1589 - 1657 (68 years)
||William Bradford, (Mayflower) |
||19 Mar 1589
||Austerfield, Yorkshire, England [1, 2]
||6 Mar 1590
||Austerfield, Yorkshire, England 
||Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts 
||9 May 1657
||Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts [1, 2]
- 1607 - The Puritan persecution intensified under James I, and William Brewster, William Bradford and other Scrooby Separatists, at last decided to escape to Holland. "In Autumn 1607, those who had not yet been arrested and thrown into prison resolved to smuggle themselves out of the country. Packing their personal belongings and led by their pastor, Richard Clifton, the Separatists set out for the port of Boston, Lincolnshire, England (sixty miles from Scrooby). At Boston, they were betrayed by the captain of the ship that was to have transported them; their goods were ransacked; and they were imprisoned for a month or more. Brewster, Bradford, and Clifton were the last to be set free having served about a year in the prison at Boston, England. Cowie, Leonard W., THE PILGRIM FATHERS, (London, 1970 -Americanedition,1972) p.26; Sherwood, Mary B., PILGRIM, A BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM BREWSTER (1982); pp.79-110.
"On 1 December 1607, William Brewster of Scrooby was cited before the High Court of Commission on information that he was a Brownist and disobedient in matters of religion. He was fined 20 pounds." (And apparently he went to prison in addition to the fine.) THE MAYFLOWER QUARTERLY v.57, No.2, pp.106-109.
A diary entry of 1608 reads, "Seeing themselves thus molested, and that there was no hope of their continuance there, by a joynte consente they resolved to go into the Low Countries, where they heard was freedome of Religion for all men." Their exile to a new and foreign land was not easy."The ports and havens were shut against them. So as they were fain to seek secret means of conveyance; and to bribe and fee the mariners, and give extra-ordinary rates fo their passages. And yet were they often-times betrayed, many of them; and both they and their goods intercepted and surprised, and thereby put to great trouble and charge." Cotton Mather's LIFE OF GOVERNOR WILLIAM BRADFORD; Bradford, William, HISTORY OF THE PLYMOUTH SETTLEMENT.
(GEB) Governor William Bradford's will and inventory are recorded in the Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories, Volume II, Part I, pages 53 to 59, both inclusive.
The last Will and Testament Nunckupative of Mr Willam Bradford senir: Deceased May the Ninth 1657 and exhibited to the court held att Plymouth June 3d 1657
Mr Willam Bradford senir: being weake in body but in perfect memory haveing Defered the forming of his Will in hopes of haveing the healp of MrThomas Prence therin; feeling himselfe very weake and drawing on to the conclusion of his mortall life spake as followeth; I could have Desired abler then myselfe in the Desposing of that I have; how my estate is none knowes better then youerselfe, said hee to Lieftenant Southworth; I have Desposed to Johnand Willam already theire proportions of land which they are possessed of;
My Will is that what I stand Ingaged to prforme to my Children and others may bee made good out of my estate that my Name Suffer not;
My further Will is that my Deare & loveing wife Allice Bradford shal bee the sol Exequitrix of my estate; and for her future maintainance my Will is that my Stocke in the Kennebecke Trad bee reserved for her Comfortable Subsistence as farr as it will extend and soe further in any such way as maybee Judged best for her;
I further request and appoint my wel beloved Christian ffrinds Mr Thomas Prence Captaine Thomas Willett and Lieftenant Thomas Southworth to bee the Suppervissors for the Desposing of my estate according to the prmises Confiding much in theire faithfulnes
I comend unto youer Wisdome and Descretions some smale bookes written by my own hand to bee Improved as you shall see meet; In speciall I Comend to you a littl booke with a blacke cover wherin there is a word to Plymouth a word to Boston and a word to New England with sundry usefull verses;
These pticulars were expressed by the said Willam Bradford Govr the 9th of May 1657 in the prsence of us Thomas Cushman Thomas Southworth Nathaniell Morton; whoe were Deposed before the court held att Plymouth the 3d of June 1657 to the truth of the abovesaid Will that it is the last Will and Testament of the abovesaid Mr Willam Bradford senir:
A Trew Inventory of the Estate of Mr Willam Bradford senir :lately Deceased taken and apprissed by us whose names are underwritte the 22 cond of May1657 an exhibited to the court holden att Plymouth the 3d of June 1657 on the oath of mis Allice Bradford
From Caleb Johnson's website:
BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY: The early years of Bradford's life are described by Cotton Mather in his book Magnalia Christi Americana first published in 1702:
Among those Devout People was our William Bradford, who was Born Anno 1588.in an obscure Village call'd Austerfield, where the People were as unacquainted with the Bible, as the Jews do seem to have been with part of it in the Days of Josiah; a most Ignorant and Licentious People, and like unto their Priest. Here, and in some other Places, he had a Comfortable Inheritance left him of his Honest Parents, who died while he was yet a Child, and cast him on the Education, first of his GrandParents, and then of his Uncles, who devoted him, like his Ancestors, unto the Affairs of Husbandry. Soon and long Sickness kepthim,as hewould afterwards thankfully say, from the Vanities of Youth,andmade him the fitter for what he was afterwards to undergo. When he was about a Dozen Years Old, the Reading of the Scriptures began to cause great Impressions upon him; and those Impressions were much assisted and improved, when he came to enjoy Mr. Richard Clifton's Illuminating Ministry, not far from his Abode; he was then also further befriended, by being brought into the Company and Fellowship of such as were then called Professors; though the Young Man that brought him in to it, did after become a Prophane and Wicked Apostate. Nor could the Wrath of his Uncles, nor the Scoff of his Neighbours now turn'd upon him,as one of the Puritans, divert him from his Pious Inclinations.
