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The BRADLEY Family of C17th - C20th Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire

Geographical Introduction

Family name most likely derived from a village or place of that name - one such village is in Derbyshire.
"Brad" can mean broad and "ley" is OE for field or “leah” for a wood, providing many English place names.

 Distribution of the family name in 1881.
The name is most common in the West Midlands and north central England.
As there were a significant number of BRADLEYs involved in coalmining, an 1881 distribution map (purple) that also reflects the main English coalfields is no coincidence.

This history is of a BRADLEY family (originally yeoman farmers, later coalminers) that trace their origins from mid C17th - late C18th Nottinghamshire (Elkesley, Papplewick, Kirkby in Ashfield, Normanton on the Wolds & Plumtree) to Derbyshire (Alfreton; particularly the Greenhill Lane hamlet, on the road between Leabrooks & Riddings, located near several coalmines), and the 1893 marriage into the GRACE family in Derby. Because of large families there are expected to be numerous other descendant BRADLEY families still in the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire & South Yorkshire areas today. These are documented where known in the Ancestry tree.

Genealogical Introduction

- Updated July 2014 -

It had been considered that Elias BRADLEY of Laxton, Nottinghamshire, could be the ancestor of the families described below, however his Will dated 1578 (at the Borthwick Institute) only mentions two daughters and no sons or brothers. However, with the name of Elias he could well be connected to this family. Laxton has a castle and for much of the Middle Ages administered the Royal Forest of Sherwood. There may be a tradition of family naming going back several centuries. Compotus (Latin) for the manor of Maplebeck [Nottinghamshire]; 1472-1474 (the document dated 'from the feast of St Martin 12 Edward VI until the same feast 14 Edward IV') has an account of an Elias BRADLEY, bailiff of Sir Robert Markham; covering Alverton, Boughton, Caunton, Kersall, Kirton, Laneham, Maplebeck, Stokeham, Sutton-on-Trent and Walesby.

The Archdeaconry Returns have an Ellis BRADLEY who was churchwarden in Gamston in 1632, the next village to Elkesley in Nottinghamshire. This could well be the ancestor below, but he did not leave a Will and the PRs of Gamston are unhelpful. There are a lot of BRADLEY wills in the late 1500s/early 1600s in Sutton cum Lound, Kirklington, Maplebeck, Crumwell, Bawtry, Retford, Kirsall, South Leverton, & North Collingham, which may reveal about the family’s earliest origins.

If you have an Ellis or Elias BRADLEY in your family, then there is probably a connection between our families based on naming tradition.

Outline of the Descendant Families

So far, the family has been traced back to C17th Elkesley, Nottinghamshire, and the couple Ellice, Ellis or Elias BRADLEY and his wife Sence (of unknown family), my likely 9xGGPs. As new records become available the following outline pedigree will be subject to change. Elias & Sense would have married before 1625. Sence died in June 1650. Their children were:

·       Thomas BRADLEY (1625-80) = Elizabeth FAIRBANKS (or variant surname) in 1650 (1630-95), my likely 8xGGPs, and

·       Margaret BRADLEY = Thomas HOBSON in 1650 Elkesley;


The children of Thomas & Elizabeth BRADLEY were:

·       Mary BRADLEY (c1650-60);

·       Elias BRADLEY aka Elyes & Eliyas (1653-57);

·       Elizabeth BRADLEY (1657-60):

·       Elias BRADLEY (c1661-1757) = Ann (1665-1738) of unknown family, my likely 7xGGPs;

·       Sense BRADLEY (c1664);

·       Elizabeth BRADLEY (c1667);

The children of Elias & Ann BRADLEY were:

·       Thomas BRADLEY (1684-1763) = Elizabeth EYRE (widow EYRE) in 1710 Kirkby-in-Ashfield children:

o   Elizabeth BRADLEY (c1712-86);

o   Thomas BRADLEY (c1713), wife unknown. Child:

§  Elias BRADLEY;

o   Francis BRADLEY (c1716);

o   Mary BRADLEY (c1718);

o   Elias BRADLEY (c1722);

o   Ann BRADLEY (c1728);

·       Elias BRADLEY (c1687-1735) = Dorothy JONAS/JONES (1638-1770) in 1717 Elkesley, my 6xGGPs;

·       Mary BRADLEY (c1688) = John CHAMBERS in 1720 Elkesley. 3 children in Elias' Will;

·       Francis BRADLEY (1692-95);

·       Nicholas BRADLEY (c1694-1738) = Mary LONGFORTH. Child:

o   William BRADLEY (d. 1722);

·       Elizabeth BRADLEY (1695-96);

·       Jonathan BRADLEY (1697-1752) = Dorothy SLACK (1710-53). Children:

o   Thomas BRADLEY (c1732);

o   Sence BRADLEY (c1733);

o   Elias BRADLEY (1737-39);

o   Jonathan BRADLEY (c1743-1813), wife unknown. Child:

§  Jonathan BRADLEY (1765);

