Baptized: 19 MAR 1590 Austerfield, Yorkshire, England.
Details: St Helena’s is a small very historic church building. The present church building dates from Norman times, but has links with the Austerfield Synod of 702AD. Later, William Bradford, the first governor of Massachusetts was baptized here. (see pic on right)
Note: In his early childhood, both of William’s parents died. The boy was shuttled among several relatives, never staying long anywhere. Picture of William’s birthplace is on the right.
Details: 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.
Note: ABT 1609
Details: When William Bradford’s congregation learned that the king, James I, intended to “harry them from the land,” they fled to the Netherlands. In 1609, William Bradford joins the Scrooby Separatists in Amsterdam.
Details: For 12 years, first in Amsterdam and then in Leiden, Bradford and the rest of the exiles lived and worshipped according to their beliefs. 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.
1st Marriage: 1613 to Dorothy May
Birth of Son: 1615
Name: John Bradford
Details: William Bradford is elected governor of the Plymouth Colony, holding the position (except for 5 years) for the remainder of his life.
2nd Marriage: 14 Aug 1623 to the widow Alice Carpenter Southworth in Plymouth, Plymouth Co, Massachusetts
Death: 09 MAY 1657 Plymouth, Plymouth Co, Massachusetts
Burial: Burial Hill, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Will Proved: 03 JUN 1657
Details: 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.
Click here to see parents: William Bradford and Alice Hanson
Notes About William’s Life: Plymouth Colony Colonial Governor. He served in this capacity at different times for over 30 years, from 1621 to 1657. His journal, written from 1620 to 1647, and published as “Of Plymouth Plantation,” is credited as the first civil authority to designate what popular American culture now traditionally accepts as Thanksgiving in the US. He is considered by historians to be one of the most influential of the Pilgrim settlers for his outstanding leadership, his desire to steadfastly hold to his religious and moral ideals and his determination to keep Plymouth a thriving and independent colony. Born to a wealthy family, his early childhood was marked by numerous deaths, with his father dying when he was about a year old, followed by the death of his grandfather when he was six years old (with whom he lived after his mother remarried), and then the death of his mother when he was 7, after which he went to live with his uncles. He became interested in reading the Bible and classical literature. At age 12 he heard the sermon of a Puritan minister, Reverend Richard Clyfton, and was greatly inspired by his preaching. He soon joined the Puritan faith who met secretly at Scrooby Manor and in 1607 they severed ties with the traditional Church of England and became known as Separatists. The Separatists, or Puritans, were subject to religious persecution and many were either fined or imprisoned for religious disobedience. In 1607 the Scrooby congregation attempted to leave England and go to the Dutch Republic of the Netherlands, where freedom of religion was allowed, but they were betrayed by the English sea captain who had agreed to take them there and most of the congregation, including Bradford, were imprisoned for a short time. The following year he and the congregation managed to escape and settled at Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, where they had to work at low-paying jobs and live in poor conditions. Nine months later he moved with the congregation to Leiden, in an attempt to better themselves. In 1611 he was able to claim his family inheritance and his living conditions improved. He bought his own house and established a workshop as a fustian weaver, earning a reputable living. In 1617 the congregation made plans to relocate to America and establish their own colony in Virginia and in July 1620 and with Bradford’s assistance they secured financial backing in London to embark on their first journey to America with about 50 people, including Bradford and his wife, on the ship “Speedwell,” which was to meet up with the ship “Mayflower” that was transporting non-Separtists who had been recruited for their vocational skills. The “Speedwell” proved to be unsuitable to make the long voyage and its passengers were put aboard the “Mayflower” for its trip across the Atlantic Ocean. They left England in September 1620 and after two months of extremely harsh sailing conditions, they spotted land (Cape Cod Hook). Attempting to sail south to reach their final destination in the Colony of Virginia, the ship was rebuffed by strong winter seas and they were forced to return to Cape Cod Harbor. Bradford volunteered to be a member of the exploration party to find a suitable settlement location, eventually choosing present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. When he returned to the ship with news of the settlement selection, he learned that his wife had died by falling overboard and drowning. Arriving in Plymouth Bay on December 20, 1620 the settlers disembarked and started building houses. By the following spring almost half of them died from disease. In April 1621 Bradford became governor of the Plymouth Colony upon the death of John Carver and would remain in that position for most of the remainder of his life. Through his perseverance he kept the Plymouth colony alive until his death in 1657 at the age of 67. (bio by: William Bjornstad)
Birth: 03 AUG 1590 Wrington, Somersetshire, England
Christened: 01 SEP 1592 Brighton, Somersetshire, England
1st Marriage: 28 May 1613 to Edward Southworth in Leyden, Holland
Birth of Daughter: 1614
Name: Constant Southworth
Birth of Son: Thomas Southworth
Immigration: 1623 on the ship “Anne”
Details: Her two children by Southworth came over with her. The tradition is that Governor Bradford, when a young man, paid his addresses to Alice Carpenter; but on account of his inferiority in rank was opposed by her parents. Consequently, against her natural feelings she was induced to marry Southworth. By him she had two children and was left a widow. Bradford after his arrival in America, became Governor, and having lost his wife soon after wrote to his first love in substance like this: “I am not that Bill Bradford I once was. I am now Governor of the Colony, a widower, and if you will come to America I am at your service.” Accordingly she came in the ship Anne, arrived at Weymouth in June 1623, and soon after her arrival married Governor Bradford.
