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5th March 2003Captain Bradstreet, Newcastle Mounted Rifles
By Peter Ewart
I wonder if someone can shed some light on the following for me, please?

Does anyone know anything about the life and/or origins of Capt Bradstreet, NMR, killed at Isandlwana? I was idly wondering if a certain Mr Bradstreet, whom I know was living in Newcastle (Natal) in 1871, and who said he was an old scholar of King's School, Canterbury, was by any chance the same chap who took his force out to support Durnford but was killed later in the battle. It seemed a reasonable supposition although I don't know the age of this Mr Bradstreet of Newcastle in 1871.

The King's School roll reveals a Charles R. Bradstreet entering King's in 1848, as well as a Robert Bradstreet the same year. Two years later a William C. Bradstreet entered the school.

Then my troubles began. Ian Knight (in The Sun Turned Black) gives Capt Bradstreet's christian name as Robert (and his wife as Maude!) It looked encouraging until I see that Lock & Quantrill name him as C.B. Bradstreet. And Knight & Castle (Then & Now) name him as C.R. Bradstreet! Drooglever says R. Bradstreet, but a quick gander at my shelves shows that Jackson, Morris, Norris Newman, Furneaux, the Field Ops Narrative and the Red Book give no intitial at all, whereas Laband, Barthorp, Edgerton & Greaves don't even mention him.

Have two brothers been confused? They do match up with the Kiong's boys at least. I appreciate that one or two of the above authors may not have been using primary sources and that the primary sources in Natal may be ambiguous or conflict with each other anyway, raising difficultiers for researchers, but if anyone has already come across this conundrum I'd be pleaed to hear.

6th March 2003John Young

According to the obit' in 'The Graphic' 17th May, 1879:
'Captain Robert Bradstreet,
Who was the second son of the late Major Charles Robert Bradstreet, H.E.I.C.S., was born in the Madras Presidency in April, 1838. He was educated at the King's School, Canterbury, and in the year 1861 proceeded to the colony of Natal, where he was for some time employed in directing the works of the formation of a breakwater at the mouth of the Umkomanzi River. He subsequently visited the Diamond Fields and Gold Fields, and latterly resided at the village of Newcastle, Natal, where he acted as Assistant Magistrate of the district. On the outbreak of the Zulu War Captain Bradstreet was chiefly instrumental in forming the Newcastle Mounted Rifle Volunteer Corps, of which, with the Buffalo Border Guard, he was in command at the ill-fated engagement at Isandlwhana. Captain Alan Gardner, in his account of the affair, says that he led the Mounted Volunteers under Captain Bradstreet to a small point in front of the camp, and that for a short time they were able to check the enemy, but that at length, being overpowered by numbers, they were forced to retire on the camp. The colonial papers state that when last seen poor Bradstreet was fighting vigorously with his sword, surrounded by Zulus, his ammunition being all expended. In 1874 Captain Bradstreet married a daughter of Dr. Scoble, of Natal, by whom he leaves a son and daughter.'
(Original spelling retained. JY)

In the official Army List of 1878, there appears a 'Lieutenant R. Bradstreet' in the Newcastle Mounted Rifles.

In 'The Zulu War and the Colony of Natal', Mrs Sheila Henderson, gives him as 'Charles Robert Bradstreet' - page 72. She also indicates that he captained the Newcastle Cricket Club in a match against the 90th L.I.! Now I know I have caught your interest.

Mrs Henderson also states that Bradstreet was an 'Anglo-Indian', I don't know the origin of his mother, but that might be another lead.

So yes I have come across this conundrum before, which caused me to list him as 'C.R. Bradstreet', but now I feel given the other facts, I may well be swayed to amend my files.

Laband does mention him in 'The Buffalo Border', but my copy is out on loan, so I can't say what he has written there.

6th March 2003Peter Ewart


Thank you very much indeed for such a superb reply, which is really helpful - in fact, fairly conclusive, I'd say, with the details coming up also providing a chance for additional digging. This began the other day as an interesting little diversion but, as I often find these things do, has now rather grabbed my attention. (How could it be otherwise now that I know he skippered his village cricket side! Who would have guessed???)

Will be in touch direct with several more details which, I believe, corroborate matters tidily.

Very many thanks again.


11th March 2003Peter Quantrill
It may be of interest to know that the Newcastle Mounted Rifles were formed on 6th October 1875.The Rules Proclamation followed on 23rd November 1875.They were raised by Captain M. Osborn.Their senior Lieutenant was R. Bradstreet,and their numerical strength 42. The Natal Government Gazette published a report on 16 July 1878 written by the Commandant of the Volunteers,Major J.G. Dartnell, in which he stated,"The Buffalo Guard and the Newcastle Mounted Rifles met at Newcastle Flats for six days drill------The Newcastle Mounted Rifles are at present without a Captain,Mr.Osborn their late Captain having taken office in Transvaal. I fear it will be difficult to replace him,and there was a great falling off in their muster this year compared to last when he was present." It was at this stage that Bradstreet took command which is confirmed by the Return of Volunteer Force published on 31 December 1878, which shows Bradstreet as Captain. His Lieutentants were C.Jones and R.F. Dixon, with surgeon C.Ward,and Q.M. G.E Hitchcock. This return showed their strength as 40.
13th March 2003Peter Ewart

Many thanks for this helpful additional information. It corrects some accounts or reports which imply that Bradstreet himself had founded the unit.