·       Francis BRADLEY (c1698-1784), had 2 wives:

o   m1. = Esther WATSON in 1727. She died 1728. Child:

§  Elias BRADLEY (d. 1728);

o   m2. = Alice of unknown family. Children:

§  Anne BRADLEY (c1732);

§  Mary BRADLEY (c1734);

§  Francis BRADLEY (c1737-84);

§  Elias BRADLEY (c1740);

§  Thomas BRADLEY (c1742-85), had 3 wives:

§  m1. = Mary DOSSEY in 1771;

§  m2. = Elizabeth KEMSHALL;

§  m3. = Mary WARD. Children:

§  Elizabeth BRADLEY (c1746);


§  Mary BRADLEY;

·       Sense BRADLEY (c1700) = John STRUTT;

·       Daniel BRADLEY (c1701) = Elizabeth SMITH;

Elias BRADLEY (1687-1735) was a husbandman of Elkesley. The children of Elias & Dorothy BRADLEY were:

·       Thomas BRADLEY (1719-1791), who married twice:

o   m1. = Abigail CHADWIN (1718-1772). Children:

§  Anne BRADLEY (c1747-47);

§  Mary BRADLEY (c1748) = William COOKE. Child: William Bradley COOKE (1774);

§  Abigail BRADLEY (c1754-1754);

§  Thomas BRADLEY (c1756-57);

o   m2. = Martha HAYWOOD (1747-1798), my 5xGGPs;

·       Mary BRADLEY (c1721);

·       Francis BRADLEY (c1726-1728);

The children of Thomas & Martha BRADLEY, with the family at the C18th Plumtree farm, were:

·       Thomas BRADLEY (1781-1849) = Ann STEVENSON (1789-1858), my 4xGGPs;

·       Anne BRADLEY (c1782);

·       Francis BRADLEY (c1784-1867);

·       Elias BRADLEY (c1786-1849);

·       William BRADLEY (c1789);

The Old Barn at Bradley's Yard, Plumtree:
In 1851 widow Ann BRADLEY (nee STEPHENSON) was described as a farmer of 14 acres employing 3 labourers.

The children of Thomas & Ann BRADLEY, with the family at C18th/C19th Plumtree farm, were:

·       Thomas BRADLEY (c1808-61) = Martha PEET MARRIOTT (1816-48). 7 children;

·       William BRADLEY (c1810-10);

·       William BRADLEY (1812-1887). who married twice:

o   m1. = Elizabeth NEWTON (1812-37). Child:

§  Thomas BRADLEY (c1833);

o   m2. = Sarah BLATHERWICK (1818-95), my 3xGGPs;

·       Samuel BRADLEY (c1814-75) = Charlotte (possibly EVANS, based on inclusion in one of their son’s names). 7 children;

·       Mary Anne BRADLEY (c1816);

·       John BRADLEY (c1818-82) = Elizabeth. 3 daughters baptised at Plumtree;

·       Henry BRADLEY (c1820-39);

·       Elizabeth BRADLEY (c1822-92) = Richard WILSON (1823-68);

·       Martha BRADLEY (c1825-65) = William CHAPMAN (1822-77);

·       Charles BRADLEY (c1827-1910) = Ann EDSON (1827-1907). 7 children;

·       Alfred BRADLEY (1830-1909) = Sarah DALBY (1829-1914) in 1861. Children include:

o   Alfred BRADLEY aka Alfred or Alphaeus DALBY (1852-1921) = Annie HAWKE in 1874 at Hallaton, Leics. See his story below. 8 children included:

§  John Alfred BRADLEY (1876-1962) = 1900 to Annie Beatrice SMITH. Children include:

§  John Alfred BRADLEY (1905-94) of Leicester = Alice Emily ADCOCK. Child:

§  researcher Anne BRADLEY (1946) = John David BRYAN;

In 1851, widow Ann BRADLEY was given as a farmer of 14 acres, head, employing 3 labourers, with unmarried (widowed) son Samuel and married daughter Elizabeth WILSON.

Map showing Yorks-Notts-Derbys Coalfield in red

The children of William & Sarah BRADLEY at Plumtree/Normanton on the Wolds until after 1871 then Riddings were:

·       Alfred BRADLEY (1840-94) = Hannah TURNER (1839-74). 4 children;

·       Ann BRADLEY (1842);

·       Sarah BRADLEY (1844);

·       Samuel BRADLEY (1846);

·       John BRADLEY (1848-79 died in an accident at the Blackshale Pit) = Mary Ann VARLEY (1850-68, remarried to George PEAT), my 2xGGP:

·       Henry BRADLEY (1851-1917) = Elizabeth Hannah SHAW (1852-1932). 5 children;

·       Eliza BRADLEY (c1853);

·       Susannah BRADLEY (1855-1923) = Thomas Henry VARLEY (1853-1931) brother of Mary Ann;

·       Elizabeth BRADLEY (c1859-1860);

·       Hannah BRADLEY (1861-64);

