J ohn Mortimer Bradley, the cousin of John Pearl Bradley, was born in Buxhall in Suffolk in about 1833. By the time he was four years old his family - parents James Bradley and Charlotte (née Mortimer), and older brother James and younger brother Walter, both born in Buxhall - had moved to Mucking in Essex. Another brother, George, was born in Mucking in 1837, shortly followed by a sister, Jane, and a brother, William. James senior found work as an Agricultural labourer. His brother Thomas and his family had also moved to Mucking from Buxhall probably at the same time, and the brothers are living near to each other in 1841, with Thomas working as a Groom. Thomas with his wife Ann (née Spooner) and sons William and Thomas, moved to West Ham before 1851, and set himself up in business in Church Street North as a greengrocer. He was joined there before 1861 by his brother John Bradley with his wife Sarah (née Pearl) and their son John Pearl Bradley who worked as shoemakers. James and Charlotte and their extended family remained further out in Essex (some descendants are probably still there today), leaving Mucking for West Thurrock where James died in 1850, being buried at St Clement's on the 29th April. This left Charlotte alone with a young family, and the 1851 census finds her and most of the children lodging at the Fox & Goose in West Thurrock. James junior, Walter and George are agricultural labourers, while Charlotte and the two youngest children, Jane and William are described as paupers. John Mortimer Bradley is lodging not far away in 1851, but at the age of 18 he is described as a Journeyman Miller, which suggests that he has already served an apprenticeship. He next enters the records when, surprisingly, he is baptised. I found the record of his baptism quite by chance as I knew some of his children were born in Navestock, near Brentwood. As you have to browse to find the records on the microfilm or online at Essex Ancestors from the ERO, I usually jump to where I expect to find what I'm looking for and then work forwards or backwards from that point. On this occasion I didn't, and instead clicked through the flyleaves of the volume and there, written in was: Memorandum: John Mortimer Bradley was baptized conditionally and received into the Church on Christmas Eve 1852. aet. 21. By me, William Stubbs. James and Charlotte hadn't been very efficient at getting their children baptised, the only other one I've found was James who was baptised in Buxhall on the 25th July 1830. It is possible that his baptism was a requirement for the job as being a Member of the Established Church is stipulated in some adverts for millers from the local press at the time. He would now already appear to be working as a Miller in the Navestock area, and there were two mills where he could have been employed: Shonks Mill on the River Roding, with its associated windmill, owned by the Chaplin family and leased to Thomas Hartley Sadler, and the Navestock Steam Mill, managed by Collinson Hall, and part of the Waldegrave estate. Shonks Mill was an established water mill probably rebuilt in the 17th century. A map of 1835, based upon one of 1785, shows the old course of the Roding 'before Shonks Mill was erected'. This suggests that the existing mill had been built not very long before 1785, and the humped brick bridge that still survives on the site and has a small arch for the mill race is probably of the 17th century. The mill itself was still standing in the early 20th century but does not appear to have been used after about 1860, and it has since been demolished. Navestock Steam Mill was a new establishment. Staying with Collinson Hall in 1851 at the time of the census are two engineers from Northumberland, it's probably not too far-fetched to imagine they were working on installing the machinery. The mill was certainly in operation in 1854 as it burnt down as reported in the local newspapers at the time, though it appears to have been built back up and running again soon afterwards as other newspaper reports of accidents and employee retirements and obituaries show. John Mortimer Bradley married his first wife Emma Smith in Dunton on the 23rd October 1855. He gives his residence as Stapleford Abbots and his occupation as Miller, so he would appear to have moved slightly downstream, perhaps to the mill at Passingford Bridge. Their first child, David Joseph, was baptised in Stapleford Abbots on the 27th July 1856, when John is said to be a Journeyman Miller. Their next two children, Walter John and Thomas William were both baptised – and so presumably born – in Navestock, on the 31st Jan 1858 and 24th April 1859, and on each occasion their father is a Miller. By 1860 the family has moved away to West Tilbury. Here a daughter, Emily Jane was baptised on the 12th August 1860, with rather confusingly – and presumably in a clerical error – the surname Mortimer. Her father is once again, a Miller. The family is living in Chadwell Road, West Tilbury in the 1861 census. At the top of the same page is Joseph James, “Miller employing 3 men, and Farmer of 50 acres employing 5 men”. One of his sons, Thomas James, is a Miller; James Lewis(?) living as a servant in the same household is another Miller, and John Mortimer Bradley, next door but two makes the third of his employees at Tilbury Mill – a windmill shown on the 1805 Ordnance Survey map, north of West Tilbury on the Chadwell Road and viewable online as a sheet of “An Entirely New & Accurate Survey Of The County Of Kent, With Part Of The County Of Essex, by William Mudge, 1801” on the MAPCO site. Sadly his wife Emma was to die in 1863, leaving him with four children under the age of eight to support. His mother Charlotte was still living in West Thurrock, with his unmarried siblings Walter and Jane, and I'm sure he would have turned