In Search of Governor William Bradford of Austerfield
By Sue Allan
William Bradford, Mayflower passenger, was not just the long-serving and most influential Governor of the Plymouth Colony. His famous handwritten manuscript, Of Plymouth Plantation, has also preserved its history in magnificent detail. While Bradford recorded and preserved the historical record of Plymouth and its people, he rarely wrote about himself and he failed to preserve a record of his own history and background. While a brief biography was assembled by Rev. Cotton Mather in 1702, and a genealogical analysis of the Bradfords of Austerfield was assembled in the 19th century, there has been astonishingly little modern scholarship on Bradford’s origins and development.
In this latest volume of Sue Allan’s In Search Of series, she undertakes to remedy this major oversight, delving into records of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and Lincolnshire, and assembling those with her recent discoveries on the Jacksons, Mays, Southworths, and other local families. She uses those to paint the most plausible picture of Bradford’s youth and upbringing: never before have the interrelationships between the Bradford family, and those of the Scrooby separatist congregation, been assembled. Where was Bradford educated? Which uncles did he live with after his parents’ and grandparents’ deaths? What was his family’s religious leaning? How did he become associated with the Scrooby separatists? Sue’s diligent and thorough research has brought answers to these and many other previously unanswered questions. – Caleb Johnson, Mayflower Historian and founder of mayflowerhistory.com