Do you or Ron recall, while researching for your excellent book, whether you found any difficulty in pin-pointing his names or initials, or whether the respective sources in Natal were ambiguous and/or conflicting in this respect? (I suspect that as he was easily identified as Capt Bradstreet, NMR, and that no-one else in the campaign was likely to be confused with him, investigating his christian names was hardly a priority!)

It does seem to me rather singular, however, that he is more than once reported to be C.R. Bradstreet, coincidentally the initials of his father and (I believe) of his brother. Perhaps Natalians confused him with someone else at times, although I don't yet know whether his brother emigrated too.

13th March 2003Peter Ewart
Further to the above, I see a Charles Bradstreet, retired colonel, born Secunderbad, East India & aged 64, was residing in Bristol in 1901. Interesting ...

13th March 2003Peter Quantrill
You are quite right---being the only Bradstreet, his initials were not a priority. There is little doubt, however,that he is "R" (Robert)
The 1876 Return of Volunteer Force dated 31st December shows him as " R"----- (1st.Lieutenant.) The 1877 return confirms the same data. The 1878 return shows his promotion to Captain and command. The 1879 return shows the position vacant ! (KIA) The senior subaltern is then shown is C. Jones.
The Natal Almanac and Register, 1877, confirms the initial "R" as does the 1878 edition. This would seem to dispel any doubts..
13th March 2003John S Radburn
Peter Ewart

The Charles you mention above was 'R's' elder brother.


John R
14th March 2003Peter Ewart


Thank you for all those references confirming his name as Robert. It was good of you to come back on that. I have little doubt now that he was the same Old King's Scholar who was living in Natal in 1871, given that at that time he was also "just off to the diamiond fields", which tied up with the obit John Young posted here.

At the moment I'd tentatively guess that a brother named CR Bradstreet also went out there (given that their father of the same initials had died in India when they were toddlers) for Robert to be occasionally referred to by those initials too.

The retired colonel in Bristol fits nicely by age & birthplace for his brother but I haven't examined the original census return, only the index, nor checked any army lists. A Colonial or British unit, I wonder.

John (Radburn)

Yes, it certainly looks like it. I had suspected so - but you appear to be certain. Are you already familiar with him? Do you know where or in what he served? It is not impossible that there was also a younger brother, William C Bradstreet.

14th March 2003John S Radburn
Peter (Ewart)

Charles Robert Bradstreet
D O B - 19th March 1837
Ensign - Madras Infantry - 11th June 1859
Lieutenant - Madras Infantry - 1st June 1862
Brevet Captain - Madras Infantry - 11th June 1871
Captain - Madras Infantry - 13th September 1871
Major - Madras Infantry - 11th June 1879

That is all the information that I have on
C R Bradstreet
As of now I cannot find any info on William C Bradstreet (But i'll keep trying).

John R
15th March 2003Peter Ewart
John R

Many thanks for those details - Army List? So brother Chas was never in Natal, not before 1879 anyway. Their father, too, served in the Madras infantry & died in Apr 1839. It looks as if the family came back immediately & the three boys were put through King's.

As for brother William C., although I don't see him from a quick glance at the 1901 census online (which proves nothing, given the level of transcription errors in that) he does seem to raise his head in the 81 census index. A Board of Trade clerk of the right age with a wife born in India, living in Harrow on the Hill with a couple of servants. Born Lower Hardres, which is a rural parish coincidentally just a few miles from where I live, and very close to C'bury, where they went to school.

There are one or two Bradstreet/Broadstreet monuments in L/Hardres churchyard & if I get a second I might do some digging next week. (In local archives, not the churchyard!)

It is very interesting to find a local family who lost someone at Isandlwana. My interest in Capt Bradstreet stems from a 35-mile horse-ride which the Magistrate of N/castle & he made in the company of the Bishop of PMB and (later the Rev) George Smith (the latter still a catechist then) in 1871, from N/castle itself to just under the Drakensbergs. Not surprisingly, they reminisced about the old city! Less than eight years later, on the same day, one of their lives was to change for ever and the other was to close.

15th March 2003Ian Woodason

Please let us know if you are lucky enough to locate a family memorial to Bradstreet.

There is a local family memorial to someone lost at Isandlwana already located close to you - 2nd Lt Dyson (on the Keynsham Light Horse website (links left))

All the best

Ian Woodason
17th March 2003Peter Ewart

Didn't know that, Ian!!! By coincidence, had just driven past Womenswold when I saw your posting. Will pay my respects there shortly, as it is not much more than just across the fields from here. Used to enjoy a pint just round the corner from that church - and never knew ...

Will certainly let you know of any Capt Bradstreet memorial found. With regard to this William C. Bradstreet in the 1881 census index, I'm no longer sure of a connection. I had considered it likely that he was a younger brother (& might therefore lead me indirectly to additional biographical info on Robert) because he was born close to C'bury, went to King's and even married a lsdy born in India.

However, the Bradstreet family residing at Lower Hardres turns out to be the curate & his family, their own son William being born there c1839, therefore fitting in with the chap later living at Harrow. I think it a coincidence that he entered King's just after RB and his brother, as the curate was from a well known Suffolk family without obvious military or Indian connections.

On the other hand, the curate had several brothers and I don't yet rule out a relationship altogether, given that his own father was a Robert and that William C married a lady born in India. There is no Bradstreet memorial in the cathedral but when I get time I shall approach the archivist at King's.