I came across Alfred David Bradbury (1857-1892) my first cousin five times removed while searching for more details about the family of my 3x great grandmother Elizabeth Davies (nee Bradbury). She had been difficult to find in census records until after her marriage to James Davies in 1855, and I couldn't find any parish record of her birth or baptism. The trail back to her mother, Hannah Bradbury, weaved via her nephew, niece and half sister, on the way uncovering a potential aunt, Elizabeth Lawton (nee Bradbury), and revealing her maternal grandfather to be one William Bradbury, butcher

If I'd pieced together the puzzle correctly Alfred was great grandma's cousin although much younger than her. He was the second son of whom I believed to be her uncle, John Bradbury (son of William and brother of Hannah) and his wife Elizabeth (Betsy/Bessie) Tansley, with whom she had lived as a child following the death of her mother. I decided to research Alfred's life hoping to find further evidence that this Bradbury family was indeed that of Elizabeth Davies. In that I succeeded as he led me to an 1880 new paper report of a fraud case involving his father John Bradbury's will which named Elizabeth (Bessie) Davies of 24 Grosvenor Street and Elizabeth (Bessie) Lawton as beneficiaries of the will. 

Alfred's story revealled a tragic and short life. At this distance in time it might read like a tragicomedy, but I'm not sure anyone at the time would have found it in the slightest way funny despite the role of the orange peel in his demise or the salmon fish in the railway carriage.

Alfred was born in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent in 1857, the son of John and Elizabeth (known as Betsy or sometimes Bessie) Bradbury, and he was baptised on 6th September 1857 at St John's Church Longton. At the time of the 1861 census he is living at 4 Market Lane (renamed in 1950s to Transport Lane), Longton with his parents, who are fishmongers, and his seven year old brother, John Tansley Bradbury.

Just over a year later around the time of his 6th birthday the family is living in Stafford Street (renamed in 1950s to The Strand), Longton and the ill fated Alfred is mentioned in the first of the many new reports that document his misadventures in life. Poor little Alfred seems to have become caught up in a "feud" between his mother and their next door neighbour, a Mr and Mrs Gosling which resulted in him being severely beaten by the Gosling's servant, allegedly on the their instructions.

Staffordshire Sentinel 16 August 1862: "Charge of Assaulting a Child - Hannah Stokes, a decent-looking girl, was summoned by Betsy Bradbury, for assaulting a child named Alfred Bradbury. [...] It appeared that the defendant lives as a domestic servant with a person named Gosling, whose home adjoins that of the complainant. Some feud had arisen between these parties, and it was alleged that the defendant's employers instigated him (sic) to beat the child, and on 29th of July she beat him very severely."

It seems that Betsy had form as the report continues:

"In cross-examination Mrs. Bradbury admitted she was under surities to keep the peace, and that she did not see the assault complained of." Mrs Gosling was called by the defence and she stated: "that Mrs Bradbury used very disgusting language to the defendant, and cut her hand with a pitcher."

The defence had argued that there was no case to be made out as there was only the child's account but the court must have believed him as the defendant was fined 1s and costs.

 BetsyAlfred Staffordshire Sentinel 16 August 1862 0006 Clip

Staffordshire Sentinel 16 August 1862

There is little of merit in the accounts of Alfred's adventures through life. He next appears in August 1876, around the time of his 19th birthday, when he and his older brother John were charged with assault which the magistrate described as most disgraceful.  Alfred was find 40s for slapping a fellow passenger in the face with a salmon and giving him two black eyes in a punch up while travelling in a railway carriage between Stoke and Etruria. He was very drunk at the time. His brother was find 20s for assisting him. 

 JohnAlfredBradbury Sentinel9Aug1876

Staffordshire Sentinel 9 August 1876

But that wasn't the end of it for Alfred. Besides the conviction and fine for assault by the Hanley bench he was also taken before the Stoke bench in connection with the same incident, but this time charged with contravening a railway by-law and he was fined another 20s. His antics were costing him a lot of money.

AlfredBradbury StokeMagistrates Staffordshire Sentinel and 19 August 1876 0006 Clip

Staffordshire Sentinel 19 August 1876

 Alfred's mother Betsy who had previously been bound over to keep the peace, may have been little better as she too appears in the court reports on charges of drunkenness and riotous behaviour. In March 1876 she was fined 5s for just such behaviour. A picture of a problem family is starting to emerge, although there is little to indicate the role of Alfred's father John in any of it. 

