The published list of officers of the Royal Artillery shows
that John Bradbridge joined the Regiment as a cadet on 6 April
1775, probably when he was 15. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant
on 27 March 1777,was made 1st Lieutenant on 3rd December 1779
and made the rank of Captain Lieutenant on 24 March 1791. He
eventually achieved the rank of Captain on 29th October 1794.
a young officer John Bradbridge was present at the siege of
Minorca, which was eventually captured by an allied French and
Spanish force in 1882. In his book England's Artillerymen
James Alexander Browne describes the conditions that he would
Of the three companies of artillery, which formed part of
the garrison of Minorca, there remained but 125 men at the time
of the surrender of Port Philip, so reduced were they (in common
with the other regiments) by putrid fever, scurvy, and dysentery.
Scorning to yield to the enemy before them, they sank and died
in the batteries.
The siege of Port Philip lasted from 19th August 1781 until
4th February 1782. The garrison, when it surrendered, was under
the command of Captain Jacob Schalch. Browne further writes:
Perhaps a more tragical scene was never exhibited than that
of the march of the garrison of Port Philip through the Spanish
and French armies. It consisted of no more than 600 old, decrepit
soldiers, 200 seamen, 125 of the Royal Artillery, 20 Corsicans
and 25 greeks. The two armies, consisting of 14,000 men, were
drawn up in two lines, and as the noble little force passed
through them, many of the foreign officers and soldiers shed
tears at the emaciated appearance of our men, who, when they
had passed through, laid down their arms - their commander,
the brave old General Murray, declaring "they had surrendered
them to God alone".
the aftermath of the siege of Minorca, the commander in chief
- Lieut. Gen. James Murray (left) was court-martialled as a
result of 29 charges brought against him by his deputy Lieut.
Gen Sir William Draper (below - otherwise famous for the development
of the leg-before-wicket rule in cricket).
Bradbridge attended this trial as a witness for Draper and his
evidence was documented and subsequently published. The particularly
charge that John Bradbridge gave evidence on related to an order
given by Murray on October 15th 1781 that; "No gun, or any
piece of ordnance, hereafter to be fired in daylight without
orders from the commanding Officer of Artiller, who can upon
the smallest notice communicate with the Govenor, who is ever
The accusation was that this order facilitated the enemy's
approach and resulted in many opportunities to attack the enemy
being lost. Although, Murray was acquitted of 27 of the charges
and Draper ended up being accused of bringing several frivolous
actions as a result of personal grievances against Murray, this
particular charge was eventually upheld. Captain Bradbridge's
evidence, transcribed from the published evidence and judgement
of the trial was as follows:
Lieut.John Bradbridge, of the Royal Artillery, called in,
Sir W Draper
Do you remember the order of the 15th October?
Where was you stationed?
Lt. Bradbridge At the south-west lunette, the former part
of the siege; the latter part of the siege, at the....
Where during the blockade?
At the south-west lunette.
Sir W Draper
Whether you lost any opportunities of firing at the working
or other parties of the Enemy, in consequence of this order?
I lost a great many.
Sir W Draper
Can you name any particular instances?
At a time when a party of the Enemy way-laid a party of
our people who used to gather greens upon the glacis, there
were twenty or thirty men very near the Fort, in a place of
concealment: in their retreat I could have galled them very
severely, had it not been for the order, as I had three guns
which bore upon them.
Sir W Draper
They were in their retreat very wary?
They had concealed themselves in a cave to way-lay our people.
I saw twenty or thirty of them running away in the morning.
Sir W Draper
They concealed themselves to way-lay our people?
Yes: to fire upon our party as they went out.
Sir W Draper
Whether you know of any other instances?
I do. At the time the Enemy were erecting a battery at Turk's
Mount, I think my shells at the south-west lunette might have
retarded their progress.
Sir W Draper
Can you recollect the time; what month it was?
It might have been the beginning of October, I think.
All the questions of this kind are supposed to be subsequent
to the order.
I think it was the beginning of October the Enemy were raising
Sir W Draper
Do you recollect anything that happened in consequence of
this order, not previous to it?
I have many times perceived many strong parties, at different
times, behind a thin wall leading from Stanhope's Tower down
to the Barranca, down to the head of the Cove, that, I am sure,
might have been annoyed.
Sir W Draper
Did you observe any other instance of the order being improper?
In the course of my walking round the garrison at different
times, I perceived several instances where the enemy were not
annoyed in the manner they might have been.
Are the Court-Martial to understand this as subsequent to
the order; and that the opportunity was lost in consequence
of the order?
Sir W Draper
Did you ever report any observations to Major Walton, in
consequence of this?
Sir W Draper
Had you orders to fire, in consequence of that?
I had not: for Major Walton several times insinuated the
penalty I was liable to, if I disobeyed any orders
Whether or not you was not under Capt. Dixon's command?
Whether you did not take your guns from the embrasures,
reverse them, and fire them over the parapet?
I never did. I could not see the wall of Stanhope's Tower,
which the General means.
Whether at one certain time, when they were ordered tofire
incessantly, you did, or not, fire over the parapet, I do not
know at what object?
I never did.
Following his promotion to Captain in 1794, John Bradbridge
was put in command of the Regiment's 4th Batallion in Gibraltar,
where he served from 1896-7. It is documented that whilst Bradbridge
was in Gibraltar he was responsible for Lieutenant Colonel Alexander
Dickson (Wellington's gunner and one of the Regiment's most
famous characters). One of Captain John Bradbridge's responsibilities
in 1797 was to arrange the provision of gunners to HMS Terror
to assist Lord Nelson in the bombardment of the Spanish fleet
at Cadiz in March and May of that year and later to attack Santa
However, Bradbridge's stay in Gibraltar was short lived for
on 27th September 1797, following a General Court Marshal for
duelling, he was removed from his post, and dismissed from the
Regiment. The details of this event are recorded in James Alexander
Browne's history of the Royal Artillery, England's Artillerymen,
in which he describes the event as "one of those unfortunate
'affairs of honour'".
