Provided By: John Bradbury
Kingswinford, Nr. Stourbridge, England
May 2000

Last Updated: 07/10/2005 10:24AM CDT
  1. Bradbury Name Spellings

  2. Bradbury Name Origin

  3. Bradbury Places

  4. Notable Bradburys

  5. Bradbury Heraldry

  6. Distribution of Bradburys

  7. Family Research

  8. Family Pedigree

The Bradburys

Perhaps the first thing that should be said about the name Bradbury is that there are quite a few of us! Although our name is not in the first division league like Smith or Jones, there are never-the-less quite a few Bradburys on the registers. I have made an attempt at quantifying the number of Bradburys, which is to be seen in Distribution of the Bradburys

Since the early 19th century the name Bradbury has remained unchanged but in earlier times there were numerous variations in the way the name was spelt. The reason for this is that prior to the latter half of the 18th century the vast majority of people were illiterate, even to the extent of being unable to write their own names. It was the duty of the priest or the parish clerk to enter the names of people in the parish register and this was done according to how the name sounded or how they thought it should be spelt. The local dialect could therefore influence the spelling of a name. Even in the 19th and 20th century names have changed but today this is a rare event compared to the past. The earliest entries in parish registers were often in Latin. Variations I have personally come across and have on my databank include Bradburrie, Bradburie, Bradberry, Bradbery, Bradbry, Broadbury and dozens of others. All of course are of the Bradbury Family the most common spelling.

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Meaning and Origin of the Name Bradbury

The origin of surnames is very complex however it is true to say it all started as a result of parents either naming a child after a geographical feature, a man-made feature, a human feature (including nick-names); or, the occupation of the father. Our name lies in the first category. In the Penguin Dictionary of Surnames Bradbury is described as Old English and a local name. The exact Old English is brad meaning broad and burh meaning fort. Its general meaning is a fort made of boards/planks (not very exciting stuff!!). It is also a place name (a village) in the County of Durham and also in the County of Cheshire ( Bredbury - now a suburb of Manchester). The origin of our name therefore probably lies in one of these two counties. My own research and that of a colleague favours the latter location.

The first recordings of the name are in legal documents. A William de Bradbury is mentioned on the assize rolls of Cheshire in 1288. As part of a "fine" (meaning simply a financial consideration) which was levied in 1322 there is mention of a Robert Bradbury.

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Other Places named Bradbury

Bradbury - Town in England, North of Darlington, at exit 60 on the A1

Bradbury Mountain - Maine, USA

Bradbury - Town in Maine, USA, less than 1 Km from the Canadian Border

Bradbury - Town in Illinois, USA about 12 miles south of Charleston

Bradbury - town in California, USA, east of Pasadena near the towns of Duarte, and Monrovia

Chateau Bradbury Estate Owned by Scot Anderson since 1989 is one one of Southern California's premier locations for wedding ceremonies and receptions, corporate events, and motion and still picture / television production. Surrounded by two acres of lush gardens, this private residence offers an historic and exclusive location for special events. Located a mile or so south of the town of Bradbury, CA

Bradbury Building Los Angeles, California. This commercial office building has ornate Victorian cast iron interior, built 1889 to 1893. Take a look.

Bradbury Building Used in Movie "Blade Runner"

Bradbury Building Interior"

Bradbury Building Exterior"

Bradbury - a suburb of Sydney, NSW, Australia

Bradbury - a hamlet in the Mt Lofty area, near Adelaide, Australia

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Notable Bradburys

Well known present day Bradburys include:

Prof. Malcolm Bradbury - a very successful and well known English writer - Univ. of East Anglia

Ray Bradbury - a prolific American Science Fiction writer.

From the past -

Joseph Bradbury (pen name Stephon) - wrote books about Derbyshire. Joseph was a railway clerk by day.

Sir John Swanick Bradbury - 1st Baron 1872 - 1950 - British Government Official born at Winsford in Cheshire. As Secretary to the Treasury (1913 - 1919) and Chief Cashier of the Bank of England he was responsible for the substitution of £1 banknotes and 10 shilling notes for gold coins. Treasury notes bearing his name were nicknamed Bradburys. Bradbury bank notes are displayed in the Bank of England Museum, Threadneedle St London. (entrance to the public is free).

James Ware Bradbury - born Parsonsfield, Maine in 1802, died 1901. A lawyer and leader among Maine Democrats. US Senator 1846 - 1852.

John Bradbury - Explorer and botanist. Born 1768 in Stalybridge (near Manchester), England. John Bradbury sailed to the US in 1809. After spending a few weeks with Thomas Jefferson and his family at Monticello he travelled to St. Louis and from there took a trip on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. He returned to England and in 1817 published an account of his experiences in Travels in the Interior of American in the Years 1809, 1810 and 1811. He left again for America where he settled for the rest of his life. He died in Kentucky and is buried in Simpsonville.