The children of John & Mary Ann BRADLEY at the Greenhill Lane hamlet, Riddings near Alfreton, were:

·       Thomas Henry BRADLEY (1869-1938) = Elizabeth Dawson CORBY (1870-1938) in 1891. Children in Blackwell & Tibshelf, Derbyshire were:

o   Charles BRADLEY (1892-1958) = Lizzie TOPLISS (1898-1976). Children:

§  Frank BRADLEY (1918-93);

§  Clifford BRADLEY (1928-84);

o   George BRADLEY (1894-1960) = Lily HARPHAM. Children:

§  Edna H BRADLEY (1918);

§  Wilfred BRADLEY (1919-2001);

§  Harold BRADLEY (1922);

§  Leonard BRADLEY (1924);

o   Eliza BRADLEY aka Kit (1895-1983) = Herbert WARD;

o   Catherine BRADLEY aka Carrie (1900-71) = Herbert GASCOIGNE;

o   Mary Ann BRADLEY (1902-76) = Robert ALLAN;

o   John BRADLEY (1903-5);

o   Millicent BRADLEY (1906-6);

o   Beatrice BRADLEY (1908-69) = Harold BARNETT;

o   Helen BRADLEY (1911-67) = John Joseph BLAND;

o   Emily BRADLEY (1913-64) = Richard Henri KEETCH;

·       Susannah BRADLEY (1871-1952) = William Henry GRACE (1870-1953), my GGPs;

·       Eliza BRADLEY (c1873);

·       Samuel BRADLEY (c1875) – as Samuel PEAT in 1891;

·       John BRADLEY (c1877) – as John PEAT in 1891;

John BRADLEY died accidentally by fall of a bind from the roof a coalmine at the Blackshale Pit, Riddings in 1879. His widow, Mary Ann BRADLEY, married George PEAT in 1884, remaining at GHL to have 3 more children.

The outline above is indicative only and not necessarily fully correct or complete.
The CreativeGraces family tree can be found here on Ancestry:
This is where you can find the most up-to-date information.
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The Story of a BRADLEY Alias:
Story provided by Anne BRYAN, Leicester - my 4C1R, whose branch descends from Alfred BRADLEY s/o Thomas BRADLEY & Ann STEVENSON, above. The story of her GGF 'Alias' is related below. If you are a BRADLEY from this area, you may well be connected:

The "black sheep" of the BRADLEY family was undoubtedly Anne's great grandfather, code name 'Alias'. His name, per the family elders was Alfred BRADLEY, the son of Alfred BRADLEY & Sarah DALBY but there was a suspicion that his real Christian name was "Alphinus, or something like that".

He was finally run to earth on the 1861 census at Willoughby where he was living with his DALBY grandparents, aged 8, born in Willoughby but named Alphaeus DALBY (illegitimate). He simply was not baptised or registered. Alfred Senior had a very distinctive head of platinum blonde hair which still manifests itself in the men of the BRADLEY clan today, and besides which Alfred Senior always acknowledged Alias as his own. In the Melton marriages, his parents were found in February 1861, when Alias was 8 years old. So why did his parents wait eight years to marry and why was Alias still calling himself DALBY and living with his grandparents two months after his parents' marriage?

The next sighting of him was in the 1871 census at Diseworth where he was apprenticed to a building firm, aged 18 and finally calling himself Alfred BRADLEY. About this time, he ran away and his father eventually found him working on the construction of St Pancras station in London and made him walk back to Leicestershire. He must have moved into Leicester then because when he married Annie HAWKE at Hallaton in LEI in 1874, he was described as Alphaeus BRADLEY of St Margaret's Leicester. After their marriage, they moved around the country to Cottingham, Barnsley, Chesterfield and Doncaster, among other places where railways were being built and he started using various aliases to evade both his creditors and his discarded paramours to whom he was often known as Mr. FRIEND. Eight children were born to them, at least two of which were never registered - in the name of BRADLEY at least.

When his oldest son (Anne's GF) grew up, he set up his own building company in Leicester but when he called to collect his dues from his first customers, he found that Alias, his father, had beaten him to it. Soon after this, Alias left Annie to set up home in Sheffield with another "wife" who produced three more children with the surname of BENTLEY and then she died. He was last seen towards the end of his life by a family friend fruit-picking in Yorkshire. (Research Note Update: 1911 census suggests Alfred was living with Fanny (since c1903) and had 2 children by her by that date).

Another family rumour said that he died because of jumping out of the workhouse window in Sheffield. Luckily the date of his demise is recorded on his wife's gravestone at Hallaton, unfortunately the workhouse records were all destroyed in the war. His death certificate which turned out to be yet another fairy tale. The name given was Alfred BENTLEY (Alfred or Alphaeus BRADLEY or DALBY), the age given was 62 (68), the informant was J. A. BRADLEY, stepson (son), and the cause of death bronchitis.

John Alfred BRADLEY

His epitaph should be a combination of his mother's words that she "ought to have drowned him as a baby", and that "fast women and slow horses were his downfall."