John Francis Bray was born in Washington in the United States on 26 June 1809 and died in Pontiac, Michigan on 1 February 1897. But it was the twenty years he spent in Britain, from 1822 to 1842, which secured his reputation as the leading ideologist of the Chartist movement. The eldest son of a comedian and singer from Leeds and an American actress, Sarah Hunt. The young Bray had accompanied his father on a return trip to Yorkshire to seek medical advice. The death of his father two days after their arrival in Leeds left Bray in the care of an aunt. She sent him to school before having him apprenticed to a printer, first in Pontefract and then in Selby, with Bray eventually becoming a compositor. The print trade made Bray politically aware, and a period ‘on the tramp’ coincided with the upheaval of the reform struggle (1830–32). In 1833 Bray printed Joshua Hobson's unstamped newspaper The Voice of West Riding, whilst Hobson served a prison sentence. A short stay in York, studying social problems, preceded the publication of five ‘Letters for the People’ in the Leeds Times (1835–6) under the pseudonym ‘U.S.’, and in 1837 Bray delivered a lecture series to the Leeds Working Men's Association, of which he was both a founding member and Treasurer.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.