to her or to his married brother James Bradley in Orsett for help. Perhaps he could no longer work at Tilbury Mill, for he seems to have been in Stepney in May 1864 when Banns were called for a marriage with Eliza Susannah Crane, a widow aged 30. The marriage never took place. Instead on the 22nd December 1864 he married Mary Ann Wingrave in Brentwood in “the Independent Chapel according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Independent Dissenters”. This is the present United Reformed Church in New Street, which had only been built about seven years previously. John is a Journeyman Miller and he gives his residence as Brentwood. Mary Ann's father is William Wingrave, a blacksmith living in Great Warley but born in Brook Street, South Weald. It's possible that John and Mary had met in Orsett: Mary Ann's younger brother, John, was living there with his new wife and baby daughter in the early 1860s and working as a Blacksmith. Until I sent for the certificate for this marriage I had associated him with the wrong Mary Ann Wingrave. There was a dynasty of Wingraves living in Brook Street going back at least to the mid 1700s. Two brothers, Frederick and the aforementioned William, both had daughters called Mary Ann: one baptised on the 5th October 1834 in South Weald (parents Frederick and Annabella), and the other baptised on the 6th September 1829 also in South Weald (parents William and Sarah). William and Sarah's daughter has consistent and correct ages on the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses. However she claims to be 29 on her marriage, not 35, presumably to appear younger than her husband. By the time of the 1871 census the family is living at 4 Truman's Square, Prospect Place, Rotherhithe, with John, now aged 37, as a Miller. With him are his wife Mary who is 36 (41 in reality), and children Walter 13, Emily 10, James 5, Caroline 4 and Robert 2. Their son James Arthur was born in Brentwood on the 8th September 1865, Caroline Jane was born on the 9th May 1867 in Bermondsey, and Robert was born in Rotherhithe on the 1st of March 1869, so the family's movements in the intervening years can be tracked. However two of his sons are missing: David Joseph and Thomas William both died in the December quarter of 1869 in Rotherhithe. Were they victims of the Scarlet Fever epidemic sweeping through London at the time with Rotherhithe being one of the worst affected areas? The three youngest children were all baptised on the same day, 20th September 1871, in Rotherhithe, about six months after the taking of the census on the 2nd April. Strangely, James' name seems to have changed, at the age of six, between the census and his baptism, to George, the name he was subsequently known by. Even stranger is the lack of precision on Robert's birthday: while his two older siblings' birth dates are given in full, his is entered in the baptismal register as just November 1869. From his birth certificate it can be seen that he was born on the 1st of March 1869, though his mother didn't register his birth until the 5th April. It seems unlikely that she would have got his birth date so wrong at his baptism, so was she actually there? It's possible that the older children knew their birthdays: James/George was 6, and Caroline 4 at the time of their baptism. The family’s address on Robert's birth certificate and in the baptismal register is 4 Truman's Square, Prospect Place, Rotherhithe, and John Mortimer Bradley's occupation is now Mill Stone Dresser. The final official mention of the family I have found so far concerns Emily Jane: on the 8th April 1872 at the age of 12 she was admitted to St Mary's Church of England School (on most maps shown as the National School) which was situated at the corner of Lower Road and Culling Road in Rotherhithe. Her parents are stated to be John and Mary Ann, her father is a Stone Dresser and the family address is 4 Truman's Square, Prospect Place. Her place of baptism is incorrectly given as Stapleford. None of the other children appear to have gone to this school, and 12 was rather old to be in education let alone starting, though the school register doesn't say if she's moved from another establishment. On the plus side it meant she could sign her name in the marriage register. The only family member immediately obvious in the 1881 census is Walter John Bradley. He had married Clara Campin on the 25th March 1877 in Bermondsey and in 1881 they are living at 99, Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey, with two sons, Walter aged 3, and William aged 1. In 1891 Walter John’s brother George Arthur is living with the family, but I can’t find him in 1881. I believe I have found Caroline Jane in 1881 at the St Jude Industrial School and Home, Franklin's Row in Chelsea, and in 1891 as a servant in the Graham household at 6, North Common Road, Twyford Abbey in Ealing. Robert Bradley’s whereabouts are a mystery: it seems the family has scattered. I eventually found Emily Jane Bradley in the 1881 census by searching for just her first names, year and place of birth: West Tilbury, 1860, hoping she would be accurate; and accurate she was, though the result was a total surprise. She is married to a William Dickinson, a joiner, and living at 10, Fishers Yard, Castlegate, Huddersfield. They were married on the 20th December 1879 in Huddersfield; as she had been a witness at her brother Walter John’s marriage in 1877 in Bermondsey, she must have moved north between those dates. What prompted the move? - and did she go alone? There is a visitor living with William and Emily Jane in Huddersfield in 1881, he is Charles Wilson, a Corn MIller aged 46, and born in Buxhall in Suffolk. Surely this is her father; is he deliberately concealing his real name? or is it error on the part of the enumerator? John Mortimer Bradley