Theophilus Bradbury - born Newbury Massachusetts in 1739 died Newburyport Mass. 1809. He was a lawyer and Justice to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, 1793 - 1803.

Thomas Bradbury (Capt.) The first Bradbury to set foot on (now) American soil. Born (christened) 16th Feb. 1611 in Wicken Bonhunt, Essex, England died 16th Mar. 1695 at Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts. Thomas sailed to American in 1634, married Mary Perkins about 1636 and had eleven children (six boys and five girls).

Mary Bradbury (nee Perkins) achieved considerable notoriety as she was tried for Witchcraft (one of the infamous Salem Witches) on 26th July 1692. Several indictments were laid against her, principally with regard to the death of a John Carr whom she was accused of bewitching so that he became crazed and died. She was also accused by Samuel Endicott who said she providing him with spoiled butter. She was also said to have appeared to the Carrs and to Zerababel Endicott in front of her house as a "Blue boar". Although her husband testified on her behalf as well as over a hundred character witnesses, she was still convicted and jailed. She was imprisoned and is believed to have escaped. All those in prison for witchcraft were released the following year (1693) and there was great atonement for the damage done to the families as a result of the false accusations. Mary Bradbury died on the 20th Dec. 1700 aged 85 years in her own bed.

The ancestors of Thomas have been traced back in England to his 5xgreat-grandfather Robert Bradbury of Ollerset Hall, Derby. Robert was born circa 1390 and married the daughter of Robert Davenport who lived in Bramhall, Cheshire.

The "Bradbury Memorial" is a record of the descendants of Thomas Bradbury in Agamenticus (York) in 1634 and of Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1638. It contains a brief sketch of his ancestors in England. It was compiled by John Merrill Bradbury of Ipswich, Mass. in 1890 and it can be purchased through the Higgenson Book Company. I believe an attempt is being made to up-date this document but as yet (January 2000) there has been no revised publication.

William Batchelder Bradbury - Famous American Hymn composer.  He wrote the well known hymn ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and many others.  There is an excellent link with

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Heraldry: A Lighthearted Look

A coat of arms was granted in 1874 to Augustus Beaty Bradbury of Edinburgh. It is described as Argent, on a mount in base vert, a Bengal tiger passant proper, on a chief of the second two other tigers dormant also proper As you see Heraldry has its own language!
(This section will be expanded with coats-of-arms and other information provided by Rudy Bradbury)

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Present Distribution of Bradburys

Because of the 100 year Confidentiality Law in the U.K. there are no official published data on surnames; however, using the British Telecom directories and employing a factor to take account of the average size of UK households and the number of households without telephones, it is possible to determine with a reasonable degree of accuracy both the total number of Bradburys and their distribution throughout the United Kingdom. I estimated from research in 1996 there were 12,245 Bradburys in the that time. The most popular region for residency is the Midlands followed by the North West and the North East. There are relatively few Bradburys in London and the south generally. I am happy to provide a regional breakdown on request.

The 1881 Census for England, Scotland and Wales shows a total Bradbury population of 9,196 souls. The increase over the 115 year period, therefore, has been 28%.

Outside the U.K. there are Bradburys in most English speaking countries but especially in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I estimate the total world population of Bradburys today to be somewhat over 25,000.

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Family History Research

For those who are researching their British ancestors I hope the following information will be of some use.

Parish Registers date back to 1538 in England and Wales, to 1558 in Scotland and to 1634 in Ireland. The order for the keeping of registers was made by Thomas Cromwell, Vicar General on behalf of Henry VIII. Most parish registers are incomplete and do not go back as far as the 16th century and even the best-preserved registers contain gaps in the mid-17th century during the political turmoil of the Civil War; the so called Commonwealth Period.

Prior to the keeping of parish registers (apart from the nobility) the lives of the vast majority of the population went completely unrecorded. Although this is difficult to appreciate in the Year 2000 it is nevertheless true.

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Researching your own Family Pedigree

If you decide to research your own family history I wish you luck. Research will sometimes lead to success and sometimes frustration. It is certainly a "labour of love" but if done properly can lead to both interesting and fascinating results. I discovered, for example, my own great grandmother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Tudor; however she was not the Elizabeth Tudor and I don’t have blue blood in my veins! At least I don’t think so although I am still tracing my Tudor ancestry.

Viva la Bradburys!
John Bradbury
Kingswinford, England
1st May, 2000
Kingswinford, Nr. Stourbridge, England

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Last Updated: 7/10/2004 12:56PM CDT