Thomas Bradley of the Wood, Sedgley

In Dugdale’s 1663 Visitation of Staffordshire  the Bradley family (disclaimed 1664) is traced back to a Thomas Bradley of Baggeridge Forest (‘The Wood’) in Sedgley, Staffordshire. Later on, this Bradley family are simply all described as of ‘the Wood’ in Sedgley.

Thomas must have been born in the late 1580’s, possibly the baptism of 10 Sep 1583 to a father Richard Bradley recorded in the All Saints, Sedgley register. His marriage is almost certainly the one recorded in St Benedict, Wombourne to Elizabeth Woodhouse on 8 Jun 1611. Elizabeth was baptized on 24 Feb 1591 and was the older sister of John Woodhouse, heir to the Wodehouse estate in Wombourne. Another brother to Elizabeth was Walter Woodhouse who in his will in 1634 appoints his brother-in-law Thomas Bradley as an overseer, describing him as his ‘loving friend and brother’.

It would appear that Thomas and Elizabeth had three or possibly four surviving children. Some baptisms are missing. The oldest daughter would be Elizabeth Bradley, who must have been born about 1612. The Visitation records that she married Edward Parkshouse, who was latterly Steward of the Manor of Rowley Regis and a significant collaborator to his Uncle Dud Dudley. A Monumental Inscription shows that Elizabeth Parkshouse died 23 Aug 1650 and the register records her burial as 26 Aug 1650. Her mother died on 12 Dec 1627 and was buried on 13 Dec 1627.

Thomas’s son and heir John Bradley was baptized the same day his mother was buried on 13 Dec 1627. The other known daughter was Jane Bradley, bap 19 May 1614 in Wombourne. Jane married a John Jennens of Warely Hall on 16 Aug 1636 in All Saints. The Visitation states that she later married Richard Jevon, who left a will in 1651. The sequence of a series of burials and wills is complex. A John Jennens ‘of the Wood’ is recorded as being buried on 26 Sep 1659 and ‘Mrs Jane Jennens of the Wood’ on 14 Nov 1656. Rather than the parents, these would appear to be the burials of two of the children. The wills of both Jane Jevon and her daughter Jane Jennens, the spinster grandchild of Thomas Bradley, were both executed much later in 1663.

Jane Jennens, the granddaughter, (will probate 1663 but written in 1656) mentions her Uncle Edward Parkshouse and a number of her Jennens uncles. It also mentions her Aunt Willetts who could be a sister of her mother. However, a marriage of Katherine Bradley to a Willets took place in St Edmund’s Dudley on 25 Nov 1611 that suggests that Katherine was a great Aunt rather than an Aunt and therefore a sister and not another daughter of Thomas Bradley.

The will of Jane Jevon, the mother, is written in 1653 and an entry in All Saints register on 10 Apr 1653 records the burial of Mrs Jane Jevin, Widow (sic). She again mentions her brothers John Bradley and Edward Parkshouse as well as a desire to be buried alongside her ‘mother Bradley’. Again this will is not granted probate until 1663.

Thomas’s heir, John Bradley ‘Gent, of the Wood in the Parish of Sedgley’ is recorded as marrying Mary Pynson, one of three daughters of William Pynson, in St Peter’s Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton on 14 Jun 1652. They had a number of sons – Richard, John, William and Henry all mentioned in John’s own will of 1684.

Thomas Bradley of the Wood, Sedgley is recorded as paying £25- 0-0 into the accounts of the Parliamentary Committee at Stafford in 1644. His father-in-law William Pynson was a ‘cousin’ to Thomas Pudsey. This probably places Thomas Bradley in proximity to the Parliamentarian circles in Staffordshire along with William Bendy, all discussed on this site.

It would appear that ‘Mr Thomas Bradeley’ (sic)  was buried on 12 Apr 1653. This was just two days after his daughter Jane. No will can be found.

An entry in the Sedgley parish register states that Old Mrs Bradley was buried on 15 Oct 1672. The Sedgley Manor record show that Mary Bradley, Widow, of the Wood left a probate inventory in 1673 of £18 2s 6d. This would suggest that Thomas remarried a Mary after the death of his first wife in 1627 and she survived him by nearly twenty years. This would also explain why Jane Jennens talks about her ‘Grandmother Bradley’ in 1656, even though this Mary would in reality have been her step grandmother.

There are other Bradley families in Sedgley at the time. John Bradley, who married Joanne Gibbens on 23 Dec 1619 died and left will in 1631. He refers to his kinsman Thomas Bradley that suggests that he is not a brother. There are other Thomas Bradley’s notably one in Dudley who leaves a will in 1629 and another one in neighbouring Kingswinford. The research above holds together only because Thomas Bradley and his immediate family are uniquely described as ‘of the Wood’.

Whilst Thomas is styled sometimes as a ‘yeoman’, his son John Bradley in his 1684 will styles himself as a ‘Gent’. Indeed the parish register describes John on his burial on 25 Aug 1684 as ‘honest upright John Bradley of the Wood, gent’.

Sources and Notes

  • Will of John Bradley, Probate 9 Feb 1684, PCC (Son)
  • Will of Jane Jevon, Widow, Probate 26 Aug 1663, PCC (Daughter)
  • Will of Jane Jennens, Spinster, Probate 27 Jul 1663, PCC (Granddaughter)
  • Will of John Bradley, Probate 11 Jul 1631, PCC (Kinsman/Brother)
  • Will of Edward Persehouse, Probate 1685, PCC (Son-in-law)
  • Will of William Pynson, Probate 9 Nov 1670, PCC (Son’s Father-in=law)
  • Will of Richard Jevon, Probate 19 Jun 1652, PCC (Son-in-Law)
    • Indicates that Edward Parkshouse is his brother-in-law and his wife is named Jane
  • D H Pennington (ed): The Committee at Stafford 1643-1645, Manchester University Press, 1957
  • John Jennens, Thomas’s son-in-law, was the older half brother of Sir Humphrey Jennens of Erdington Hall and heir to the wealthy John Jennens, ironmonger of Birmingham, who died after his son and namesake in 1653
    • The Jennens family wealth is said to be the inspiration for Dicken’s ‘Bleak House’
    • The death of John Jennens (snr) in 1653 seems to have contributed to the blacklog of unexecuted wills and estates that were not resolved until 1663. No burial or will can be found for John Jennens, Thomas’s son-in-law.
  • Tablet in All Saints Church “Here lies the bodies of the wife of Thomas Bradley of the Wood gent., and of Elizabeth their daughter, wife of Edward Parkshouse of Nether Gornal, gent. The mother entered into rest the 12th day of December 1627, and the daughter the 23rd day of August 1650.”
  • National Archives MS 3307/ACC1927-020/337360
    • Indicates that ‘Richard Bradeley of the Wood’ is alive in 1613 and is thus a likely candidate to be the father of Thomas Bradley
    • unsubstantiated sources state Thomas’s mother was Ann Persehouse.
  • Parkshouse is a portmanteau surname composed from ‘Parkes alias Persehouse’ and the interchangeability of the three names has to be treated carefully. Spelling variants abound.
  • Sedgley Manor Probate Inventories
Last updated on 26 September 2023 by JJ Morgan