William Bradford, the immigrant ancestor, was baptized at St. Helen's Church in Austerfield , Yorkshire, England, on Thursday, 19 March 1589/90, by the Rev. Henry Fletcher. He was the son of William Bradford and Alice Hanson.

His childhood was not an easy one. Orphaned at an early age when his father died on 15 July 1591, he lived in the care first of his grandfather and then, after the latter's death in 1596, of his uncle Robert Bradford. Partly because he suffered from poor health as a young boy, he spent a great deal of his time reading and studying -- especially of the Geneva version of the Bible). Although his formal education appears not to have gone beyond the village school, he nevertheless acquired a good liberal education. He knew some Latin and Greek, could cite scripture authoritatively, and even learned some Hebrew in later life to aid in reading the Bible.

His inquisitive mind brought him into contact with the reformist religious movement of the time. Rev. Richard Clyfton, a radical advocate of purifying the Church of England, preached regularly at a church in Babworth, Nottinghamshire, about eight miles from Austerfield. One Sunday morning in 1602, twelve year old William attended at the urging of an older friend. While his friend soon lost interest in the sixteen mile weekly round trip, William persisted in attending. He developped a close bond with Clyfton, who he later remembered as "a grave, fatherly old man" who "by his pains and diligence had done much good, and under God had been a means of the conversion of many."

His uncles, followers of the established church, disapproved of these visits and commanded that they cease. As Cotton Mather noted: "Some lamented him; some derided him; all dissuaded him." Yet William continued to attend the services. In addition, he began to travel to nearby ainsborough to hear another rebel preacher, John Smyth. His uncles considered these trips to be even more objectionable than those to hear Clyfton, but as before were unable to dissuade him.

In his early teens, William met another attendant of these sermons: William Brewster. Brewster, in his thirties, became Bradford's mentor. Together they formed the core of a group of Separatists. In their view, the established church represented ceremonies and philosophies which kept people from the proper worship of God. To restore it to its rightful "primitive order, liberty and beauty," they believed that they had to separate from it -- thus the name Separatists. In 1606, Smyth formed a separatist congregation in Gainsborough with Bradford and Brewster in the congregation. After awile, and for reasons that are presently unclear, the congregation divided. Bradford joined those who moved to nearby Scrooby, Nottsn -- Brewster's home -- under the leadership of Rev. Clyfton. Rev. John Robinson, who later became the Pilgrim's religious leader in Holland, joined the group as Clyfton's assistant.

The Scrooby group generally met in the Manor House in which Brewster lived; no doubt the members found it ironic that they as Separatists were meeting in a house owned by an archbishop of the established church. Bradford later dryly noted that "[t]hey ordinarily met at his house on the Lord's Day (which was a Manor of the bishop's)." There Brewster "with great love entertained them when they came, making provission for them to his great charge."

Unfortunately, the government was stepping up persecution of Separatists across the country. In small villages like Gainsborough and Scrooby, the Separatists' services could not help but draw the authorities' attention. Both congregations began to look for a place where they could settle and worship in peace. Their attention was soon drawn to Holland, where the government was both Protestant and religiously tolerant. Any move would have to be accomplished in secret, however; emigration without a license from the government was illegal.

Early in 1607, the Gainsborough congregation slipped away to Amsterdam; the Scrroby group prepared to follow them. They made arrangements for friends to take charge of any of their property that could not be immediately sold or disposed of. Next they sought out a ship's captain to charter his vessal for the crossing to Holland. The ship was to set sail from River Haven, near Boston, in Lincolnshire. They made their way to the coast, and gathered at the agreed-upon rendezvous point. The ship appeared that night, and they boarded her. Before the sails were hoisted, though, the captain called out and betrayed them to the authorities who were waiting on shore. The company was bundled into open boats and robbed of all their money and possessions. The officials searched the men to their shirts for money, and "even the women further than became modesty." They were taken to Boston to appear before the local magistrates, who sent a message to the Privy Council in London asking for instructions.

Instructions from the Privy Council arrived a month later. Seven of the principal men in the Scrooby group were to be kept in prison and put on trial at the next session of the Court of Assizes. The rest were dismissed and told to return home. There is no record or other indication that the seven were ever brought to trial. Boston was a center of Puritanism, and the authorities may have conspired to allow the seven quietly to go free.

The group began again to search for another ship to take them to Holland. At Hull, they met a Dutch captain who agreed to take them. He set up a rendezvous with them at a deserted stretch of beach between Hull and Grimsby, where he would anchor and ferry them out in row boats. They sent a small bark downriver from the Scrooby area to the rendezvous with their possessions and the women and children; the men walked the forty miles.

The bark carrying the women arrived a day early, and so took shelter in the mouth of a small creek to await the arrival of the ship. By the next morning, the Dutch ship had arrived. The bark was unable to sail out to meet it, though, because the tide had gone out and left the bark stranded on a mud flat.

Meanwhile, the men arrived on the beach and the Dutch captain sent his rowboats to begin ferrying them aboard. After the first boat load was aboard, the rowboat started back for another load. But before the rowboat could land, they saw a company of armed men descending on the emigrants still on shore. The captain, fearing that the English might seize his ship and imprison him and his crew, ordered the rowboat back and hoisted anchor. The ship put out to sea, leaving half of the Scrooby men on shore with all the women and children.

Although some men managed to escape, Brewster remained behind to protect his family. They were herded off to the nearest town. The authorities were unsure just what to do with them, and it was apparently decided to let them quietly leave the country. By August 1608, they were all reunited as a group in Amsterdam. At this time there was a large English emigree colony in that city. They had divided into two groups centered around their churches: one called the Ancient Church, the other led by the Gainsborough minister John Smyth. The Scrooby group found neither church to its philosophical liking, however, and only a few months after arriving in Amsterdam asked permissionof the Dutch to move to the south to a town called Leiden; the application was granted on 12 February 1609.

