A passenger on the Mayflower
along with his wife Dorothy May
. Dorothy fell overboard on December 7, 1620
into Provincetown Harbor
and drowned. This was accidental, a story published in 1869
suggesting suicide after an affair was later proved to be a hoax.
Afetr the death of John Carver in April 1621, William Bradford was elected governor of the Plymouth Colony a position he held for most of the rest of his life. In 1623 he married Alice Carpenter, widow of Edward Southworth. He died in 1657.
From Cotton Mather's 1702 book ``Magnalia Christi Americana''
Among those Devout People was our William Bradford, who was Born Anno 1588. in an obscure Village call'd Austerfield, where
the People were as unacquainted with the Bible, as the Jews do seem to have been with part of it in the Days of Josiah; a most
Ignorant and Licentious People, and like unto their Priest. Here, and in some other Places, he had a Comfortable Inheritance left
him of his Honest Parents, who died while he was yet a Child, and cast him on the Education, first of his Grand Parents, and then
of his Uncles, who devoted him, like his Ancestors, unto the Affairs of Husbandry. Soon and long Sickness kept him, as he would
afterwards thankfully say, from the Vanities of Youth, and made him the fitter for what he was afterwards to undergo. When he
was about a Dozen Years Old, the Reading of the Scriptures began to cause great Impressions upon him; and those Impressions
were much assisted and improved, when he came to enjoy Mr. Richard Clifton's Illuminating Ministry, not far from his Abode; he
was then also further befriended, by being brought into the Company and Fellowship of such as were then called Professors;
though the Young Man that brought him into it, did after become a Prophane and Wicked Apostate. Nor could the Wrath of his
Uncles, nor the Scoff of his Neighbours now turn'd upon him, as one of the Puritans, divert him from his Pious Inclinations.
. . . Having with a great Company of Christians Hired a Ship to Transport them for Holland, the Master perfidiously betrayed them
into the Hands of those Persecutors; who Rifled and Ransack'd their Goods, and clapp'd their Persons into Prison at Boston,
where they lay for a Month together. But Mr. Bradford being a Young Man of about Eighteen, was dismissed sooner than the rest,
so that within a while he had Opportunity with some others to get over to Zealand, through Perils both by Land and Sea not
inconsiderable; where he was not long Ashore ere a Viper seized on his Hand, that is, an Officer, who carried him Unto the
Magistrates, unto whom an envious Passenger had accused him as having fled out of England. When the Magistrates understood
the True Cause of his coming thither, they were well satisfied with him; and so he repaired joyfully unto his Brethren at
Amsterdam, where the Difficulties to which he afterwards stooped in Learning and Serving of a Frenchman at the Working of
Silks, were abundantly Compensated by the Delight wherewith he sat under the Shadow of our Lord in his purely dispensed
Ordinances. At the end of Two Years, he did, being of Age to do it, convert his Estate in England into Money; but Setting up for
himself, he found some of his Designs by the Providence of God frowned upon, which he judged a Correction bestowed by God
upon him for certain Decays of Internal Piety, whereinto he had fallen; the Consumption of his Estate he thought came to prevent a
Consumption in his Virtue. But after he had resided in Holland about half a Score Years, he was one of those who bore a part in
that Hazardous and Generous Enterprize of removing into New England, with part of the English Church at Leyden, where at their
first Landing, his dearest Consort accidentally falling Overboard, was drowned in the Harbour; and the rest of his Days were spent
in the Services, and the Temptations, of that American Wilderness.