The Bradbridge surname originates from the Surrey/Sussex area
and can be traced back to Roger de Bradbridge who was alive
in the 14th century.
In the 16th century the Bradbridge family produced a number
of well-known churchmen, most notably William Bradbridge (1501-1578),
who was chancellor of Chichester and Bishop of Exeter at various
points in his career. The Bradbridge surname is relatively uncommon
but is still most prevalent in the South East of England.
The specific line of the Bradbridge family, which is of interest
to us, had strong military connections, in particular to the
Royal Artillery. The furthest back we can trace our Bradbridge
ancestors is to Thomas Bradbridge, who, in the year he got married
(1728), was a gunner in the Royal Artillery.
Thomas married Elizabeth Hadlow (born ca. 1706) and together
they had three children, Elizabeth (b. 1729), John (b. 1731)
and Thomas (b. 1734). Of these, we know that Elizabeth married
a decorated Royal Artillery Officer, Samuel Tovey whilst John
followed a military career like his father. John was a Cadet
Matrose at Woolwich Academy October 1743, promoted to Fireworker
on 29/10/1755 and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant 2/4/1757. He was
in the Bengal Artillery in 1758 and died in India 1761.
One published source, which in all probability refers to him
(but may just possibly also refer to Thomas Bradbridge Sr.)
can be found in a journal of the Swinton family in India which
mentions the presence of a Captain Bradbridge at the Battle
of Gaiah in 1761. The relevant passage states:
There was found among the belongings of the Shah- zadah
upon the driverless elephant his Majesty's writing-desk or "
Kelemdar." It is an oblong box on a stand or small tray, lacquered,
with a gold ground, ornamented with the flower called " Herzargulah,
" and contains silver ink-holders, steel penknives with handles
of the bone of lion lish, and carved ivory implements and Persian
letters gold dusted, etc. The "lucky ball "from the twelve-pounder
was fired by Captain Bradbridge, and when it killed the Royal
Elephant Driver, his Majesty was forced to dismount, and the
desk was taken. Archibald Swinton preserved it, and brought
it home with him, and it is now at Kimmerghame.
Thomas and Elizabeth's third son, Thomas Jr. (my g.g.g.g.g.grandfather)
was also an officer in the Royal Artillery. He married Abigail
Reynolds in New York in 1860. They had six children. The eldest,
(John b. 1761) may well have been born in America as there is
no recorded baptism in the UK. The other children were Elizabeth
(bapt. Woolwich 1763), Thomas (bapt. Bexley 1766), Samuel Tovey
(bapt. Bexley 1774), Esther (bapt. Bexley 1775) and Ann (b.
Bexley 1778 and baptised in Plumstead).
Of Thomas's two eldest sons, the career of Captain John Bradbridge
(my g.g.g.g.grandfather) is heavily documented and is dealt
with elsewhere on this website..
Lt Thomas Bradbridge, died at Port au Prince, St Domingo on
30 June 1794.
An obituary in The Gentlemans Magazine (Vol 157 pg 667) reports
that Thomas Bradbridge's Senior's widow died May 8, 1835 in
Woolwich, aged 97, having survived her husband sons and grandson
by many years. The grandson mentioned is also named as a Captain
Bradbridge who served in the 8th Infantry.
There are a number of additional historical documents, which
may well provide further information about Thomas Bradbridge.
Firstly, study notes issued by Bexley Council identify a Thomas
Bradbridge as a local landowner in Bexley, having been briefly
the owner of the local Poor House (1770-71). A further study
note identifies Thomas' widow as being Abigail Bradbridge, the
owner of part of the property at 57-59 High Street.
Finally, documentation exists pointing to a memorial in St
Mary's Church, Bexley for Elizabeth Bradbridge, late of Woolwich,
who died June 3 1780 aged 74. Thomas Bradbridge Jr. died in
1781 and, like his mother, is buried in Bexley churchyard.
Captain John Bradbridge did not maintain a connection with
Bexley but evidence does exist from 1851 that shows a potential
connection between a Bexley born Bradbridge and Captain John
Bradbridge's children, Augustus and William Frederick, both
of whom were living in Liverpool. The only other recorded Bradbridge
family in the 1851 census was the family of another Thomas Bradbridge,
who was born ca. 1820 in Bexley Heath but living in Birmingham.
This Thomas' eldest child, (also called Thomas) was born ca.
1850 in Birkenhead, suggesting some family connection may potentially
have been maintained.
