This is an early medieval Anglo-Scottish surname. Recorded in a surprising number of spellings including Bradly, Bradley, Braudly, Broadley, Bruidley, Braidley, Breadley, Bradlie, Bradeley, Pradley, and Radley, it is residential and originates either from the varied villages called Bradley, or from now lost places which had the meaning of a 'broad clearing suitable for agriculture'. Derived from the pre 7th century English word "brad-leah", a large number of the English places are recorded in the famous Domesday Book of William, the Conqueror in 1086. Given a little French twist the spellings shown are Bradelei, Bradelea, and Bradelie, and from these it is easy to see how many of the later variant surname forms developed. Early interesting examples of the surname recording include John de Bradely of Berwick, who rendered homage to the republican government of Scotland in 1296, and James Bradley (1693 - 1762), the astronomer royal, whose family originate from Bradley Castle, near Wolsingham, in County Durham. Amongst the many recordings of the name in the church registers of the city of London is that of the marriage of John Bradley and Annis Whitby at St. Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on April 9th 1564, whilst James Braidley, originally christened as James Bradley in 1805, was a christening witness at St Pancras Old Church, on September 21st 1838. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bradelai. This was dated 1170, in the Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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