BRADFORD, JOHN (1510?–1555), English Protestant martyr, was born at Manchester in the early part of the reign of Henry VIII., and educated at the local grammar school. Being a good penman and accountant, he became secretary to Sir John Harrington, paymaster of the English forces in France. Bradford at this time was gay and thoughtless, and to support his extravagance he seems to have appropriated some of the money entrusted to him; but he afterwards made full restitution. In April 1547 he took chambers in the Inner Temple, and began to study law; but finding divinity more congenial, he removed, in the following year, to St Catharine’s Hall, Cambridge, where he studied with such assiduity that in little more than a year he was admitted by special grace to the degree of master of arts, and was soon after made fellow of Pembroke Hall, the fellowship being “worth seven pound a year.” One of his pupils was John Whitgift. Bishop Ridley, who in 1550 was translated to the see of London, sent for him and appointed him his chaplain. In 1553 he was also made chaplain to Edward VI., and became one of the most popular preachers in the kingdom, earning high praise from John Knox. Soon after the accession of Mary he was arrested on a charge of sedition, and confined in the Tower and the king’s bench prison for a year and a half. During this time he wrote several epistles which were dispersed in various parts of the kingdom. He was at last brought to trial (January 1554/5) before the court in which Bishop Gardiner sat as chief, and, refusing to retract his principles, was condemned as a heretic and burnt, with John Leaf, in Smithfield on the 1st of July 1555.
His writings, which consist chiefly of sermons, meditations, tracts, letters and prayers, were edited by A. Townsend for the Parker Society (2 vols. 8vo, Cambridge, 1848–1853).