William Bradford

William Bradford (1589 - 1657)

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Governor William Bradford
Born in Austerfield, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 10 Dec 1613 in Amsterdam, Nederlandmap
Husband of — married 14 Aug 1623 (to 9 May 1657) in Plymouth Colonymap
Descendants descendants
Died in Plymouth, Plymouth Colonymap
Profile last modified 28 Sep 2019 | Created 15 Jan 2010 | Last significant change: 28 Sep 2019
10:56: Anne B edited the Biography for William Bradford (1589-1657). (Added link/s) [Thank Anne for this]
This page has been accessed 26,591 times.
The Mayflower.
William Bradford was a passenger on the Mayflower.
Join: Mayflower Project
Discuss: mayflower
Preceded by
1st Governor
John Carver

4th Governor
Thomas Prence

6th Governor
Edward Winslow

8th Governor
Thomas Prence

10th Governor
Edward Winslow
William Bradford
2nd Governor
of Plymouth Colony

1621 —1632
Plymouth Colony Seal
5th Governor
7th Governor
9th Governor
11th Governor
Succeeded by
3rd Governor
Edward Winslow

6th Governor
Edward Winslow

8th Governor
Thomas Prence

10th Governor
Edward Winslow

12th Governor
Thomas Prence

“Thus out of smalle beginnings greater things have been produced by his hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sorte to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehova have all the praise.” -William Bradford



William Bradford is Notable.


Gov. William Bradford is considered by some to be one of the greatest (if not the greatest) man of his time.[1]

William Bradford was born at Austerfield, Yorkshire, England on or about March 19, 1589/90 (O.S.). He was christened on this date at St. Helen's Church. He was the son of William Bradford and Alice Hanson.[2]

Among the 30 Separatists who, with Henry Ainsworth, seceded from Francis Johnson's Ancient Brethren was Henry May from Wisbech, England. May had a 13-year-old daughter (or perhaps a sister - the records are not clear) named Dorothy. Three years after Ainsworth’s congregation had split with Johnson and the Ancient Brethren, William Bradford - originally a worshipper at Clyfton's church in Babworth, then a member of the Scrooby congregation and a voyager to Amsterdam, and among those who moved to Leiden with John Robinson - briefly returned to Amsterdam to marry Dorothy May. [3]

Int. Marriage William Bradford and Dorothy May, 9 November 1613 Amsterdam [4]
Marriage William Bradford and Dorothea May, Leiden 15 November 1613 [5]

He married twice, first on 15 November 1611 in Leiden to Dorothy May [5]Marriage intentions on December 10, 1613 at Amsterdam, Holland [4]. William and Dorothy Bradford had one son, John. His second wife was Alice Carpenter Southworth, a widow. They were married at Plymouth Colony on August 14, 1623.Two sons, William Bradford and Joseph Bradford, and one daughter Mercy Bradford, were born to the second marriage.[6].

In addition to raising his own children, he also had his stepsons, Thomas Southworth and (Constant) Constance Southworth , growing up in his home. They were the children of Alice Bradford and her first husband, Edward Southworth.

The death of William Bradford occurred on May 9, 1657. He was buried in Burial Hill, Plymouth. He left a will, with his wife Alice as executer. [7] The Last Will & Testament was exhibited to the court at Plymouth on 3 June 1657. [8]

He was author of The History of Plimouth Plantation (Lost diary recovered 1846) Extensive diary helped historians interpret early Plymouth history. The original was found in the Bishop of London's library. Upon petition of the US Ambassador, the Consistory Court of the Diocese of London ordered on March 25, 1897 that the manuscript be delivered to the Ambassador for transmission to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Ambassador Bayard brought it to Boston and formally delivered it to the Governor on May 26, 1897.[9]

Time Line March1589/90 William was born at his Austerfield, England. He was baptized on 19 March 1589/90 by Rev. Henry Fletcher at St. Helens Church in Austerfield. [10]

