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Samuel Messenger Bradley – 1842-1880

Dr Samuel Messenger Bradley
Dr Samuel Messenger Bradley (picture from Manchester Archives and Local Studies)

Dr Samuel Messenger Bradley (picture from Manchester Studies and Local Archives)

Samuel Messenger Bradley (born 1842) was a highly respected doctor in the Manchester area. He married Annie Gertrude Cope 11th November 1869 in Ashton Upon Mersey, in the County of Chester. He was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1862 and in 1869 became an FRCS. He worked at the Royal Infirmary and then ran a private practice for a time in Bowness, Windermere. He also made several transatlantic trips between Liverpool and New York while working for Cunard. It appears he was a bit of an artist and showman as he had been known to deliver a lecture in rhyme! He made it known that he was very much against women becoming doctors. It appears he did not enjoy good health and he died while ‘resting’ and visiting his two sons in 1880 in Ramsgate. He left a widow Annie Gertrude, two sons John Mackenzie and Richard Walter, and a baby Gertrude. His personal estate was ‘under £8,000’.  Annie Gertrude died 1884 leaving Gertrude age 4 who probably was then brought up by her mother`s sister  Edith Penelope Friederson and her husband Ernest.  In 1909 there is a marriage for Gertrude to the divorced William Thomas Cope (any relation?) who was 22 years older than she. Alice Maud D’Auquier, the third Cope sister, was a witness at the marriage.  Gertude Cope died 6 August 1910 at Oakfield, Ealing Rd. South Ealing.

It would be interesting to find out the origin for the ‘Messenger’ name. Samuel`s wife Annie Gertrude was a daughter of Richard Cope a Manchester merchant. Her younger sister Alice Maud married Emile Cornet d’Auquier, who became headmaster at St Lawrence College, then known as South Eastern College, Ramsgate, Kent. This school appears to have survived a few generations of Bradley attendance! After Samuel`s death in 1880 the two boys remained at St Lawrence under the guidance of their uncle. Sadly both boys died through tragic circumstances – John Mackenzie died age 17 whilst on a walking holiday with his uncle in Switzerland, and Richard Walter died in the Jamaican earthquake in 1907.

Samuel is buried in Ramsgate Cemetery along with his wife Annie who died in 1884 (graves BC 224/225). The grave has a kerb and low railing but is now in a poor condition.

John Mackenzie (Jack) born in Manchester 1870. He was one of the first five pupils at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate (formerly South Eastern College). The following is an extract of the description of the accident in Switzerland,  from the school magazine December 1887 which the school have very kindly allowed me to reproduce:


Those of our readers who are not already acquainted with the news will share in the sorrow universally felt and expressed by all who have learnt the sad intelligence of Jack Bradley`s death.  He was one of the very first pupils of this College, having entered it only a few days after its foundation in 1879, when he was almost a child barely 9 years old, and he continued a pupil until his death.  No boy ever was more popular.  Of a singularly loveable nature, gentle, pure, unselfish, winning in all his ways, of great promise intellectually and, both morally and spiritually such that those who most deeply mourn his loss can feel the deepest consolation, in the knowledge that he has gone up to the Master whom he loved and served upon earth.

The following details have been supplied by one who was with him up to the moment when he was last seen alive.

