The Bradford Family

From Cattistock to Swanage, Dorset, UK

1500 to 1988


Cattistock, Dorset

Swanage, Dorset

  The first records of Brad fords are found in the Cattistock area of Dorset, about 10 miles north west of Dorchester. At least 21 were baptised from 1559 onwards. Before this date there were no church records, and we do not know the birth date of the first Bradford on the tree, but his name was William Bradford and his wife's name was Margery.                                                             

                                                        = My direct relatives                                

William Bradford married Margery. They had one son, John Bradford.  

John Bradford born around 1535, married Anne. She died in 1605. They had four children. The baptisms took place in Cattistock. 

                    William Bradford, born around 1557

                    Richard Bradford, baptised 26th April 1559

       Simon Bradford ,  baptised 10th  February 1564

        Bridget Bradford, baptised 8th  March 1566/67


    John Bradford was buried in Cattistock, having died on 4th October 1594 and his wife died about nine years later in 1605.


Simon Bradford was baptised on the 10th February 1564 at Cattistock. His name was also spelt as Symon. On the 2nd May 1594 at Cattistock, he married Annstice Dawe and they had two sons.   Simon died in 1625, aged 61 years.        



The two sons of Simon and Annstice  were

    Thomas Bradford  baptised  4th September 1594

                           John Bradford, baptised 25th  November 1600

John Bradford possibly married Agnes Forse on the 4th June 1627 (source; Parish records of Cattistock Marriages) and signed the Protestation Return ( a type of census)  in 1641. This marriage produced two sons, but the firstborn, John only lived  from June 1632 to September 1633.  The next John was born in 1636.



View of Cattistock


Thomas Bradford was baptised on the 4th September 1594. He married Mary Lush on the 30th July 1620 at Cattistock. They had  five children from 1621 to 1637 all of whom were baptised in Cattistock. 

    The five children from this marriage were

                William Bradford, baptised  26th March 1621

                John Bradford, baptised 1st October 1625

                Anstice Bradford, baptised 15th August 1627

      Mary Bradford, baptised 1st  January 1630/31

            Thomas Bradford, baptised 9th October 1632

          Thomas Bradford (senior)  went off to fight in The Civil War and was killed sometime before 1665. His widow, Mary was buried at Cattistock on the 15th February 1666.  


Thomas Bradford was baptised on 9th October 1632 in Cattistock. He married Ann around 1661 but not at Cattistock.  

        They had three children.

        William Bradford, baptised 17th  January 1662/63

    Thomas Bradford, baptised 1st  November 1664

    Anna Bradford, baptised  27th December 1668

2,Church-Doorway-at-Cattistock,IMG_7667.jpg (382582 bytes)

St. Peter & St. Paul's Church, Cattistock  

Click to enlarge photo   

For more pictures of Cattistock click here     


Thomas Bradford was baptised on the 1st November 1664 at Cattistock. He married Joanne (b.1670 d.1737).  This marriage took place about 1695, but not at Cattistock. 

  They had one son who was named Thomas, in  1696. 

 Thomas (the father) died in 1744 aged 80.


Thomas Bradford  was baptised around 1696 and at the age of 21 married Mary Orchard of Chideock. They married on the 5th November 1717 at Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset.  Unfortunately, Mary died only two years later and Thomas then left Cattistock and moved to Swanage.


                Isle of Purbeck - a peninsula almost completely surrounded by the waters of the English Channel, Poole Harbour, 

the river Frome and a stream called Luckford Lake.      


This Thomas is the first Bradford recorded in the Isle of Purbeck. On the 14th April 1726, Thomas married Margaret Nineham (b.1701 d.1769) in Swanage.   Their six children were baptised in Swanage.  The six children of Thomas and Margaret were

        John Bradford baptised 4th February 1727

        Thomas Bradford baptised 11th October 1728

        Theophilus Bradford baptised 20th October 1731

        Charles Bradford baptised 18th August 1733

        Mary Bradford baptised 27th December 1735

        Josiah Bradford baptised 4th July 1738

At the age of 83, Thomas died in 1779 and was buried at Swanage on the 23rd November.  Margaret had died ten years earlier and at the age of 68 was buried on the 1st November 1769, also at Swanage.


