Main content

Bradley commonplace book


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Bradley (first name unknown) was a resident of Keighley, Yorkshire, England, in the 19th century. Between 1814 and 1826, he was an employee of Berry Smith, owner of a cotton spinning mill in Keighley.

The author's brother, painter John Bradley (1787-1844), was a founding member of the Keighley Mechanical Institute in 1825, as well as its first secretary, vice-president, and architect of its new building. He was also the art teacher and mentor to several children of the famous Brontë family (Yorkshire, England) including Charlotte, Emily, and Branwell. John and his family sailed to Philadelphia on the

Algonquin on July 8, 1831, and returned to Liverpool, England, on March 21, 1832. John's son Alfred Bradley died on the passage from America.

The author of this commonplace book noted that his wife died at age fifty-five on November 6, 1831, his mother in 1819, and his father in 1827. His son John began business in the machine trade in May 1836.

Alexander, Christine and Jane Sellars,The Art of the Brontës. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.Further biographical information derived from the collection.

This journal and commonplace book was kept by Bradley (first name unknown), a resident of Keighley, England, from approximately 1831 to 1845. The journal contains periodic entries of life events, but is primarily a notebook of assorted facts, including histories of local buildings, events, mathematical problems, political elections, mill owners, and death dates of residents in Keighley and York. The journal also includes notes of "current" events such as the visit of then-Princess Victoria to the Cathedral of York in 1835, Frederick William of Prussia's death, and the removal of Napoleon's remains from St. Helena to Paris.

Bradley was an employee of Berry Smith, owner of a cotton spinning mill in "Kighley" (Keighley), England, from 1814-1826. Bradley noted that his original agreement with Smith was that he was to receive one sixth of the spinning profit and one sixth of the shop's profit, but the promise was not kept. In his journal, Bradley recorded a wide variety of facts relating to subjects of interest to him. He included dimensions of structures such as bridges and York Cathedral, mathematical formulas, recipes, dates of historical events, and technical achievements. The latter was of particular interest to Bradley, who attended the Keighley Mechanics Institute (co-founded by his brother John) for a chemistry course on electricity and, later, a lecture on construction of a telescope. This interest is demonstrated by his April 6, 1845, entry which notes a game of chess was to be played by telegraph between one party in London and another in Southampton; and another entry realizing that a journey between London and Bath which had taken two days to complete by stage coaches in 1745 could be completed by railway coaches in two and three quarter hours in 1845.

Other assorted facts noted by Bradley include the death of sixty-nine Yorkshire centenarians between 1740 and 1822, the death of a man at age 117 in France, and the abundance of large pines near "Spokan" (Spokane, Washington, United States) and the Columbia River. Bradley thought it worthwhile to remember the birth of George Washington in 1732, the birth of Isaac Newton in 1727, and the 1785 Channel crossing by balloon of Jeffries Blanchard. Bradley recorded several important current events such as Princess Victoria's visit to York Cathedral in 1835 and her later succession to the throne, Frederick William of Prussia's death, and the removal of Napoleon's remains from St. Helena to Paris.

In addition to recording facts about the world, Bradley documented events relating to his family in the journal. On July 8, 1831, Bradley's brother John, sailed to Philadelphia. He returned to from America and arrived in Liverpool on March 21, 1832. Bradley also noted the death dates of various family members including his wife on November 6, 1831, mother in 1819, father in 1827 (all recorded but unnamed), and Alfred Bradley, son of John, on the passage from America in 1832. He also remarks on his son John's entry into the machine trade in May 1836.

The journal includes several laid-in clippings relating to poetry and advertisements. There is a sewn-in advertisement for John Lowther of Sunderland, a "manufacturer of the improved crystalline spectacles." Also included in the journal are clippings from newspapers or other publications relating facts such as the population of the British Empire's Canadian possessions, the size of the Russian Army, news, and religious matters. This notebook presents a transitional historical moment when one small-town laborer could record his curious awareness of civilization's progress around the world and the increasing speed of technological progress brought by the Industrial Revolution.

University of Delaware. Library.

Self works : diaries, scrapbooks, and other autobiographical efforts : catalog of an exhibition, August 19, 1997-December 18, 1997 : guide to selected sources. Newark, Del. : Special Collections, Hugh M. Morris Library, University of Delaware Library, 1997.

  1. Item 0114: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097


Processed and encoded by E. Evan Echols, February 2014.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2014 February 3
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Bradley commonplace book, approximately 1831-1845.
Item 0114
Physical Description

1 volume

Print, Suggest