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Bradford Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Bradford blazon are the buglehorn and stag’s head. The two main tinctures (colors) are sable and argent.

Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 1. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3.

Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.

The hunting horn, or bugle horn has a distinctive shape, being curved almost into a semi-circle, it can be decorated with bands of a different colour and typically hangs from a string, also coloured. 6. Apart from its obvious reference to the pursuit of hunting, it has also been used in allusion to the name of the holderr (HUNTER of Hunterston) and Woowward suggests it is also associated with those who have rights or obligations to the forest. 7

We should be surprised to find the stag or buck, noble quarry of many a mediaeval hunt, being illustrated in many a coat of arms. 8. It shares many of the poses to be found with the lion, but also one almost unique to the deer, grazing, as if the animal is still unaware of the hunter’s approach. 9. In common with all symbols related to the hunt we probably need look further for their intended meaning than the pleasure taken by the holder in such pursuits! 10

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Bradford Coat of Arms and Family Crest

Bradford Origin:


Origins of Name:

The surname of Bradford is of an Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname. Because the surname of Bradford may be locational, this means that it was often taken by the Lord or owner of the land from which the name derives. Others who may have take a locational surname are people who have migrated out of the area to seek out work. The easiest way to identify someone who was a stranger at that time was by the name of their birthplace. The surname of Bradford is locational deriving from places in West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Devonshire, Dorset, Greater Manchester, Norfolk, Somerset, and other places throughout England. All of these locations take their names from the Old English, Pre 7th Century “brad” which can be translated to mean “broad,” and the word “ford” which can be translated to mean “ford.”


More common variations are:

Braidford, Broadford, Bradforde, Bradfford, Bradfordt, Braddford, Braadford, Bradeford, Bradforod, Breadford



The first recorded spelling of the surname of Bradford appears in the country of England, in the year of 1206. One person, by the name of Alexander de Bradeford was noted and recorded in the “Curia Regis Rolls of Devonshire.” This document was decreed, ordered, and written under the reign of King John, who was known as and commonly referred to throughout history as the “Lackland” and ruled from the year 1199 to the year 1216. Other mentions of this surname include Brun de Bradford in the Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire in the year 1219, Thomas de Bradforth in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York in the year 1358, and one John Bradford, who was christened at St. Paul’s London in the year 1520. William Bradford was also christened in Austerfield, Yorkshire in the year 1560. Those who bear this surname can be found throughout England. Those who carry the surname of Bradford are in high concentrations in Derbyshire, Lancashire, Somerset, Norfolk, Dorset and Devonshire counties.


Those who bear the surname of Bradford can be found in the country of Scotland throughout the region. The areas that have a higher number of those who carry this surname can be found in the areas of Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Wigtownshire and Renfrewshire counties.

United States of America:

During the European Migration, which began in the 17th Century, European citizens began to leave the country of their birthplace and settle in a new land. This Migration was often due to the freedoms that other new lands promised, such as the promise of religious freedom in the New World, which was what the United States of America was referred to. During this migration, those with the surname of Bradford were among the first settlers in the New World. One William Bradford, who lived from the year 1590 to the year 1657, sailed from Yorkshire, England to Plymouth Massachusetts, and sailed aboard the Mayflower in the year 1620. Upon the death of one John Carver, William Bradford was also chosen as the leader of the Pilgrims, and was the 2nd Governor of the Plymouth Colony. Dorothy Bradford, William Bradford’s wife, died en-route to the New World. Those who bear the surname of Bradford today can be found in California, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and the state of Maryland.

Bradford Today:

United States 63,188

England 9,018

Australia 4,304

Canada 2,652

South Africa 1,918

Philippines 709

Scotland 702

Germany 672

Jamaica 446

New Zealand 428

Notable People:

Richard Bradford (1934-2016) who was an actor from America, who was most notably known for The Untouchables (1987), Man in a Suitcase (1967), The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)

Brigadier-General William Brooks Bradford (1896-1965) who was a Commanding Officer from the United States in the 1st Calvary Brigade, and served from the year 1945 to the year 1949

Brigadier-General Karl Slaughter Bradford (1896-1965) who was a Deputy President of the War Department Manpower Board from the year 1943 to the year 1946

Chadwick Lee “Chad” Bradford (born in 1974) who was an MLB player from America

Melvin E. “Mel” Bradford (1934-1993) who was a conservative political commentator and professor of literature at the University of Dallas who was from America

Arthur Houston Bradford (born in 1969) who was an author of short stories from America, who is also the Director of “Camp Jabberwocky” which is the longest running sleepover camp for adults with disabilities in the United States of America

David Bradford (1929-1995) who was a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Cheshire and Devonshire). Sa. a cross engr. ar.
2) (Yorkshire). (Gen. Sir Thomas Bradford, G.C.B.) Motto—Fier et sage. Ar. a wolf’s head erased betw. three buglehorns sa. Crest—A peacock’s head ppr., in the mouth a snake entwined round the neck vert.
3) (Yorkshire). Ar. a chev. betw. three buglehorns aa.
4) (Yorkshire). (Bradford, co. Northumberland; Visit. 1615). (Swindon, co. Wilts, descended from Bradford, of Bradford). Same Arms. Note, James Bradford, Esq., of Swindon, about the year 1824, substituted for the family the arms, Az. on a bend ar. three martlets sa. But Major H. Bradford, 108 Regt., and other members of the family retain the ancient arms. Ar. on a fesse sa. three stags’ heads erased (another, couped) or.
5) (Wiltshire). Same Arms. Crest—A stag’s head erased or.
6) Or, on a fesse sa. three goats’ heads erased of the field.
7) Ar. a cross gu. betw. four mullets az.
8) Gu. a lion ramp. erm.
9) (co. Northumberland. Visit. 1615). Az. on a bend ar. three martlets sa.

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J G Bradford commented on 17-Sep-2018
My late husbands name was Elmer William Bradford Jr. Always wondered if he was a related to William Bradford that came to America on the Mayflower.


  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 2 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 3 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 4 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 5 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 6 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:hunting horn
  • 7 A Treatise on Heraldry, J. Woodward, W & A.K Johnston, Edinburgh & London, 1896, P400
  • 8 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 69
  • 9 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Deer
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P30