Life in Holland was not easy. Aside from the language and cultural differences, they faced economic difficulties as well. Most had left their personal effects and resources behind them in England. To make matters worse, the local economy was trade-, rather than farm-, based. As a result, many of the male members of the group had to learn trades and start from scratch. William, for example, became a fustian worker; fustian was a twilled fabric of cotton and linen.

Since leaving England, William had been living with the Bewsters. However, when he turned twenty-one in 1611 he was able to claim and sell the property he had inherited from his father and grandfather in England -- nine and a half acres with a house, garden, cottage and orchard. He used some of the money to buy a house of his own near the church in Leiden and set up his own loom.

On 9 December 1613, William married Dorothy May at Leiden or Amsterdam; the banns were announced in Leiden on 16, 23 and 30 November 1613, but the marriage itself is registered in the Pulboeken in Amsterdam . Dorothy was born on 19 March 1596, probably in Wisbech, Cambridge, England. She was probably the daughter of John May and Cornelia Bowes. They had one child:

i John b.c. 1618 m. Martha Bourne

William purchased a small house on the banks of the Achtergracht or Back Canal where they settled and their first son was born. But like many of his fellow expatriates, William apparently spent time shuttling back and forth between Leiden and the Pilgrim's London "stronghold": Heneage House in Duke's Place. In March 1620, his name appears on the London tax rolls as living in Duke's Place.

At around this time the elders in Leiden had made the decision to emigrate to the New World. They still faced English harassment in Holland, and even feared being assimilated by the Dutch. As early as 1617, they had begun talks with representatives of the colony in Virginia, and were avidly reading any descriptions of the New World that they could acquire. In that year, they sent a copy of their views to the officials of the Virginia colony hoping to convince the latter that they were good candidates for emigration:

" Seven Artikes which ye Church of Leyden sent to Counsell of England to bee considered of in respeckt of their judgments occationed about theer goping to Virginia Anno 1618.

1. To ye confession of fayth published in ye name of ye Church of England & to every artikell theerof wee do wth ye reformed churches wheer wee live & also els where assent wholy.

2. As wee do acknolidg ye docktryne of fayth theer tawght so do wee ye fruites and effeckts of ye same docktryne to ye begetting of saving fayth in thousands in ye land (conformistes & reformistes) as ye ar called wth whom also as wth our bretheren wee do desyer to keepe sperituall communion in peace and will pracktis in our parts all lawfull thinges.

3. The King's Majesty wee acknolidg for Supreame Governer in his Dominion in all causes and over all parsons, and yt none maye decklyne or apeale from his authority or judgment in any cause whatsoever, but yt in all things obedience is dewe unto him, ether active, if ye thing commanded be not agaynst God's woord, or passive yt itt bee, except pardon can bee obtayned.

4. Wee judg itt lawfull for his Majesty to apoynt bishops, civill overseers, or officers in awthoryty onder hime, in ye severall provinces, dioses, congregations or parrishes to oversee ye Churches and governe them civilly accordiong to ye Lawes of ye Land, untto whom ye ar in all thinges to geve an account & by them to bee ordered according to Godlynes.

5. The authoryty of ye present bishops in ye Land wee do acknolidg so far forth as ye same is indeed derived from his Majesty untto them and as ye proseed in his name, whom wee will also theerein honor in all things and hime in them.

6. Wee beleeve yt no sinod, classes, convocation or assembly of Ecclesiastical Officers hath any power or awthoryty att all but as ye same by ye Majestraet geven unto them.

7. Lastly, wee desyer to geve untto all Superiors dew honor to preserve yr unity oy ye speritt wth all yt feare God, to have peace wth all men what in us lyeth & wheerein wee err to be instructed by any."

When they had explored all their options, they held a solemn gathering. Robinson preached to them from I Samuel 23:3: "And David's men said unto him, see we be afraid here in Judah, how much more if we come to Keilah against the host of the Philistines? Then David asked counsel of the Lord again. And the Lord answered him, and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand." The decision was made to leave. Because the group was too large to go all at the same time, it split into two. Robinson would stay in Leiden, while Brewster would lead the others to America.

In late July, 1620, the time to leave came. The Leiden group, and a group of their associates living in London, made preparation to leave aboard two ships: the Mayflower and the Speedwell. When the day of departure for the Leiden contingent arrived, "they had a day of solleme humiliation." The pastor took as his text for the day Ezra 8:21: "And there at the river [] I proclaimed a fast, that we might humble ourselves before God and seek of him a right way for us, and for our [] and for all our substance." Those who were staying behind accompanied the Pilgrims to the harbor town of Delfts Haven, where their ship lay at anchor.

At daybreak on 21 July 1620, the emigrants boarded a canal boat for the journey to the port of Delft Haven. At Delft Haven the night before sailing, few of the passengers slept; their time was spent "with friendly entertainmente & christian discourse and other reall expressions of true chiristian love."

" The next day, the wind being faire, they wente aborde, and their friends with them, where truly dolful was ye sight of that sade and mournfull parting; to see what sighs and sobbs and praires did sound amongst them, what tears did guch from every eye, & pithy speeches peirst each harte."

But the tide would not wait, and so the Speedwell prepared to sail. The pastor fell to his knees, and his flock with him, and they said one final prayer together and took their leave:

" So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place for near twelve years; but they knew that 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."

On July 22, the sails were unfurled, and they sailed across the Channel to Southampton. There they met the larger ship, the Mayflower, carrying several of their brethren from London. The two groups met to make the final arrangements for their departure to the New World. There was some dissention between the two groups over certain details of the business side of the venture; it took a while to iron everything out. Finally, the company was called together to approve the compromise, and was distributed among the two ships. Once settled in, each group chose a governor and two or three assistants for their ship.

