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The Bradlee Genealogical Society, Featureing Bradlee's with Two E's and NO Y
Last loaded, Monday, 22-Sep-2014 02:09:16 EDT EST

How Bradley became Bradlee
Two "E"s and NO "Y"

As the story goes Samuel Bradley of Dorchester, MA b.Oct 5 1707, d.July 7, 1768 changed the spelling of his last name to Bradlee about the time he became constable for Dorchester Massachusetts. The reported reason "there were too many Bradleys in the Boston area" may have something to do with the fact he was running for public office and did not wish to be confused with the Boston merchant also with the same name.

That does not answer the question of why there are Bradlee's in the 1732 Census of New Hampshire or the reports of Francis Bradlee as having sailed from England (born in Yorkshire) and arriving in Connecticut in the Year 1650.

What we do know is that four of Samuel's sons, his daughter Sara and his son-in-law were responsible for the planning and execution of the Boston Tea Party. This act of civil disobedience that not only contributed heavily to the start of the war with England but succeeded in making the family infamous enough to have Samuel's family's genealogy well documented.

The Bradlee Family with particular reference to the Descendants of Nathan Bradley of Dorchester Mass, was collected and arranged by Samuel Bradlee Doggett and printed in 1878 on the Press of Rockwell and Churchill, No 39 Arch Street, Boston is considered to be the definitive source of information about the prerevolutionary Bradlee ancestors.

Samuel's brother John who's name is recorded on his tombstone as John Bradlee, was said to have moved "The Family" up north during the Siege of Boston. The Britsh had a warrent for the arrest of anyone who spelled Bradlee with 2 e's and no Y! As the story goes Samuel's daughter Sara's husband was in fact jailed as a spy by the British, now there is a subject that needs to be muttered about.

In the late 90's when I started this page, my initial Net-search into the Bradlee Surname, revealed that there were about 75 households listed in the US phone listings under the Bradlee spelling. There was only about a dozen businesses that have the Bradlee name in their title. A more exhaustive search turned up close to 100 households are currently using the Bradlee spelling.

A deeper search of several genealogical databases revealed the names of hundred more Bradlees (all deceased) dating from the early 1700's to the date of latest Social Security death benefits records available.

In contrast a phone record search of the Bradley spelling of the name came up with over 17,000 residences and 1200+ business listings in the US alone. It was at that point that I made the decision that I was going to document the Bradlee side of the family and only include Bradley's that had a direct connection to the Bradlee tree.

So the next time someone comments on the unique spelling of the Bradlee name you can proudly point out that it is less than One Half of One Percent spell it with two E's and no Y!

Using the YGAMS tool, in April 2007: a lookup of [Bradley] comes up with ~24M while [Bradlee] only comes up with ~218K about 1%. Feel free to test your Internet Footpring at YGAMS.COM. This new statistical lookup tool was concieved and authored by who else, a Bradlee!


My spelling tends to be bad, and my typing is not much better. I am a Photographer and Technologist and appreciate good proof-readers. I will strive to fix the problems and omissions pointed out, by those who have a better grasp of the subject or language than I :)

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Copyright 1995-2005 R.C.Bradlee