Recorded in an extraordinary number of spellings including Bradly, Bradley, Braudly, Broadley, Bruidley, Braidley, Breadley, Bradlie, Bradeley, Pradley, and Radley, this is an Anglo-Scottish medieval surname. It is locational and originates from any of the numerous places called Bradley. All share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the broad clearing (in a forest) suitable for agriculture", from the Olde English pre 7th century word "brad", meaning broad or wide, with "leah", a fenced clearing or farm. A large number of the English places are recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, as Bradelei, Bradelea, and "Bradelie, and from these spellings it is easy to see how many of the later variant surname forms developed. Early examples of the surname recording include those of John de Bradely of Scotland who rendered homage at Berwick in 1296, to the then government of Scotland, whilst another interesting example is that of the English astronomer James Bradley (1693 - 1762), whose family can be traced back to 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 himself 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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