The surname Bradford is derived from the name of a place, Broadford or Bradenford. There are two very ancient towns of this name, one in Wiltshire, England, near Bath, and one in Yorkshire, near Leeds. Near the latter was the home of the ancestors of the American family. The family dates back in England, doubtelss, to the beginning of surnames, in the eleventh or twelfth centuries. One of the first martyrs burned at the stake during the reign of Bloody Mary was John Bradford, Prebend of St. Paul and a celebrated preacher. He was born in Manchester, Lancashire, 1510, and was executed July 1, 1555. He was a friend of Rogers, Hooper, Saunders, Latimer, Cramner, and Ridley, who also died at the stake about the same time.
The Bradford coat-of-arms is: Argent on a feese sable, three stags' heads erased or. Right Reverend Father in God, Samuel Bradford, Lord Bishop of Rochester and Dean of Westminster, bore these arms as well as those of his Episcopal see.
The ancestry of Governor William Bradford has not been traced beyond his grandfather, mentioned below, though it is known that the family is ancient.
(I) William Bradford, grandfather of Governor William Bradford, lived at Austerfield (Osterfeldt), county Nottingham, England, and in 1575, he and John Hanson were the only subsidiaries located there. Bradford was taxed twenty shillings on land; Hanson, the same amount on goods. His grandson William (Governor), lived with him after the death of William, his son. The date of his burial at Austerfield, was Jan. 10, 1695-96.
1. William, mentioned below.
2. Thomas, had a daughter Margaret, baptized March 9, 1579, at Austerfield.
3. Robert, baptized at Austerfield, June 25, 1681; married Jan. 31, 1585, Alice Waingate; with him Governor Bradford lived after his grandfather died; in 1698 Robert was the only subsidiary at Austerfield; his will was dated April 15, 1609, and he was buried April 23 following. Children: Robert, Mary, Elizabeth and Margaret.
4. Elizabeth, baptized July 15, 1570.
(II) William (2), son of William (1) Bradford, was born at Austerfield probably about 1560, and died when yet a young man, July 15, 1591. He married Alice Hanson. Children, born at Austerland:
1. Margaret, baptized March 8, 1585; died young.
2. Alice, baptized Oct. 30, 1587.
3. Governor William, baptized March 19, 1590, mentioned below.
(III) Governor William (2) Bradford, son of William (2) Bradford, was born in England and baptized at Austerfield, March 19, 1590. After his father's death he lived at first with his grandfather, but on his death, William went to live with his uncle, Robert Bradford, who lived in Scrooby, five miles from Austerfield, near the estate of the Brewsters, in county Nottingham. He joined the church where Rev. Richard Clifton and Rev. John Robinson preached, and soon became one of the leading "separatists." His early educational advantages were limited, but by diligent study he became very proficient in Dutch, Latin, French and Greek, and also devoted himself to the study of Hebrew that he might read the Bible in its original form.
He went with the company which migrated to Holland, and was a most influential power among them. On his coming of age he received considerable property from his father's estate, but did not succeed him in his commercial undertakings. He learned the art of "fustian or frieze weaving."
On Nov. 15, 1613, he was affianced to Dorothy May, from Wisbeach, Cambridge, England. The bans were published in Leyden, and they were married in Amsterdam, Holland, Dec. 9, 1613. His age is given as twenty-three, hers as sixteen. They embarked for England July 22, 1620, and after many trials sailed from Plymouth, England, Sept. 6, 1620, on the ship "Mayflower," reaching Cape Cod harbor the November following. While they were at anchor, and he was absent from the vessel, Dorothea fell overboard and was drowned, Dec. 9, 1620.
Soon after the death of Governor Carver, William Bradford was elected governor of the collony, which he held by annual election until his death, with the exception of the years 1633, 1634, 1636, 1638 and 1644. He took a prominent part in all the councils, which were held at his house, and in all civic, political, and military affairs. From his house at the foot of Burial Hill each Sunday morning, the company of people who assembled there marched up to the fort at its top, where religious services were held. The history of the times which he left gives a correct and valuable picture of the events of that time.
He married (second) Mrs. Alice (Carpenter) Southworth, widow of Edward Southworth and daughter of Alexander Carpenter of Wrentham, England. She died March 26, 1670, and he died May 9, 1657.
1. John (by first wife), of Duxbury, born 1615; married Martha Bourne; died in Norwich, Conn., 1678, s. p.
2. William, mentioned below.
3. Mercy, married Benjamin or Joseph Vermages.
4. Joseph, born 1630; married, May 25, 1664, Jael Hobart; died July 10, 1715.
(IV) Major William (4) Bradford, son of Governor William (3) Bradford, was born June 16, 1624, in Plymouth, Mass., and died there Feb. 20, 1703. He removed to Kingston, Mass. He was assistant deputy governor, and was one of Governor Andros' council in 1687. He was the chief military office of Plymouth colony. His will is dated Jan. 29, 1705.
He married (first) Alice Richards, who died at Plymouth, Dec. 12, 1671, daughter of Thomas and Wealtyan Richards of Weymouth, Mass. He married (second) the widow Wiswell; (third) Mrs. Mary Holmes, who died June 6, 1714-15, widow of Rev. John Holmes of Duxbury, and daughter of John Atwood of Plymouth.
1. John, born Feb. 20, 1653.
2. William, March 11, 1655; died 1687; married Rebecca Hartlett.
3. Thomas of Norwich.
4. Samuel, 1668; died April 11, 1714; married Hannah Rogers.
5. Alice, married Major James Fitch.
6. Hannah, married, Nov. 28, 1683, Joshua Ripley.
7. Mercy, married _____ Steel.
8. Melatiah, married John Steel.
10. Sarah, married Kenelm Baker.
Children of the second wife:
11. Joseph of Norwich, mentioned below.
12. Israel, married Sarah Bartlett.
13. David, married, 1714, Elizabeth Pinney; died 1730.
(V) Joseph, son of William (4) Bradford, was born in 1674, and died Jan. 16, 1747. He lived in Norwich, and removed to Lebanon and thence to the North parish of New London in 1717. He was a very active and energetic citizen. His farm was lately owned by J. Randolph Rogers, and was formerly called the Perez Bradford place. He was elder of the New London church in 1724.
He married (first) Oct. 5, 1698, Anna Fitch, who died Oct. 17, 1715, daughter of Rev. James and Priscilla Fitch.
He married (second) Mary (Sherwood) Fitch, widow of Captain Daniel Fitch. She died Sept. 16, 1752.>br> Children:
1. Anna, born July 26, 1699.
2. Joseph (twin), April 9, 1702.
3. Priscilla (twin), April 9, 1702.
4. Althea (twin), April 6, 1704.
5. Irene (twin), April 6, 1704.
6. Sarah, Sept. 21, 1706.
7. Hannah, May 24, 1709.
8. Elizabeth, Oct. 21, 1712.
9. Althea (twin), Sept. 19, 1715.
10. Irena (twin), Sept. 19, 1715.
(The first pair of twins of these names died young).
(VI) Joseph (2), son of Joseph (1) Bradford, was born at New London, April 9, 1702. He married Henrietta Swift. He resided at Montville, formerly part of New London.
1. Elizabeth, born Jan. 17, 1731.
2. Anna, July 23, 1732.
3. William, April 13, 1734.
4. Honora Swift, Aug. 21, 1736.
5. Robert, July 21, 1739.
6. Hannah, March 10, 1740-41; married Richard Arthur (See Arthur).
7. Joseph, Jan. 10, 1744-45.