William Bradbury

William Bradbury was born in Bakewell, Derbyshire, in 1800. After leaving school he became an apprentice compositor in Lincoln. Bradbury moved to London in 1824 and began a printing business at 76 Fleet Street in partnership with his brother-in-law William Dent.

In 1830 Bradbury formed a partnership with the printer Frederick Mullett Evans in Bouverie Street. In July 1833 Bradbury and Evans moved the printing works to nearby Lombard Street where they installed a large, steam-driven cylinder press, that was ideal for printing newspapers and magazines. As his biographer, Robert L. Patten , has pointed out: "This and some twenty smaller machines were kept running round the clock six days a week, with men working in relays, thus achieving a level of productivity that soon gained Bradbury and Evans a reputation as one of the most efficient printing firms in Britain."

Patten has argued: "After opening a printing works dominated by a large steam-driven rotary press of the latest design, and advertising the firm as one capable of handling the demanding task of printing newspapers and other periodicals, Bradbury and Evans soon had such major clients as the Chambers brothers in Edinburgh, for whom they printed Chambers's Edinburgh Journal and Chambers's Cyclopedia, as well as Richard Bentley, Alexander Maxwell, Edward Moxon, and Edward Chapman and William Hall. In the 1850s they became the main printers for Smith, Elder, and obtained additional work from Macmillan."

Bradbury and Evans also printed several weekly newspapers and periodicals such as the Illustrated London News. The company was also the printers of the books published by Chapman and Hall. It has been argued that the company was the first printers in Britain to adopt the French process of stereotyping. During this period the company employed over 200 compositors. M. H. Spielmann claimed that Bradbury was "the keenest man of business that ever trod the flags of Fleet Street, and the founder of a dynastic line nearly as long and eminent as that of John Murray himself."

In December 1842 Bradbury and Evans were persuaded to become the printers and the proprietors of the struggling new magazine Punch. The journalist Mark Lemon became the editor and within a few years began selling over 40,000 copies a week and bringing in some £10,000 a year to the company. Punch's success created a ready market for other books by its writers and artists, and Bradbury and Evans subsequently published volumes written or illustrated by people such as Douglas Jerrold, William Makepeace Thackeray, Shirley Brooks, John Leech, Richard Doyle, Henry Mayhew and Charles Keene.

In 1844 Charles Dickens decided to end his relationship with Chapman and Hall. The author of Dickens: A Life (2011) has pointed out: "If Dickens is to be believed, each publisher started well and then turned into a villain; but the truth is that, while they were businessmen and drove hard bargains, Dickens was often demonstrably in the wrong in his dealings with them. He realized that selling copyrights had been a mistake: he was understandably aggrieved to think that all his hard work was making them rich while he was sweating and struggling, and he began to think of publishers as men who made profits from his work and failed to reward him as they should. Chapman & Hall kept on good terms with him largely by topping up what they had initially agreed with frequent extra payments."

The author of Charles Dickens and his Publishers (1978) has argued: "In 1844, dissatisfied with Chapman and Hall, Dickens proposed to his printers that they become his publishers as well. Despite the firm's initial reluctance, on 1st June Dickens entered into agreements that constituted Bradbury and Evans for the ensuing eight years his publishers as well as printers, with a quarter share in all future copyrights, in exchange for a large cash advance."

Charles Dickens was a supporter of the Liberal Party and in 1845 he began to consider the idea of publishing a daily newspaper that could compete with The Times. He contacted Joseph Paxton, who had recently become very wealthy as a result of his railway investments. Paxton agreed to invest £25,000 and Dickens' publishers, Bradbury and Evans, contributed £22,500. Dickens agreed to become editor on a salary of £2,000 a year.

The first edition of The Daily News, published on 21st January 1846. Dickens wrote: "The principles advocated in the Daily News will be principles of progress and improvement; of education, civil and religious liberty, and equal legislation." Dickens employed his great friend and fellow social reformer, Douglas Jerrold, as the newspaper's sub-editor. William Henry Wills joined the newspaper as assistant editor. Dickens put his father, John Dickens, in charge of the reporters. He also paid his father-in-law, George Hogarth, five guineas a week to write on music.