In August, the two ships set sail together. They had not gone far, however, when the master of the smaller ship -- the Speedwell -- complained that his ship was leaking so that "he durst not putt further to sea till she was mended." Bradford later opined that the ship's captain and crew had deliberately caused the troubles in order to avoid the dangerous crossing as well as their promise to remain a year in America.

They put in to Dartmouth, where the leaking vessal was searched and the offending leaks plugged. While awaiting the repairs, one of her passengers, Robert Cushman, wrote a letter to Edward Southworth describing their predicament and many of the adversities they faced, both natural and man-made:

" Loving friend, my most kind remembrance to you & your wife, with loving E.M. &c whom in this world I never looke to see againe. For besids ye eminente dangers of this viage, which are no less than deadly, an infirmitie of body hath ceased me, which will not in all licelyhoode leave me till death. What to call it I know not, but it is a bundle of lead, as it were, crushing my harte more & more these 14. days, as that allthough I doe ye actions of a liveing man, yet I am as but dead; but ye will of God be done.

Our pinass will not cease leaking, els I thinke we had been halfe way at Virginia, our viage hither hath been full of crosses, as our selves have been at crokednes. We put in hear to trime her, & I thinke, as others also, if we had stayed at sea but 3. or 4. howers more, shee would have sunke right down. And though tshe was twice trimed at Hamton, yet now she is open and leakie as a seive; and ther was a borde, a man might have puld of with his fingers, a foote longe, wher ye water came in as at a mole hole.

We lay at Hamton 7. days, in fair weather, waitning for her, and now we lye hear waiting for her in as faire a wind as can blowe, and so have done these 4. days, and are like to lye 4. more, and by yt time ye wind will happily turne, as it did at Hampton.

Our victualls will be halfe eaten up, I thinke, before we goe from the coaste of England, and if our viage last longe, we shall not have a months victialls when we come in ye countrie. Neare 700 hath bene bestowed at Hampton, upon which I known not. Mr. Martin saith he neither can nor will give any accounte of it, and if he be called upon for accounts he crieth out of unthankfullnes for his paines & care, that we are susspitious of him, and flings away, & will end nothing.

Also he so insulteth over our poore people, with shuch scorne & contempte, as if thet were not good enough to wipe his shoes. It would break your hart to see his dealing, and ye mourning of our people. They complaine to me, & alass! I can doe nothing for them; if I speake to him, he flies in my face, as mutinous, and saith no complaints shall be heard or received but by him selfe, and saith they are forwarde, & waspish, discontented people, & I doe ill to hear them.

* * * Friend, if ever we make a plantation, God works a mirakle; especially considering how scante we shall be of victualls, and most of all ununited amongst ourselves, & devoyd of good tuturs & regimente. Violence will break all. Where is ye meek & humble spirite of Moyses? & of Nehemiah who reedified ye wals of Jerusalem, & ye state of Israell? Is not ye sound of Rehoboams braggs daly hear amongst us? Have not ye philosiphers and all wise men observed yt, even in setled comone welths, violente governours bring either them selves, or people, or boath, to ruine; how much more in ye raising of comone welths, when ye morter is yet scarce tempered yt should bind ye wales.

If I should write to you of all things which promisculously forerune our ruine, I should over charge my weake head and greeve your tender hart; only this, I pray you prepare for evill tidings of us every day. But pray for us instantly, it may be ye Lord will be yet entreated one way or other to make for us. I see not in reason how we shall escape even ye gasping of hunger starved persons; but God can doe much, & his will be done.

It is better for me to dye, then now for me to bear it, which I doe daly, & expecte it howerly; haveing received ye sentance of death, both within me & without me. Poore William King & my self doe strive who shall be meate first for ye fishes; but we look for a glorious resurrection, knowing Christ Jesus after ye flesh no more, but looking unto ye joye yt is before us,, we will endure all these things and accounte them light in comparison of yt joye we hope for.

Remember me in all love to our friends as if I named them, whose praires I desire ernestly, & wish againe to see, but not till I can with more comforte looke them in ye face. The Lord give us that true comforte which none can take from us. I had a desire to make a breefe relation of our estate to some friend. I doubte not but your wisdome will teach you seasonably to utter things as here after you shall be called to it.

That which I have written is treue, & many things more which I have forborne. I write it as upon my life, and last confession in England. What is of use to be spoken of presently, you may speake of it, and what is fitt to conceile, conceall. Pass by my weake maner, fo rmy head is weake, & my body feeble, ye Lord make me strong in him, & keepe both you & yours."

It should be noted that while there were problems with the endevor, Cushman's view was a bit alarmist. He was quite a pessimist, and ended up returning to London with his family before the final voyage.

The Speedwell's master pronounced her seaworthy, and they set off once more. Their problems were not behind them, however. They had not sailed more than 100 leagues when the Speedwell sprung an enormous leak, necessitating yet another detour. The ships put in to Plymouth, where it was determined that there was no one "spetiall leake," but that the general condition of the ship was so bad that there were hundreds of little leaks. The company wisely decided that no amount of repair would make her sailable, and they decided to leave her behind. That necessitated leaving some of the passengers behind as well; the remainder moved their belongings aboard the Mayflower. The Speedwell limped back to London, "and thus, like Gideon's armie, this small number was devided as if ye Lord by this worke of his providence thought these few to[o] many for ye great worke he had to doe."

They put to sea for the last time on September 6, numbering just over 100 passengers. They were pushed along by a fair wind for several days, during which time their greatest concern was the number of them afflicted with sea sickness. This elicited the first demonstration of what the Pilgrims saw to be God's providence at work among them:

" Ther was a proud & very profane yonge man, one of ye sea-men, of a lustie, able body, which made him the more hauty; he would allway be contemning ye poore people in their sicknes, & cursing them dayly with greevous execrations, and did not let to tell them, that he hoped to help cast halfe of them over board before they came to their jurneys end, and to make mery with what they had; and if he were by any gently reproved, he would curse and swear most bitterly. But it plased God before they came halfe seas over, to smite this yong man with a greeveous disease, of which he dyed in a desperate maner, and so was him selfe ye first yt was throwne overbord. Thus his curses light on his owne head . . . ."

