The burial place of James Bradley the third Astronomer Royal

Dates in office: 1742–1762

Born: Unknown. Baptised 1692, Oct 3

Died: 1762 July 13 (at Chalford)

Buried at: Church of the Holy Trinity, Bell Lane, Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, GL6 9JP

Tomb location: Chest tomb with bolection moulded panels and panelled corner pilasters; c.18m north of north transept

Memorial plaques etc: 1. Oval brass dedication plate inscribed in latin. Originally afixed to tomb, but now mounted on wall at west end of north aisle.

2. Explanatory sign with translation of inscription on dedication plate on table beneath dedication plate

Church website

James Bradley. Engraved by E. Scriven from an original painting by Thomas Hudson in the possession of the Royal Society and published in The Gallery of Portraits with Memoirs (Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge), volume VI, p.69 (1836)


The third Astronomer Royal, James Bradley, both began and ended his life in Gloucestershire. Born in Sherborne and baptized there on 3 October 1692, he married Susannah Peach of Chalford (in the parish of Minchinhampton), on 25 June 1744. After his wife’s death in 1757 he maintained close contact with her family, and as physical illness set in he went to stay with them at Chalford where he was cared for by a local doctor, Dr Lewis, and by Dr Daniel Lysons from Oxford. On 13 July 1762 he died from chronic abdominal inflammation and was buried near his wife and his mother in the graveyard of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Minchinhampton. A transcription of his will was published in Miscellaneous Works and Correspondence of the Rev. James Bradley, (James Bradley and Stephen Peter Rigaud. Oxford, 1832). This volume also contains details of the tomb and the attempted theft of the brass inscription plate that once adorned it.

Minchinhampton Church from the entrance to the churchyard in Bell Lane. The spire was pulled down for safety reasons in 1563 and the stub capped off with the present corona and pinnacles. 11 August 2009

Bradley's tomb is located about 18m to the north of the north transept. 11 August 2009

A closer view of the chest tomb in which Bradley is buried. 11 August 2009

Originally, the tomb had an oval brass plate with an inscription in Latin attached to it. This was nearly stolen in the early 19th century but the thieves were apprehended whilst trying to remove it. To prevent any future attempt, the plate was removed by the Rector, Rev. William Cockin and put on display inside the church. The present inscription on the tomb is believed to date from around this time. 11 August 2009

The oval plate that was formally attached to Bradley's tomb. The Latin inscription is said to have been written by Dr Blayney (later regius professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford). 11 August 2009

A visitor at the west end of the north aisle examining the translation of the inscription on the brass plate that can be seen next to her head. 11 August 2009

The translation of the Latin inscription on the brass plate that was originally attached to Bradley's tomb. 11 August 2009