Monday, November 12, 2012

The Bradberry surname origin

YDNA testing of project members has shown that there are at least six different and unrelated families with surnames Bradbury or Bradberry. Members are currently living in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. Because our surname is an Anglo-Saxon place name, even though our families are not related genetically, our ancestors may have been neighbors. We are all probably descended from men who lived at or were associated with a place called Bradbury. John Bradbury of Kingswinford, Nr. Storrbridge, England has concluded from his research that our surname refers to either Bradbury in County Durham or to Bredbury in Cheshire (Greater Manchester). He favors Bradbury and I tend to agree with him, although I don’t exclude the possibility that both places might be the source of one or more of our family lines. This past August I fulfilled a long time wish and visited each place. Although they differ greatly in size and terrain, each site has been occupied since Roman times (and likely earlier) and each is situated on a former north-south Roman road. Bradbury in County Durham is a charming hamlet of about 20 houses; no pub and no church. The main London-Edinburgh rail line passes a few hundred yards east and the north-south A1M motorway is a similar distance west. The only apparent commercial activity is the Bradbury garage on the motorway. Most of the surrounding land is poorly drained (called “carrs”). This is likely a main reason why Bradbury has remained small and isolated. The chairman of the local parish council was kind enough to give me a hand-writtne copy of some historical notes dated 1894 pertaining to the area. I doubt that the population of Bradbury has ever exceeded about 200. On the other hand Bredbury in Cheshire is comparatively thriving as a suburb of Manchester; I estimate the population to exceed 20,000. In the local library I found more than fourteen variations in the spelling of our surname. Both Bradbury and Bredbury were probably known by that same Anglo-Saxon name since about the 6th or 7th centuries but written records have been found only since Norman times (11th century). In addition to the most common spellings (Bradbury and Bradberry) some of my favorites are: Bredburi (1190), Predbury (1358), Bradburu (1425) and Bredbiri (1608). In my opinion, the surname Bradbury (any spelling) was most likely given to a man (peasant, laborer or tradesman) who left his native village and settled elsewhere shortly before surnames were commonly fixed and passed down to the next generation. This means that our male ancestors may have left Bradbury or Bredbury before the 16th century. Relatives(?) of interest There are two men of our surname whom I am trying to place on the proper family tree. If you have any information about them, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Georges Bradberry. A well-known and successful French artist. He was born in 1878 in Maronne near Roeun, France. He died in France in 1959. His father was English and his mother was French. As far as I know, Georges was thoroughly French. I have no evidence that either he or his father ever returned to England. I would like to know his father’s name, and where he was from in England. Roger Bradbury. Roger and his family (wife Ellenor and five children) were servants of Randulf Blackwell, a wealthy Quaker who emigrated from Cheshire to North America in 1682. Both families were embarked in the ship “Submission” which was part of a fleet chartered by William Penn to bring Quakers to his land (Pennsylvania). The “Submission” landed at the mouth of the Choptank River in what is now the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Roger and his two older children (both teenage daughters) went with the Blackwells to Pennsylvania, and Ellenor with the three younger children (all boys) were sold to settle Blackwell’s debts. Roger and his daughters are lost to history (at least to me). By 1695 Ellenor has remarried (a man named Clift) and Roger Jr. is apprenticed to a glover named Dixon. Roger Jr. was born in 1680 and in 1733 Roger Bradberry (the name was spelled both ways) is still on the tax rolls in Talbot County, Maryland. I would like to know more about this family, particularly if there are any living male-line descendants.

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