After a while the weather deteriorated, and they were set upon by several storms. The ship developed some leaks in the upper deck, and one of the main beams amidships bowed and cracked. As a result, many on board began to wonder if they shouldn't turn back. It was decided, however, to stay the course. A large iron screw was used to raise the beam into its place, and the ship's carpenters set about making what repairs they could. They also caulked those areas of the deck which had opened and allowed water to seep below decks.

The storms grew in intensity, so that on many days they could carry no sails at all and ran before the wind with bare masts. During on gale, a man named John Howland was tossed overboard when the ship was rolled by a wave. He managed to grab some ropes hanging overboard, though, and held on to them. Dragging through the water, he was eventually hauled aboard and lived for many years. Aside from the sailor mentioned above, only one other person died on the voyage: William Button, a young servant of Samuel Fuller. There was only a net loss of one, however, since the wife of Stephen Hopkins (No. 953:2:11626) gave birth to a child while at sea who was aptly named Oceanus.

On the 9th of November, at day break, they spotted land which they properly assumed was Cape Cod. They sailed along the coast to find a suitable place to land, but after a while they encountered dangerous shoals which forced them to tack. The next day they sailed into Cape Cod Bay, where they anchored in the calmer waters. They fell upon their knees and "blessed ye God of Heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean." As happy as they were to have made it safely, a sudden stillness fell over them:

" Being thus passed ye vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation . . . they had now no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure. It is recorded in scripture as a mercie to ye apostle & his shipwraked company, yt the barbarians shewed them no smale kindnes in refreshing them, but these savage barbarians, when they met with them (as after will appeare) were readier to fill their sids full of arrows then otherwise.

An for ye season it was winter, and they that know ye winters of yt cuntrie know them to be sharp & violent, & subjecte to cruell & feirce stormes, deangerous to travill to known places, mush more to serch an unknown coast. Besids, what could they see but a hidious & desolate wildernes, ful of wild beasts & willd men? and what multituds ther might be of them they knew not."

Yet their religion gave a brighter side to their despair:

" May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, &c. Let them therfore praise ye Lord, because he is good, & his mercies endure for ever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of ye Lord, shew how he hath delivered them from ye hand of ye oppressour. When they wandered in ye deserte willdernes out of ye way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie & thirstie, their sowle was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before ye Lord his loving kindnes, and his wonderfull works before ye sons of men."

On November 11 they removed a small shallop from the hold of the ship, and prepared it so they could land and search out a place for their settlement. That same day, William Brewster drafted and was the first to sign the Mayflower Compact, often dubbed "the first Declaration of Independence in America." In it, the colonists set forth the strictures by which they would govern themselves:

" In ye name of God Amen. We whose names are underwriten, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne lord King James, by ye grace of God, of great Britaine, Franc, & Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &c. Haveing undertaken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye christian faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia. Doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and one of another; covenant, & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick; for our better ordering, & preservation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid; and by vertue hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame shuch just & equall lawes, ordinances, Acts., constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie: unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witnes wherof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Codd ye .11. of November, in ye year of ye raigne of our soveraigne lord King James of England, France, & Ireland ye eighteenth, and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom. 1620."

That same day, sixteen men under the command of Miles Standish set out on November 15 and reconoitered the immdeiate area. A few days later thirty of them landed in the shallop, finding the harbor too shallow for ships.

On December 6 they sailed the shallop to the south to explore the northern shore of Cape Cod. After exploring the shore for a few days, they could not find a place suitable for settlement and returned to the Bay. They sailed further along the coast. By midafternoon, the weather had worsened and their rudder broke in the waves. They rowed and sailed as best they could towards a harbor, but just as they entered the mast broke, carrying the sail into the water. At the same time, they realized that they were drifting periously close to shore, and they had to row furiously into the lee of a small island to eascape being cast into the breakers.

The next day, 7 December, the storm cleared and the sun shone brightly. Unfortunately, the day was to be one of deep sorrow for William. Dorothy fell overboard into the icy waters and, unable to swim, she drowned in what would later become Cape Cod Harbor. The circumstances of her death are not known, and even Bradford in his own diary does not mention it. It is suspected by recent scholars that she may have actually thrown herself overboard to commit suicide. It is an historical fact that many emigrant women, when faced with the harsh realities of the wilderness. As one source notes:

"It is strange that there is no mention of this tragedy in the otherwise detailed Pilgrim chronicles of these days. If Dorothy had accidentlally fallen overboard, one would expect at least a few words about her terrified cries and her frantic struggle for life as attempts to rescue her failed some expression of regret and sorrow." There would have been reason enough for this silence if Dorothy had jumped overboard; in that time almost no offense against the laws of God and man was as heinous as suicide."

The Pilgrims sounded the harbor and found it fit for ships, and on December 11 landed at what was to be called Plymouth Rock. They decided that, given the season, this place was the best they had yet encountered for settlement. Returning to the Mayflower, they announced their findings to the rest of the company.

On December 15, the ship weighed anchor and sailed to their new home. The wind shifted when they were within about two leagues of the harbor, and they were forced to stand off until the next day. They put ashore, and on December 25 began to erect a common house for them and their goods. The house was about twenty feet square, and located on the south side of what later became Leyden Street.