. . . Having with a great Company of Christians Hired a Ship to Transport them for Holland, the Master perfidiously betrayed them in to the Hands of those Persecutors; who Rifled and Ransack'd their Goods, and clapp'd their Persons into Prison at Boston, where they lay for a Month together. But Mr. Bradford being a Young Man of about Eighteen,was dismissed sooner than the rest, so that within a while he had Opportunitywith some others to get over to Zealand, through Perils both by Land and Sea not inconsiderable; where he was not long Ashore ere a Viper seized on his Hand, that is, an Officer, who carried him Unto the Magistrates, unto whom an envious Passenger had accused him as having fled out of England. When the Magistrates understood the True Cause of his coming thither, they were well satisfied with him; and so he repaired joyfully unto his Brethren at Amsterdam, where the Difficulties to which he afterwards stooped in Learning and Serving of a Frenchman at the Working of Silks, were abundantly Compensated by the Delight wherewith he sat under the Shadow of our Lord in his purely dispensed Ordinances. At the end of Two Years, he did, being of Age to do it, convert his Estate in England into Money; but Setting up for himself, he found some of his Designs by the Providence of God frowned upon, which he judged a Correction bestowed by God upon him for certain Decays of Internal Piety,where into he had fallen; the Consumption of his Estate he thought came to prevent a Consumption in his Virtue. But after he had resided in Holland about half a Score Years, he was one of those who bore a part in that Hazardous and Generous Enterprize of removing into New England, with partof the English Church at Leyden, where at their first Landing, his dearest Consort accidentally falling Overboard, was drowned in the Harbour; and the rest of his Days were spent in the Services, and the Temptations, of that American Wilderness.
William Bradford came on the Mayflower with his wife Dorothy (May), leavings on John behind in Holland. Dorothy fell off the Mayflower and drowned on 7 December 1620, when it was anchored in Provincetown Harbor.
This was an accidental drowning. The story of the suicide,affair with Captain Chrostopher Jones, etc. comes from a fictional "soap opera" story published in a national women's magazine in 1869--a story published as truth by the author, based on "family stories", but which the author later admitted was an invention of her own imagination. For further information on this, see Mayflower Descendant 29:97-102 ,and especially 31:105.
After the death of John Carver in April 1621, Bradford was elected governor of the Plymouth Colony, and continued in that capacity nearly all his life.In 1623 he married Alice (Carpenter) Southworth, widow of Edward Southworth. A description of the marriage is found in a letter written by a visitor to Plymouth Colony, Emmanuel Altham, in 1623:
Upon the occasion of the Governor's marriage, since I came, Massasoit was sent for to the wedding, where came with him his wife, the queen, although he hath five wives. With him came four other kings and about six score men with their bows and arrows--where, when they came to our town, we saluted them with the shooting off of many muskets and training our men. And so all the bows and arrows was brought into the Governor's house, and he brought the Governor three or four bucks and a turkey. And so we had very good pastime in seeing them dance, which is in such manner, with such a noise that you would wonder. . . . And now to say somewhat of the great cheer we had at the Governor's marriage .We had about twelve pasty venisons, besides others, pieces of roasted venison and other such good cheer in such quantity that I could wish you some of our share. For here we have the best grapes that ever you say--and the biggest, and divers sorts of plums and nuts which our business will not suffer us to look for.
