Bradbury, Thomas

, a facetious preacher among the dissenters, whose oddities are still traditionary, was born in 1677, at Wakefield, in Yorkshire. His father belonged to a dissenting meeting at Alverthorp, near that town, of which Mr. Peter Naylor, an ejected minister, was pastor. Under his care, and at the free-school at Leeds, he received the first rudiments of learning. He was afterwards sent to an academy kept by Mr. Jollie, at Attercliffe. He began to preach at the early age of eighteen, about the year 1696, when his juvenile figure procured him some rebuffs, which he soon disregarded, and convinced his hearers that he was a boy only in appearance. His conquest over these remarks at this time seems to have formed an aera in his history, as he used to “bless God that from that hour he had never known the fear of man.” He soon after left the academy, and was taken into the family of Mr. Whitaker, who, according to his biographer, checked his ardour, at least so far that he preached but seldom. In 1697 he went to Beverley, where he continued two years, and then became assistant to Dr. Gilpin, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and remained there three years, with almost unbounded popularity. He then removed to Stepney, near London, and in 1707 was chosen pastor of a meeting in Fetter-lane, vacant by the death of Mr. Benoni Rowe. After preaching here to a crowded congregation for twenty years, a quarrel took place; about what, his biographer does not inform us; but Mr. Bradbury was immediately invited to succeed the noted Daniel Burgess, in the meeting at New-court, Carey-street, and in less than a fortnight exchanged his former for his latter pulpit, carrying with him such of his Fetter-lane hearers as adhered to him in the late contest. Here he succeeded Daniel Burgess as a wit as well as a divine, and his biographer gravely informs us, that “this pulpit a se*cond time presented a phenomenon as rare as it is beneficial, | wit consecrated to the service of serious and eternal truth.” Of this wit, however, Mr. N. Neal, in a letter to Dr. Doddridge, (1749,) gives a different opinion. “I have seen Mr. Bradbury’s sermons, just published, the nonsense and buffoonery of which would make one laugh, if his impious insults over the pious dead did not make one tremble.” After entertaining the public by this species of comic preaching for thirty-two years, he died at Warwick-court, Gray’s-inn, Sept. 9, 1759, aged eighty-two. Of his character it is said, that “had he possessed as much judgment as quickness of wit, and as much temper as zeal, he would have been a man of much greater consideration. His usefulness was much abated after the Sailers’ -hall synod, for though he was warm on the orthodox side, his ill-conducted zeal did much mischief.” Among his other differences of opinion from his brethren, he made it his business in the pulpit to lampoon and satirize the hymns and psalms of Dr. Watts. It is said, indeed, that whentever he gave out one of the former, it was prefaced with “Let us sing one of Watts’s whims.” Among the numerous anecdotes of Tom Bradbury, as he was familiarly called, we shall give only the following, which contains some characteristic features. “Tom generally gave audience at supper-time, and the ceremony was thus conducted. On a little table lay two pocket bibles, one of which was taken up by Bradbury, and the other by his daughter, and each having read a portion, one of the visiting ministers was desired to pray: they then adjourned to supper; after which, Tom entertained the company with ‘ The roast beef of old England,’ which, it is said, he sung better than any man in England.” His printed works amply justify the character usually given of him, that with much zeal he was totally destitute of judgment, and regardless of the dignity of his sacred calling, dwelling perpetually on political topics, and enforcing them in a strain of ridicule totally unfit for the place in which he stood. These works consist of “Fifty-four Sermons,1762, in 3 volumes octavo, all of which, except seven, had been printed separately. They are principally of the political kind, and it was justly remarked of them at the time of publication, that " from the great number of satred texts applied to the occasion, one would imagine the bible was written only to confirm, by divine authority, the | benefits accruing to this nation from the accession of king William III. 1


Bogue’s Hist, of the Dissenters.—Doddridge’s Letters, &c