Captain Bradbridge's adversary was Peter Couture of the Royal
Engineers. Couture had previously served in the Royal Artillery
but whilst serving in Canada, had been transferred to the Royal
Engineers due to his skill as an engineer. It appears that Bradbridge
and Couture were friends until the Sunday morning in question,
when both men were marching their companies back from church.
Browne reports that when passing through Prince Edward's gate,
Couture without waiting for the artillery to go straight ahead
to their barracks, gave the order "left wheel", which caused
Couture's company to break through the ranks of the artillerymen.
Captain Bradbridge, it appears, took this as a personal insult
and threw his glove at Couture, which the latter instantly picked
up. The result was that Couture was killed and Bradbridge dismissed
from the service.
What happened in the immediate aftermath of the Court Marshal
is uncertain but at some point Bradbridge moved to Shropshire
where he married Mary Anne Jones, who came from Llanyblodwel,
a small village in Montgomeryshire.
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.
Army lists also show that between 1797 and 1804 John Bradbridge
was not in the army. However, clues as to his next career move
are provided in a letter from a Lieutenant Edward Croxen to
Colonel J Kynaston Powell (7 Feb 1804) Croxen, a Lieutenant
in the Independent Company at Oswestry was writing on the resignation
of the Company's Captain Newenham to express the company's wish
to join the Shropshire Volunteers as an artillery company. The
letter refers to "Mr. Bradbridge, late a captain in the Royal
Artillery, now resident in Oswestry" who would be "desirous
Croxon asked Powell to apply to the Lieutenancy of the County
of Salop "that we may serve as a part of your Corps and on
the same terms and allowance... as it was our intention to have
been a part of your Corps, but unfortunately we were rather
too late in our offer."
The next day Colonel Kynaston wrote to Lord Berwick recommending
an artillery company in strong terms. Such a company, he emphasised
was "much wanted and would be well conducted under Captain Bradbridge".
On the 9th February, however, Lord Berwick wrote back to Kynaston
revealing that a Mr Martin had also applied to succeed Captain
"...It would be extremely awkward if Captain Bradbridge's
name was sent up by me and at the same time Mr.Martin's name
by Mr.Cotes...." wrote Lord Berwick.
What happens next is uncertain. On 12 October 1804 a John Bradbridge
signed up as a Lieutenant with the Kings Liverpool Regiment
of Foot. He is listed as a Lieutenant until 1809, when he gained
the rank of Captain. This is most likely to have been John Bradbridge
signing on at a lower rank but could also theoretically have
been John Jones Bradbridge, although in 1804 he would only have
been 16 years old.
In any case, this would appear to be how the Bradbridge family
ended up moving to Liverpool where they remained until the 1850s.
On 12th September 1811 a Lieutenant John Bradbridge is also
listed as signing on with the 8th Regiment. This will most likely
have been John Jones Bradbridge although it's not clear whether
it's John Jones signing on for the first time or the second
time. However, a clue can be gleaned from an article in the
Java Goverment Gazzette from 1812 which refers to a John Bradbridge
being promoted to Captain on September 17, 1811 (not 1809 as
listed in Army Records).
John Jones Bradbridge saw active service during the Regiment's
North American Campaign in 1813-14 (part of the so-called "War
of 1812"). He was present at the siege of Fort Erie (August
and September, 1814), and was made prisoner while opposing a
sortie made by the American forces on the 17th September. A
published history of the Regiment contains the following account
of the events of that day.
"During the afternoon of the 17th of September, when the
King's, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Ogilvie, was on duty,
the Americans sallied from their works and attacked the British
posts with overwhelming numbers. The King's suffered severely
on this occasion, and the enemy gained some advantage*, but
was eventually driven back with great loss. Lieutenant-Colonel
Ogilvie was thanked by Lieutenant- Greneral Drummond, for his
conduct on this occasion. The regiment had Lieutenant Barston,
one serjeant, and twelve rank and file killed ; Lieutenant Lowry
and twelve rank and file wounded; Captain Bradbridge, Lieutenemt
Mc Nair, Ensign Matthewson, eight Serjeants, and sixty-three
rank and file missing".
Bradbridge was taken prisoner by the Americans but was released
and made it back to the UK.
In 1817 Bradbridge was stationed in Dublin and it was here
that he was subjected to the second court martial of his career.
The Court Martial, held on 21st October 1817 and continued by
adjournment on the 28th of that month, related to the behaviour
of Bradbridge and two other officers, Captain Peter Moyle and
Captain Edward Davis relating to a contract made by the Commanding
Officer for the supply of bread to the regiment, which was to
run from 25th August to 24th Septembeer that year. Specifically
the three officers were accused of a) conduct subversive of
military discipline by ordering their Pay Serjeants not to receive
and prohibiting their companies from receiving the bread provided
under the contract b) being in open violation of the authority
of their commanding officer by bringing bread into the barracks
on 17th September, which had previously been sent out by the
commanding officer and supplying it to their companies contrary
to the contract arranged by the commanding officer and c) "conduct
highly irregular and unofficerlike" by ordering two days later
on 19th September a Quartermaster called Kiernan not to distribute
bread to their companies under the existing contract.
All three men were found guilty of the charges and sentenced
to be fined. Despite this, the Court made reference to the exemplary
characters of the three men and recommended leniency in their
handling. In the event John Bradbridge was based on half pay
with effect from 23 December 1817. During this period he is
specifically referred to in army lists as John Jones Bradbridge.
John Jones Bradbridge died Naples in 1824. He remained in the
army until his death.