Bradshaw Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Bradshaw Meaning
surname comes from the place-name Bradshaw primarily found in
Lancashire.  Its original spelling was
Bradeshaghe, from
the Old English brad meaning “broad”
and sceaga meaning “thicket” or
“grove.”  It was first
recorded in 1246 for the William de Bradeshaghe who lived in a township
of that name within the
parish of Bolton-le-Moors (now part of Bolton) in Lancashire
Bradshaw Resources on

Bradshaw Ancestry

The Bradshaw name has been mainly concentrated
in Lancashire, but has also occurred from an early time in Derbyshire

Bradshaw line in Bradshaw
, a district of Bolton-le-Moors in
dates back to the 13th century.  In
1298 William de Bradshagh and his wife

Mabel took
of Haigh Hall near
Wigan which was to
with their family for the next five hundred years.

to legend, Sir
William Bradshaigh returned from the wars in Scotland in 1324 after
having been
away for ten years, promptly killed his wife’s new husband and made
her walk
barefoot and dressed in sackcloth to their home at Haigh Hall once a
week for
the rest of her life.”

This account was made into a novel by Sir Walter Scott
and the event is still marked by Mab’s Cross on Wigan Lane.  In
his absence from Haigh was due to his banishment by King Edward II for
part in a rebellion against the Earl of Lancaster.

There were later two lines of
Bradshaws derived from these earlier Bradshaws:

  • one,
    sometimes Bradshaw but styled
    Bradshaigh from the early 1500’s, held Haigh Hall.
    They were Catholic and Royalist in sympathy
    but managed to survive the Civil War.  Three
    generations of the family were Wigan MP’s and baronets.
    Their Haigh estate proved to be extremely profitable
    for its coal mining.  However, the last
    of these Bradshaighs died in 1787.   
  • the
    other, Bradshaw, held Bradshaw Hall in Bradshaw.  In
    the 17th century these Bradshaws were
    remarkable for their Puritanism in an area which was strongly Puritan.  However, around this time their fortunes
    began to decline and their manor was purchased in 1694 by Henry
    Bradshaw of
    Marple Hall in Cheshire, a nephew of the regicide John Bradshaw.  Bradshaw Hall itself survived until 1948.

Derbyshire.  Bradshawes were Foresters of Fee at Duffield
Frith in Derbyshire from the early 1400’s, as the following verse by
Bradshawe described:

forest hath foresters of fee which partly hold their

services therein to do, as I do understand;

names be Bradborne,
Bradshaw, Bruckshaw, and the heirs of stone,

which at forest courts must be
with others many a one.”

Francis Bradshaw built Bradshaw Hall at Eyam around the
year 1611.  His son George was a
merchant in Ireland.  After his death in
1646, the story goes that his widow and daughter
the village at the onset of the plague in 1665 and never
returned.  The Bradshaw line
in Derbyshire
out in the next century.

Henry Bradshaw migrated from Derbyshire to Cheshire in the early
and acquired Marple Hall.  His
grandson John Bradshaw
was the High Court judge
who presided over the trial of Charles 1 in 1649; his great grandson
Bradshaw purchased the Bradshaw estate in Lancashire.

Marple Hall was reputed to
be haunted by the ghost of a Cavalier who wooed the daughter of a
Bradshaw.  The Cavalier drowned in the river below the Hall in
sight of
her window.  The Hall ended up with Henry
Bradshaw-Isherwood and later with the writer Christopher Isherwood in
the 20th
century before being demolished.

The 1881 Census.  This census showed
that the county of
Lancashire accounted for almost 40% of all the Bradshaws in England.  The name was particularly concentrated in
townships around Manchester such as Pendleton.
Bradshaws have been there since the 17th century and George
Bradshaw of
the Bradshaw
railway timetables
was born there.

Ireland.  Some
Bradshaws crossed the Irish Sea to Ireland.
Robert Bradshaw from Haigh Hall came to Tipperary in 1662 and
his family
settled in Cullen.  A recent book,Bob Bradshaw’s Wall describing the
Bradshaws who lived on Goat’s Lane in Tipperary, indicates that the
name has
not died out there.

There were a number of Bradshaws in Ulster, starting with Captain James Bradshaw and
his wife Anne
in Drumnakelly, Armagh in the 1660’s.

America.  Richard
Bradshaw arrived as a servant in Virginia on the Temperance
in 1621 and survived the Indian attack a year
later.  However, Giles Bradshaw and his
family were killed at that time.  Richard
apparently married twice and Bradshaw lines via Zachariah Bradshaw in
county, Virginia and Charles
in Madison county, Kentucky were said to have been
descended from

Meanwhile John Bradshaw, an indentured servant, came to Virginia in
1687 and
worked and lived in Henrico county.
Bradshaws of this line were to be found along the James river in
became Goochland county and later spread across the South.

Bill Bradshaw, born
in Tennessee in 1826, came west at an early age and was in California
by the
outbreak of the Mexican War in 1846.  He
later caught the gold bug, first in California and then, together with
brother Isaac, as a pioneer in Arizona.
A contemporary described him in somewhat florid terms as follows:

one of nature’s most polished gentlemen and the brightest jewel in
collection of true born chivalry. He was brave, generous, eccentric,
and in
simple truth a natural lunatic; in manly form and physical beauty,
perfect; in
muscular strength, a giant; in fleetness of foot and endurance,

died by his own hand in 1864.  But he left
his name to the Bradshaw Trail in Arizona and Bradshaw City and the

Canada.  Abraham Bradshaw, a descendant
of the early
Massachusetts settler Humphrey Bradshaw, came to Nova Scotia in 1759
and made
his home in Lunenburg county.  James
Bradshaw, a Loyalist from Connecticut, arrived with his three sons in
1783 and eventually got a land settlement in Fredericksburgh (now

John Bradshaw, originally from Ulster, also crossed from America to
Canada but not voluntarilyHe
taken prisoner by Indians and brought there
and kept prisoner for some time.  He was freed after taking an
oath of allegiance
and becoming a British subject.  He
settled in Osnabruck (now South Stormont) in eastern Ontario


Select Bradshaw Miscellany

The Manor of Bradshaw.  James
J. Francis recorded the following of the early
history in his 1977 book Lords of the
Manor of Bradshaw.

origin of the name Bradshaw comes from the township
of Bradshaw in the parish of Bolton-Le-Moors, Lancashire, England.