1590 - 1606 Deaths of many of his primary relatives.[11]
1606 Became acquainted with William Brewster and started to attended alternate worship services at Rev. Richard Clifton’s church which the authorities were trying to shut down.
1608 By this time Bradford was a regular attendee Joined the "Separatists" [12] or Brownist [13]This group decided to emigrate to Holland in 1608. in which he became an influential leader during his long association with the "Pilgrims".
1609 Part of the group fled to Holland in 1609 to escape imprisonment by the religious authorities. [14]
15 November 1613 married Dorothy May at Leiden [5]. Intentions 9 November 1613 in Amsterdam[4]
1619 Most of the English religious dissenters have relocated to Leiden, Holland. They are planning to start an English-speaking colony in the new world.
July 1620: Boarded the Speedwell, which embarked from Delfts haven, Holland and joined other Pilgrims on the Mayflower at Southampton, England.
August 1620 the Speedwell joined other Pilgrims on Mayflower at Southampton, England.
11 Nov 1620 signed the Mayflower Compact .[15]
November 20, 1620: Arrived at Cape Cod, at the start of the winter storms.
December 21, 1620: The exiles of the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, (now Massachusetts) and decided to remain there.
April 21, 1621 to death: Governor of Plymouth Colony: except 5 years when he declined position.
1623 (date uncertain) After the death of his wife Dorothy late 1620, Bradford married Alice Carpenter Bradford Southworth. The marriage was performed after August 14, 1623.
d. May 9, 1657,buried at Burial Hill Plymouth.
Executor of Will: wife Alice.[16] William died on Saturday, 9 May 1657 in Plymouth, the richest man in the Colony. He left property worth £400 and a library of 275 volumes. He was buried on Burial Hill. His will exhibited on 3 June 1657 mentions wife Alice; Lt. Thomas Southworth; and sons John, William and Joseph Bradford.[17]
Was Governor of Plymouth Colony from April 21, 1621 to his death in 1657 except for a period of five years when he declined the position.
Wrote a very extensive diary which has been of great help to historians in interpreting early Plymouth history. This diary was known as "The History of Plimouth Plantation" which was lost for many years. In 1846, the original was found in the Bishop of London's library. Upon petition of the US Ambassador, the Consistory Court of the Diocese of London ordered on March 25, 1897 that the manuscript be delivered to the Ambassador for transmission to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Ambassador Bayard brought it to Boston and formally delivered it to the Governor on May 26, 1897.

This paragraph is by WikiTree member John Putnam.

William married second Alice Carpenter on 14 August 1623 in Plymouth. Alice was baptized on 3 August 1590 in Wrington, Somersetshire, daughter of Alexander Carpenter. Unlike Dorothy, Alice was not able to write.
Alice had a sister Mary Carpenter and another sister Juliana Carpenter (bp. 17 March 1584 St. James Church, Bath, Somersetshire–?) who married George Morton on 23 July 1612 in Leyden. George and Juliana arrived at Plymouth on 17–20 July 1623 aboard the Little James. George’s brother Thomas Morton I (bp. 1 March 1589–?) arrived earlier in Plymouth, aboard the Fortune on 9 November 1621.
Alice had married first Edward Southworth,4 a say-weaver5 of Leyden, on 28 May 1613 in Leyden. Edward was born in 1590, the son of Thomas Southworth and Jane Mynne of Wells in Somersetshire. Edward and Alice had two sons, Constant and Thomas.
The Southworths and William lived in Heneage House on Dukes Place in London for about a year before the Mayflower sailed, so were probably well acquainted. Edward died by 1621, probably in Leyden, after the Mayflower sailed. Two years later Alice left to join William in the new world.
Alice arrived in Plymouth on the Anne about 10 July 1623 (which had sailed with the Little James but arrived a week earlier) accompanied by Thomas Morton II, the likely son of the Thomas Morton I of the Fortune. Less than a month later she married William. Robert Cushman sent a letter to William with the Anne in which he said: "Some few of your friends are come, as &c. So they come droping to you." William and Alice’s marriage was the fourth to take place in the new Colony, and Alice brought her own property into the marriage. Alice and Edward’s son Thomas came over with his mother and Constant came over in 1628 and they were brought up in William’s household.
William was elected governor of the Colony in 1621, following the death of Governor Carver. William was reelected governor annually in the periods 1621-–33, 1635-37, 1639-–44 and 1645- –57. In between he was elected Assistant Governor. He lived in his house at the bottom of Burial Hill in Plymouth and kept a farm in Kingston. He authored many books on history, the best known and one of the few not lost being “History of Plymouth Plantations.”
Alice died on Saturday, 26 March 1670, in Plymouth and was buried there the next Tuesday near her husband. Her will dated 29 December 1669 and exhibited 7 June 1670 names her sister Mary Carpenter and sons Constant Southworth, Thomas Southworth (deceased), Joseph Bradford and Capt. William Bradford. William and Alice had three children.[18]

Gov. William Bradford from www.mayflowerhistory.com Note: this website is copyright material. Therefore it is appropriate to provide a link rather than quote directly.