This was clearly the wrong time of the year to found a fledgling colony. The winter was harsh, and the colonists were decimated by hunger and disease:

" But that which was most sadd & lamentable was, that in 2 or 3 moneths time halfe of their company dyed, espetialy in Jan. & February, being ye depth of winter, and wanting houses & other comforts; being infected with ye scurvie & other diseases, which this long voiage & their inacomodate condition had brought upon them; so as ther dyed some times 2. or 3. of a day, in ye foresaid time; that of 100. & odd persons, scarce 50. remained."

At one time, all but seven were ill. And yet, "the Lord so upheld these persons that they were not at all infected."

Although Bradford was too young to have been one of the initial leaders of the Pilgrims, circumstances and his personality soon combined to thrust him into a leadership role. The unexpected death of Gov. Christopher Martin, followed by that of Gov. John Carver together with the deaths of many of the older Pilgrims in that first hard winter, led William to be chosen Governor of the Colony at the young age of thirty-one in 1621. He served in that office from 1621-33, 1635, 1637, 1639-43, and 1645 until his death in 1657. In the interim years her served as Assistant -- 1634, 1636, 1638, and 1644.

On 14 August 1623, he married ALICE-1 (CARPENTER) SOUTHWORTH at Plymouth. He had known Alice for many years, who was the daughter of Alexander Carpenter of Wrington, Somerset, England, and was born around 1590. On the occcasion of the wedding, the colony feasted on roast venison and "other such good cheer in such quantity that I could wish you some of our share," wrote Emmanuel Altham to a friend in England.

It was the second marriage for Alice; on Tuesday, May 28, 1613, she had married Edward Southworth of Sturton le Steeple in Leyden, Holland. The marriage is recorded in the town records:

" Aengets De iiij May 1613. Eduwaert Sodtwaert saeywercker Jongman uyt Engelant vergeselschapt met Tomas Sodtwaert zyn brueder Sumuel Fuller zyn zwager & Rogier Wilson zyn bekende met Els Carpenter Jonge Dochter mede uyt Engelandt vergeselschapt met Anna Ras & Elysabeth Gennings haer bekenden."

Edward and Alice had at least two children: Constant and Thomas. Around 1619 or 1620, Edward returned to London's Heneage House -- the Pilgrim's England base. Sometime before 1621, probably in 1620, Edward died in London. The widowed Alice came to Plymouth Colony aboard the Ann, landing in Plymouth in July 1623. The rapidity with which she remarried after her arrival suggests that she was acquianted with the groom before her immigration; they likely knew each other well in Leyden. One early comentator had a more romantic explanation:

" There had been an early attachment, and marriage had been prevented by parents of the lady, objecting to the inferior rank and circumstances of Bradford. She now, a widow, came over purposely to marry him."

This story may be apochryphal; she had nothing left to keep her in England or Holland, many of her close friends and coreligionists had emigrated to Plymouth, and the New World held a host of opportunities for her young sons. In addition, at this period it was unusual for either a widow or widower to remain such for any period of time. Bradford needed a wife, and she needed a husband and a father for her two young sons. Alice and William had three children:

ii William b. 17 June 1624 m. Alice Richards

iii Mercy b.a. 1627 m. Benjamin Vermayes

iv Joseph b. 1630 m. Jael Hobart

In the 1623 land division William received three acres as a Mayflower passenger, and Alice recieved one acre as a passenger of the Ann. William and his family group drew the eleventh lot in the cattle division of 1627, receiving "an heyfer of the last yeare which was of the Greate White cow that was brought over in the Ann, & two shee goats." He was assessed 1.16.00 in the tax list of 25 March 1633, and 1.07.00 in the list of 27 March 1634.

In 1630, William started his most important legacy to us: his History of Plymouth Plantation. It was his hand-written history of the Pilgrims from their beginnings until his later death. The remainder of his time was taken up with running the colony, and serving as Plymouth Commissioner of the United Colonies from 1647 to 1649, and in 1652.

Gov. Bradford last presided in the General Court on 13 February 1657. At the 15 March session, he was absent due to illness; his health never recovered:

" Yet he felt himself not what he counted sick, till May 7th, the night after which the God of heaven so filled 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 this eternal glory; and on the day following he died, May 9, 1657 in the sixty-ninth year of his age."

As the foregoing paragraph notes, Gov. Bradford died on 9 May 1657. He was interred

" with the greatest solemnities that the jurisdiction to which he belonged was in a capacity to perform, many deep sighs, as well as loud volleys of shot declaring that the people were no less sensible of their own loss, who were surviving than mindful of the worth and honor of him that was deceased. . . .

It was no common procession that bore the dead leader up that sharp ascent to Burial Hill. The whole community stood sadly and reverently by, while the grave was filled. The train band fired over the spot the volleys due to the chief magistrate, but according to Colonial usage there were no other ceremonies. Yet the mourning was profound throughout the United Colonies of New England, for he was everywhere regarded "as a common blessing and father to them all."

His last resting place was happily selected. It is on the brow of the hill looking down on the spot where, from the early days, was his happy home. All along, just below it, lies the town of which he was in such large part the founder and guardian; farther out lies the harbor, with its islands and ehadlands including that monumental hill where lived the great comrade Standish, and in clear weather, across the sparkling bay appears Cape Cod where his young wife Dorothy, found a watery grave before Plymouth had been reached. It is beautiful and grand panorama, which offers to the eye not a few of the most interesting land marks of Pilgrim history."

