Chapel where Governor Wm. Bradford worshipped

Image ID: 14935

Chapel where Governor Wm. Bradford worshipped

Courtesy of Nottinghamshire Archives

Austerfield Chapel
Austerfield
England

William Bradford was born in 1590 in the small farming community of Austerfield, Yorkshire. His father William died when young Bradford was just one year old. He lived with his grandfather William, until his grandfather died when he was six. His mother Alice then died when he was seven. Orphaned both from parents and grandparents, he and older sister Alice were raised by their uncle Robert Bradford. William was a sickly boy, and by the age of 12 had taken to reading the Bible, and as he began to come of age he became acquainted with the ministry of Richard Clyfton and John Smith, around which the Separatist churches of the region would eventually form about 1606. His family was not supportive of his moves, and by 1607 the Church of England were applying pressure to extinguish these religious sects. Bradford, at the age of 18, joined with the group of Separatists that fled from England in fear of persecution, arriving in Amsterdam in 1608. A year later he migrated with the rest of the church to the town of Leiden, Holland, where they remained for eleven years. Bradford returned to Amsterdam temporarily in 1613, to marry his 16-year old bride, Dorothy May. In Leiden, Bradford took up the trade of a silk weaver to make ends meet, and also was able to recover some of the estate in England that he had been left by his father, to support himself and his new wife in Leiden. They had a son, John, born about 1615-1617. By 1620, when a segment of the church had decided to set off for America on the Mayflower, Bradford (now 30 years old) sold off his house in Leiden, and he and his wife Dorothy joined; however, they left young son John behind, presumably so he would not have to endure the hardships of colony-building. While the Mayflower was anchored off Provincetown Harbor at the tip of Cape Cod, and while many of the Pilgrim men were out exploring and looking for a place to settle, Dorothy Bradford accidentally fell overboard, and drowned. John Carver was elected governor of Plymouth, and remained governor until his death a year later in April 1621. Bradford was then elected governor, and was re-elected nearly every year thereafter. In 1623, he married to the widowed Alice (Carpenter) Southworth, and had a marriage feast very reminiscent of the 'First' Thanksgiving, with Massasoit and a large number of Indians joining, and bringing turkeys and deer. Bradford was the head of the government of Plymouth, oversaw the courts, the colony's finances, corresponded with investors and neighbors, formulated policy with regards to foreigners, Indians, and law, and so had a very active role in the running of the entire Colony. With his second wife, he had three more children, all of which survived to adulthood and married. Beginning in 1630, he started writing a history of the Plymouth Colony, which is now published under the title Of Plymouth Plantation. A number of his letters, poems, conferences, and other writings have survived. William Bradford was generally sick all winter of 1656-1657; on May 8, Bradford predicted to his friends and family that he would die, and he did the next day, 9 May 1657, at the age of 68. (information from the excellent website www.mayflowerhistory.com)

Date: 1900

Organisation Reference: NCCN001343

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