  1. John Bradford (first wife) b. say 1617; m. Martha Bourne
  2. William Bradford (second wife) b. Plymouth 17 June 1624; m. (1) Alice Richards; m. (2) Sarah (_____) Griswold
  3. Mercy Bradford (second wife) b. by 1627; m Benjamin Vermayes 21 Dec 1648 Plymouth
  4. Joseph Bradford, b. c. 1630; m. Hingham 25 May 1664 Jael Hobart.


  1. (Citation Needed)
  2. Great Migration Begins Vol. I p.208
  3. Source: quote from Searching for the Promised Land: The Travels and Travails of Richard Clyfton pg 7 By Peggy M. Baker
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Source: Amsterdam archief Int Marriage 9 November 1613 - Bradford, William - Maij, Dorethea - Maijer, Dorethea right page, last entry- DTB 667, p.101 - Huwelijksintekeningen van de PUI. - OTR00191000054
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Marriage Leiden 15 November 1611
    Bruidegom William Kadfort geboren te Oosterfeldt Engeland
    Bruid Dorethea May geboren te Witzbuts in Engelant
    • Source: Erfgoed Leiden en omstreken Marriage 15 November 1611 Leiden Bronvermelding Trouwen Gerecht B. juli 1611 - april 1633., archiefnummer 1004, Schepenhuwelijken (1592-1795), inventarisnummer 198, blad B - 025 Gemeente: Leiden Periode: 1611-1633
  6. Great Migration Begins Vol. I p.208
  7. Mayflower Families Through Five Generation Vol. 22 p. 1
  8. The Last Will and Testament of William Bradford (Pilgrim Hall Musuem.org: accessed Aug 2016). note: includes The inventory of the goods of William Bradford, deceased 1657.
  9. This paragraph was entered by John Putnam.
  10. Mayflower Families Through Five Generation Vol. 22 p. 1
  11. Willison, George F., Saints and Strangers, The Cornwall Press, Cornwall, NY, 1943, Third Printing
  12. Puritans believed in reforming the Church of England. Separatists wanted to separate from the "corrupt" Church of England.
  13. This group of religious dissenters was named for its founder who believed that each congregation should be independent.
  14. Saints and Strangers , listed in Sources for details.
  15. Morton, Nathaniel. New England's memorial. (Boston: Congregational board of publication, 1855) Originally published 1669.p. 26 Note: The original compact is gone. Morton furnished the earliest known list 1669 facsimile
  16. Mayflower Families Through Five Generation Vol. 22 p. 1
  17. (Citation Needed)
  18. This narrative has an unknown author - possibly Brent Bowen or John Putnam.
  19. Anderson, Robert Charles. The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony 1620-1633. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004). p. 65

See also:

  • Lainhart, Ann Smith and Wakefield, Robert S., FASG, Mayflower Families through Five Generations, Descendants of the Pilgrims Who Landed at Plymouth, Mass., December 1620, Volume 22, William Bradford, General Society of Mayflower Descendents, Plymouth, MA., 2004
  • Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-33, Edition: [database online], New England Historical Genealogical Society, Boston, 1995 Vol 1 p 207-209
  • Simons, W. C.. From the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620 : a brief but accurate genealogy concerning the families of Jennie Bessie Gowdy and her husband, Adolphus Ezra Note: "On Mrs. Simons' side: Gowdy, Cook, first Luther line, Lewis, Collins, Abell, Brown, first Cole line, Carpenter, Bradford, and others. On Mr. Simons' side: Simons, Mason, Eddy, Boomer, second Luther line, Markham, Olney, Wilbur, Church, Warren, and others."|||"To my family" signed: W.C.S. [i.e. Wilford Collins Simons].|||Date of publication suggested by Kaminkow.
  • Landis, John T., Mayflower Descendants and Their Marriages for Two Generations After the Landing, Original Publication, Washington: 1922. This book has been reprinted and also may be found on Google Books.
  • Signers of the Mayflower Compact (There seem to be two books with this title which have different authors. Both are availble online)
  • American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI) Author: Godfrey Memorial Library, comp. Godfrey Memorial Library. American Genealogical-Biographical Index. Middletown, CT, USA: Godfrey Memorial Library.
  • Filby, P. William, ed.. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2009.
  • Findagrave memorial William Bradford - Famous Mayflower passenger and 2nd governor of Plymouth Colony.
  • William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York 1952). Note: There are several online and print editions of Bradford's history.
  • Beem Genealogy, Publication: family tree done by professional genealogist Howard French in 1936 for Mrs. Berton Beem of Reading, Michigan. Note: Material known to be unique to this source has been removed due to copy write concerns, as discussed in g2g.
  • Whittemore, Henry,. The signers of the Mayflower Compact and their descendants. New York: Mayflower Pub. Co., c1899.
  • Clemens, William Montgomery. American Marriage Records Before 1699. Pompton Lakes, NJ, USA: Biblio Co., 1926.
  • Louis Harmon Peet, Handy Book of American Authors, New York, USA:Thomas Y. Crowell and Co., 1907
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "FamilySearch," Online at (http://new.familysearch.org); William Bradford, person ID LZ61-HDZ. Alice Carpenter, person ID LZJL-5LY.
  • The American Genealogist Whole No. 354 Vol. 89, No. 2 April 2017 p. 94