William Bradford died in 1657, having been governor of the Plymouth Colony for almost the entire period since 1621. Cotton Mather in his Magnalia Christi Americana wrote that William Bradford:
. . . was a Person for Study as well as Action; and hence, not withstanding the Difficulties through which he passed in his Youth, he attained unto a notable Skill in Languages; the Dutch Tongue was become almost as Vernacular to him as the English; the French Tongue he could also manage; the Latin and the Greek he had Mastered; but the Hebrew he most of all studied, Because, he said, he would see with his own Eyes the Ancient Oracles of God in their Native Beauty. He was also well skill'd in History, in Antiquity, and in Philosophy; and for Theology he became so versed in it, that he was an Irrefragable Disputant against the Errors, especially those of Anabaptism, which with Trouble he saw rising in his Colony; wherefore he wrote some Significant things for the Confutation of those Errors. But the Crown of all was his Holy, Prayerful, Watchful and Fruitful Walk with God, wherein he was very Exemplary. At length he fell into an Indisposition of Body,which rendred him unhealthy for a whole Winter; and as the Spring advanced, his Health yet more declined; yet he felt himself not what he counted Sick, till one Day; in the Night after which, the God of Heaven so fill'd his Mind with Ineffable Consolations, that he seemed little short of Paul, rapt up unto the Unutterable Entertainments of Paradise. The next Morning he told his Friends, That the good Spirit of God had given him a Pledge of his Happiness in another World, and the First-fruits of his Eternal Glory: And on the Day following he died, May 9, 1657 in the 68thYear of his Age. Lamented by all the Colonies of New England, as a Common Blessing and Father to them all.
William Bradford wrote Of Plymouth Plantation, chronicling the history of the Plymouth Colony, and the events that led up to their leaving England for Holland, and later to New England. William Bradford also wrote part of Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, and he recorded some of the important letters he wrote and received in a letterbook which still partially exists. Nathaniel Morton's 1669 book, New England's Memorial also records a poem written by William Bradford on his death bed. There are also two elegy poems written in 1657 after Bradford's death--the first elegy poem is anonymous, and the second elegy poem was written by Josias Winslow.
SOURCES: Robert S. Wakefield, Mayflower Families in Progress: William Bradford for Four Generations (Plymouth: General Society of Mayflower Descendants,1994).
William Bradford and Edward Winslow. A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plymouth .. . (John Bellamie: London, 1622).
William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, ed. Samuel Morison (New York:Random House, 1952).
"Ancestry of the Bradfords of Austerfield," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 83:456-461, 84:5-11 .
Emmanuel Althem. Three Visitors to Early Plymouth, Sydney V.Jamesed., (Plymouth: Plimoth Plantation, 1963).
Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana (Boston, 1698).
Samuel Morison and Charles Banks, "Did William Bradford Leave Leyden Before the Pilgrims?", Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 61(1927):34-39,55-68.
The Last Will & Testament of William Bradford
The last Will and Testament Nunckupative of Mr William Bradford senir : Deceased May the Ninth 1657 and exhibited to the court held att Plymouth June 3d 1657
Mr Willam Bradford senir : being weake in body but in prfect memory haveing Defered the forming of his Will in hopes of haveing the healp of Mr Thomas Prence therin; feeling himselfe very weake anddrawing on to the conclusion of his mortall life spake as followeth; I could have Desired abler than myselfe in the Desposing of that I have; how my estate is none knowes better than youerselfe, said hee to Lieftenant Southworth; I have Desposed to John and WIllam alreddy theire proportions of land which they are possessed of; My Will is that what I stand Ingaged to prforme to my Children and others may bee made good out of my estate that my Name Suffer not;
ffurther my WIll is that my son Josepth bee made in some sort equall to his brthern out of my estate;
My further Will is that my Deare & loveing wife Alice Bradford shalbee the sole Exequitrix of my estate; and for her future maintainance my Will is that my Stocke in the Kennebecke Trad bee reserved for her Comfortable Subsistence as farr as it will extend and soe further in any such way as may bee Judged best for her;
I further request and appoint my welbeloved Christian ffrinds Mr Thomas Prence Captaine Thomas Willett and Leiftenant Thomas Southworth to bee the Suppervissors for the Desposing of my estate according to the prmises Confiding much in theire faithfulness
I commend unto youer Wisdome and Descretions some smale bookes written by my owne hand to bee Improved as you shall see meet; In speciall I Commend to you a little booke with a blacke cover wherin there is a word to Plymouth a word to Boston and a word to New England with sundry usefull verses;
These pticulars were expressed by the said Willam Bradford Govr the 9th of May 1657 in the prsence of us Thomas Cushman Thomas Southworth Nathaniell Morton; whoe were Desposed before the court held att Plymouth the 3d of June 1657 to the truth of the abovesaid Will that it is the last Will and Testament of the abovesaid Mr WIllam Bradford Senir.