If the details of Thomas Bradbridge's career are sketchy, available
documentation on that of his son, Captain John Bradbridge, is
much more comprehensive, allowing us to put together a fairly
accurate picture of his movements.
He served with the Royal Artillery from 1775-97, seeing action
at the siege of Minorca in 1882, eventually rising to the rank
of Captain and commanding the Regiment's 4th Batallion in Gibraltar,
where he served from 1896-7.
During this period John was married to a Catherine (surname
unknown although educated guesswork suggests it may have been
Lennard or Jones) and had three children, Elizabeth Lennard
(b.1780), John Jones (b. 1788) and Miriam Ann (b. 1793). At
some point after this Catherine would appear to have died.
Following his dismissal for duelling in 1897 John's movements
are uncertain but at some point Bradbridge moved to Shropshire
where he married Mary Anne Jones, who came from Llanyblodwel,
a small village in Montgomeryshire. It is not clear why John
moved to Shropshire or indeed whether there was any prior connection
between the Bradbridges and the Jones's of Llanyblodwel (bearing
in mind Captain John Bradbridge's choice of middle name for
his son John).
What is known is that in 1805 the Bradbridge family were living
in Llanymynech, a village straddling the border between Montgomeryshire
and Shropshire and only a few miles from Llanyblodwel. It was
here that John and Mary Anne's son Augustus was born.
In 1804 a John Bradbridge signed up with the Kings Liverpool
Regiment of Foot, serving with them until 1824. This is likely
to have been Captain John's son, John Jones Bradbridge. At any
rate, the entire Bradbridge family ended up moving to Liverpool
where they remained until the 1850s.
Mary Anne Bradbridge followed a career in nursing and for
a period was Matron of the New Infirmary and Lunatic Asylum
in Brownlow Street. The next records we have of the Bradbridge
family are in the 1841 and 1851 censuses.
Augustus Bradbridge, Captain John's son, eventually grew up
to become a surgeon. He married a local Liverpool woman, Margaretta
(or Margrette) and had at least four children Mary Rathbone
(b. 1840-41), Margaretta (b.1841), Laura Ann (b. 1847) and Elliot
(b. 1849). Birth and death registers also show the birth of
a John Bradbridge in 1838 and a death in 1839 as well as the
birth of a Mary Ann Bradbridge in 1840 followed by a death in
1841. It seems likely that these were additional children, who
died in infancy. Of the surviving children, Elliot is recorded
in the 1861 census at college in Cheltenham. He eventually moved
to London where he had several children. Margaretta must have
died in infancy as she is not present in the 1851 census.
Augustus had a younger brother, William Frederick, born in
1806 in "Shacusbury" (presumably Shrewsbury). He followed a
career as a linen and woollen draper but suffered the misfortune
of going bankrupt in 1829. By 1841 he was married to Elizabeth
(b. 1816) but was also listed as living with a daughter, Mary
Ann (b. 1826), who was possibly the product of a first marriage.
Mary Ann died in 1845, possibly in childbirth, as the records
show the birth and death of an otherwise unaccounted for daughter,
Laura at that time. The 1851 census shows William and Elizabeth
as having three children Elizabeth, Frederick and John Hinmers
(who died in 1852 aged 2). Birth and death records suggest there
may have been one or two more children who died in infancy,
specifically an Ann (1849) and perhaps Sarah (b. 1846 - no death
record available). William Frederick himself died in 1857.
As he became older, Augustus Bradbridge became more mobile.
During the late 1840s the family must have temporarily moved
across the Mersey as both Laura and Elliot are listed in the
1851 census as being born in Cheshire (In the 1851 census Laura's
birthplace is listed as being Tranmere). In 1851 he and Margaretta
were back in Liverpool (4 Blackburn Street), but by 1861 they
were in Chorlton cum Medlock in Manchester (Upper Brook Street)
and by 1871 they were living in Llanbelig, Caernarvon. In the
1881 census their address is 12 Frondeg Terrace, Llanfaris Gaer
Augustus is known to have travelled abroad at least once in
his lifetime.He was listed as a passenger to New York in 1848
travelling on the Liverpool from Liverpool and arriving in New
York on 4 November 1848. Augustus eventually died in 1881 but
Margaretta lived on until 1896.
Our connection with the Bradbridge family is via Augustus'
daughter, Laura Ann, who married surgical instrument salesman
Bernhard Hermann Beer. Little is known about Laura although
one must presume that she met her husband through a work connection,
the most likely being that Augustus Bradbridge was a customer
of Bernhard Beer.