By late 1876 Alfred was living in Chester where he soon married, but not before becoming acquinted with the local magistrate, again for drunken and disorderly behaviour which seemed to be developing into something of a habit. In December 1876, less than a month before his marriage, he was charged with drunkenness and riotous behaviour in Princess Street, Chester, which is the place of residence he gave at his marriage.

AlfredBradbury Cheshire Observer 16 December 1876 0008 Clip

Cheshire Observer 16 December 1876

The parish register of St Oswald's. Chester records the marriage of Alfred David Bradbury, 21, bachelor and game dealer, living at Princess Street, Chester, son of John Bradbury who is described as gentleman, to Mary Ann Wilding, 20, spinster, also living in Princess Street, daughter of George Wilding (deceased) a china dealer on 22 January 1877 after banns. Their witnesses were Edmund and Maria Evans. Alfred and Edmund signed their names, Mary Ann and Maria made their mark. Whether or not Alfred was a game dealer at the time is questionable, especially given his occupation state in court just before his marriage and the following year when he enlisted in the army he described himself as a poulterer. Game dealer may have been an exaguration, but surely no one was fooled about his very public behaviour. There is no explanation for why he described his father John as a gentlemen while all other records described him as a fishmonger and even if John himself exhibited all the characteristics of a gentleman the same cannnot be said for his sons. Whether or not his father was present at the marriage is not known, but in January 1877 Alfred would have been only 19 years old and, being under 21, legally would have needed parental consent to validate the marriage. Maybe this had been provided at the time of initiating the banns as Mary Ann also would have needed consent of her mother or guardian.

AlfredDBradbury marriage 1877

Marriage didn't temper Alfred's behaviour, by 3rd January 1878 Alfred and his brother John were once again filling a few column inches in the local press with reports of their appearance before the Hanley magistrates for drunk and riotous behavior. Alfred had cut a boy's hand with a knife while "paralytic drunk" and his brother had lost £110, which seems to have been a very large sum of money to have been carrying at that time. They both claim to have been pleased to have been arrested, apparently for stopping them getting further into trouble. The report notes that Alfred had previously been convicted three times and John, ten times. Whether that includes Alfred's convictions in Chester isn't clear. They were each fined 10s.

 Bradburybros Sentinel3 Jan  1878

Staffordshire Sentined 3 January 1878

Less than three months after Alfred married Mary Ann, his father John died. The news report of the fraud case in 1880 mentioned above indicated that John's will was at the centre of costly litigation, with reference to a case Holt and Hodson v Tansley.  It is unclear whether Alfred or any of this family received their legacies. The index of wills shows that probate was granted to his brother-in-law John Kelsall Tansley in 1877 but it may be that a later will subsequently emerged. 

Little more than a year after his marriage on 24 April 1878, Alfred David Bradbury, aged 20, born Longton, Stoke on Trent, a poulterer, signed up for military service. There is nothing in the record to indicate why he might leave his wife and he may even have lied and denied being married as his sign up attestation form stated that he was not married. Whether he lied or not he signed on for 12 years with the 18th Brigade of the Royal Lancs., in Liverpool, the 1st six years for active service in the infantry, wherever required, the remaining six as a reserve. On 21 September 1878 he was transferred to the 2nd Battallion 22nd Regiment and soon found himself posted to India. There is no doubt that this is cousin Alfred David Bradbury because linked documents which appear to date from the time of his discharge identify his mother as Betsey, his address as 75 Paddock Street, his education level as "fourth class" and his wife as Mary Ann Wilding, even citing the place and date of his marriage. 

Clip ADBradbury atestation

In his army records Alfred is described as 5ft 7.75inches tall with a 37inch chest; he is of fair complexion with hazel eyes and dark brown hair. It was noted was generally healthy but that he had lost a front, upper tooth. We can speculate this occurred during one of his drunken episodes but I have found no evidence.  

A summary of his military history shows that he served in his home country from 26 April 1878 to 19 September 1878 and was then posted to India where he served from 20 September 1878 to 2 February 1785 following which he became an active reserve until 15 April 1890. He was discharged ten days later on 25th April 1890, giving him a total of 12 years total service.

