Bradford History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Bradford name has descended through the generations from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. Their name comes from having lived in or near one of the many places called Bradford in England, which were found in Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Northumberland, and the West Riding of Yorkshire. The surname Bradford literally means broad ford.

One source claims that the family came from "a town on the Avon, in Wiltshire, England, whence the surname is derived, and which signifies the broad ford, there being at that place a ford across the Avon." [1]

Early Origins of the Bradford family

The surname Bradford was first found in the West Riding of Yorkshire at Bradford, a borough, market-town, and parish, and the head of a union, in the wapentake of Morley. "This place during the heptarchy formed part of the extensive parish of Dewsbury, from which it appears to have been separated soon after the Conquest. The manor of Bradford, which in the Domesday Survey is described as a barren waste, was given to Ilbert de Lacy, who attended the Conqueror from Normandy, and fought under his standard at the battle of Hastings. Ilbert had 150 other manors in the county, which he formed into a seigniory, called the Honour of Pontefract." [2]

While it is generally thought the family hailed from Yorkshire, we must look to Northumberland for the first recording of the family. For it is there that Hodgson's History of Northumberland lists Alexander de Bradeford in 1197.

Later the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 eluded to the wide popularity of the name throughout ancient Britain: Hugh de Bradeford, Devon; John de Bradeford, Wiltshire; and Alex, de Bradeford, Northumberland. [3]

Ironically, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 had only one listing of the family there at that time: Johannes de Bradeford. [3]

Early History of the Bradford family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bradford research. Another 103 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1206, 1510, 1555, 1510, 1590, 1657, 1624, 1703, 1663, 1752, 1658, 1660, 1739, 1652, 1731 and 1652 are included under the topic Early Bradford History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bradford Spelling Variations

Only recently has spelling become standardized in the English language. As the English language evolved in the Middle Ages, the spelling of names changed also. The name Bradford has undergone many spelling variations, including Bradford, Bradeford, Braidford, Bradforde and others.

Early Notables of the Bradford family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include John Bradford (1510?-1555), English Protestant martyr, born of gentle parents about 1510 in the parish of Manchester. "A local tradition claims him as a native of the chapelry of Blackley. On his way to the stake, he proclaimed ' England, England, repent thee of thy sins, repent thee of thy sins. Beware of idolatry, beware of false antichrists; take heed they do not deceive you.' " [4] William Bradford (c.1590-c.1657), was an English Separatist leader in Leiden, Holland and in Plymouth Colony. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact; and his son, Major William...
Another 126 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bradford Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Bradford family to Ireland

Some of the Bradford family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bradford migration to the United States +

To escape the unstable social climate in England of this time, many families boarded ships for the New World with the hope of finding land, opportunity, and greater religious and political freedom. Although the voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, those families that arrived often found greater opportunities and freedoms than they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Bradford were among those contributors:

Bradford Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Bradford (1590-1657), of Yorkshire who arrived at Plymouth in 1621, aboard the Mayflower and, on the death of John Carver in 1621, was chosen leader of the Pilgrims, 2nd Governor of the Plymouth colony. His wife Dorothy died at sea, en-route to the Colony
  • Dorothy Bradford, aged 23, who died aboard the Mayflower at Cape Cod Harbor, Massachusetts in 1620 and believed to be buried ashore [5]
  • William Bradford, who arrived in America in 1620 [5]
  • Henery Bradford, who landed in Virginia in 1624-1625 [5]
  • John Bradford, who was on record in Massachusetts in 1627
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bradford Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary Bradford, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [5]
  • Barby Bradford, who settled in Boston in 1716
  • John Bradford, who landed in New England in 1718 [5]
  • Mathew Bradford, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1729 [5]
  • Jacob Bradford, who arrived in Maryland in 1729
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bradford Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Bradford, who landed in America in 1803 [5]
  • Joseph Bradford, who landed in America in 1804 [5]
  • William I Bradford, who landed in New York in 1806 [5]
  • John Bradford, aged 24, who arrived in New York in 1812 [5]
  • R Bradford, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Bradford migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bradford Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Elis Bradford, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • William Bradford, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Abigail Bradford, who settled in Nova Scotia in 1762
  • Mr. Benjamin Bradford U.E. who settled in Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 member of the Penobscot Association [6]
  • Mr. Benjamin Bradford U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [6]

Australia Bradford migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bradford Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Bradford, a baker, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Arthur Bradford, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Canton" in 1838 [7]
  • David Bradford, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Canton" in 1838 [7]
  • Hester Bradford, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Canton" in 1838 [7]
  • John Bradford, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Canton" in 1838 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Bradford migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Bradford Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • D Bradford, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842
  • Janet Bradford, aged 19, a housemaid, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1878

Contemporary Notables of the name Bradford (post 1700) +

  • Richard Bradford (1934-2016), American actor, known for The Untouchables (1987), Man in a Suitcase (1967) and The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
  • Brigadier-General William Brooks Bradford (1896-1965), American Commanding Officer 1st Cavalry Brigade (1945-1949) [8]
  • Brigadier-General Karl Slaughter Bradford (1889-1972), American Deputy President of War Department Manpower Board (1943-1946) [9]
  • Chadwick Lee "Chad" Bradford (b. 1974), American Major League Baseball player
  • Melvin E. "Mel" Bradford (1934-1993), American conservative political commentator and professor of literature at the University of Dallas
  • Arthur Houston Bradford (b. 1969), American short story author and director of "Camp Jabberwocky", the longest running sleepover camp for adults with disabilities in the United States
  • David Bradford (1929-1995), professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University
  • Edward Green Bradford II (1848-1928), American federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Delaware
  • Robert Fiske Bradford (1902-1983), American politician, governor of Massachusetts (1947-1949)
  • Andrew Bradford (1686-1742), American printer in colonial Philadelphia, who published the first newspaper in Pennsylvania, in 1729
  • ... (Another 10 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Cyril E. Bradford, BEM, British Chief Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [10]


The Bradford Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fier et sage
Motto Translation: Proud and Wise.


Suggested Readings for the name Bradford +

  • 573 "Bradford Roots and Branches " by Nancy Vashti Anthony Jacob, "Bradford: From the Mayflower and Plimouth Colony to Missouri with Related Families" by Sophia Freeland Kennedy.

  1. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CANTON 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838Canton.htm
  8. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 22) William Bradford. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Bradford/William_Brooks/USA.html
  9. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 22) Karl Bradford. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Bradford/Karl_Slaughter/USA.html
  10. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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