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The Bradleys of Shropshire

Shropshire From a map by Wenzel Hollar (1607–1677)

Bradley is far from an unusual surname and tracing them has been difficult, especially when births and marriages cannot be found!!

This research follows the line back through certificates, census returns and parish registers. Neville Lewcock, grandson of William Eli Bradley, undertook the research the hard way, through visiting Record Offices, and I, William’s great granddaughter, have done the research independently using online resources and purchasing copies of parish registers on CD as well as other certificates.

The living descendants of William Eli Bradley have recently been traced by a firm of solicitors following the death of the last of his children, Violet, and at least this section of the tree can be called reasonably accurate!!

Our line of Bradleys came from Kinlet in Shropshire. Kinlet is in the middle of the Wyre Forest, about 8 miles NW of Kidderminster. There is still a Bradley Farm in Kinlet (DY12 3BU) today:  Location of Bradley’s Farm. There is a Bradley meadow marked on the 1841 map on Secret Shropshire. 

You can see pictures of Bradley Farm, Kinlet, Shropshire on GeoGraph © Richard Greenwood.

The Bradleys first appear in the parish registers of St John the Baptist, Kinlet when William married Margaret Jones on 15th April 1745.

They had 10 children baptised there between 1745 and 1762. Their first three children were sons all of whom died soon after birth and were buried in Kinlet. They had six daughters, two of whom were married in Kinlet. Only one son, William, baptised on 15th June 1760, survived to adulthood. William senior was buried on the 26th January 1780 and Margaret on the 21st April 1793.

St John the Baptist, Kinlet © Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

There was at least one other Bradley family in the village at this time, possibly connected. A John Bradley married Sarah Higgs on 28th July 1748. They had two daughters baptised in Kinlet: Joyce on the 24th March 1750 and Ann on the 24th April 1757. John was buried on the 4th May, 1771.

William junior married? Mary. (I haven’t tracked down their marriage yet). They had 8 children baptised in Kinlet, 7 sons and a daughter, between 1790 and 1814. The only ones which I have found traces of later on are possibly the eldest son, William born 1790, Joseph born in 1804 and Charles, born in 1809. William died in Bewdley and was buried in Kinlet on the 19th September 1826.

The vicar from 1801 to 1816 was the Reverend John Brickdale Blakeway, who also held a living Shrewsbury and another in Somerset at the same time. He lived in Kinlet for six months of the year and Shrewsbury for the remainder of the year. Illustrations of the literary history of the eighteenth century: Volume 6.

From his arrival in 1801, the registers record the residence at baptism. From them we can see that the family moved around in the area: Joseph 1804 from Sturt Common, which is about a mile south of Bradley’s Farm. Samuel 1806 from Hawkyard, which is to the west of Sturt Common and James 1814 from Log Mill, which is north of Kinlet, next to the Borle Brook.

The Shropshire Archives mentions a Lease and Release of a cottage and garden on Hawkyard Common, Kinlet (William Bradley) in a Deed of Exchange from the 12th and 13th December 1803. Document Reference:  1045/199-200.

By 1841, there is a family named Linton living at a house called Bradley (farmer) – presumably the farm. The only Bradley in the Kinlet registration areas is a William Bradley aged 23 (born c1818), a servant, living in the village. He does not appear to be connected with our line.

At this time, Joseph, his wife Mary (I haven’t tracked down their marriage yet) and their daughter Susannah were living in Trimpley, a hamlet about 6 kms east of Kinlet (as the cow flies), on the other side of the River Severn in Kidderminster Foreign. They were still living in Trimpley in 1851 together with their son Joseph aged 9.

According to all the census returns, Mary was born in Hopton Wafers – there are three possibilities in that register for a baptism of a Mary of the correct age in 1804 and many others close to her in age. Susannah was also baptised there on 10 May 1829. There is a large age gap between their two children. Finding their marriage record may lead to the baptisms and/or burials of other children.