died from double pneumonia in Castlegate, Huddersfield, on the 14th April 1881 just 11 days after the census was taken. His death was registered by his daughter, Emily Dickinson, who gives his occupation as Stone Dresser. Emily and William do not appear to have had any children, or none that survived to appear in a census. In both 1891 and 1901 they are living in Raw Nook, North Bierley, Low Moor, Yorkshire. Emily died here in January 1902 and was buried on the 28th January in the graveyard of Low Moor Holy Trinity Parish Church. So far I have not found any further trace of John’s wife, Mary Ann after the 1871 census. Of his children, Walter John appears to have been the most successful, working as a mechanical engineer in Bermondsey and bringing up six children. He died in Stockwell in Surrey in 1910. George Arthur on his census appearance in 1891 worked as a leather dresser, and died in Southwark in 1907. I can’t find Caroline Jane Bradley in any census after 1871but her death was reported in the press in 1894 when her body was recovered from the Thames at Purfleet in an apparent suicide. SAD SUICIDE AT PURFLEET On Monday an inquest was held at West Thurrock concerning the death of Caroline Jane Bradley, aged 24, whose body was found floating off the Tunnel Works, West Thurrock, on Saturday. Walter Bradley, farmer, of Horns Farm, Stifford, an uncle of the deceased, said she had recently been staying with him. She was rather strange. When she left him she went to live with a brother at Bermondsey. A number of letters were produced, written by the deceased. The following are extracts:- “I am so dreadful bad; I can't face poverty : and I have done an artful deed. I am so dreadful I can't live. I am very sorry to bring such a mark upon the family, but I have been a mark upon the family, but I have been a wicked woman, and have squandered my money. All I have got is £7. I have got no clothes. If I am ill I have got some poison, and I leave the money to bury me. I have got a curse on me, so I shall take the poison to put me out of this world; I shall be justly punished in the next.” A verdict of "Suicide while temporarily insane" was returned. Essex Newsman. Saturday 6 October 1894 She was buried at the instruction of the Coroner at St Clement’s in West Thurrock on the 2nd October 1894 in the same graveyard as her grandparents James Bradley and Charlotte Mortimer. The register sadly has many burials of bodies fished from the Thames, many unknown. And that leaves Robert Bradley. According to his baptism he was born in November 1869, but his birth was registered as taking place on the 1st March 1869. So why the misremembered and vague date of his birth? Had some traumatic event prompted the baptism of the three children on the 20th September 1871? There is only one suitable Robert Bradley on the 1871 census and that is John Mortimer Bradley’s son. Now I have done this as thoroughly as I can! I have checked all the Robert Bradleys born in London/Middlesex/Surrey from 1868 to 1870. Fortunately there aren’t that many of them: this combination of forename and surname is far more common in the north of England. So I had four individuals to follow up in addition to JMB’s son, born in Poplar, Pancras, Holborn and Mile End, and with fathers named George, William, Robert and Stephen. They all more all less stayed put in their birth areas up to and including 1911, and I am 99% certain none of them are JMB’s son. So where does his Robert go? There’s a hint in 1911: a Robert Bradley born in 1869 in Rotherhithe is a Navy Pensioner Instructor in Seamanship at the Watts Naval Training School in Elmham, Norfolk. He’s living there with his wife Ellen who is an Assistant Matron, and two sons, Cyril and Rupert, born in Devonport. He had married Ellen Mary Berry on the 12th July 1899 in Devonport, when he gave his occupation as Gunnery Instructor RN, and his father’s name as John Bradley and his occupation as Oil and Colour Merchant: so 50% correct. Ellen and baby son Cyril are on the 1901 census in Devonport so presumably Robert is at sea, a fact confirmed by his service record available from the National Archives which shows him to be on board the Nile. In 1891 he was on the Landrail, so again does not appear on the census. His service record gives his place of birth as Rotherhithe, and date of birth as 9th August 1869 which falls between the registration of his birth and the date of his birth given on his baptism! He first served as Boy 2nd Class on the Impregnable from the 28th January 1885 so he should appear somewhere on the 1881 census, and I believe he is on the Shaftesbury Training Ship moored in the Thames off Grays: Robert Bradley, Unmarried, 13, Scholar, London. Robert had an uncle and an aunt - his father’s brother Walter and sister Jane - living not too far away with their families in West Thurrock, so it is possible he remained in touch with them and his half-brother Walter John as his sister Caroline Jane had before her sad end. Named after the founder of Training Ships, Lord Shaftesbury, the Shaftesbury was commissioned as a training school for "unmanageable boys" of 14 or younger, with the aim of getting them off the streets, where most were scratching an illegal living by begging or stealing, and giving them a useful skill. So if this is indeed my Robert it more than hints at an irreparable family breakdown. The Royal Navy would only accept the very best of the boys from the Training Ship so it says a lot for him that he did so well; and all through his Naval Service Record his character is described as “VG”, Very Good.
The Bradleys John Mortimer Bradley
Truman Square, Rotherhithe from the Map Of London 1868, by Edward Weller on the MAPCO website. This a combination of two images as Truman Square straddles two sections of the map. Click map to go to sheet on MAPCO.