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William Bradley (1800–1868)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

William Bradley (1800-1868), pastoralist, was born on 1 June 1800 at Windsor, New South Wales, the second son of Sergeant Jonas Bradley (1769-1841) of the New South Wales Corps and his wife Catherine. His father had won respect as the first successful grower of tobacco in the colony and received large land grants in the parish of Towrang, County Argyle; on his death in October 1841 they passed to William, his only surviving child.

Bradley was one of the first to take up grazing runs on the Monaro; according to John Lhotsky he had 800 cattle on the Ballebalaing (Bullanamang) run near Bredbo in 1834; he was also running about 10,000 sheep on his land grants near Goulburn. By 1838 he had fifty free and ticket-of-leave servants on his properties. In the depressed early 1840s he acquired cheaply several other near-by stations; he also had a flour-mill and brewery at Goulburn.

In June 1843 Bradley, of Lansdowne, Goulburn, was returned unopposed for Argyle to the Legislative Council, where he became actively associated with select committees on Aboriginals, land and economic conditions. Before the select committee on monetary confusion in September 1843 he stated that his net profit on every thousand sheep was 'rather more than £100' or twice the average for the colony. He attributed this difference to his 'long experience and personal attention', and to methods which contrasted sharply with those of many merchants and professional men who embarked on grazing speculations but lived in Sydney and entrusted the management of their country stations to men with no understanding of land and stock.

Political responsibilities demanded at least some residence in Sydney but when Bradley was forced to take on a manager he was much more fortunate than most absentees, for he engaged William Brodribb for his Monaro stations, a happy and profitable arrangement for both, from August 1843 to the end of 1854. Bradley had to resign from the council in June 1846 when he took his family to Europe because of his wife's poor health. In his absence Brodribb managed the Monaro runs, John Phillips had charge of his Goulburn property and Flower, Salting & Co., Sydney merchants, acted as his agent. In July 1847 before the House of Commons select committee on colonization from Ireland Bradley gave evidence on the economic conditions and needs of New South Wales; he claimed to own 40,000 sheep. At the same committee Caroline Chisholm said she had been comforted by Bradley's approval of her 'Country Plan' and offer of help. His wife died at Rome on 22 April 1848 and he returned to the colony with his four daughters.

In 1851-56 Bradley was a nominee member of the Legislative Council and again active in the grazing interest. In March 1854 he decided to sell his fourteen Monaro runs totalling more than 270,000 acres (109,266 ha) if they could be disposed of together. However, a buyer could not be found and they were passed in. By 1864 he had twenty runs on the Monaro for which he paid an annual rent of £600. He sold some of them and most of the livestock in 1866. His 56,000-acre (22,663 ha) Bibbenluke property was retained and later converted into freehold.

Bradley appears to have lived quietly, devoting his energies to little else than pastoral affairs and other closely related matters. As an active promoter of railways he helped to finance the survey of the line to Goulburn and in May 1847 was a provisional director of the Great Southern and Western Railway Co. In 1850 he was a director of the Sydney Railway Co. and he offered ten acres (4 ha) for a terminus at Goulburn. He was an original member of the Union Club in Sydney in 1858. He died at his Sydney residence, Lindesay, Darling Point, on 6 April 1868 and was buried in St Stephen's churchyard, Camperdown. His estate was sworn for probate at more than £100,000.

At Campbelltown on 10 August 1831 he had married Emily Elizabeth, only daughter of William Hilton Hovell; they had two sons and six daughters, of whom the sons and a daughter died young. The eldest daughter, Emily Jane (1832-1908), married Major James Langford Pearse of the 5th Madras Native Infantry; the fourth, Catherine, married Dr Samuel Thomas Heard of the Indian army; the fifth, Williamina (1844-1881), married Commander Frederick, nephew of Governor Hercules Robinson; and the youngest, Alice Caroline (1846-1932), married Charles Fyshe Roberts.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Lhotsky, A Journey from Sydney to the Australian Alps (Syd, 1835)
  • W. A. Brodribb, Recollections of an Australian Squatter (Syd, 1883)
  • C. MacAlister, Old Pioneering Days in the Sunny South (Goulburn, 1907)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Aug 1831, 2 Nov 1841, 19 June 1843, 9 June 1846 'supplement', 31 Mar 1854, 26 Dec 1864, 23 Apr, 1 May 1866
  • Waugh family letters, 1834-59 (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Bradley, William (1800–1868)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 22 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


1 June, 1800
Windsor, New South Wales, Australia


6 April, 1868 (aged 67)
Darling Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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