In the
early 13th century this old district of Bolton was called Bradeshaghe,
meaning a “broad wood” or copse.

1298 William, son of Richard de Bradshagh, and Mabel his wife were in
possession of the manors of Haigh and Blackrod, which were Mabel’s
right as
heir of Hugh le Norreys.
Her husband from his name is supposed to have been a descendant
of the
Bradshaghs of Bradshaw near Turton.

the period 1350 -1500, we have but fragmentary evidence of the Bradshaw
and their activities at Bradshaw, but the name de Bradshaw occurs many
times in
inquisitions post mortem, marriage settlements, and indeed law suits.”

The Derbyshire Bradshaws.  It
was said that all the Derbyshire Bradshaws were
descended from Bradshaw of Bradshaw in the Peak District.
They became possessed of Champeyne Park in
Duffield through marriage.  They were
afterwards of Windley in the same parish.

elder branch appears to have been
settled at Abney in the 17th century.
Francis Bradshaw, who was the head of the family about 1600,
married the
co-heiress of Stafford of Eyam.  George
Bradshaw, the last of the elder branch, died in 1735.

younger branch, descended from Anthony (a
fourth son of William Bradshaw of Windley) was of Belper and afterwards
Holbrook. This branch became extinct with the death of the Rev. Samuel
of Upminster in Essex in 1767.

Poor John Bradshaw.  John
Bradshaw married early, to Mary Marbury.  She
married young and they had no
children.  Being the third son, he was
not to inherit his father’s lands and title.
In grammar school, tradition has it that he wrote the following
prophetic lines on a gravestone there:

brother Henry must heir the land,
brother Frank must be at his command,
I, poor Jack, will do that
the world shall wonder at.”

He went onto become the Lord President over the High
Court of Justice that tried and condemned Charles I in 1648.  When Charles II was restored to the throne,
John’s body was exhumed and hung on a gallows and decapitated.

Captain James Bradshaw in Ireland.  James
had joined a volunteer regiment of Cromwell’s army and was present as a
at the storming of Drogheda in 1649. He married Ann Patterson in
and they settled in Drumnakelly in Armagh.  He
later became a Quaker.  It was said of him:

Bradshaw was
convinced of truth as a corporal
in the army and for his obedience to the Lord, he was displaced and his
being about twenty pounds was detained from him.  He
then betook to follow other employment for
a livelihood.  He continued in his faith
towards God, stood in his testimony for truth during imprisonment for
refusal to pay tithes and other demands which for conscience sake he
could not
pay.  He kept the fellowship with friends
and suffered patiently the loss of goods taken from him.”

died in 1686 from
the cumulative effects of the wounds he had received at the storming of

Charles and Jeremiah Bradshaw Heading Westward.  Charles
first recorded in Kentucky (Madison county) in the early 1800’s,
migrated to
West Virginia (Cabell county), and then in 1840 headed westward to
Illinois.  Charles’s family left West
Virginia in a small boat, taking with them their household goods and
for the journey.  Charles and two other
family members then made the trip overland, taking with them cattle,
and other stock.

eldest son Jeremiah
departed the family home in Illinois in 1847 for Iowa.
He fought on the Union side in the Civil War
and was afterwards the first postmaster and judge in Cass county.

history of these Bradshaws is not known.
Entries in a family Bible suggest that they might have been
descended from
the Richard Bradshaw, servant to Victor Harvey, who came to Virginia on
the Temperance in 1621. 

George Bradshaw and His Railway Timetables.  In 1839, soon after the introduction of railways, George
Bradshaw published out of Manchester the world’s first compilation of
timetables, entitled Bradshaw’s Railway Time Tables and Assistant
to Railway
Two years
later, this guide started appearing monthly.  It
soon became a staple of Victorian life and
the book in its familiar yellow wrapper became synonymous with

George Bradshaw was a Quaker and in the early editions of
his railway
guide he avoided using the names of months based upon Roman deities
which were
seen as “pagan” usage.  Quaker
usage was “first month” for January, “second month” for
February and so on.   Days of the week
were “first day” for Sunday and so on.

When in 1865 the magazine Punch praised
Bradshaw’s publications,
it stated that “seldom has the gigantic intellect of man been employed
upon a work of greater utility.”  At last some order had been
imposed on
the chaos that had been created by 150 rail companies whose tracks
criss-crossed the country and whose largely uncoordinated network was
expanding.  Bradshaw minutely recorded
all changes and became the standard manual for rail travel well into
the 20th


Bradshaw Names

  • John Bradshaw
    was the High Court judge
    who presided over the trial of Charles I in 1648. 
  • George Bradshaw was the 19th century English
    printer and publisher best known for his series of railway timetables. 
  • Bill Bradshaw was a pioneer of the
    American Southwest in the 1850’s and 1860’s
  • Terry Bradshaw was the quarterback who won four Super Bowls with the
    Steelers during the 1970’s

Select Bradshaw Numbers Today

  • 22,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Bradshaw and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from Lancashire.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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