Thomas Bradford was baptised on the 11th October 1728 at Swanage.  At the age of 26, he married Sarah Gorringe (b. in Corfe Castle) and their wedding took place on the19th May 1754 at Corfe Castle.   They had ten children and  all but one were baptised at Swanage.  Some entries were spelt as Bratford in the Vital Records Index.

        Ruth Bradford baptised 10th March 1758

        John Bratford baptised 13th or 23rd November 1760

        Elizabeth Bradford baptised 8th May 1763

        Thomas Bradford baptised 3rd September 1765

        Sarah Bradford baptised 1st July 1769

        John Bradford baptised 23rd February 1772

        Charles Bratford baptised 4th September 1774

        Margaret Bradford baptised 3rd August 1777

         Joseph Bradford  born around 1778?

        Theophiless Bratford baptised 17th December 1779                                                                                                                                        Corfe Castle



Joseph Bradford was born  around 1778 or 1779  although strangely no record appears in the Swanage/Langton/Studland/Church Knowle or Corfe  baptisms.   We know his age and place of birth from the 1851census which took place on the 30th March 1851 which asked for his actual age.  He said he was 72 which would make his birth around 1778/9.    The census of 7th June 1841 merely asked for an age rounded down to the nearest 5 years and asked if one was born in the county.  Joseph gave his age as 65 and said he was born in Dorset, so this would have meant a birth date anywhere between 1772 and 1776 which would fit in better with the births of his siblings. 

He married Judith Mitchel Hood (baptised 8th April 1781 Studland, d.1863) on the 24th August 1802 at Studland, a village just a few miles north of Swanage. Joseph was able to sign his name at the time of his marriage, but Judith signed by making a cross.

In the 1851 Census there were 21 Bradfords living in Swanage and Joseph was shown as being 72 years old. Judith was still alive at 70 years old.  (You may like to see an extract of  the 1851 Census, showing all the Bradfords living in Swanage by clicking on this link.)

 Joseph and Judith had 7 children and had them baptised in Swanage.

         James Bradford baptised 28th July 1805

         Josiah Bradford baptised 8th May 1808 

             Thomas Bradford  baptised 8th September 1811 

        Sarah Bradford, baptised 19th June 1814

        Mary Bradford, baptised 25th May 1817

        Judith Mitchell Hood Bradford, baptised 5th December 1820 

        Jane Bradford, baptised 27th July 1823 


Joseph was buried at Swanage on the 20th May 1853, but his widow lived another ten years until her death aged 82. She was buried at Swanage on the 25th March 1863.


Thomas Bradford became a carter and at the age of 40 was shown in the 1851 census living in Swanage with his wife Sarah (nee Gillingham of Swanage, b.1812 d.1887) and their 7 children.  Thomas and Sarah married on the 28th August 1832 in Swanage.  Sarah was aged 20 and Thomas was 21.  Two  years later their first child was born.  

            Ann Bradford, baptised 6th January 1833 in Swanage                                                 

      Josiah Bradford baptised 11th January 1835 in Swanage

      Mary Bradford, baptised  11th March 1839 in Swanage

          Maria Bradford, baptised 3rd March 1840  in Swanage

          Sarah Bradford, baptised 1843 in Swanage

          George Bradford, baptised 17th November 1844 in Swanage

           William Bradford, baptised 16th May 1847 in Swanage

            Elizabeth Bradford, baptised 4th November 1849 in Swanage

            Eliza Bradford, baptised 21st August 1853 in Swanage

The 1841 census gives Thomas's occupation as Agricultural Labourer, and his family consisted of his wife Sarah, Ann, Joseph, (aka Josiah), Mary and Maria. Ten years later, in 1851, Thomas was a carter, but in 1861 he was again working as an Ag. Labourer.