The inventory of the goods of William Bradford, deceased 1657
[textile term glossary] [tool glossary]
beding and other thinges in ye old parler
L s d
Impr: one feather bed and bolster 03 00 00
It a featherbed a featherbolster a featherpillow 03 00 00
It a Canvas bed with feathers and a bolster and 2 pillowes 01 15 00
It one green rugg 01 00 00
It a paire of whit blanketts 01 00 00
It 2 paire of old blanketts 01 00 00
It one whit blankett 00 12 00
It 2 old Coverlidds 01 00 00
It 1 old white rugg and an old ridd Coverlidd 01 00 00
It 1 paire of old curtaines Darnickes & an old paire of say Curtaines 15 00
It a Court Cubberd 01 05 00
It a winescot bedsteed and a settle 01 10 00
It 4 lether Chaires 01 12 00
It 1 great lether Chaire 00 10 00
It 2 great wooden Chaires 00 08 00
It a Table & forme and 2 stooles 01 05 00
It a winscott Chist & Cubburd 01 05 00
It a Case with six knives 00 05 00
It 3 matchlock musketts 02 02 00
It a Snaphance Muskett 01 00 00
It a birding peece and an other smale peece 00 18 00
It a pistoll and Cutlas 00 12 00
It a Card and a platt 00 05 00
in the great rome
It 2 great Carved Chaires 01 04 00
It a smale carved Chaire 00 06 00
It a Table and forme 01 02 00
It 3 striped Carpetts 01 05 00
It 10 Cushens 01 01 00
It 3 old Cushens 00 02 00
It a Causlett and one headpeece 01 10 00
It 1 fouling peece without a locke 3 old barrells of guns
one paire of old bandeleers and a rest 00 16 00
It 2 paire of holland sheets 02 00 00
It 1 Dowlis sheet 00 10 00
It 2 paire of Cotten and linnin Sheets 01 15 00
It 2 paire of hemp and Cotten sheets 01 15 00
It 2 paire of Canvas sheets 01 10 00
It 2 paire of old sheets 00 15 00
It 4 fine shirts 02 00 00
It a Douzen of Cotten and linnin napkins 00 12 00
It a Douzen of Canvas Napkins 00 06 00
It a Diaper Tablecloth and a Douzen of Diaper Napkins 02 10 00
It 10 Diaper napkins of an other sort a Diaper tablecloth and a Diaper Cubbard cloth 03 00 00
It 2 holland Tableclothes 01 00 00
It 2 short Tableclothes 00 05 00
It a Douzen of old Napkins 00 08 00
It halfe a Dousen of Napkins 00 08 --
It 3 old Napkins 00 02 00
It a Douzen of Course napkins & a course tablecloth 00 06 00
It 2 find holland Cubburd clothes 00 12 00
It 3 paire of holland pillowbeers 00 18 00
It 3 paire of Dowlis pillowbeers and an old one 00 14 00
It 4 holland Towells and a lockorum one 00 05 00
It 14 pewter dishes weying 47 pounds att 15d pr pound 02 18 09
It 6 pewter plates & 13 pewter platters ewying thirty 2 pounds att 15d pr pound 02 00 00
It 2 pewter plates 5 sawsers 4 basons & 5 Dishes weying eighteen pounds att 15d pr pound 01 02 06
It 2 plates of pewter 00 03 04
It 2 quart potts & a pint pott 00 07 00
It 2 old fflagons an a yore [ewer] 00 09 00
It a pewter Candlesticke a salt and a little pewter bottle 00 03 00
It 4 venice glasses and seaven earthen 00 10 00
In the kitchen brasse
It 2 ffrench kittles 01 10 00
It 1 brasse kittle 00 15 00
It 2 little ffrench kittles 00 06 00
It an old warming pan 00 05 00
It 2 old brasse kittles 00 02 00
It a Duch pan 00 04 00
It 3 brasse skilletts 00 04 00
It 3 brasse Candlestickes and a brasse morter and pestle 00 07 00
It an old brasse skimmer and a ladle 00 01 00
It a paire of andjrons 00 06 00
It an old brasse stewpan 00 06 00
It 2 old brasse kittles 00 05 00
It 2 Iron skilletts and a Iron kittle 00 15 00
2 old great Iron pottes 01 00 00
It 2 Iron potts lesser 00 07 00
It 2 paire of pothangers 2 paire of pothookes 00 08 00
It 2 paire of tonggs and an old fier shovell 00 03 04
It one paire of Andjrons and a gridjron 00 10 00
It a spitt and an old Iron Driping pan 00 05 00
It a paire of Iron Rackes and an Iron veele and another peec of old Iron to lay before a Driping pan 00 20 00
It 4 Dozen of Trenchers 00 02 06
It 2 Juggs and 3 smale bottles 00 02 00
in the New Chamber his clothes
It a stuffe suite with silver buttons & a Coate 04 00 00
It a Cloth Cloake faced with Taffety and lineed throw with baies 03 10 00
It a sad coullered Cloth suite 02 00 00
It a Turkey Grogorum suite and cloake 02 00 00
It a paire of blacke briches and a rid wastcoat 00 15 00
It a lead coullered cloth suit with silver buttons 02 00 00
It a sad coullered short coate and an old serge suite 01 10 00
It a black cloth coate 00 15 00
It a broad cloth Coate 01 05 00
It a light Coullered stuffe Coate 00 16 00
It an old green goune 01 00 00
It a light Cullered Cloth Cloake 01 15 00
It an old violett Coullered Cloake 01 05 00
It a short coate of Cloath 00 10 00
It 2 old Dublett and a paire of briches a short coate and an old stuffe Dublitt and wastcoate 01 00 00
It 2 paire of stockens 00 07 00
It 2 hates a blacke one and a coullered one 01 10 00
It 2 old hatts 00 16 00
It 2 great Chaire and 2 wrought Stooles 01 00 00
It a Carved Chist 01 00 00
