Bradford, Helen (Ellen) (nee Groves) (1840-1908)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Emily Jones Davies

My mother, Helen Bradford, was born on the banks of the Usk in South Wales nearly sixty-eight years ago. Soon after coming to England, though her parents were “Church-people,” she joined our Society, and remained a loyal member until the end came on the 19th of September of this year.

My own memories of her go back quite forty-three years to the time when the Rev. William Wright travelled in the newly made Old Hill Circuit, when the Tabernacle was in the building, almost every plank of which was consecrated by fervent prayers. I can quite well remember hearing Mr. Wright’s voice rise and fall in supplicating prayer, and I can still feel the pressure on my tiny palm, at the close of the sentences, in earnest acquiescence. A very truly and deeply pious woman was she, so pious that her life was a wonder to me as a child, and I regarded her as a saint, an opinion there has never been reason to change. Often in the midst of a strenuous day filled with a distracting rush of business has she been found at her bedside for a moment’s prayer to “help her on her way.”

But her piety was eminently healthy and ethical. What scorn she allowed herself to feel at all, was directed against that “profession of godliness” used as a cloak for an immoral life, though on principle she did not allow herself to “sit in judgment on others,” but looked round for some good to be found even in such a person.

But her goodness was best known to those who lived with her, saw her utter unselfishness, her cheerful and careful hiding of her sacrifices, her conscientious discharge of every duty known to her. She had, too, as a dominant characteristic, a sense of justice almost unerring.

Eminently law-abiding, with a strong disinclination for change, in domestic, social, political, or religious realms, she keenly suffered, as she saw the restlessness of young and vigorous thought and method, fearing always that such a change must be for the worse. Having reached her own mental positions through much conflict she would fain have thought the questions settled for ever. Her sympathy with young preachers personally was very warm, especially when a becoming modesty was shown in their own estimate of themselves and their work, and her strong words have often carried courage to fainting hearts. Her efforts inside the Church were restricted for several reasons, chiefly from the fact that her busy life gave her little leisure, and also from a constant self-depreciation. Her long illness, of such a painful character, became, in her noble self-surrender, only another way of showing her complete trust in the wisdom of the All-Father. After months of almost unremitting suffering, attended by her husband, whose tenderness never failed, and a niece who was as a daughter, and by one whom Paul would surely have called “the beloved physician,” she was only too glad to lay down the burden of life in sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection.

Seeing her that last time, when imperative duty called me from her side, she said, “Good-bye, we shall meet again.” “In the morning,” said one. ‘“Yes,” with a sweet smile, ‘‘in the morning.” And we are looking towards the morning, when the darkness shall have passed away, when our questions will have been answered, or prove unnecessary, when in the fuller light and knowledge the glad truth shall have been revealed more completely than we can now bear, and God shall wipe away all tears from all faces.

She was reverently carried to her grave by true friends of long standing, and committed to His keeping by Revs. Mr. Parsons and Mr. Richardson, each of whom had visited her in her afflictions, and whose ministrations she much valued. Her body rests in Stourbridge Cemetery, but her soul is with God.


Helen (Ellen) was born in 1840 at Usk, Monmouthshire, to parents Austin, a publican, and Jane.

She worked as a milliner and dressmaker.

She married John Bradford (1836-1924) in the summer of 1860 in the Dudley Registration District. John was a grocer and confectioner in 1861, but later census returns describe him as a milliner. Census returns identify one daughter.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1908/993

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Note: Most records have the forename as Ellen.

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