Although the grave was unmarked at his death, the location was later determined and a monument erected over it. The east and west sides have no inscription; on the north side is an inscription in Hebrew -- "In Jevoha's name I die" -- under which is carved:

" Under this stone
rest the ashes of
a zealous puritan and
sincere christian
Gov. of Ply. Col. From
April 1621, to 1657,
the year he died
aged 69.
except 5 yrs, which he declined.
Do not basely relinquish
what the Fathers with difficulty attained"

William dictated his will immediately before his death:

" Mr William 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 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 John and William alreddy their 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 brethern out of my estate;

My further Will is that my Deare & loveing wife Allice 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 Lieftenant Thomas Southworth to bee 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 owne hand to bee Improved as you shall see meet; In speciall I Comend to you a little booke with a blacke cover wherin there is a word to Plymouth a wrd 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:"

His rather voluminous estate was inventoried on 22 May 1657:

" Beding and other thinges in ye old parler: Impr: one feather bed and bolster, a featherbed a featherbolster a featherpillow, a Canvas bed with feathers and a bolster and 2 pillowes, one green rugg, a paire of whit blanketts, one whit blankett, 2 paire of old blanketts, 2 old Coverlidds, 1 old white rugg and an old ridd Coverlidd, 1 paire of old curtaines Darnickes & an old paire of say curtaines, a Court Cubbard , a winescot bedsteed and a settle, 4 lether Chaires, 1 great lether Chaire, 2 great wooden Chaires, a Table & forme and 2 stooles, a winscott Chist & Cubburd, a Case with six knives, 3 matchcock musketts, a Snaphance Muskett, a birding peece and an other smale peece, a pistoll and Cutlas, a Card and a platt.

In the great rome: 2 great Carved Chaires, a smale carved Chaire, a Table and forme, 3 striped Carpetts, 10 Cushens, 3 old Cushens, a Causlett and one headpeece, 1 fouling peece without a locke 3 old barrells of guns one paire of old bandaleers and a rest. Linnin: 2 paire of holland sheets, 1 Dowlis sheet, 2 paire of Cotten and linnin Shets, 2 paire of hemp and Cotten sheets, 2 paire of Canvas sheets, 2 paire of old sheets, 4 fine shirts, 4 other shirts, a Douzen of Cotten and linnin napkins, a Douzen of Canvas Napkins, a Diaper Tablecloth and a Douzen of Diaper Napkins, 10 Diaper napkins of an other sort a Diaper tablecloth and a Diaper Cubburd cloth, 2 holland Tableclothes, 2 short Tableclothes, 2 old Tableclothes, a Douzen of old Napkins, halfe a Dousen of Napkins, 3 old Napkins, a Douzen of Course napkins & a course tablecloth, 2 fine holland Cubbard clothes, 3 paire of holland pillowbeers, 3 paire of Dowlis pillowbeers and an old one , 4 holland Towells and a lockorum one.

Pewter: 14 pewter Dishes weying 47 pound att 15 d pr pound, 6 pewter plates & 13 pewter platters weying thirty pounds att 15d pr pound, 2 pewter plates 5 sawsers 4 basons & 5 Dishes weying eighteen pounds att 15d pr pound, 2 pyeplates of pewter, 3 Chamberpotts, 7 porrengers, 2 quart potts & a pint pott, 2 old fflagons an a yore, a pewter Candlesticke a salt and a little pewter bottle, 4 venice glasses and seaven earthen Dishes.

In the kitchen brasse: 2 ffrench kittles, 1 brasse kittle, 2 little ffrench kittles, an old warming pan, 2 old brasse kittles, a Duch pan, 3 brasse skillets, 3 brasse Candlestickes and a brasse morter and pestle, an old brasse skimmer and a ladle, a paire of andirons, an old brasse stewpan, 2 old brasse kittles, 2 Iron skilletts and a Iron kittle, 2 old great Iron pottes, 2 Iron potts lesser, 2 paire of pothangers 2 paire of pothookes, 2 paire of tonggs and an old fier shovell, one paire of Andirons and a gridiron, a spitt and an old Iron Driping pan, a paire of Iron Rackes and an Iron veele and another peec of old Iron to lay before a Driping pan, 4 Dozen of Trenchers, 2 Juggs and 3 smale bottles.

In the New Chamber his clothes: A stuffe suite with silver buttons & a Coate, a Cloth Cloake faced with Taffety and lineed throw with baies, a sad cooullered Cloth suite, a Turkey Grogorum suite and cloake, a paire of blacke briches and a rid wastcoat, a lead coullered cloth suit with silver buttons, a sad coullered short coate and an old serge suite, a black cloth coate, a broad cloth Coate, a light Coullered stuffe Coate, an old green goune, a light Cullered Cloth Cloake, an old violett Coullered Cloake, a short coate of Cloath, 2 old Dublett and a paire of briches a short coate and an old stuffe Dublit and wastcoate, 2 paire of stockens, 2 hates a blacke one and a coullered one, 2 old hatts, 1 great Chaire and 2 wrought stooles, a Carved Chist, a Table.

The plate: One great beer bowle, an other beer bowle, 2 wine Cupps, a salt, the trencher salt and a Drame cup, 4 silver spoones, 9 silver spoones.

In the studie: Eight paire of shooes of the 12s, 6 paire of shoes of the 10s, one paire of the eights, 3 paire of the 7s, 2 paire of the sixes, 1 paire of the 5s 1 paire of the 4s 1 paire of the 3s, 4 yards and an halfe of linncy woolcye, 3 remnants of English Cotten, 3 yards and an halfe of bayes, 17 yards of Course English moheer, 4 yards and 3 quarters of purpetuanna, 18 yards of rid penistone, 5 yards of broad cloth, 2 yards of broad cloth, 2 1/2 yards and an halfe of olive cullered Carsye, a yard and an halfe of whitish Carsey, 4 yards of Gray carsye, 5 yards and an halfe of rid Carsye, 4 yards and a quarter of Carsy ollive coullered, 7 yards of Carsye sad Cullered, 10 yards of gray Carsye, 6 yards and an halfe of rid plaine, 9 yards and an halfe or rash, 6 yards of holland, a remnant of Cushening, 7 smale moose skines, in Cash [] 151.09.06, his Deske, 2 Cases with some emty bottles, 3 or 4 old cases.

