John Bradney

John Bradney was probably born about 1590 in Penn, near Wolverhampton. When he died, he left a will written on 30 Apr 1667 (but probate 9 Sep 1675), in which he is described as a yeoman of Nether Penn. He was buried in St Bartholomew’s Penn on 15 Jul 1675. The executors of his will were William Bendy and William Barnesley.

He married Katherine Barnesley, his second wife, in about 1625. She was one of the six daughters of William Barnesley (1568-1640) of Trysull.

This means he was a brother-in-law to both William Bendy and Thomas Pudsey. However, he would also appear to be the ancestor of the Bradney family of Penn Hall and the direct ancestor of Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier. Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier was descended from two of Katherine’s sisters, Mary and Margaret through the Bendy and Hayward families, but not Katherine, whose children with John Bradney were Thomas (1626-1715), Mary (1629-1676), Samuel (1631-1707), Margaret (1633-1690) and Hannah (1641-1715).

Before Katherine, John Bradney had married Elizabeth Garbett on 28 Aug 1614 and had two surviving sons William (b 1616) and John (b 1620). The descendants of the eldest son William died out with Anne Bradney (bur 1 Aug 1728) the wife of Dr Raphael Sedgwick (mar 1 Jul 1715, bur 12 Nov 1747). In a complicated set of bequests linked through Raphael Sedgwick’s second wife confusingly called Ann Bradley (marr 28 Aug 1729, bur 2 May 1747)  and her sister Mary Bradley (bur 16 Sep 1742), a number of estates including Penn Hall passed to Thomas Bradney, married to Mary Bradley on 17 Aug 1734 at Bayton Worcestershire – his first of three wives. This Thomas Bradney was most likely a descendant of the John Bradney, Citizen and Skinner of London, born in 1620, the younger son of John Bradney and Elizabeth Garbett. This John Bradney (jnr) had married Elizabeth Aldworth in about 1651 and they had a son John Bradney (III) baptized on 2 Nov 1652 at St Antholin’s, London. It is this John that it is postulated that appears in Burke’s Commoners as the first named ancestor of the Bradneys. In Burke’s, it talks of John Bradney who marries Rebecca Dyson of Enville and their only son being William Bradney, born 2 Nov 1680. He is the father of Thomas Bradney (b 17 Jul 1710), whose first wife was Mary Bradley, the putative sister of his second cousin’s husband’s second wife! Although Penn Hall that therefore passed to Thomas Bradney in 1747 was planned and largely built by Raphael Sedgwick, we can suppose the bulk of the estate land mentioned in the will written in 1667 eventually found its way back to the Bradney name – supplemented by an inheritance from Anne Sedgwick’s mother’s family, the Baches.

The will of Anne Sedgwick designates her “trusty and well beloved friend Thomas son of William Bradley (sic) of Barn Street, Locksmith”, as the residual heir to her estates after the death of both her sister-in-law Jane and her husband Raphael. Following the death of her two children in 1718 and 1724, and subsequently her own brother John in 1727, it is clear that Anne Sedgwick knew that her line of the Bradney family would die out. This clause is very confusing because it is clear on the one hand that William Bradney (sic) (1680-1732) is the Locksmith of Barn Street and it was his son Thomas to whom these estates were ultimately devised. William Bradley (sic) would be the father of Ann and Mary Bradley – “a gentleman of Cleobury Mortimer”, who leaves a will Probate 23 Sep 1743.  On the other hand Thomas Bradney would only be 18 years of age and could not really be a beloved friend of a lady thirty years his senior. Ann and Mary did have a brother Thomas Bradley son of William Bradley, Gent of Cleobury Mortimer, who would have been a more appropriate age and his sisters were to marry Dr Raphael Sedgwick and Thomas Bradney respectively. Anne Sedgwick also mentions a number of her cousins, notably Joseph Bradney (b 1658), who was a son of her grandfather’s brother John Bradney (b 1620). Also  she mentions Sarah Billingsley, who would appear to be the granddaughter of Samuel Bradney (b 1631). Whatever the cause of these inconsistencies, the will prepared the way for the Bradney estates to pass eventually to Thomas Bradney (1710-1782). It is open to dispute if this is because of a true blood connection between Anne Sedgwick and him or if it is because of (or even the cause of) a marriage connection through the Bradley family of Cleobury Mortimer.

Significantly, in another document at the National Archives that adds to the confusion, Anne Sedgwick’s will is challenged by this blood cousin Joseph Bradney (bap 1658), in which he is described as the “sole heir of John Bradney son of John Bradney and his first wife Elizabeth Garbett”. This pours a lot of doubt on John Bradney, father of William Bradney, locksmith and ironmonger, (1680-1732) being in any way descended or even related to John Bradney who dies in 1675. Of course all this might suggest either some illegitimacy or perhaps a link even further back in the Bradney genealogy. This remains somewhat of a conundrum. As John Bradney (b 1620) lived a twin life as a Citizen Skinner and Furrier in the City of London and also time in Wolverhampton, he is the most likely candidate as the father of another John Bradney perhaps born in about 1646, making him 60 years old at death in 1706 as reported by Burke’s Commoners.

However, whatever the case, the reuniting of some of these estates with the Bradney name in 1747 was short lived. The Bradneys were singularly unsuccessful at fathering male heirs and Thomas Bradney (1710-1782) only had two daughters, Esther and Ellen. From these one grand daughter, Ann-Sophie Marsh married Charles Evans and another great granddaughter Alice Titterton Pershouse married Thomas Shaw-Hellier.

This struggle in infertility continued right until 1899 when descendants of these two, Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier and his neighbour Harriet Bradney Marsh Evans decided to marry. The bride was 59 years old and despite both having ‘Bradney’ in their name, this was the indeed very end of the Bradney line.


Selected Sources

  • Will of John Bradney, Yeoman, Probate 9 Sep 1675, Lichfield Record Office
  • Will of Katherine Bradney, Widow, Probate 25 Jun 1679, Lichfield Record Office
  • A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain, Vol 3, John Burke, London 1835
  • Boyd’s Inhabitants of London, 1651 (family of John Bradney of St Antholin’s)
  • Will of Raphael Sedgwick, Doctor of Physic, Probate 22 Apr 1748, National Archives PCC, (Husband of Great Granddaughter)
  • Will of William Bradney, Probate 15 May 1688, Lichfield Record Office (Eldest son)
  • Will of John Bradney, Gentleman of Penn, Probate 4 Jan 1691, National Archives PCC (Grandson and eldest son of William)
  • Will of Hester Bradney, Proved Lichfield March 1726, (Widow of Grandson, nee Bache)
  • Will of John Bradney, Gentleman of Nether Penn, Probate 21 May 1728, PCC,  (Great Grandson, older brother of Ann Sedgwick)
  • Will of Anne Sedgwick, Probate 6 May 1729, National Archives, PCC  (Great Granddaughter) This transcript switches Bradleys and Bradneys in an almost deliberately confusing way.
  • Will of William Bradney. Ironmonger of Wolverhampton, 1732, National Archives PCC (Father of main residual legatee of Anne Sedgwick – he makes his friend Dr Sedgwick his executor and confirms he has property in Barn Street, Wolverhampton)
  • C11/1705/29 National Archives would appear to imply that the only son and heir of John Bradney, Skinner is Joseph Bradney, Cabinet Maker.
Last updated on 1 October 2017 by JJ Morgan