The Times had a circulation of 25,000 copies and sold for sevenpence, whereas The Daily News, provided eight pages for fivepence. At first it sold 10,000 copies but soon fell to less than 4,000. Dickens told his friends that he missed writing novels and after seventeen issues he handed it over to his close friend, John Forster, complaining that Bradbury had attempted to interfer with the editorial management of the paper. The new editor had more experience of journalism and under his leadership sales increased. However, Bradbury and Evans lost a large sum of money on its investment.

Robert L. Patten has argued that Bradbury was much more successful with his publication of Dickens's novels: "By contrast, the publishing of Dickens's books, on terms highly favourable to the author, was substantially and steadily profitable for all concerned. Evans bore principal responsibility for drafting terms renewing the firm's publishing agreement with Dickens in 1852. As they had done with Thackeray, they voluntarily renounced their 10 per cent commission as a charge against expenses before the profits were divided, and the novelist happily accepted. Over a period of fourteen years Bradbury and Evans published for Dickens some of the most memorable novels in the language: four of the Christmas books, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House and Little Dorrit."

In February 1850, Dickens decided to join forces with his publisher, Bradbury & Evans, and his friend, John Forster, to publish the journal, Household Words. Dickens became editor and William Henry Wills, a journalist he worked with on the Daily News, became his assistant. One colleague described Wills as "a very intelligent and industrious man... but rather too gentle and compliant always to enforce his own intentions effectually upon others." Dickens thought that Wills was the ideal man for the job. He commented to Edward Bulwer-Lytton: "Wills has no genius, and is, in literary matters, sufficiently commonplace to represent a very large proportion of our readers". However, he went on to praise his "boundless energy".

Dickens rented an office at 16 Wellington Street North, a small and narrow thoroughfare just off the Strand. Dickens described it as "exceedingly pretty with the bowed front, the bow reaching up for two stories, each giving a flood of light." Dickens announced that aim of the journal would be the "raising up of those that are down, and the general improvement of our social condition". He argued that it was necessary to reform a society where "infancy was made stunted, ugly, and full of pain; maturity made old, and old age imbecile; and pauperism made hopeless every day." He added that he wanted London to "set an example of humanity and justice to the whole Empire".

After lengthy negotiations it was agreed that Dickens would have half share in all profits of Household Words, whereas Bradbury & Evans to have one quarter, John Forster and William Henry Wills, one eighth each. Whereas the publisher was to manage all the commercial details, Dickens was to be in sole charge of editorial policy and content. Dickens was also paid £40 a month for his services as editor and a fee was agreed for any articles and stories published by the journal. The first edition of the journal appeared on 30th March, 1850. It contained 24 pages and cost twopence and came out every Wednesday. On the top of each page were the words: "Conducted by Charles Dickens". All contributions were anonymous but when his friend, Douglas Jerrold, read it for the first time, he commented that it was "mononymous throughout".

Dickens planned to serialise his new novels in Household Words. Another project was the serialisation of A Child's History of England. He also wanted to promote the work of like-minded writers. The first person he contacted was Elizabeth Gaskell. Dickens had been very impressed with her first novel, Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (1848) and offered to take her future work. The magazine proved highly popular, its circulation rivaling that of Punch.

Peter Ackroyd has argued: "It was nothing like such serious journals as The Edinburgh Review - it was not in any sense intellectual - but rather took its place among the magazines which heralded or exploited the growth of the reading public throughout this period... Since this was not the cleverest, the most scholarly or even the most imaginative audience in Britain, Household Words had to be cheerful, bright, informative and, above all, readable."

Frederick Mullett Evans was a close friends of Charles Dickens and they took holidays together. In May 1858, Catherine Dickens accidentally received a bracelet meant for Ellen Ternan. Her daughter, Kate Dickens, says her mother was distraught by the incident. Charles Dickens responded by a meeting with his solicitors. By the end of the month he negotiated a settlement where Catherine should have £400 a year and a carriage and the children would live with Dickens. Later, the children insisted they had been forced to live with their father.

In June, 1858, Dickens decided to issue a statement to the press about the rumours involving him and two unnamed women (Ellen Ternan and Georgina Hogarth): "By some means, arising out of wickedness, or out of folly, or out of inconceivable wild chance, or out of all three, this trouble has been the occasion of misrepresentations, mostly grossly false, most monstrous, and most cruel - involving, not only me, but innocent persons dear to my heart... I most solemnly declare, then - and this I do both in my own name and in my wife's name - that all the lately whispered rumours touching the trouble, at which I have glanced, are abominably false. And whosoever repeats one of them after this denial, will lie as wilfully and as foully as it is possible for any false witness to lie, before heaven and earth."