The 1871 census of Swanage shows that Thomas aged 60 was still an Agricultural Labourer and that his son William was living at the same address, employed as a labourer at a mill.  The youngest daughter Eliza aged 18 was also still at home.                                                                        

The 1881 census shows Thomas and Sarah living at Court Hill, Swanage, and Thomas was still working, but as a shepherd at the age of 72.  Sarah, aged 71 was also on the census, but died six years later. She was buried at Swanage on the 18th June 1887.

On the 1891 census, Thomas gave his occupation as a retired farm servant, and lived one more year at Burt's Lane, Swanage until he was 81and was buried at Swanage on 14th December 1892.   The outdoor life must have suited him!


Josiah Bradford  baptised on January 11th 1835 at Swanage appears in the 1851 census as a 15 year farm labourer.  He married Ann Marsh of Worth (b.1828 d. 1885) on the 5th November 1857 in Swanage.  He was 22 and she was 29.  The following year their first child was born. 

      William Bradford , baptised 5th December 1858  in Langton

      Joseph Thomas Bradford, baptised 30th September 1860 Swanage

        Charles Bradford, baptised 26th October 1862 in Swanage

        George Bradford,  baptised 30th April 1865 in Church Knowle, near Corfe

        Elizabeth Bradford, born about 1872 in Corfe

        James Bradford,  born about 1873 in Corfe Castle or Worth


On the 1861 census Josiah was working as a Carter, living in Swanage but gave his place of birth as Langton.  

During the 1870's the family moved between Church Knowle and Corfe where two more children were baptised.   

In 1881 they were living in Newton Road, Swanage, with three of their six children.  Josiah gave his occupation as a farm labourer and both his sons were labourers too.  The youngest, James aged 8 was a scholar. Josiah gave his place of birth as Swanage. 

 By 1891 the family had moved back to Langton, living at Knaveswell Dairy where Josiah was a dairyman, but he gave his place of birth as Langton.  It appears that he may have been born in Langton, but was baptised in Swanage, hence the confusion.   

Josiah Bradford died in 1916. 

 William Bradford was my great Grandfather.  He was born in Swanage and at the age of 22 married Martha Bonfield (b.1858 Swanage). William and Martha married on the 11th March 1880 in Swanage.   The 1881 census shows them starting married life at Court Hill, Swanage and William was a Farm Labourer.  William’s brother George married Martha’s sister Jane Bonfield  - two brothers married two sisters!  

WBradford.JPG (19169 bytes)

MBonfield.JPG (19727 bytes)

William Bradford (click to enlarge)  

 Martha Bradford (click to enlarge)


William and Martha had 8 children.

      William Charles Bradford,  born 31st March 1882

           Augusta Bradford,  born 15th Aug 1884

            Amelia Bradford,  born 16th Feb 1887

            Ernest Bradford,  born 4th July 1889  

        Bessie Bradford,  born 21st  Feb 1892

             Frederick George Bradford,  born 30th March 1895 

            Gertrude Bradford,  born 11th  May 1896

      Herbert Bradford,  born 24th Feb 1899          


William Bradford started out as a farm labourer, but was for many years a carter working for Burts' in the stone depot at the bottom of Court Hill, Swanage.  He was, it seems, a wonderful man with horses.  Should any of Burts' horses be injured or ill, William was always sent for to put them right.  No extra money, just part of the job!

Here is a splendid tale of how William Bradford helped to bring the first train into Swanage, recounted by his grandson.  The number of horses varied from sixteen to thirty- two, depending on who told the tale!  The railway was constructed around 1884 and opened in 1885.