In 1851, Susannah was working as a house servant in Kidderminster. The following year, she married Edward Williams, a miller, in Kidderminster and they had 6 children. In 1861, they were living in Wordsley, and in 1871 and 1881, they were in Stoke on Trent. Susannah died in 1881, just before the census that year.

By 1861, Joseph, Mary and Joseph were living in Kidderminster at The Hollies. Joseph was listed as a farming waggoner.

Kidderminster Lock © Copyright Martyn B  and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Joseph junior married Sarah Gamson, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Gamson, in 1863. Joseph and Sarah moved around a lot!! 

Sarah was born and raised in Kidderminster, Joseph also always states his birthplace as Kidderminster, although as yet we have not found any certificated proof of this. They were married by banns at St James in Ogley Hay in Staffordshire on the 28th December 1863, when the witnesses were William Gamson and Phoebe Middleton, Sarah’s brother and sister. Joseph gave his occupation then as a miller, though throughout the later censuses, his occupation was a drayman/carman. Ogley Hay Steam Flour Mill was in operation then. The Mill provided flour to customers in the area and delivered the bags of flour to areas as far as Four Oaks, so rather then actually being a miller, he probably just worked for them as a deliveryman.

Their oldest son, Joseph, was born in Lichfield in 1864, the next son, Thomas, in Rowley Regis in 1866. William Eli Bradley was born in Kidderminster on the 14th January 1869 at 11 New Place, Kidderminster  and Samuel was also born in Kidderminster in 1871 and by 1875, the family were in Dudley (check certificate) where Sarah died on the 27th March of pneumonia and exhaustion aged 37. They may also have had a sister, Emma, who died in the Spring of 1876.

In 1871, Joseph, Sarah and the three oldest sons were living at 69 Bromsgrove Street, in the centre of Kidderminster. Joseph’s parents, Joseph and Mary, were living in the Rackfields Almshouses in Kidderminster at this time. Sarah’s father, Thomas, was living at 14 Mount Pleasant, also in Kidderminster. Mary died on 5th January 1875 of apoplexy and Joseph stayed on at Rackfields where he died on the 9th July 1883 aged 80 of …disease? and dropsy (certified). Joseph junior was the informant, and he gave his address as The Green, Wordsley.

Four months after Sarah’s death, Joseph had married Esther Dingley née Billingham on the 30th July 1876 in Stourbridge, Worcestershire. Esther already had a son, John William, and went on to have five more children. In 1881, the family were living in Wordsley Green, Kingswinford, in Staffordshire. Their daughter Esther had been born in Kidderminster in 1879 and Martha was born in Kinver, Staffordshire in 1881.

The family mostly stayed in this area, although by 1891, Joseph and Sarah’s third son, William Eli Bradley, had left Staffordshire and gone to England and was wokring there as a glass cutter.The rest of the family were living in Stourbridge at 3 Mill Street. Joseph was working as a railway drayman, as was his second son, Samuel, His oldest son, Joseph, was a brewer’s drayman. They had also had two more sons, George and Harry, both born in Wordsley in 1883 and 1885 and another daughter, Alice, born in Stourbridge in 1888. Their oldest daughter, Esther, had died in 1883. I have found no trace of trace yet of Joseph and Sarah’s second son, Thomas, after 1881 ….

In March 1901, Joseph was listed as a railway drayman and they were living In Amblecote at 3 Platts Road. His daughter Martha was working as a housemaid, George was a builder’s carter, Harry was  a groom and Alice, aged 13, was working as a nurse (domestic).

In 1911, Joseph and Esther were living at 23 Audnam , Wordsley Road, Stourbridge. He was working as a general labourer. (Fine Brick). George was still living at home and working as a Railway shunter for the GWR. Esther died of gangrene of foot and senile decay on 4th January 1917 in Stourbridge and Joseph died in Worcester Workhouse Infirmary of cerebral degeneration. His usual address was given as 23 Brettell Lane, Stourbridge and the informant was R. Roberts, Master of the Workhouse.

Brettell Lane as it was when they were living there.


Kinlet in Shropshire

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