The statement was published in The Times and Household Words. However, Punch Magazine, edited by his great friend, Mark Lemon, refused, bringing an end to their long friendship. Frederick Mullett Evans supported Lemon in this dispute. William Makepeace Thackeray also took the side of Catherine and he was also banned from the house. Dickens was so upset that he insisted that his daughters, Mamie Dickens and Kate Dickens, brought an end to their friendship with the children of Lemon and Thackeray.

Dickens felt betrayed by Evans and he decided he would not publish his next novel, A Tale of Two Cities, in Household Words. Jealous of the money that Bradbury & Evans had made out of the venture, he decided to start a new journal, All the Year Round. He had 300,000 handbills and posters printed, in order to advertise the new journal. When Bradbury & Evans heard the news they issued an injunction claiming that Dickens was still contracted to work for their journal. Dickens refused to back-down and the first edition of the journal was published on 30th April 1859. For the first time in his life he had sole control of a journal. "He owned it, he edited it, and only he could take the major decisions concerning it." This was reinforced by the masthead that said: "A weekly journal conducted by Charles Dickens."

Bradbury responded by publishing a new journal. Robert L. Patten has argued: "Bradbury and Evans soon began publication of a rival periodical, Once a Week, that drew upon the firm's long experience with woodblock printing, and its relationships with prominent artists, to present lavishly illustrated serialized novels. Evans had initially extracted a half-promise from Thackeray to contribute, which would have given the magazine a big name to offset its Dickensian rival, but the terms of Thackeray's subsequent agreement with George Smith to write two novels for the Cornhill Magazine forbade him to write for any other journal. Despite this early misstep the magazine soon set the highest standard of illustration of any periodical of its time, and attracted contributions from a wide variety of writers and artists... The magazine's circulation, however, never matched its critical esteem, and three successive editors failed to slow its decline. Expensive to produce and lacking a consistently attractive series of novels, Once a Week became a financial burden on the firm over the following decade."

In 1865 Bradbury and his partner, Frederick Mullett Evans, relinquished control of the company to their sons and to William and Thomas Agnew, prominent Manchester art dealers who at the same time were taken into partnership to supply the firm with much needed capital.

William Bradbury died of bronchitis at his home at 13 Upper Woburn Place, Tavistock Square, London, on 11th April 1869.

William Bradbury - History

Last Updated: 6/1/2000 9:53PM MST (GMT - 0700)

Bill's o' Jack's Murders

Came across this tale and wondered whether you had
seen it. It is a gruesome but true story of something
that happened on Saddleworth Moor, a bleak spot in

The Bill's o' Jack's murders took place on the night
of April 2nd 1832 at the Moorcock Inn on the Holmirth
road out of Greenfield Saddleworth. 84 years old
William Bradbury and 46 years old Thomas Bradbury , his
son were savagely beaten to death.

Thomas a 6 foot muscular chap was found downstairs and
died later without coming round. His father was found
upstairs and before he died muttered a something that
sounded like pats, this could have been a reference to
Irish gypsies.

Nobody was ever convicted of the murders. They are
buried at St Chads in Saddleworth. Tom's good friend
(who later became a Member of Parliament) James Platt
was at the burial.

The long inscription on the flat tombstone reads as

Here lie the dreadfully bruised and lacerated bodies
of William Bradbury and Thomas , his son, both of
Greenfield, who were together savagely murdered in an
unusually horrid manner, on Monday night, April 2nd.
1832, William being 84 and Thomas 46 years old.

Throughout the land wherever news is read.
Intelligence of their sad end has spread.
Those now who talk of far-famed Greenfield hills.
Will think of Bill o' Jack's and Tom o' Bill's.

Such interest did their tragic end excite.
That, ere they were removed from human sight.
Thousands on thousands came to see.
The bloody scene of the catastrophe.

One house, one business, and one bed.
And one most shocking death they had.
One funeral came, one inquest past.
And now one grave they have at last.