His bookes in folio: Mr Perkines workes, 3 of Docter Willetts workes viz on genesis exodus & Daniell, the ffrench acadamey, the Guiciardin, the history of the Church, bodins Comons wealth, B Babbingtons workes, Peter Martire Comon places, Cartwright on the remish Testament, the history of the Netherlands, Peter Martire on the Romans, Mayers workes on the New Testament, Cottens Concordance.

His bookes: Speeds Generall Description of the world, Weames Christian Sinnagogue and the portraure of the Image of God in man, Luther on the gallations, the method of phiscicke, Calvins harmony and Calvins Comentary on the actes, Downhams 2cond pte of Christian Warfare, Mr Cottens Answare to mr Williams, Taylers libertie of Phrophecye, Gouges Domesticall Dutyes, Justification of Separation or reasons Descused & ob servations Devine & morall the synode att Dort the Apollogye, Mr Ainsworths workes the Counterpoison the triing out of the truth, Mr Ainsworth on geniseis Exodus & livitticus, Calvin on genises, Dike on the Deceitfulness of mans hart, Gifford refuted, Dod on the Comaundments & an other of his, three and fifty smale bookes, Calvine on the epistles in Duch and Divers other Duch bookes, 2 bibles, a paire of boots, in lether, 2 old Chists, 6 old barrells a bucking tubb a brewing tubb & other old lumber, a pcell of Cotten woole & a pcell of sheepes woole, a pcell of feathers, 3 ewe sheep, 3 middleing sheep & a poor one, a rame lambe and an halfe & half an ewe lamb, the old mare, a lame mare and an horse coult, a horse of two yeare old and advantate, an other horse coult of yeare and advantage, 4 bullockes, 7 Cowes, a bull, 2 young bulls of two year old, a heifer of three yeare old not with Calfe, 2 heifers of two years old, 4 yearlings, five Calves, a sow and 2 hoggs, 2 shoats, five smale shoates

It the house and orchyard and some smale pcells of land about the towne of Plymouth 45.00.00, 2 spining wheeles & a wether, Att the Westward in Debts upon the Duch account Consisting in Divers pcells 153.00.00.

Debts owing to the estate: The Kennebeck Stocke Consisting in goods and Debts both English and Indians 256. Debts owing in the Bay: In Doute the shoomakers hands 5.00.00, in Mannsses Kemtons hands 5.00.00, more belonging to the estate in Divers pticulars 57.00.00. Debts owing from the estate: to Mr Davis and mr Sheffe 5.00.00, to Samuel Sturtivant 2.03.00, 2 the townes land 1.12.00, John Jourdaine about 2.00.00, To goodman Clarke about 3.10.00, two goodman Nelson for killing of Cattle & for veale 1.18.06, to William Palmer 12.04.00, To the Church of Plymouth 5.10.00.

Som pcells of land not mencioned above belonging to Mr Willam Bradford senir: One pcell att Eatham and another att Bridgwater, a smale pcell about Sawtuckett and his purchase land att Coaksett with his right in the townes land at Punckatesett."

Alice survived her husband by many years, dying at Plymouth on Saturday, 26 March 1670. She was buried the following Tuesday, March 30. Plymouth records note that

" [o]n the 26th day of March 1670 misstress Alice Bradford Senr. changed this life for a better having attained to four score years of age or there about. She was a godly Matron, and much loved while she lived and lamented tho aged when she died and was honorably interred on the 29th day of the month aforesaid att New Plymouth."

Her nephew, Nathaniel Morton, composed the following ode "[u]pon the life and death of that godly matron, Mistris Alice Bradford widdow, late deceased:"

"Heer lyes the shaddow of a blessed mother / In Israel, well knowne to one and other, Of good decent of holy predecessors; / Her father equall was to the confessors And holy martires, suffered for Chris sake, / Altho hee suffered no att fiery stake, And shee with him and others in his youth / Left theire owne native country for the truth And in successe of time she marryed was / To one whose grace and vertue did surpasse, I mean good Edward Southworth, who not long / Continued in this world the saints amonge. With him shee lived seven years a wife, / Till death did put a period to his life. And in some space of time, by God's good hand, / Shee was brought over into New England, And in short time the Lord did so dispose, / That Mr. William Bradford shee did choose To be her second husband; whom to fame / I need not, for it is enough to name The name of Bradford fresh in memory, / Which smeles with odoriforos fragrance. With him shee lived a wife a wife years thirty four, / Till God saw good his time should be no more In this sad world, but tooke him hence to heaven, / Anno one thousand six hundred fifty seven. E'r since that time in widdowhood shee hath / Lived a life in holiness and faith, In reading of Gods word and contemplation, / Which helped her to asurance of salvation Through Gods good sperit working with the same, / For ever praised be his holy name. To about fourscore years shee did attaine, / But shee afflicted much with heavy paine: As Moses saieth, her strength but sorrow was, / And shee to eternall rest made hast apace. Shee now with holy Abram hath attained / A good old age. Her life was never stained With any sin that any one could call / Remarkable, notorious, capitall, But contrarywise she lived soe / As silence might the most malignant foe Shee had, or any other that professe / The waies of Christ and of just riteousness. Tis sad to see our houses dispossessed / Of holf saints whose memory is blessed; When they decease and closed are in tombe, / Theres few or none that rises in their rome That's like to them in holiness and grace, / Which makes our times looke so sad a face. Her glasse is run, her worke is done, and shee / Is happy unto all eternity. Lett her relations all and every one / Take her example, doe as shee has done, In love to God his waies and one another, / Then they Will well improve theire blessed mother. Her holy, blessed, example, / That gives a gracious presedent soe ample To them and unto all both one and other / That follow may after this blessed mother. Ile multiply noe more words but ab[*]e / That I dare use concerning her dear [*]e Adoe, my loving friend, my aunt, my mother, / Of those that's left I have not such another."