 ‘Jack Bradley had gone to Switzerland, where he had been invited to spend his holidays with his uncle, the Headmaster. The party had been at Finshauts only 3 days when the sad accident occurred. During those three days Jack had been full of fun and merriment. On the 3rd August some time in the afternoon, a walk was proposed as far as the Hotel de Tete Noire a distance of not much more than an hour from Finshauts. The party consisted of Mr and Mrs d’Auquier, Mr Montgomery, Jack and Walter Bradley and Haire. Every one was in the highest possible spirits and Jack contributed his full share to the merriment of the party. Having arrived at Tete Noire someone suggested that the return home should, if possible, be made by a different route. The picturesque little village of Littroz, which lies on the other side of the wild and brawling Trient, and which we had never explored looked very inviting in the bright summer light. We decided at any rate to go as far as the the hamlet. When we reached it we asked a woman if there was a path to Finshauts. She said ‘Yes, but it is not very well marked’. Accustomed as most of the party were to mountain paths, we did not hesitate, but went straight down. After a few minutes however, we reached a meadow surrounded by a dense forest, where all traces of the path disappeared. I ought to explain that between us and Finshauts lay a deep ravine, with a brawling torrent rushing below, and surrounded by jagged rocks and tremendous chasms, which, however, present no danger to one accustomed to Alpine climbing. We scattered in various directions in the hope of finding an easy way down. After a few minutes every one returned into the meadow, with the exception of Jack, who called out to Haire, ‘Go on, I am going down a few yards to try and find an easy path for Aunt Alice.’ Those were the last words he was ever heard to utter. A few moments after, as he did not come back and we were beginning to get anxious, we shouted for him; but the noise of the torrent made it impossible that he should hear us, or perhaps the poor fellow had already met with his death. Whether he first fell into one of the crevasses and from this into the river, or whether he reached the side of the water safely and was carried away in attempting to cross, we shall never know. As the night was coming on fast, and nothing could be done without guides, Mrs d’Auquier and Haire went back to the village whilst the rest of the party continued to shout and to search. Men soon came down and began to explore. One of them guided us home, where we hoped that perhaps Jack might, somehow or other, have made his way. We reached the chalet about 11 at night when we heard that Jack had not been seen. Mr d’Auquier at once organized a party of twenty-five men, who, armed with ropes, lanterns, etc. went down to the ravine and, at the risk of their lives, searched all the banks and crevasses. They were accompanied by a young French doctor, who took his instruments in case of need. All night, we watched from the chalet in the most terrible suspense, but no signals came from the opposite side of the valley to tell us that the searchers had met with any success. At daybreak the next morning we started again to join the searching party, who had worked all night. We had several men and women carrying provisions for the brave fellows. When we reached the bottom of the ravine they all assembled on the banks of the torrent and had some refreshments. I shall not soon forget the scene that took place soon after, when a Protestant pasteur, who had now joined us, offered up a prayer that our search might be successful. On the banks of the wild Trient, surrounded by towering mountains, in a valley so narrow that only a strip of the blue sky could be seen above, Pasteur Dubois stood on a huge boulder, and offered to God an earnest and solemn prayer, rendered still more impressive by the wild grandeur of the scene and the terrible disaster which had brought so many together. The rugged, sympathetic faces of the peasants, who all remained bareheaded; the evident sorrow shared by all, the solemn voice of the pasteur as it rose even above the roar of the torrent – the whole made a scene which thrilled us with emotion, and which none of us who saw it will ever forget. One of the honest fellows who had been listening most attentively to the pasteur`s prayer was so carried away by his emotion that when he wanted to express his assentiment he forgot the usual Amen or ainsi soit-il of the Roman Catholics and came out with a loud Bravo! The exploring party divided into bands of five or six, and the search continued the whole day, for no one of our party would believe that Jack had fallen in the torrent. We clung to the hope that he might have fallen down into one of the many crevices which abound among these rocks, and that he might even then be found alive. I myself went over the path described by the woman as ‘not very well marked’, and found it exceedingly difficult and dangerous for all but the most experienced mountaineers. We discovered no trace or sign which could give us any clue as to how our poor Jack had met with his death. A little moss scraped off a rock at the spot where he first began his descent was all that we found. Hope was gradually abandoned; but advertisements were put in all the papers, large rewards offered for the recovery of the body, and the search was continued day after day. Many a time we risked our own lives in the fruitless attempts to discover some sign which might explain the mystery. We never had any success. It would be impossible to express the sympathy, the gentleness, and the affection shewn by the people of Finshauts to our bereaved party. Everything that it was in the power of man to do they did most generously and ungrudgingly. Even the Roman Catholic cure with a generosity which Protestant people are not accustomed to expect from priests (and which they do not always shew themselves) came at once to offer us the best place in the cemetery if God willed that we should find the body. All the inhabitants expressed a wish that we should bury him there. Time went on and we began to despair of ever finding any trace. On the 6th September however, one of the brothers Chappex (the proprietors of the little hotel at Finshauts) organised another exploring party. They came back with two very sad relics. In the torrent, at a distance of two hundred and fifty yards below the spot where Jack had disappeared, they found the coat which he had worn on the fatal day. It was rent in pieces, the collar intact, however, and there was no mistaking the garment. A little further down they found a piece of his sock, the tape still attached to it with his name on, written by Mrs d’Auquier. A small piece of flesh still clinging to it floated away when Mr Chappex took the sock out of the water. There can be no doubt that, whether he fell from the rocks or reached the river side safely, and was drowned in trying to cross over, the mighty rush of water must have swept his body away in a moment and that death must have been instantaneous. Up to the present day nothing further has been found. It may be that during the winter, when hard frosts come, the waters of the Trient may go down so much that the body may even yet be recovered, this sometimes occurs many months after accidents happen. We can only bow our heads, and hope that this sad consolation may eventually be ours. But we have a better and a higher consolation in the knowledge that Jack Bradley was a true servant of Christ, and that he has left behind him the memory of a singularly sweet, gentle and unselfish nature. ‘Therefore we sorrow not, even as others which have no hope; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Wherefore we comfort one another with these words’.’

Cari`s note – For those Bradleys who were pupils at St Lawrence – did you ever notice the memorial brass which is in the passage at the entry to the present Chapel (1927)? Dr D A Scales, Senior Classics Master and de facto archivist has been most helpful in supplying all this information after my initial enquiry some years ago. On reading the above, my father Howard, recalled from his school days, a talk mentioning the recovery of a body many years later.

Richard Walter, the second son, attended St Lawrence College and was school captain in his uncle`s last year as headmaster (1888-1889). In 1891 he went to Magdalene College, Cambridge to read Maths. He died in the Jamaican earthquake in 1907. He had married Flossie Ivy Louis Verley 15 November 1905 at Halfway House, St Andrew and lived at Bamboo Cottage, Kingston. He was 33 and a schoolmaster.  On his death his effects totalled £45.19! In January 2010 I was contacted by Andrew Fleming who has been researching his wife`s Verley ancestors and he has informed me that ‘Flossie’ survived the earthquake.  He in turn has been in touch with other Verley descendants and although no blood relative,  Nonnie Kristina Bailey from Southern California has connections and has very kindly given permission to show some of the photos she has of Flossie, who incidentally does not appear to have been known by that name in later life – but rather as Ivy de Verley. Ivy returned to England after the earthquake and studied art, then moving to the US where she worked as an artist and married Vesey O’Davoren, an actor who appeared in many films.  Ivy died in 1963 and Vesey died in 1989 aged 101. There was no issue from either marriage.

Ivy De Verley
Ivy De Verley, married to Richard Walter Bradley
Ivy de Verley

Gertrude age 1 and born in Manchester on the 1881 census, a visitor with her mother in the household of James Blain a farmer of Washway Road, Sale. On the 1891 census Gertrude is living with her aunt (mother`s sister?) Edith Penelope Findersen and her husband Ernest, also in Washway Road. In 1901 Edith and Gertrude are living in Duke Street, Southport.  In 1909 Gertrude Messenger Bradley married William Thomas Cope in Brentford Register Office, Middlesex. William was a Foreign Banker and 12 years older. Gertude Cope died 6 August 1910 at Oakfield, Ealing Rd. South Ealing.