Page revised 21 August 2001





Edward J Law.

The eldest son of James and Elizabeth Bradley of East Keswick, near Wetherby, James Bradley is first noted at Almondbury in the directory of 1784, when he is recorded as a surgeon, apothecary and man-midwife. He lived and practised in the village for the next twentfive years, latterly at Prospect House which he held on lease from Mrs. Battye, which lease he relinquished c.1809, when he removed to Huddersfield.

In September 1812 he married Mary Fenton at Huddersfield Parish Church. Mary was one of the daughters of Samuel Fenton, an attorney with origins at Underbank, who lived at Greenhead, which property is said to have been occupied by his widow, Ann the daughter of Robert Hague of Storth, to her death in 1782. In the previous year Mrs. Fenton is noted paying land tax in respect of The Daintry which was quite a substantial property in what became Market Street, and which was the home of Mary Fenton at the time of her marriage. The property survived well into the last century, and a drawing of it is to be found in Noel Spencer’s Second Sketch Book.

James Bradley and his new wife were not to remain long in central Huddersfield for in 1813 James made arrangements to purchase a plot of land at Longroyd Bridge, and proceeded to build on it a commodious and substantial property called, rather modestly, Clifton Cottage. It is thought that James was the first physician of the Huddersfield Dispensary, which was established in the Packhorse Yard in 1814. He is not named as such in the minutes of the Dispensary, but it appears from references in his published work that he was working there from its inception. Only two years later, in June 1816, he relinquished the post because of bad health.

No mention of James has been found in the Huddersfield directories of the next twenty years, and it is probable that he was no longer in general practice. It is clear that he was under no financial necessity to continue his professional activities: the publication of a medical treatise, Observations on a stridulous affection of the bowels, in 1818 may be an indication that he was devoting his talents to research, as far as his health would permit. A copy of his work is preserved in the John Rylands Library of Manchester University; it includes a list of certain cases with which he had been concerned, including the names, appearances, occupations and family details of some of his patients. Little, however, appears of the author: we learn that he had been nearly forty years in practise and that he had made an earlier essay into print with cases that had been published in the London Medical & Physical Journal some twenty years previously.

At the time of their marriage in 1812 James was aged 53 and his wife was some five years his senior. Clearly there was to be no issue from the union, but James already had a son and heir. The registers of Lockwood Baptist Chapel record the birth on 26 May 1805 of James Bradley Mellor, the son of Martha Mellor of Castlehouses in the parish of Almondbury. Conclusive evidence that James was the child’s father is found in his will where bequests were made "to my natural son commonly called James Bradley Mellor begotten on the body of Martha Mellor of Castlehouses, Almondbury."

It is possible that the affair with, and birth of the child to, Martha Mellor was the reason for James’s eventual removal from Almondbury, at a time when public opinion on such matters was very different from the present: it will be seen later that James had a sharp awareness of the delicacies of the situation. It seems probable that he took a great interest in the education and maintenance of his son. When the latter was seventeen he spent some months at Leeds Grammar School where, although he continued to be known as James Bradley Mellor, his parent or guardian was shown to be "- Bradley, MD, Huddersfield."

James Bradley Mellor followed his father’s profession, and when he left Leeds Grammar School in 1823 it was to move to London as a physician. In his will of the same year James Bradley made provision for his natural son. He left Clifton Cottage to his wife for life, then to the use of his son, with the particular stipulation that he should not reside for more than one month within six miles of Huddersfield. One wonders whether this unusual provision was to save his wife from possible embarrassment. In a codicil five years later he revoked the condition but at the same time requested his son to comply with it. It may have been that such a provision was felt to be necessary when the son was a youth of seventeen: no doubt in the next five years the father had been able to assess his son'’ qualities.

Another request in the will was that his son should obtain a grant to use the name of James Bradley only. It seems that request was promptly met for James Bradley died in April 1833, and when his executors assigned their interest to the son in January the following year, it was in the name of James Bradley Bradley, by which name he continued to be known until his death in 1872. It is not known if he complied with his father’s wishes as to residence. He is noted at various dates living in London, Bridgnorth and Brighton, but in 1852 when his mother, who had never married, named him as her sole devisee, he was stated to be living at 2 York Place, Huddersfield. It is known that he retained local links for one of his executors was Thomas Nelson who, though he lived at Wold Newton, had Huddersfield origins and owned Nelson’s Buildings on the corner of Cloth Hall Street and New Street.

Clifton Cottage, the house which James Bradley built c.1813 still stands, on the hillside to the north of Longroyd Bridge. One can imagine the pleasant prospect it had when first built, when industry in the valley bottom was still in its infancy. There is a description of the outlook from the same valley side written by George Searle Phillips, the Secretary of the Huddersfield Mechanics Institute, 1n 1848:

  • In my own neighbourhood … on the Manchester Road, the prospect over theLockwood valley is very beautiful. At the foot of my little garden runs the canal, and a few yards beyond it the river. Just beyond the river lie several green fields, full of tenters to hang cloth on; and these fields are fenced in with hills, on the top of which runs a long line of houses, their fronts facing the Lockwood road. A little to the right of the houses, on the same hills, sweeping away in a semi-circular form, is a wood full of fine lofty trees, beyond which rise other ranges of hills covered with pastures, until the whole scene is lost in the dark moorland. On the left of the fields where the tenters are, stand the factories of Joseph Kaye, like so many Aladdin palaces, with their hundreds of windows and tall steeple chimnies. And far above and beyond them rise the bold and lofty hills, of which the "Castle Hill" is chief.
  • It is interesting to find the mills of the area, even at that late date, described in terms of fairy tale beauty. Less than ten years later they appear in a rather different light. In a report of 1857 on the estate of Lewis Fenton deceased, James Bradley’s nephew, Spring Grove and its pleasure grounds close by Clifton Cottage, both standing above Starkey’s extensive mills, were said to be damaged through smoke from Longroyd Bridge and neighbourhood. One wonders if the full circle is nearing accomplishment as the massive mills of the valley bottom are dismantled and the air clears. Too late for Spring Grove, but might Clifton Cottage, a secluded property with private gardens, rise from its present apparently neglected state?

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