BRADFORD, Thomas (by 1517-77), of Bradford and Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1517, 2nd s. of Ralph Bradford of Bradford and Berwick-upon-Tweed by Euphemia, illegit. da. of Gilbert Manners of Etal. m. Eleanor, da. of Leonard Murton of Murton, Northumb., 9s. 4da.1

Offices Held

Alderman, Berwick-upon-Tweed by 1551, mayor 1557-8, 1561-2, 1564-5, 1569-70.2


Thomas Bradford came of a family which had long been settled at Bradford in northern Northumberland not far from Berwick; by right of this seat the head of the family was sometimes known as the baron of Bradford. His father had also been connected with Berwick, having been mayor in 1533. Bradford himself traded as a merchant and married the daughter of one of the leading burgesses. By June 1538 he was one of the Twelve, an important municipal body on which he continued to figure prominently, and in October 1547 he was appointed to the newly constituted common council. In 1550 he and three others, describing themselves as ‘very poor merchant men’, accused the mayor of Berwick in the Star Chamber of first committing them to prison and then requiring them not to leave the town under sureties totalling £700; they had apparently been confined to Berwick for 17 weeks. This incident apart, Bradford seems to have been a moderately prosperous merchant trading with the eastern counties; in April 1551 he and other Berwick merchants, were licensed to buy for the town cereals and beans from Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. In January 1554, and again shortly afterwards, he was involved in a dispute with his fellow municipal official George Browne.3

Bradford was chosen by the Twelve to sit in the Parliament of 1555 and was allowed 3s.4d. a day. His own standing in the town was enhanced by his connexions with several leading families there: he married into the Murton family and was executor of the will of Matthew Murton, and when in February 1566 John Selby, porter of Berwick, appointed Bradford a supervisor of his will he called him brother-in-law. Of his part in the proceedings of the Commons there is only the negative evidence that he was not among those who followed Sir Anthony Kingston’s lead in opposing the government, although he doubtless had some interest in a bill for the quantity of salmon barrels at Berwick and Newcastle which had its first and only reading on 13 Nov. 1555. Bradford’s single spell in Parliament was followed by several years of prominence in the town, of which he was probably mayor four times, as his elder son, another Thomas, is not known to have held municipal office.4

Bradford owned property both in and near Berwick. By 1568 he had apparently recovered the estate at Bradford, of which it is recorded that ‘howbeit [his elder brother John] sold his land ... his brother Thomas got by purchase again the same’. Although it is unlikely that he was the contemporary Thomas Bradford of Elwick whose daughter and heir is said to have married Thomas Grey of Kyloe, he did have an interest in the Tweed fishery, being a tenant of crown fishing rights, and while mayor in 1561-2 he fined himself £1 for having illegally leased certain of these to a Scotsman. Bradford died and was buried in Berwick in May 1577.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. J. Taylor


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. P. Hedley, Northumb. Fams. 219-21; Vis. Northumb. ed. Foster, 19; Northumb. Co. Hist. i. 297; Vis. of the North, i (Surtees Soc. cxxii), 128-9.
  • 2. Berwick guild bk. 1508-68, unfoliated; J. Scott, Berwick, 479.
  • 3. Northumb. Co. Hist. i. 295-302; Berwick guild bk. 1508-68, GMI; St.Ch.3/5/19; CPR, 1550-3, p. 106.
  • 4. Berwick guild bk. 1508-68, GMI; Depositions and Eccles. Procs. (Surtees Soc. xxi), 285-6; Wills and Inventories i (ibid. ii), 235; Sadler Pprs. ii. 18, 19; CPR, 1569-72, p. 34; CJ, i. 44.
  • 5. Scott, 265, 456, 458, 473; Hedley, 219, 221; Hodgson, Northumb. iii(3), p. lxxi; Arch. Ael. (ser. 3), iv. 3, 10; (ser. 4), xi. 224-5; Vis. Northumb. 64; Northumb. Co. Hist. i. 413; DKR, xxxviii. 159; information from W. P. Hedley.