I have found no indication that during his time in the army he was disciplined for drunken behaviour, though that is not to say he was sober throughout, and his medical records reveal that he did not restrict himself to life in the barracks. Interspersed between bouts of "ague" suggesting he probably contracted malaria, are hospital admissions for treatment of sexually transmitted infections. Such infections were at the time common among soldiers serving away from home and it is claimed that there was a very high rate among the British military in India. It was probably inevitable that Alfred, a young man of only twenty years old, would contribute to those statistics. His first hospital admission on 13th December 1878, only seven and a half weeks after arriving at his base in Allalabad, last 15 days during which time he was treated with "black wash" for primary syphilis. His longest periods in hospital, however, were for Gonorrhœa including two spells of 33 and 89 days between 9th April 1879 and 12th December 1879, when he was treated with copaiba and "injections". Whether his recurring visits for the same disease were as a result of new infections or incomplete treatment of the original infection it is not possible to say, although one subsequent entry did describe his condition as "mild".

Clip ADB medical record

During his time in India, Alfred was transferred between stations mainly in the north west of the country, in what is now Pakistan including at Allalabad; Peshawar; Murree in the hills of (now Pakistan) Punjab; Cherat, a hill station in the North West frontier province of Peshawar; Solan district in Himachal Pradesh, India including the station at Dagshai and, if I'm reading it correctly Malabar, which is further South and may be the place from which he embarked on his journey home.

While Alfred was away in the army it appears as though his wife went back to live with her mother.

When he left active service Alfred was planning to live in Wrexham although he first shows up again in Chester.  It seems he returned to work as a fishmonger and, sadly, it wasn't long before he was in trouble again for drunken behaviour. In September 1885 he was up before the Chester magistrate once again for being drunk and disorderly. His disorderly behaviour in Grosvenor Street, where it seems he may have been living, had attracted the attention of large crowds and the court ordered him to pay costs and he was bound over in two surities of £5 to keep the peace.

AlfredBradbury Chester Chronicle 19 September 1885 0005 Clip

Chester Chronicle 19 September 1885

On 8 May 1886 the Cheshire Observer reports that Alfred David Bradbury, fishmonger, Grosvenor Street, had once again been charged with being drunk and riotous on the previous night. He was fined 10s and ordered to pay costs.

AlfredBradbury Cheshire Observer 08 May 1886 0008 Clip

Cheshire Observer 8 May 1886

Three weeks later Alfred was in disgrace again having been apprehended drunk and riotous in Grosvenor Street at 11 o'clock in the morning, and he was branded a perpetual street nuisance by the court.

AlfredBradbury Chester Chronicle 29 May 1886 0007 Clip

Chester Chronical 29 May 1886

By 1891 Alfred and his wife Mary Ann were back in Stoke-on-Trent living with his mother Betsey Bradbury, 64 a widow surviving on her own means and his brother John who was still single. Betsey and John had been for many years, and still were, living at 75, Paddock Street, Shelton. Alfred and Mary Ann were working as a fish sellers. John was working as an agent, most likely for his mother. The original entry in the census described her a a property owner but it had been was crossed out, apparently by the enumerator, and replaced with "living on own means". A newspaper report of 1881 mentioning both John and his mother recounts a dispute between them and the tennant of one of her properties in Crown Street. The tenant had refused to pay claiming that the property was in a poor, infested state (rats and broken windows) and John had seized some of his property in leui of payment.

BesteyBradbury Sentinel 28April 1881

Staffordshire Sentinel 28 April 1881

Although it appears that Alfred and Mary Ann had moved back to live in Paddock Street with his mother, he must have had cause to return to Chester, because while there during December 1892, he suffered an unfortunate accident, slipping on discarded orange peel, falling an breaking a leg. Three days later died in the Chester General Infirmary. The Cheshire Observer of 17 December reported on his inquest. It did not say whether or not he was drunk at the time of the accident or whether there were any complications from the illnesses he had suffered while in India, but the verdict was accidental death. He was only 35 years old and he may finally have settled down. So far as I can see there are no newspaper reports of nuisance behaviour by cousin Alfred after the incident in Chester in 1886. 

AlfredBradbury Inquest Cheshire Observer 17 December 1892 0006 Clip

Cheshire Observer 17 December 1892


I couldn't find a copy of his will on line but the index records that probate for Alfred David Bradbury of 75 Paddock Street, Hanley, Stoke on Trent, gentleman, who died 12 December 1892 at Chester was granted to his widow Mary Ann on 23 december 1892 at Lichfield. His effects were valued at £35.

By 1901 Mary Ann, still only 43 years old was living by her own means, still at 75 Paddock Street. She had two borders, David Groves, a 50 year old, single, horse dealer who had been born in Walsall and Robert B Harrop, a locally born 16 year old potters mould runner. John had also during 1892 and presumably Betsey died before the 1901 census. There are no doubt many other stories to tell about this family.