Her will, probated on 7 June 1670, provided:

" 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 testamentl 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. William Bradford: as Conveniently may be; and as for my worldly estate I Dispose of it as followeth;

Impris 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 thereunto 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 William Bradford.

Item I give unto my said son Joseph Bradford my paire of working oxen and a white heiffer; bands 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 seven pounds; for the use and benefitt 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; my will is that shee have one Delivered to her out of my estate in som short time after my decease;

[A]ll 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 William Bradford and mr Joseph Bradford to be equally Devided amongst them in equall and alike portions;

In witnes that this is my Last Will and Testament I the said Allis Bradford have heerunto sett my hand and seale; this twenty ninth day of December Anno Dom one Thousand six hundred sixty nine."

An inventory of her estate was taken on 31 March 1670:

" 8 Cowes, 2 yearlings, a 2 yeare old steer, a steer of 4 yeare old, 1 : 2 yeare old heiffer, 1 old horse and three mares, 17 sheep; In the New Parlour Chamber: 1 bed a bolster and 2 pillowes, 1 green rugg and 1 Coverlid & 2 blanketts, a bedsteed & Curtaines and vallence, 2 Chaires, 3 wrought stooles, one Table and Carpett, a Carved Chest; In the outward Parlour Chember: a bedsteed and Curtaine and vallence and settle; In the old parlour Chamber: a smale bed 2 blanketts 1 Coverlid & a pillow, 1 old green Cloth Goune, 8 yards of hommade Cloth, 2 Chestes, 2 Iron beames 1 hoshed 1 barrell and other old lumber; In the studdy in bookes: mr Perkins two of them, 3 of Docter Willetts on genises exodus & Daniel, Guicksarraden, the history of the Church, Peter Martirs Comon places, Cartwright on remise Testament, the history of the Netherlands, Peter Martir on the Romans, Moors workes on the New Testament, Cottons Concordance, Speeds history of the world, Weams Christian Sinnagogue & the protracture of the Image of God, the Meathod of Phisicke, Calvins harmony and his Coment on the actes, Downhams 2cond: prte of Christian warfare, mr Cottons answare to mr Williams, Taylers libertie of Prophesys, Gouges Domesticall Dutyes, the INstitutions or reasons Discused & observations Divine and morall the synode of Dort and the Appolpgye, mr Ainsworth workes the Counterpoison & the tryall, mr Ainsworth on Genesis exodus & livitticus, Calvin on Genises, Dike on the Deceightfulness of mans hart, Gifford refuted, DOd on the Comaundements and others of his, 53 smale bookes, Calvin on the epistles in Duch : and Divers other Duch bookes, 2 bibles, the actes of the Church, 3 of mr Bridgg : his workes, the Lives of the fathers, a skin of buffe;

In the old Parlour: 1 feather bed 1 bolster 2 ruggs and a blankett, a bedsted & settle Curtaine and vallence, a Court Cubbert, a Table and forme and 2 stooles, 1 great lether Chaire, 2 great wooden Chaires, 1 great winscott Chist and a Cubbert, 2 boxes and a Deske and a wrought stoole and an old Case of bottles, 2 guns and a paire of bandaleers; The plate: the great beer bowle, another beer bowle, a wine Cupp, a salt, a trencher salt & a Drame Cupp, 7 silver spoons, a silver Dish, 2 blanketts, 1 Diaper Table Cloth and a Dozen of Diaper Napkins, another Diaper Table Cloth and 7 Diaper Napkins, 2 holland Table clothes, 1 old Cuppert Cloth, 4 pillow beers, 5 towells, 3 holland sheets, 2 paire of Cotten and linnine sheets, 19 Cotton and linnine Napkins, a paire of pillowbears, a nother paire of pillowbears, 5 sheets, in shiftes and other wearing linnine, a Dingcaster hatt, her wearing Clothes and a little peece of bayes, a wicker baskett; galley potts & glasses & such smale thinges of Little vallue;

In the great Parlour: 2 great Carved Chaires, a Table and forme and Carpett, 10 Cushens, a Causlett and hedpeece, 4 great lether Chaires, in glasses and earthen ware, a Case and five knives, a rest & some other odde thinges;

In the Kitchen: 24 pewter platters and a brim bason, 2 fflaggons : 2 quart potts & 3 pint potts, 6 smale pewter Dishes and a smale bason, 7 porrengers, 6 pewter plates, 2 pewter Candlestickes & a saltseller, 3 Chamber potts and three smale sawcers and pewter funnell, 2 pye plates, a tinning pan and 2 Coverings & a lanthorne, 1 great Jugg and 5 smaller ones 4 earthen pans and 2 earthen potts, 2 ffrench kettles, an old warming pan, 1 little ffrench kettle, 2 brasse kettles a Duch oan, 3 brasse skilletts, 1 old brasse skimer and Ladle , 3 brasse Candle stickes and a brass pestle and Mortor, a paire Andirons, a Chafeing Dish and a stew pan, 1 Iron skillett and an Iron kettle, 2 Iron potts, 2 paire of pothangers and 2 paire of pott hookes, 2 paire of tonggs and 2 fier shovells, 2 spitts and a gridiron and an Iron Driping pan, a paire of Iron rakes, 4 Dozen of trenchers, a box Iron 2 gallon glasse bottles and three pottle bottles, a spining wheele a bucking tubb 2 pailes 2 kimnells two bowles 4 smale wooden Dishes 1 tray 2 Burchen trayes, Scales & waightes with an Iron beame, 2 beer barrells, a prsell of sheepes woole, 2 smale swine, in Mony [16 shillings], a silver bodkin, in provision [1.10.00], one halfe hogshed and a smale prsell of salt, one paire of oxen in Mr Joseph Bradfords hand."

The inventory listed many items that she had obviously inherited from her husband. For example, all the books were from his library; she couldn't read. The total value of the estate was 162.17.00.