William Bradbury - History

Author --Edward Mote, 1797-1874
Composer --William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868
Tune Name --"Solid Rock"

"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 3:11

Many of our gospel hymns are criticized by theologians as being too subjective and experiential, or for stating one's assurance of salvation and eternal life entirely upon a personal experience--i.e. "You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart" (No. 33). The "Solid Rock" text, however, is quite different in this respect. Note the believer's basis of faith as expressed in this text: Jesus' blood, His righteousness, His unchanging grace, His oath and covenant. Truly, when one has such objective truth upon which to build a life and future hope, "all other ground is sinking sand."

The personal life of this hymn's author is most interesting. Edward Mote was born on January 21, 1797, of very poor, ungodly parents, in London, England. His parents were keepers of an inn or public house in London. In writing of his youth, Mote said, "My Sundays were spent in the streets. So ignorant was I that I did not know that there was a God." He further states that the school he attended did not even allow a Bible to be seen, much less taught. As a youth, Mote was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker and eventually became known as a successful craftsman of that trade. At the age of sixteen, he was taken by his master to hear the esteemed preacher, John Hyatt, of the Tottenham Court Chapel. Here young Edward was genuinely converted to Christ. He later settled at Southwark, a suburb of London, where he became known as a successful cabinetmaker and a devoted churchman.

At the age of fifty-five, Edward Mote realized a life-long dream. Largely through his personal efforts, a building for a Baptist congregation was built in the village of Horsham, Sussex, England. The church members, out of gratitude to Mote, offered him the deed to the property. He refused their offer, saying: "I do not want the chapel I only want the pulpit, and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that." Here Mote ministered faithfully for the next twenty-one years until forced to resign because of poor health, one year before he died on November 13, 1874. Just prior to his death, he said: "The truths I have been preaching, I am now living upon, and they do very well to die upon." Edward Mote lies buried in the churchyard of the Horsham church. Near the pulpit in the church is a tablet with this inscription:

"In loving memory of Mr. Edward Mote, who fell asleep in Jesus November 13th, 1874, aged 77 years. For 26 years the beloved pastor of this church, preaching Christ and Him crucified, as all the sinner can need, and all the saint desire."

Edward Mote wrote more than one hundred hymn texts throughout his life. Many of these were included in his collection entitled Hymns ofPraise, A New Selection of Gospel Hymns, Combining All the Excellencies of Our Spiritual Poets, With Many Originals, published in 1836.

The "Solid Rock" text was written in 1834, and Mote titled it, "The Gracious Experience of a Christian." The completed hymn text originally consisted of six stanzas. Expressions from portions of these two omitted verses are interesting to observe:

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness 'Midst all the hell I feel within, on His completed work I lean.
I trust His righteous character, His council, promise, and His power
His honor and His name's at stake, to save me from the burning lake."

The following account was given to one of the local newspapers by Edward Mote regarding the writing of his hymn:

"One morning it came into my mind as I went to labor, to write an hymn on the "Gracious Experience of a Christian." As I went up Holborn I had the chorus, 'On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.'

"In the day, I had the first four verses complete, and wrote them off. On the Sabbath following, I met Brother King as I came out of the Lisle Street Meeting . who informed me that his wife was very ill, and asked me to call and see her. I had an early tea and called afterwards. He said that it was his usual custom to sing a hymn, read a portion, and engage in prayer, before he went to the meeting. He looked for his hymnbook, but could find it nowhere. I said, 'I have some verses in my pocket if you like, we could sing them.' We did, and his wife enjoyed them so much that after the service he asked me, as a favor, to leave a copy of them for his wife. I went home, and by the fireside composed the last two verses, wrote them off, and took them to Sister King. As these verses so met the dying woman's case, my attention to them was the more arrested, and I had a thousand of them printed for distribution. I sent one to the Spiritual Magazine, without my initials, which appeared some time after this. Brother Rees, of Crown Street, Soho, brought out an edition of hymns, in 1836, and this hymn was in it. David Denham introduced it, in 1837, with Rees' name given as the author.

In his Hymns of Praise collection of 1836, Edward Mote included this hymn and reclaimed its authorship under the title, "The Immutable Basis of a Sinner's Hope."

The music for Mote's text was composed, in 1863, by William Batchelder Bradbury,, one of the foremost composers of early, American gospel music. It first appeared in his collection, The Devotional Hymn and Tune Book, published in 1864, by the American Baptist Publication Society. This was the only, new Baptist hymnal to appear in our country during the Civil War years.