It a Table 00 15 00
It one great beer bowle 03 00 00
It an other beer bowle 02 00 00
It 2 wine Cupps 02 00 00
It a salt 03 00 00
It the trencher salt and a Drame cup 00 15 00
It 4 silver spoones 01 04 00
It 9 silver spoones 02 05 00
In the Studdie
It eight paire of shooes of the 12s 02 00 00
It 6 paire of shoes of the 10s 01 04 00
It one paire of the eights 00 03 04
It 3 pare of the 7s 00 09 00
It 2 paire of the sixes 00 02 08
Item 1 paire of the 5s 1 paire of the 4s 1 paire of the 3s 00 06 00
It 4 yards and an halfe of linncy woolcye 00 13 06
It 3 remnants of English Cotten 00 16 00
It 3 yards and an halfe of bayes 00 07 00
It 17 yards of Course English moheer 02 02 06
It 4 yards and 3 quarters of purpetuanna 01 00 00
It 18 yards of rid penistone 03 03 00
It 5 yards of broad cloth 13 15 00
It 2 yards of broad cloth 01 10 00
It 2 1/2 yards and an halfe of olive cullered Carsye 00 15 00
It a yard and an halfe of whitish Carsey 00 07 00
It 4 yards of Gray carsye 01 04 00
It 5 yards and an halfe of rid Carsye 01 07 06
It 4 yards and a quarter of Carsy ollive coullered 01 10 00
It 7 yards of Carsye sad Cullered 02 06 08
It 10 yards of gray Carsye 02 10 00
It 6 yards and an halfe of rid plaine 01 19 00
It 9 yards and an halfe of rash 03 16 00
It 6 yards of holland 01 08 00
It a remnant of Cushening 00 05 00
It 7 smale moose skines 04 08 00
It in Cash 151 09 06
It his Deske 00 05 00
It 2 Cases with some emty bottles 00 10 00
It 3 or 4 old cases 00 03 00
his bookes in folio
Mr Perkines workes 01 10 00
It 3 of Docter Willetts workes viz on genesis exodus & Daniell 01 00 00
It the ffrench acaddamey 00 08 00
It the Guiciardin 00 10 00
It the history of the Church 00 08 00
It bodins Comons wealth 00 06 00
It B Babbingtons workes 00 08 00
It Peter Martire Comon places 00 15 00
It Cartwright on the remish Testament 00 10 00
It the history of the Netherlands 00 15 00
It Peter Martire on the Romans 00 05 00
It Mayers workes on the New Testament 01 00 00
It Cottens Concordance 00 08 00
Speeds generall Description of the world 01 10 00
Weames Christian Sinnagogue and the portrature of the Image of God in man -- 08 00
It Luther on the gallations 00 02 00
It the method of phiscicke 00 02 00
It Calvins harmony and Calvins Comentary on the actes 00 08 00
It Downhams 2cond pte of Christian Warfare 00 03 00
It Mr Cottens Answare to mr Willams 00 02 00
It Taylers libertie of Prophecye 00 01 06
It Gouges Domesticall Dutyes 00 02 06
It Justification of Seperation or reasons Descused & observations Devine & morall the synode att Dort; the Apollogye 00 06 00
It mr Ainsworths workes the Counterpoison the triing out of truth 00 02 00
It Mr Ainsworth on geniseis Exodus & livitticus 00 04 00
It Calvin on genises 00 02 06
It Dike on the Deceitfulness of mans hart 00 01 06
It Gifford refuted 00 00 06
It Dod on the Comaundments & an other of his 00 03 00
It three and fifty smale bookes 01 06 06
It Calvine on the epistles in Duch with Divers other Duch bookes 00 15 00
It 2 bibles 01 00 00
It a paire of boots 00 05 00
It in lether 00 18 00
It 2 old Chists 00 10 00
It 6 old barrells a bucking tubb a brewing tubb & other old lumber 01 00 00
It a pcell of Cotten woole & a pcell of sheepes woole 02 10 00
It a pcell of feathers 00 12 00
It 3 ewe sheep 04 10 00
It 3 middleing sheep & a poor one 04 00 00
It a rame lambbe and an halfe & half an ewe lamb 00 16 06
It the old mare 12 00 00
It a lame mare and an horse coult 14 00 00
It a horse of two yeare old and advantage 07 00 00
It an other horse coult of yeare and advantage 05 10 00
It 4 bullockes 20 00 00
It 7 Cowes 28 00 00
It a bull 04 00 00
It 2 young bulls of two year old 04 10 00
It a heifer of three yeare old not with Calfe 03 05 00
It 2 heifers of two years old 05 00 00
It 4 yearlings 06 00 00
It five Calves 03 00 00
It a sow and 2 hoggs 02 15 00
It five smale shoates 01 10 00
It the house and orchyard and some smale pcells of land about the towne of Plymouth 45 00 00
It 2 spinning wheeles & a wether 00 16 00
Att the Westward in Debts upon the Duch account Consisting in Divers pcells 153 00 00
Item Debts owing to the estate
It the Kennebeck Stocke Consisting in goods and Debts both English and Indians 256 00 00
More Debts owing in the bay
It in Doute the shoomakers hands 05 00 00
It in Mannsses Kemptons hands 05 00 00
It more belonging to the estate in Divers pticulars 57 00 00
Debts owing from the estate
It to Mr Davis and mr Sheffe 05 00 00
It to Samuell Sturtivant 02 03 00
It 2 the townes land 01 12 00
It John Jourdaine about 02 00 00
It To goodman Clarke about 03 10 00
It two goodman Nelson for killing of Cattle & for veale 01 18 06
It to William Palmer 12 04 00
It To the Church of Plymouth 05 10 00
Some pcells of land not mencioned above belonging to Mr William Bradford senir:
It one pcell att Eastham and another att Bridgwater
It a smale pcell about Sawtuckett and his purchase land att Coasksett with his right in the townes land at Punckatessett
By us Thomas Cushman John Dunham
It Sundrey Implements forgotten belonging to the teame
- (Research):WILLIAM BRADFORD
by Dorothy Honiss Kelso
William Bradford was born in 1590 in the Yorkshire farming community of Austerfield, England. In his early childhood, both parents died. The boy was shuttled among several relatives, never staying long anywhere.
He was about 12 when he happened into the neighboring town of Scrooby. A church service was in progress which astonished him by its fellowship and its lack of ritual. Time and again he returned, drawn to the congregation’s fervor for reform. By the age of 17 Bradford was a fully committed member, sharing the radical idea of separating from the official Church of England - a dangerous decision, for Separatist leaders were hunted and imprisoned. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford’s journal. When the congregation learned that the king, James I, intended to "harry them from the land," they fled to the Netherlands.
Here, for 12 years, first in Amsterdam and then in Leiden, Bradford and the rest of the exiles lived and worshipped according to their beliefs. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford’s journal. Life in the old university town of Leiden was difficult. Many of the refugees, including Bradford, eked out a bare living as textile workers. The church, now led by the charismatic John Robinson, faced other problems. The Netherlands teetered on the brink of war with Catholic Spain and the Dutch government, pressured by their English ally King James, harassed the refugees. Presses printing Separatist tracts were smashed and some of the English had rocks thrown at them.
With Pastor Robinson’s encouragement, the congregation decided to make a new home overseas. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford’s journal. The decision was made to locate north of the Virginia Colony "some place about Hudson’s river." There they could be loyal subjects of King James, live by English law and with English customs, but be far enough from interference in their way of worship.
Bradford, now 30 years old and married with a young son, was in the thick of the planning. Government permissions, financing, ship hire and provisioning, and a potentially dangerous first stop in England had to be worked out. There were heartaches as well – not everybody could go. The majority of the congregation remained in Holland and with them remained their dearly-loved Pastor Robinson. And William and Dorothy Bradford’s four-year-old son would also be left behind. Yet, as Bradford wrote, "they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits."
William Bradford was now shouldering many administrative responsibilities : record-keeping, correspondence with financial backers and negotiation for a patent to give legal permission for a settlement, and a swarm of details connected with what he called "the weighty voyage." With an instinct for the beckoning future, he carefully preserved many notes and documents. From these he later crafted his journal, known today as Of Plymouth Plantation.
Clearly, lack of money was the most persistent problem. Eventually, the "Saints," as they now called themselves, were forced to join forces with "Strangers" – people unconnected with the church but willing to pay passage to the new land of opportunity. This alliance was uneasy, particularly when one of the two ships seemed unequal to the rough autumnal Atlantic. This meant that 102 passengers (including 35 children, along with young teens and several pregnant women) were crammed below decks on the Mayflower, a ship that was about 90 feet long and 26 feet broad amidships.
With the first of the bad weather some of the "Strangers" and crewmen began a buzz of "discontented and mutinous speeches." Through " many fierce storms," the Mayflower struggled westward. Nearly all the passengers were wretchedly seasick. One, John Howland, fell overboard but miraculously survived "though he was somewhat ill with it, yet he lived many years after," wrote Bradford.
The Mayflower’s upper decks leaked. She cracked a main beam. More and more mariners wanted to turn back. But Bradford notes that "being near half seas over," the Ship’s Master, Christopher Jones, advised continuing – particularly when the cracked beam was secured by a giant screw providentially brought by the Pilgrims for their building.
Yet even as they neared landfall certain of the "Strangers" threatened "when they came ashore they would use their own liberty, for none had power to command them."
