Born in Lancashire c. 1510, Bradford was in military service in France and afterwards studied law in London. His conversion (c. 1547) led him to study divinity at Cambridge where Martin Bucer and other Protestant leaders soon urged him to the work of preaching. Made a prebend of St Paul’s and a chaplain to King Edward VI in 1551, Bradford’s was a short ministry terminated by arrest in 1553 under Mary Tudor. It was nonetheless so deeply effective as to be spoken of for generations to come.
He died at the stake in Smithfield, London, on 1 July, 1555, enduring the flame ‘as a fresh gale of wind in a hot summer’s day, confirming by his death the truth of that doctrine he had so diligently and powerfully preached during his life.’