Additional Reading and Online Sources

  • Bradford's History "Of Plymouth Plantation", Wright & Porter Printing Company,Boston, 1898. (There are other versions)
  • Willison, George F., Saints and Strangers, The Cornwall Press, Cornwall, NY, 1943, Third Printing
  • Banks, Charles Edward, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers Who Came to Plymouth, Genelogical Publishing Co., Inc. Baltimore, 1976
  • Bowman, George Ernest, The Mayflower Reader, Baltimore, Genelogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Is William your ancestor? Please don't go away!
 star icon Login to collaborate, or
 star icon contact private message private message private message private message a profile manager, or
 star icon ask our community of genealogists a question.
Sponsored Search by Ancestry.com

No known carriers of William's DNA have taken a DNA test.

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Login to post a comment.

On 15 Jun 2019 at 22:38 GMT Patricia (Long) Kent wrote:

One source for the yDNA Haplogroup: 1-M253 is mayflowerhistory.com/bradford-william (which is copyrighted) - this site also contains some nice pictures

On 7 Feb 2019 at 12:35 GMT Andreas (Basso) West wrote:

This page: http://mayflowerhistory.com/bradford-william/ states his Y-DNA as I-M253. WikiTree doesn't list any mtDNA or Y-DNA for him. Does anyone know where this source of his Y-DNA come from?

Also, has anyone identified him as him common ancestor in a triangulated group yet?

On 14 Jun 2017 at 16:08 GMT Lydia Vierson wrote:

*The Granberry Family & Allied Families (1945), p. 355 qualifying ancestor for Society of Colonial Dames of America

On 16 Mar 2017 at 11:33 GMT Bob Tonsmeire wrote:

Bradford-817 and Bradford-24 appear to represent the same person because: Bradford-817 is a junk profile with no conflicts with Bradford-24 and no other distinguishing elements to match

On 16 Mar 2017 at 11:05 GMT Bob Tonsmeire wrote:

Bradford-2434 and Bradford-24 appear to represent the same person because: Same name, similar details

On 28 Aug 2016 at 02:32 GMT Elizabeth (Hart) Hyatt wrote:

I edited to include a source/link to his Last Will & Testament and inventory of estate from PilgrimHall Musuem.org.

On 28 Aug 2016 at 02:31 GMT Elizabeth (Hart) Hyatt wrote:

Are we already working towards merging these biography headings? Clean up of source format and inline citations is needed. noticed a ibid in there as well. Would you post feedback to discuss current state of the profile progression or who is working on what? Thanks!

On 11 Jul 2016 at 02:47 GMT Darleen Totten wrote:

This is my 10th great grandfather!

On 11 Mar 2016 at 20:41 GMT Wanda Jeffries wrote:


On 28 Feb 2016 at 17:36 GMT Jacqueline Bradford wrote:


I have a few William Bradford's in my tree. Is there any more information you can give me, I might be able to help. Regards Jacqui Bradford

more comments

William is 12 degrees from Thomas Edison, 20 degrees from Nikola Tesla and 14 degrees from George Westinghouse on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.