William Bradbury is also the composer for these hymns: "Depth of Mercy" (No. 20), "Even Me" (No. 23), "Sweet Hour of Prayer" (No 82), as well as "He Leadeth Me" (101 Hymn Stories, No. 28), "Jesus Loves Me" (ibid., No. 47), and "Just As I Am" (ibid., No. 52). Other well-known gospel hymns for which Bradbury has contributed the music include: "Tis Midnight--and on Olive's Brow," "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us," and "There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth."

Some song leaders today prefer to use the "Melita" tune (generally used with the navy hymn text, "Eternal (Almighty) Father, Strong to Save--See No. 22) with the "Solid Rock" text, rather than Bradbury's more rhythmic music, feeling that the intensity of the "Melita" melodic line is more compatible with the strength of the lyrics. Interchanging different tunes with comparable meters and familiar texts is a musical practice that occasionally provides a refreshing change for any congregation.

"Life with Christ is an endless hope without Him a hopeless end." --Anonymous

"He is a path, if any be misled
He is a robe, if any naked be
If any chance to hunger, He is bread
If any be a bondman, He is free
If any be but weak, how strong is He!
To dead men life He is to sick souls health
To blind men, sight, and to the needy, wealth
A pleasure without loss, a treasure without stealth."
--Giles Fletcher, Jr. 1588-1623

History of Hymns: “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”

“Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” attributed to Englishwoman Dorothy A. Thrupp (1779-1847), is found in almost every Christian hymnal. According to the hymnology website,, “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” appears in 1005 hymnals. It is one hymn that most church members can recognize across denominational lines. What may surprise most churchgoers to know, however, is that for such a well-known and loved hymn of the Christian faith, we know little about how it was written or who the true author was. Its past aside, however, we see that whoever penned these words had a deeply theological message to share.

The mystery of the authorship of the words goes back to the 1830s, when the hymn made its first appearances in Thrupp’s Hymns for the Young (c. 1830) and the Fourth Edition in 1836, but without attribution. Rev. William Carus Wilson published a magazine titled The Children’s Friend (June 1838) and ascribed the poem to “Lyte,” possibly Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847). British hymnologist J. R. Watson notes, “The authorship remains in doubt all that can be added is that a stylistic analysis of the vocabulary, rhythm and content would suggest that Thrupp, rather than Henry Francis Lyte, was the author” (Canterbury Dictionary).

The penned words were directly applied to children, and the anonymous writer obviously meant to use this four-stanza hymn for teaching. It was more than twenty years later that the tune we presently know was composed by the American musician William Bradbury (1816-1868). His tune, named after himself, has most often been associated with this text, except in the case of the Episcopalian tradition that paired the text with the tune SICIILIAN MARINERS. When Bradbury composed this tune, however, he modified the original words meant for children and broadened the meaning to include all the congregation. Then, with some modernizing of the language, the text was standardized as it appears today. Since about 1830, the hymn has remained largely untouched. In fact, when the Methodist Book of Hymns shortened the refrain in 1966, the publisher received so many complaints, the full Bradbury version was put back into The United Methodist Hymnal (1989).

One has to wonder why this hymn has been so successful for nearly two hundred years. The most likely answer is found in the theology of the hymn. Since the focus of the original composition was for young children, Thrupp would have wanted to encapsulate the essence and message of a caring Christ who loves all his children. In the first stanza, we see Christ portrayed as a shepherd offering care and guidance to his flock as well as preparing for service and Christian life. This is followed by an acknowledgement that we are Christ’s. Thrupp alludes to Psalm 23 – “pleasant pastures” – and draws upon the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18).

Likewise, the second stanza picks up with the idea of possession by Christ and the continued picture of Christ as the Good Shepherd. Now, however, the author shows that we are not only possessed by Christ, but we are also in fellowship with Christ. Christ is our defender and guide, and he will hear us when we pray to him and follow in his footsteps. The author also alludes to the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14 Luke 15:3-7), especially in the phrase, “seek us when we go astray.”