    "The first train to come to Swanage was on a horse-drawn wagon (to enable the railworks to start from both ends of the line).  The main road into Swanage at the time was via Kingston Hill which as locals know is very steep. This wagon was being pulled by sixteen horses.  On that day, William was driving a cart-load of stone down Kingston hill, and met the wagon with the train on, which was "stoodied" ( a Dorset word for stuck).  William pulled over and learnt that the teamsters were desperate.  William offered to help.  They expected him to hatch his team in to give extra pull.  He said it was not necessary.  The wagon wheels were blocked, and the horses were unhitched.  William re-hitched the horses in pairs as he thought fit, climbed aboard, took the strain, cracked the whip and drove the wagon to the top of the hill.  He went on his way unrewarded and unrecorded" - until today!

 Another sample of life in those times is as follows.  William's younger brother Jim had East Creech farm and William would on a bank holiday walk to Creech, thatch a hayrick and walk back.

 After a life working as a carter,  William died in 1924 aged 66.  His widow Martha lived till she was 90, enjoying snuff and winning a court case reported in the Swanage Times 26/08/1948 as “Tenant, 90 retains her home”.    Martha requested a chair near the judge because of her deafness.  The case centered on who exactly had the tenancy of 12 Osborn Road, Swanage and involved Martha's daughter, Augusta and her husband Arthur Burridge.                                                                                                                 



            When Martha died in 1948,  there was a newspaper report entitled "Nonagenarian's Death"  saying that the recent death of Mrs. Martha Bradford had removed a well-respected resident.  She came from an old Swanage family and was the daughter of the late George Bonfield.  She was a lifelong member of the Congregational Church. 


Mbradford.JPG (18641 bytes)
 Martha Bradford at an old age (click to enlarge)

Herbert Bradford born 24th Feb 1899 was my grandfather.  From stories I remember, he went to the local Swanage schools up till the age of fourteen.  If his brothers were late for school, Herbert got the cane - most unfair, but in the early 1900's it was normal.  When he left school, he was apprenticed to a cobbler (shoe-maker),  but at the age of 16 War was declared and Herbert lied about his age to join up.  After training at Ipswich, he fought at Ypres, was wounded at Fontaine-Bleu  and survived the Battle of the Somme.  He talked about the appalling conditions of the trenches.  He was awarded two medals. 

After the war he met and married Yolande May Francis (aka Granai) at Swanage Parish Church on 28th September 1922.  They started married life in Whitecliff Road, Swanage, then later moved in to a a self-build house at Harman's Cross, between Swanage and Corfe Castle. As money came in, so Herbert and his skilled brothers built more rooms. 

In 1923 their first daughter was born;

Gabrielle Yolande  Bradford,  born 22nd November 1923, Swanage.

 Around this time, Herbert bought one of the first motor bikes with a side car, which happened to feature in a postcard of Swanage.  He is seen here on the left, talking to Pete Coffin, in The Narrows.  The date is circa 1928.

thenarrows.jpg (109009 bytes)

Postcard of The Narrows, Swanage (click to enlarge)


Herbert worked for the Liverpool & Victoria Assurance Company, and collected insurance premiums.  This involved chatting to people, something Herbert was very good at and throughout his life he could always find someone to talk to, sometimes in a broad Dorset accent, the like of which is sadly no more to be heard.

 A second daughter was born,  Shirley Olive Bradford (private details) and the family lived in Wareham in No 44 North Street, near St. Martins Church.  This was one of the five houses severely damaged in December 1942 when a raider out for the cordite factory at Holton Heath dropped bombs  on Wareham by mistake.  There is an account of this dreadful day in a book called "Wareham's War" by Terence Davis.  It is very unfortunate and a source of some  unhappiness in the family that Herbert is called Harry in this book. The fourth bomb landed in Herbert's' back garden making a huge hole.  The house and possessions were totally destroyed and Herbert was seriously injured - a gash in his thigh muscles, shrapnel and glass all over him.  The doctors thought it best to leave some of the glass in his head as it was too dangerous to remove.  Some of the large jagged pieces were taken out and and he also had stitches to his ear.  He was in hospital a long time. The family lived with kind neighbours, Jack and Grace Spiller, and others at Mount Pleasant.  Yolande carried on Herbert's business doing rounds on her bicycle. 

