People: John Bradley

Name Bradley, John
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
1742– Sep 1756

Posts Assistant

Born 1728
Died 1794
Family Links Nephew of the Astronomer Royal, James Bradley

John Bradley, was taken on as his assistant by his uncle, James Bradley, soon after the latter’s appointment as Astronomer Royal in February 1742. He was the son of James Bradley’s eldest brother. John Bradley was the first of James Bradley’s assistants at Greenwich. He was succeeded by Charles Mason.

John Bradley remained at Greenwich until September 1756 after which he went to sea on a two-year voyage (1757–59) with Captain John Campbell, during which a number of scientific instruments were evaluated and lunar observations taken. In 1767, he was appointed usher (second mathematical master) at the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth, with which he was allowed to hold the office of purser to a ship in ordinary and was paid a salary of £100 a year. He remained in post until 1794, when he died and was succeeded by his son James. His older son William Bradley (1758–1833) was a British naval officer and cartographer who was one of the officers who participated in the First Fleet to Australia.

John Bradley published the observation of an occultation of Venus by the moon (Phil. Trans. vol. XLVII. p. 201). He was sent by the Board of Longitude to the Lizard, in 1769, to observe the transit of Venus, &c. an account of which was published by Maskelyne in the preface to the Nautical Almanac for 1771. Bradley’s manuscript record of the event is preserved in RGO14/52 and can be viewed online in the Cambridge Digital Library.


Further reading

James Bradley and Stephen Peter Rigaud. Miscellaneous Works and Correspondence of the Rev. James Bradley, Oxford, 1832

James Bradley and Stephen Peter Rigaud. Supplement to Dr. Bradley’s Miscellaneous Works, Oxford, 1833