New Hampshire’s Unluckiest Family: The Bradleys

In the course of New Hampshire’s history, perhaps the unluckiest family was that of Bradley. Were their untimely deaths the result of a curse, or did they simply have the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

It started with the progenitor of this prolific New England family–Daniel Broadley. He immigrated to the New World on 8 Apr 1635 on the ship, “Elizabeth,” of London first settling in Rowley and later in Haverhill, Massachusetts. On 13 Aug 1689 a small party of Indians appeared in the northerly part of this town, and killed him. But not before he married and his wife gave birth to his nine children.

Some of his immediate descendants received a similar sad fate:

— 1695: His eighth child, Isaac (b 1679/80 in Haverhill MA) was abducted by Indians in 1695 but escaped. He married and had ten children.

— 1696: His eldest son Daniel (b. 1662 in Rowley MA) was killed by Indians in March of 1696/97 in what was later known as the “Dustin Massacre.”

— 1718: His fifth child, Mary (b. Apr 1671 in Haverhill MA) was killed 3 Sep 1718 by Indians. She was married twice, her first husband being killed by Indians in 1704. She had 6 children.

— 1727: His second son, Joseph (b. 1664 in Rowley) died Oct 1727.  Joseph’s wife Hannah (Heath) Bradley was captured not once, but twice by Indians and abducted to Canada.  During one of these captivities her newborn child was killed by the abductors. Three other of their children were killed by Indians.

–His ninth child Abraham (b. March 1683 in Haverhill MA) moved to Concord [then called Rumford] NH, where he sired 11 children. He died probably of natural causes.

— 1746: His grandson (by Abraham) Lieut. Jonathan (b 1713 in Haverhill MA) died 11 August 1746 in Concord NH killed by Indians. He had married and had four children previously.

— 1746: His grandson (by Abraham) Samuel Bradley (b 1721 in Haverhill MA) was killed on the same day as his brother Jonathan, in Concord NH on 11 August 1746. He had married and had three children.

–His grandson (by Abraham) Lieut. Timothy Bradley (b. 1711 in Haverhill MA) married Abiah Stevens and had twelve children. Timothy and his wife died of normal causes.  But such was not the fate for their children.

–1759: His great-grandson, (by gr-son Timothy, and son Abraham) Benjamin Bradley (b 1739 in Concord NH). He was one of Roger’s Rangers who perished after the St. Francis flight of Oct 1759. [SEE upcoming article about New Hampshire’s Lost Treasure: The Silver Madonna].


PS: This strange article is submitted as my contribution to the 4th Edition of Blog Carnival: Cabinet of Curiosities, hosted by Walking the Berkshires.

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6 Responses to New Hampshire’s Unluckiest Family: The Bradleys

  1. Karen Campbell says:

    Dear Visitor from Redmond, Washington – I live in Bellevue, Washington and I’m researching the Fabyan family, among others. My email address is, if you’d like to contact me!

  2. Karen Campbell says:

    I’d be happy for anyone to contact me about the Fabyans, related families, shared locales, etc. Thank you!

  3. L. Petersen says:

    You should consider editing this article slightly so that it is not completely from a non-white settler male perspective. For example, murders perpetrated by colonists and Native Americans upon each other continued in a tit-for-tat sequence for decades; it wasn’t all just “Native Americans killed…” Also, I notice that you refer to most of the children born as belonging to the men: “wife gave birth to his nine children,” “sired 11 children,” etc. While we may not know their names, women gave birth to those children and likely spent waaay more time raising them then the various Bradley males. Just changing some pronouns and sentence structures here and there could make both of these very important viewpoints represented.

    • Janice Brown says:

      First thank you for reading and replying. I agree. That post was written in 2008 to be a short story about one particular family who seemed to have many trials in their history. I agree, the Native Peoples were not the bad guys and the Europeans the good guys. I hope I didn’t imply that. In fact I’ve written several stories about the New Hampshire Native Peoples. They were killed off by European diseases, enslaved, had their land stolen, and then had their enemies paid to finish them off (at least in New Hampshire). I hope that my many stories about women-specific history balances out this one story where it SEEMS like the man did all the work to produce the offspring. You and I and any reasonable person would not that was not possible. Considering all the hard work women had to do in additional to bearing and raising those children it is amazing they lived as long as they did. Rather than change my original story let your comment, and my comment be an addenda to the original. So that we both recognize the story could have been written in a more politically correct and woman-oriented way 🙂

  4. Cori Hayman says:

    Janice Brown: As a direct descendent of Daniel Bradley through Isaac (the 8th son), I am honored that you wrote about my unlucky ancestral family. The history of the Bradley family reads like a suspense novel in the years before the French Indian War and continuing through the Civil War and later. Yet, this is no novel. This is pure non-fiction American history in its raw and brutal form. Thank you. Cori.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Cori, thank you for reading and commenting. I must admit I almost did not write the story because it certainly seems to put the native people’s in a negative light. For every act of violence against the European settlers, there was at least as much, if not more toward the native Americans living in New Hampshire and nearby. You come from hardy stock.

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