Yolande and Herbert Bradford


 Later, they when were  living in 38 North Street, they  had to move out when the English China Clay Company demolished two cottages and a Victorian House to make way for new offices. They moved to "Heathers" Arne Road, Ridge, near Wareham to be next-door to their daughter Gabrielle Cann.  Herbert was a good gardener, smoked all his life, could tap-dance and play the swanee whistle and ocarina. He was also a  member of the fire brigade.


Herbert was an active member of Wareham Court Leet in the 50s and 60s and is shown in this picture below wearing the Bakers Hat and holding the scales. 


 To find out more about Court Leet - a mediaeval way of checking weights & measures - visit the website of Wareham Court Leet and hear the excellent song about Wareham Court Leet on You Tube whilst watching a slide show of the Court Leet in action. 


grandpa.jpg (28970 bytes)        Herbert 1983 (Click to enlarge)

    He died in Swanage, aged 89, on 23rd September, 1988 and is buried in Wareham.


Gabrielle Yolande Bradford  was an accomplished piano-accordionist and gave concerts at Bovington Camp. Click here to listen to a recording made in the early sixties, a few years before her death in February 1967. 

 Gabrielle grew up in Harman's Cross, walking the 3 miles to school in Corfe Castle every day and taking part in the Harman's Cross Brownies Pack.   She became a hairdresser, and was very musical. During the war she worked at the cordite  factory at Holton Heath. There is book about this establishment here;  Becoming the pianist of a dance band, she met up with Robert Cann and they married on 5th April 1947 at Lady St. Mary's church, Wareham.   After a few years living in Swanage, they moved in 1957 to Ridge, Wareham, and were very happy. She took up art at an evening class, and became very good at it.  Pen & wash pictures of well-known Purbeck views, menu cards and oil paintings followed and even commissions.  Her premature death of cancer at the age of 43 robbed the family of a much loved person.  


         gabbradacc.jpg (15743 bytes)            bobgabmarriage.jpg (11516 bytes)            gaby1.jpg (5978 bytes)

            Gabrielle Yolande Bradford  (Click to enlarge these photos)




My thanks go to Bill Bradford  (Gabrielle's cousin) of Swanage, who has given me most of the information about the Dorset Bradfords.  

The  early history of the Cattistock Bradfords has come directly from a scroll belonging to Reg Saville of Langton Matravers.  

There are a number of links here for sites of interest around Swanage. Visit  and  which has a genealogy section. Another good one is at  which has online census records and much more. 

   If you know of any more, please get in touch!

You are visitor number Hit Counter by Digits since April 2002


If you have enjoyed reading about the Bradfords, would you like to view or sign the guest book? I would also be interested in any additional information you may have about this branch of the Bradfords.

 Thank you!

Back to the Tibblestone Home Page  


The 1851 Census

Bradfords living in Swanage on 30th/31st March, 1851

Surname Forenames Age Birthplace County Folio Page
Bradford Ann 17 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford Charlotte 27 Swanage Dorset 70 33
Bradford Eliza 18 Ulwell Dorset 61 15
Bradford Elizabeth 18 Swanage Dorset 40 29
Bradford Elizabeth 1 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford George 6 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford James 45 Swanage Dorset 30 8
Bradford Jane 12 Swanage Dorset 30 9
Bradford John 21 Swanage Dorset 30 9
Bradford Joseph 15 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford Joseph 72 Swanage Dorset 55 2
Bradford Judith 70 Studland Dorset 55 2
Bradford Maria 10 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford Mary 12 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford Mary 21 Swanage Dorset 85 7
Bradford Sarah 47 Langton Matravers Dorset 30 8
Bradford Sarah 8 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford Sarah 39 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford Thomas 15 Swanage Dorset 30 9
Bradford Thomas 40 Swanage Dorset 50 48
Bradford William 4 Swanage Dorset 50 48

Last updated on 14 November 2014

Back to the Tibblestone Home Page