William Bradley (1758-1833), naval officer and diarist, entered the navy on 10 April 1772 and served successively as captain’s servant, A.B., midshipman, and master’s mate until 31 October 1778 when he was promoted lieutenant. He served in H.M.S. Lenox, Aldborough, Mermaid, Ripon, Prothée, Phaeton and Ariadne before being appointed first lieutenant in the Sirius on 25 October 1786 and sailing with the First Fleet next May.
After reaching Port Jackson in January 1788 John Hunter, second captain of Sirius, immediately began with Bradley a series of surveys. They had completed that of Sydney Harbour by 6 February, Bradley’s Head, on the northern shore of the harbour, first known as Bradley’s Point, being named after the lieutenant. During his stay at Sydney, Bradley lived in the Sirius and appears to have taken little part in the social life of the new colony.
On 2 October 1788 he left Sydney for the Cape of Good Hope with Hunter in the Sirius to collect provisions for the settlement; sailing via New Zealand and Cape Horn and circumnavigating the globe, they arrived back on 9 May 1789.
Because the problem of victualling the settlement remained unsolved, on 6 March 1790 the Sirius and Supply were sent with marines and convicts to Norfolk Island. On 19 March the Sirius was wrecked, a disaster which kept Bradley for eleven months on the island; he surveyed it, but found little to interest him there. On 12 February 1791 Hunter and the officers and crew of the Sirius left Norfolk Island in the Supply for Port Jackson, which they left in turn on 28 March in the chartered Dutch ship Waaksamheyd for the Philippines. They finally reached Portsmouth 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.
On 14 March 1791 Arthur Phillip had requested the lords of the Admiralty to promote Bradley to the rank of master and commander, making special reference to his survey of Norfolk Island. Bradley transmitted the survey to their lordships on 23 April 1792 and was promoted in July.
He died on 13 March 1833.
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