss Bradley.

Sarah Bradlee

On the eve of December 16, 1773 Sarah Bradlee was said to have helped her four brothers, Nathaniel, Josiah, David and Thomas, and their friend David Fulton, to disguise themselves as Indians and she saw them take part in throwing the tea overboard.

She was one of those who helped to dress the wounds of the soldiers who were in the Battle of Bunker Hill. She was a true patriot; General Washington honored her with a visit; and she married David Fulton.

Amy Morris Bradley

Amy came from a small farming community in Maine and served as a nurse at the Sanitary Commission convalescent camps during the Civil War. 

After the war she set out from Boston to seek to establish a free school for poor black and white children in Wilmington, North Carolina.  That free school started up in early 1867 and, despite initially much local opposition, the school became a success.  Not for nothing was she called Saint Bradley.

Her simple headstone in Wilmington Oakdale cemetery reads: "Our School Mother."

Lydia Moss Bradley

Lydia grew up on a farm in Indiana where she met and married Tobias Bradley.  They moved to Peoria, Illinois and Tobias prospered there as a businessman.  But disaster then struck.  All six of their children died of frontier diseases at young ages and in 1867 Tobias himself was killed in a freak horse-and-buggy accident. She was left a childless widow.

When Tobias was alive she often talked about leaving a permanent memorial for their children.  Thirty years later, having become wealthy through her various business activities, she was able to realize that dream. She founded the Bradley Polytechnic Institute in Peoria.  It runs now as Bradley University.  


The Bradleys in Arkansas

The Bradleys had set out in flatboats in 1818 from Tennessee along the Mississippi and its branches to Long Prairie in what was then Arkansas territory.  Onboard was nine year old Polly Bradley who would later marry Governor James Sevier Conway and become the first "first lady" of Arkansas.

Bradley county in south Arkansas was named in 1840 after the Captain Hugh Bradley who had led this expedition.  Popular belief is that Warren, the county seat of Bradley county, was named after Bradley's most trusted slave who was called Warren.  It was true that Pennington township, in which the city of Warren is located, was named after Bradley's son-in-law.

Bradley county has become known nationally as the prime producing area for tomatoes.  The Bradley Pink, labelled "Arkansas's gift to the nation," is said to set the standard for quality for the entire tomatio market in the United States.  A Bradley county Pink Tomato Festival draws thousands of visitors each year.


Colonel Edward Riley Bradley

He was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and was the son of Captain Hugh Bradley, an Irishman who had fought in the Civil War.   He was mysterious about his early years, but he was almost certainly not a colonel in the army.

Legend records him as a gold miner, cowboy, friend of Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid, and an Indian scout.  He got into bookmaking and then in 1898 bought his first racehorse.  That was where he discovered his true metier.  He was the pre-eminent owner and breeder of thoroughbred racehorses in the southern United States during the first three decades of the 20th century.

Time magazine put him on their cover in 1934 and said the following about him:


James obtained his release in 1822 and went on to found a school, the Springdale House Academy, in Parramatta.  He was also involved for a while in the Female Orphans Home there.

He was, it would appear, a bit of a ladies' man.  The record shows five marriages and liaisons:
  1. A first wife Margaret Morton, whom he married in Ireland around 1811 (she and daughter Jane came to Australia sometime after James obtained his release but Margaret died soon after).
  2. A liaison with Charlotte a fellow convict, which produced a son, William Bradley, in 1815.
  3. A liaison with Maria Roberts of the Female Orphans Home, which produced a son, Thomas Bradley, in 1822.  Maria later married someone else.
  4. A second wife Dorothea Fenn nee Roberts, whom he married in 1832.  This marriage produced one daughter Catherine.  Dorothea died in 1848.
  5. A third wife Elizabeth Howell, a widow and fellow teacher, whom he married in 1849.
James Bradley died in 1857 at his home in Lane Cove at the age of seventy five.


Reader Feedback - John and Jane Bradley in the Ottawa Valley

John and Jane Bradley in Marlborough township might very well be my twice times great grandparents - John Bradley (1805-1891) and Jane Taylor (1813-1893) who settled in Marlborough sometime in the late 1820ís.  We're trying to determine where in Ireland they came from.  We think they might have come to Canada from county Cork. 

Harold Bradley (Hwabz@aol.com)





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