Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Harold Bradley now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has worked as a writer in the telecommunications, aerospace, industrial safety systems, energy, and scientific software industries. He is a seasoned family historian with two generations of nineteenth-century master mariners in his family tree. With the publication of Seaward, he has moved from writing in industry to reimagining his family’s first generation of wind-jamming seafarers.

Title by Harold Bradley

  • by Harold Bradley

    Harold Bradley learned early in life, through his family lore, that one of his great-great granduncles was an Irish sea captain. Sadly, the family lore was fairly forlorn. All it offered was a name, William Kelly, and two intriguing, albumin photographic prints—one of a large man squeezed into an ornate Victorian armchair; another of the same man, just head and shoulders, his penetrating gaze fixed on a distant point. Bradley couldn’t help but wonder: Where did Captain Kelly go and what did he do in the so-called golden age of sail?

    After much determined sleuthing through historic newspapers, crew lists, ship logs, and other records including a shipboard diary, the end result is SEAWARD, part biographical and historical memoir, part detective story. The book casts new light on Great Britain’s 19th-century merchant marine—especially as the master mariners of one Irish family experienced this incomparable career. William Kelly (along with his younger brother, John) left wakes to trace and history to plumb, from Belfast and Liverpool to the Americas, British Guiana, Peru, India, Australia, and China. Their ships carried people with high hopes to far-flung destinations, while also moving agricultural produce and manufactured products around the world.

    Readers of SEAWARD will come away with a better understanding of 19th-century commercial seafaring as a business, along with a greater appreciation of the transgenerational connections that bind us to our ancestors.

    The ships are sailing. Let the stories begin.