Will: 29 DEC 1669
Death: 26 MAR 1670 Plymouth, Massachusetts
Note: From Plymouth Colony Records: “On the 26th day of March, 1670, Mistris Allice Bradford, Seni’r, changed this life for the better, haueing attained to fourscore years of age, or therabouts. Shee was a godly matron, and much loued while shee liued, and lamented, tho aged, when shee died, and was honorabley enterred on the 29th day of the month aforsaid, att New Plymouth.”
Burial: Burial Hill, Plymouth, Plymouth Co, Massachusetts
Details: Plot: B247 – Near husband’s stone. Alice Bradford is no doubt buried near her husband’s monument, but there is no gravestone for her.
Will Proved: 07 JUN 1670
Details: “I Allis Bradford senir of the Towne of Plymouth in the Jurisdiction of New Plymouth widdow : being weake in body but of Disposing mind and prfect memory blessed be God; not knowing how soone the Lord may please to take mee out of this world unto himselfe : Doe make and ordaine this to be my last Will and Testament; in manor and forme as followeth; Impr I bequeath my soule to god that gave it and my body to the Dust in hope of a Joyfull resurrection unto glory; Desiring that my body may be Intered as neare unto my Deceased husband; mr Willam Bradford: as Conveniently may be; and as for my worldly estate I Dispose of it as followeth; Imprs I give and bequeath unto my Deare sister Mary Carpenter; the bed I now lye on with the furniture: therunto belonging and a paire of sheets and a good Cow and a yearling heiffer and a younge mare Item I give and bequeath unto my son mr Constant Southworth my Land att Paomett: viz all my Purchase land there: with all my rights privilidges and appurtenances therunto belonging; To him and his heires and assignes for ever; Item I give and bequeath unto my said son Constant Southworth and unto my son mr Joseph Bradford: the one halfe of my sheep; to be equally Devided betwixt them; and the other halfe to my son Captaine Willam Bradford Item I give unto my said son Joseph Bradford my paire of working oxen and a white heiffer; Item I give unto my honored frend mr Thomas Prence one of the bookes that were my Deare husbands Library; which of them hee shall Choose; Item I give unto my Deare Grand child Elizabeth Howland; the Daughter of my Deare son Captaine Thomas Southworth Deceased; the sume of seaven pounds; for the use and benifitt of her son James howland Item I give unto my servant maide Mary Smith a Cow Calfe to be Delivered her the next springe if I Decease this winter; and if I Doe not Decease this winter; my will is that shee have one Delivered to her out of my estate in som short time after my Decease; all the rest of my estate not Disposed of allreddy by this my last Will and Testament; as above said; I give and bequeath unto my sonnes mr Constant Southworth Captaine Willam Bradford and mr Joseph Bradford to be equally Devided amongst them in equall and alike proportions; In Witnes that this is my Last Will and Testament I the said Allice Bradford have heerunto sett my hand and seale; this twenty ninth day of December anno Dom one Thousand six hundred sixty nine.
Click here to see parents: Alexander Carpenter and Priscilla Dillen