Bradley, Richard (DNB00)

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BRADLEY, RICHARD (d. 1732), botanist and horticultural writer, was a very popular and voluminous author. His first essays in print were two papers published in the 'Philosophical Transactions' for 1716, on mouldiness in melons, and the motions of the sap. He was elected F.R.S. in 1720; and professor of botany at Cambridge on 10 Nov. 1724, the latter by means of a pretended verbal recommendation from Dr. William Sherard to Dr. Bentley, with pompous assurances that he would found a public botanic garden in the university by his private purse and interest. Very soon after his election the vanity of his promises was seen, and his entire ignorance of Latin and Greek excited great scandal : Dr. Martyn, who afterwards succeeded him, was appointed to read the prescribed courses of lectures, in consequence of Bradley's neglect to do so. In 1729 he gave a course of lectures on 'Materia Medica,' which he afterwards published. In 1731 it is stated that 'he was grown so scandalous that it was in agitation to turn him out of his professorship,' though the details of his delinquency do not appear to be given. He died at Cambridge 5 Nov. 1732.

The use of Bradley's name was paid for by the publishers of a translation of Xenophon's 'Economics' solely on account of his popularity, as he knew nothing of the original language. His botanical publications show acuteness and diligence, and contain indications of much observation in advance of his time.

Adanson, Necker, and Banks, in succession, named genera to commemorate Bradley, but they have not been maintained distinct by succeeding botanists.

His works include:

  1. 'Historia plantarum succulentarum, &c.,' London, 1716-27, 5 decades, 4to, reissued together in 1734.
  2. ' New Improvements of Planting and Gardening,' London, 1717 (two editions), 8vo, 1731.
  3. 'Gentleman's and Farmer's Calendar,' London, 1718, 8vo; French translations (1723, 1743, 1756).
  4. 'Virtue and Use of Coffee with regard to the Plague and Contagious Distempers,' London, 1721, 8vo.
  5. 'Philosophical Account of the Works of Nature,' London (1721 and 1739), 8vo.
  6. 'Plague of Marseilles considered,' London, 1721, 8vo.
  7. 'New Experiments and Observations on the Generation of Plants,' 1724, 8vo.
  8. 'Treatise of Fallowing,' Edinburgh, 1724, 8vo.
  9. 'Survey of Ancient Husbandry and Gardening collected from Cato, Varro, Columella, &c.,' London, 1725, 8vo and several small treatises on gardening and agriculture.

Part II. of Cowell's 'Curious and Profitable Gardener, concerning the great American Aloe,' has been attributed with little reason to Bradley.

[Pulteney's Biog. Sketches of Botany (1790), ii. 129-33; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 444-51, 709; Chalmers's Gen. Biog. Dict., new ed. vi. (1812), 415-16; Rees's Cyclop. v. art. 'Bradley'; Seguier's Bibl. Bot. 343-6; Haller's Bibl. Bot. ii. 133-7; Pritzel's Thesaurus, p. 31, id. ed. 2, p. 38.]

B. D. J.