The Pilgrim leaders recognized the truth of this. They now knew they were not arriving at the legally designated destination of North Virginia but in New England – and winter was upon them. After 65 days at sea the exhausted company could go no further. Here must they stay – and stay together if they were to survive.
A meeting was called, attended by nearly all the adult male passengers. Both "Saints" and "Strangers" recognized that preservation was their paramount necessity. This was spelled out in a covenant outlining their decision for unity. This document binding them into a "civil body politic" is known as the Mayflower Compact. Click HERE for the text of the Mayflower Compact.
The original Compact has not survived. The reliable, careful Bradford, however, made a true copy. Terse and specific, this agreement had ramifications far beyond the Pilgrims’ immediate necessity. It provided the basics for self-government based on the general good, tenets which would reappear many times in the future.
In November 1620, the storm-battered Mayflower finally dropped anchor off Cape Cod. The passengers, exhausted, dirty and frightened, still numbered 102. One of the "saints," young William Button, was dead – but a baby had been born mid-ocean. Another baby arrived shortly after the ship’s arrival, Bradford noting that little Peregrine White was "the first of the English born in these parts."
Curiously, Bradford does not mention the tragic loss of his own wife, Dorothy, who fell from the Mayflower’s deck and drowned. But his pent-up emotions are clearly revealed in this moving passage from his journal. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford’s journal.
Almost immediately there was a frightening encounter with the Native People which convinced the Pilgrims they must find a better location as soon as possible. A handful of men, mariners and passengers, set forth in a small shallop. As they sailed north along the coast they came upon an ice storm which broke their mast. Rowing for their lives they washed ashore on a small island. By morning the weather had cleared and they saw a harbor "fitt for shipping." Behind it was cleared land – a deserted Indian settlement with "divers cornfeilds, & litle runing brooks, a place (as they supposed) fitt for situation; at least it was ye best they could find, and ye season, & their presente necessitie, made them glad to accepte of it." Click HERE for a passage from Bradford's journal.
And so the Mayflower reached Plymouth Harbor, their final destination. Several days later, Pilgrim men went ashore "to erect ye first house for comone use to receive them and their goods." But now began their worst ordeal, the "Starving Time." Nearly all became ill, including Bradford himself. Within five months half the company were dead including John Carver, whom they had elected their first governor, and all but four of the adult women. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford’s journal. The man chosen to succeed Carver as Governor was William Bradford. Except for five brief year-long respites, he would remain governor almost until his death in 1657, a total of 36 years of public service.
In April 1621, the Mayflower sailed away back to England. Not one of the survivors, "Saints" or "Strangers," chose to leave with the ship. To Bradford this must have been the colony’s strongest expression of their bond. This, plus the aid of the Wampanoags under the leadership of Massasoit, signaled new hope. They had "recovered their health" and gladly planted native corn more suitable to the climate than their English seed. By autumn they had "fitted their houses against winter" and had "all things in good plenty." So the Governor called for a celebration of their harvest, a Thanksgiving shared with their Wampanoag friends. Click HERE for passages from two 17th century sources.
In 1621, another ship, the Fortune, arrived in Plymouth. The passengers were a mixed lot and Bradford found it necessary to provide firm leadership. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford’s journal. By 1623 yet more ships, the Anne and Little James, found their way to Plymouth Harbor. They brought with them, in Bradford’s words, some "very useful persons … some were the wives and children of such as were here already. And some were so bad, as they were fain to be at charge to send them home again next year…" Among the new arrivals was Alice Carpenter Southworth, a young widow with two small sons. She shortly became William Bradford’s wife. Emmanual Altham, a ship captain who attended the wedding, wrote :
And now to say somewhat of the great cheer we had at the Governor’s marriage. We had about 12 pasty venison, besides others, pieces of roasted venison and other such good cheer in such quantity that I could wish you some of our share. For here we have the best grapes that ever you [saw] and the biggest, and divers sorts of plums and nuts
Bradford’s second marriage appears to have been happy. His last will & testament describes Alice as "my dear and loving wife." She provided a home in Plymouth for Bradford’s son who had been left behind in Leiden, and she and William had three children of their own, two sons and a daughter.
Meanwhile, the colony was growing, and so were the responsibilities of the Governor and his Court of Assistants. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford's journal. As Governor, Bradford and his assistants were financial managers for the colony. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford’s journal. The Governor and Assistants were also judges in disputes and negotiators with the Dutch in New York and the new Massachusetts Bay Colony. They had to watchdog the ultimately unsuccessful trading posts in Maine and Connecticut and also to maintain friendly relations with the Native People.
What clearly distressed Bradford most was the breakup of the original colony. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford’s journal. As the settlers moved out for more land, the church was divided and the old "comfortable fellowship" ended. Click HERE for a passage from Bradford's journal.