The third stanza offers a wonderful picture of the salvation message of Christ—that no one is beyond the reach of God’s love and there is no sin too great to keep us separated from God. Underlying this message is an understanding of original sin, the inherent sinful nature of all of God’s children: “Thou hast promised to receive us,/poor and sinful though we be. . .” Although the concept of original sin finds its roots with St. Augustine (354-430), the sixteenth-century reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin assured the continuation of this theological concept among Protestants. The refrain then acknowledges “We will early turn to Thee,” providing an effective segue into the final stanza – a poetic device known as anadiplosis.

Stanza four reminds us that the original focus of the hymn was on children–with references to seeking Christ early in life: “Early let us seek thy favor/early let us do thy will. . .”. Thrupp advocated for an early and honest following of Christ that leads us to a place of service and following God’s will. There is a plea for the love of God to be shown through us as the body of Christ and that God’s love will always be present, as he has always loved us.

The picture we get from this hymn, and the reason it has been such a defining song of the church, lies in the fact that it presents the fuller theology of Christian life in one song. This picture of the saving love and grace of God, the salvation message of God, God’s fellowship with us, and the continuing service to God gives us the broader perspective of what the Christian life should be. Thrupp attempted to make the hymn accessible to children, and Bradbury has presented it in a way that is applicable to every Christian. Although this song may have had some vague beginnings, it has a certain future in the church because of its message of hope, love, salvation, and Christian living.

For Further Reading:

"Dorothea Ann Thrupp." Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Young, Carlton R. Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993.

J. Braxton Kubasko, a Master of Sacred Music student at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, studied hymnology with Dr. C. Michael Hawn.

Joseph Gilmore's Memorable Hymn

When Joseph Henry Gilmore died on this day July 23, 1918 , he had taught for many years at the University of Rochester in New York and authored several books on literature. He is remembered in educational circles for these contributions and others. But in Christian circles he is remembered for a single hymn written over half a century before his death.

In 1862, as a 28-year-old student who was about to become a pastor, Henry was invited to preach at the historic First Baptist Church of Philadelphia. "I set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm. I had given this exposition on three or four other occasions but this time I did not get beyond the words 'He leadeth me.' So greatly impressed was I with the blessedness of divine guidance that I made this my theme." He later felt that the dark days of the Civil War may have subconsciously led him to focus on God's leadership.

At the close of the meeting, Henry and some others went to the home of a deacon. "There," he wrote, "we continued our discussion of divine guidance. While I was still talking and listening, I wrote on a piece of my exposition manuscript the words to this hymn. I handed the paper to my wife and more or less forgot the incident."

The words that Henry had written began with this famous stanza:

Three years later, having pastored for some time in New Hampshire, Henry was invited to preach a trial sermon at the Second Baptist Church in Rochester. "I picked up a church hymnal to see what songs they sang and was surprised to have the book fall open to the very song I had written three years earlier," he wrote.

"When I returned home, I related this experience to my wife. 'I do not understand it,' I said. 'My words had been set to music by Dr. William B. Bradbury yet I had not given the words to anybody.' My wife smiled and said, 'I can explain it, Joseph. I felt that the words would bless the hearts of people in these troublesome times so I sent the poem to The Watchman and Reflector. I am glad to know that they have printed it.'"

The famous hymn composer William Bradbury had seen the lines and added music and the last two lines of the chorus. Henry took this incident as divine leadership that he should accept a situation at the Rochester church. That put him in position two years later to accept an offer to teach Hebrew at Rochester Theological Seminary. The following year, he was offered a professorship of logic and English literature at the University of Rochester, which he held until his retirement in 1908. An English chair at the school is named after him.


While Father is Away reveals the intimate story of a British-American’s role in the American Civil War. William Bradbury’s letters home provide a rare window on the unique relationships among husband, wife, and children while a father was away at war.

Yorkshire attorney turned Union volunteer soldier Bradbury became a “privileged private” with extraordinary access to powerful Union generals including Daniel Butterfield, future president Benjamin Harrison, and Clinton B. Fisk, the region’s administrator for the Freedmen’s Bureau during Reconstruction.

The letters also provide an in-depth look at this driven land speculator and manager for the Atchison Topeka Santa Fe Railway. As a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and the Manchester Guardian, Bradbury was both eyewitness to and participant in the shaping of events in the world as it moved west.

Jennifer Cain Bohrnstedt, board member of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, is the editor of Soldiering with Sherman: The Civil War Letters of George F. Cram.

