Bradley, William

William Bradley (1757-1833), naval officer and diarist.

He entered the navy on 10 April 1772 and was promoted lieutenant on 31 October 1778. He appointed first lieutenant in the Sirius on 25 October 1786 and sailed with the First Fleet in May 1787. After reaching Port Jackson in January 1788 John Hunter and Bradley commenced a series of surveys. On the various short surveying expeditions he undertook, usually with Hunter, his main interests were natural history and the Indigenous people of the harbour.

Following his return from the Cape of Good Hope on 9 May 1789 he was occupied taking observations, supervising the repair of the Sirius and continuing his study of the local people. In November 1789 he was one of the party sent to capture Colebee and Bennelong, 'by far the most unpleasant service I ever was order'd to Execute'.

Bradley arrived in England on 23 April 1792, where a court martial was held over the loss of the Sirius; all were 'Honorably Acquitted' and paid off on 4 May.  Bradley subsequently rose to the rank of captain but in 1809 he began to display an unsettled state of mind. His advancement continued and on 22 September 1812 was promoted rear admiral of the Blue and superannuated.

In 1814 he was involved in a case of defrauding the postal authorities, was tried at the Winchester Assizes, found guilty and sentenced to death. Struck off the list of superannuated rear admirals he was first reprieved conditional on his being transported for life, and then pardoned on 27 October on condition that he went into exile. Bradley travelled to France and remained in dishonoured exile, until his death on 13 March 1833.

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