In 1650, Bradford finished piecing together his journal, bringing the record up to 1646. He notes sorrowfully the death of Elder William Brewster and the departure of Edward Winslow for England. Nevertheless Bradford struggled on until 1656, leaving office just few short months before his death in 1657.
William Bradford's life and influence have been chronicled by many. As the author of a manuscript journal and the long-term governor of Plymouth Colony, his documented activities are vast in scope. Click HERE for information about Bradford's journal. His remarkable ability to manage men and affairs was a large factor in the success of the Plymouth Colony. The Pilgrims "desperate adventure" was marked by Bradford’s stamina, versatility and vision.
Chronology of William Bradford’s Life
1590 William Bradford is born and then baptized on March 19 in Austerfield, Yorkshire, England.
1602 William Bradford becomes a regular attender at Puritan and Separatist meetings, coming under the influence of William Brewster and John Robinson of the Scrooby Separatist Congregation.
1608 The Scrooby Separatists begin to leave England and settle in Holland.
1609 William Bradford joins the Scrooby Separatists in Amsterdam.
1613 William Bradford marries Dorothy May.
1620 The Mayflower Pilgrims voyage to Plymouth. Dorothy May dies.
1621 The first governor of Plymouth, John Carver, dies. William Bradford is elected governor, holding the position (except for 5 years) for the remainder of his life.
1622 Mourt's Relation, based on writings by William Bradford and Edward Winslow among others, is published in London.
1623 William Bradford marries the widow Alice Carpenter Southworth.
1630 William Bradford begins the writings that eventually become Of Plymouth Plantation.
1650 William Bradford stops writing Of Plymouth Plantation, ending with the year 1646 and adding a current list of the Mayflower passengers and their status in the year 1650.
1657 William Bradford dies.
Before his death, William Bradford made a will.
||15 Sep 2006 |
||William Bradford, b. Bef 1560, Austerfield, Yorkshire, England , d. Bef 15 Jul 1591, Austerfield, Yorkshire, England (Age ~ 31 years) |
||Alice Hanson, b. 8 Dec 1562, Austerfield, Yorkshire, England , d. 23 May 1597, Austerfield, Yorkshire, England (Age 34 years) |
||21 Jul 1584
||Austerfield, Yorkshire, England
||Alice Carpenter, b. 16 Dec 1593, Wrington, Somersetshire, England , d. 26 Mar 1670, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts (Age 76 years) |
||14 Aug 1623
||Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts 
|+||1. Major William Bradford, b. 17 Jun 1624, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts , d. 20 Feb 1704, Kingston, Plymouth, Massachusetts (Age 79 years)|
| ||2. Mercy Bradford, b. Bef May 1627, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts , d. Yes, date unknown|
| ||3. Joseph Bradford, b. Abt 1630, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts , d. 15 Jul 1715, Kingston, Plymouth, Massachusetts (Age ~ 85 years)|
||15 Sep 2006 |
||Dorothy May, b. 1597, , Yorkshire, England , d. 17 Dec 1620, C.C. Harbor, Plymouth, Massachusetts (Age 23 years) |
||9 Nov 1613
||Leyden, Zuid, Holland [1, 4, 5]
| ||1. John Bradford, b. 1615, Leiden, Zuid, Holland , d. 1678, Norwich, New London, Connecticut (Age 63 years)|
||26 Nov 2008 |
|Born - 19 Mar 1589 - Austerfield, Yorkshire, England
|Christened - 6 Mar 1590 - Austerfield, Yorkshire, England
|Married - 9 Nov 1613 - Leyden, Zuid, Holland
|Married - 14 Aug 1623 - Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts
|Buried - May 1657 - Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts
|Died - 9 May 1657 - Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts
|| : Address
: Not Set
- [S7688] William Bradford of the Mayflower and his descendants for four generations, Robert S. Wakefield, (Plymouth, Mass. : General Society of Mayflower Descendants, c1987), 1 (Reliability: 3).
- [S308] Burial Hill 1990s, Barbara J. Bradford Robinson, Howard E. Robinson, Cynthia L. Robinson, (Plymouth: Plymouth Public Library Corporation, 2000 Surety:3), 123 (Reliability: 3).
- [S7735] England, Yorkshire, Sheffield Parish Register, 1560 - 1653, Drury, Charles and T. Walter Hall, trans. and ed. The Parish Register of Sheffield in the County of York. Part II. Burials 1560 to 1634. Baptisms and Marriages 1635 to 1653., (Yorkshire: Yorkshire Parish Register Society, 1918.), «b»William sone of Willia' Bradford«/b» baptized the xixth day of March Anno Do'mi 1690. (Reliability: 4).
- [S311] Mayflower Descendant, (Wheat Ridge, CO: Search & Research Publishing Corporation, 1996), v22 (Reliability: 3).
- [S7608] International Genealogical Index(R), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Copyright (c) 1980, 2002), citing microfilm 170680, page 667, reference number 17256, downloaded 13 Oct 2005 (Reliability: 3).