Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bradley, Ralph

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BRADLEY, RALPH (1717–1788), conveyancing barrister, was a contemporary of James Booth [q. v.], who has been called the patriarch of modern conveyancing. Bradley was called to the bar by the society, of Gray's Inn, and practised at Stockton-on-Tees with great success for upwards of half a century, he is said to have managed the concerns of almost the whole county of Durham, and, though a provincial counsel, his opinions were everywhere received with the greatest respect. His drafts, like Booth's, were prolix to excess, but some of them were, to a very recent period, in use as precedents in the northern counties. He published (London, 1779) 'An Enquiry into the Nature of Property and Estates as defined by English Law, in which are considered the opinions of Mr. Justice Blackstone and Lord Coke concerning Real Property.' There was also published in 1804 in London 'Practical Points, or Maxims in Conveyancing, drawn from the daily experience of a late eminent conveyancer (Bradley), with critical observations on the various parts of a Deed by J. Ritson.' This was a collection of Bradley's notes on points of practice, and the technical minutiae of conveyancing as they were suggested in the course of his professional life. Ritson was a contemporary and fellow-townsman of Bradley. The latter by his will left a considerable sum (40,000l.) on trust for the purchase of books calculated to promote the interests of religion and virtue in Great Britain and the happiness of mankind. Lord Thurlow, by a decree in chancery, set aside the charitable disposition of Bradley in favour of his next of kin. Bradley died at Stockton-on-Tees on 28 Dec. 1788, and was buried in the parish church of Greatham, where a mural monument was erected to his memory on the north side of the chancel.

[Gent. Mag. vol. lviii. pt. ii. p. 1184; Davidson's Conveyancing, 4th ed. i. 7; Marvin's Legal Bibliograph, p. 141; Surtees's Hist. of Durham, iii. 140.]

R. H.