"A fascinating journey into the life of Bradbury. Combines an intimate look into the lives of a soldier and family and a broad glimpse of mid-19th-century America."—Blue Ridge Country

"Not just another collection of Civil War letters . . . it develops several areas rarely explored in such collections and not always well understood."—Civil War News

"The bracing frankness of his concern with his own safety and his family's economic well-being—he writes virtually nothing about the Union cause, slavery, or even military campaigns—makes this a unique set of letters."—Journal of Southern History

"Thankfully, the Bradbury correspondence did not suffer the fate of most letters. . . . The value of the collection is not simply a matter of survival. It is extensive in both its length and depth."—Andrew Cayton

"Jennifer Cain Bohrnstedt opens a window on the social history of Civil War America by assembling the numerous wartime letters of William H. Bradbury. This thirty-three-year-old clerk enlisted in the Union army and served as a private and clerk throughout the war without ever firing a gun. His mastery of contemporary shorthand made him too valuable to risk in battle. He sank into posthumous obscurity until Bohrnstedt revived him through comprehensive, imaginative, and insightful editing. He has much to share about headquarters gossip, land speculation, and domestic affection."—John Y. Simon

William Bradbury - History

A resident of Austin County, Texas, William Bradbury (1804-1862) owned a farm near Belleville, where he lived with his three children. Following his election as chief justice of Austin County in 1850, Bradbury was appointed county clerk six years later.

Scope and Contents

Composed of typescripts of correspondence, legal documents, and a diary, the William Bradbury Papers, 1841-1868, chronicle Bradbury’s career as a judge, county clerk, and farmer in Austin County, Texas. Correspondence consists of letters exchanged with family members, including two sons, concerning familial affairs and the Civil War. Legal documents relate to Bradbury’s certification of citizenship in the Republic of Texas, while the diary discusses his and his son’s activities on the farm near Belleville, Texas.


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

William Bradbury Papers, 1841-1868, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.


The copy of the William Bradbury drawing is from the Cyberhymnal website at

10,000 Sermon Illustrations, electronic ed. (Dallas: Biblical Studies Press, 2000). &ldquoIra Sankey (Moody&rsquos Song Leader)&rdquo

Bibliotheca Sacra, electronic edition. (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1998)

M. Biglow email regarding the incorrect spelling of the company name: Biglow & Main, and its beginning as named being after Bradbury's death. Received on June 10, 2010. Much appreciated!

Mary Hammack, L., A Dictionary of Women in Church History, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997, c1984). &ldquoCrosby, Frances Jane.&rdquo

Hustad, Donald P. &ldquoA Spiritual Ministry of Music: Part II: Problems in Psychology and Aesthetics in Music,&rdquo Dallas Theological Seminary, Bibliotheca Sacra (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1960 2002), vol. 117, p. 216.

Kurian, George Thomas: Nelson's New Christian Dictionary (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pubs., 2001), &ldquoBradbury, William Batchelder.&rdquo

Lagass, Paul Columbia University: The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. (New York Detroit: Columbia University Press Sold and distributed by Gale Group, 2000), &ldquoBradbury, William Batchelder.&rdquo

Morgan, Robert J. Real Stories for the Soul, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), p. 133.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1982), p. 136.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 More Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1985), p. 74, 83.

Zuck, Roy B. The Speaker's Quote. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), p. 205.

Last name: Bradbury

This interesting name is of English origin, and is locational from places so called in Durham and Cheshire. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century 'brad', meaning broad, or spacious, with 'byrig', a town, or fort. The place name is recorded circa 1050, in 'History of St. Cuthbert' as 'Brydbyrig', evolving to become 'Bradbery' by 1183 as recorded in the Boldon Book of the Domesday Book. During the Middle Ages, when it was becoming increasingly common for people to migrate from their birth place, to seek work elsewhere, they would often adopt the village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. --> Two early recordings of marriages in Cheshire are between one, Alice Bradbury and Richard Stockes on 6th July 1562 in Macclesfield and between Ales Bradbury and Edward Taylor on 2nd March 1594 at St. Mary's, Stockport. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bradbury, which was dated 1288, in the Assize Rolls Cheshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as the Hammer of the Scots, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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Watch the video: Jesus Loves Me - William B. Bradbury arr. John Ferguson b. 1941 (January 2022).