My Ancestors (45 and 46) – Governor William Bradford – 1590 – 1657) and Alice Carpenter (1593-1670)

Last June I read about a Challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I was intrigued. I decided to take up the challenge. Some Ancestors may take more than one week, but I still intend to write about 52 Ancestors. I hope you enjoy reading about My Ancestors as much as I am looking forward to researching and writing about them. 

This morning, as I was going through the Lewis, Rider, Irwin folder where I started collecting information on these families in 1975, I came across a piece of paper that I had either forgotten about or did not notice.  It was sent to me by my mother’s sister, Margaret (Irwin) Mitchell Sedberry.  Her note at the bottom says, “This is from Virginia Rider, and she wrote, “You are now Mayflower descendants.”

I had known that my three daughters were Mayflower descendants through their father but never knew of my connection.  Needless to say I went exploring on the Internet.  For the next few Sundays I will be following this line from Governor William Bradford to Dickermon (various records have different spellings for this name) Allen Rider (1832 – 1904), whose descendants I have covered on previous Sundays.

(1) Governor William Bradford; (2) Joseph Bradford; (3)Elisha Bradford; (4)Laurana (Bradford) McFarland; (5) Hannah (McFarland) Rider; (6) Jennings Rider; (8)Dickerman Allen Rider; (9) Dickamon Allen Rider; (10) Marian Edith Rider; (11) Marian Dunlap Irwin; (12)Judith Anne Guion.

William Bradford was the son of William Bradford (1559 – 1591) and Alice Hansen (1552 – 1597).  He was born about the 19 of March 1590 in Austerfield, West Riding, Yorkshire.  He was raised on a large farm and the family was considered wealthy and influential, when most of their neighbors possessed smaller farms.

At the age of seven he became an orphan and was sent to live with two uncles.  When he was twelve years old he traveled to hear the Rev. Richard Clyfton, who believed that the Church of England would become a purer Christian church by eliminating all Roman Catholic practices.  Bradford was inspired by his preaching and continued to attend his services.

This small congregation determined that reform of the Church of England was hopeless and started making plans to travel to the Dutch Republic where religious freedom was permitted.  There were many setbacks, including a betrayal, imprisonment and fines.  By the summer of 1608 they had managed to escape England in small groups and relocate to the Dutch Republic.  Bradford was 18.

Bradford arrived in Amsterdam in August 1608.  He had no family with him and was taken in by the Brewster household.  After nine months, the Scrooby Congregation chose to relocate to the smaller city of Leiden.  Bradford continued to reside with the Brewster family but conditions changed dramatically for him when he turned twenty-one and was able to claim his family inheritance in 1611.  He bought his own house and set up a workshop as a weaver of heavy cotton cloth for men’s clothing.

In 1613, he married Dorothy May, the daughter of a well-off English couple living in Amsterdam.  In 1617 their first child, John, was born.

William Bradford sold his house in Leiden in 1619 and shows up in the March 1620 tax records in a section of London called Aldgate.  Edward and Alice (Carpenter) Southworth and their two sons were also living in Aldgate in 1620.  Edward Southworth was a highly respected leader of the Leiden group, but he died during the winter of 1621/22.  His widow Alice emigrated to Plymouth Colony after Bradford’s wife died, and they were married (more on this later).

By July 1620, arrangements had been made and about 50 Separatists departed on the Speedwell.  William and Dorothy Bradford left their three-year-old son, John, with Dorothy’s parents in Amsterdam, possibly because he was too frail to make the voyage.  The Speedwell was to meet with the Mayflower off the coast of England and would travel together to the northern part of the Colony of Virginia (which then extended north to the Hudson River).  It turned out that the Speedwell was not structurally strong enough to make the voyage and some of the passengers were transferred to the Mayflower, including the Bradfords, making crowded conditions.

During the crossing they were buffeted by westerly gales, which caused the ships timbers to shake violently and the caulking failed to keep out seawater.  Many passengers were lying wet and ill in their berths and a crew member and a passenger died on the trip.

The passengers and crew of the Mayflower spotted Cape Cod hook in November 1620, after about two months at sea.  They anchored in what is now called Provincetown Harbor.  The Mayflower Compact was signed that day, Bradford being one of the first to sign.

Bradford volunteered to be a member of the exploration parties searching for a place for settlement.  During their third exploration, the men located Plymouth Bay.  For several days they explored the bay and found a suitable place for settlement, now the site of downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The location featured an easily defended hill, numerous brooks and had been the location of an Indian village, so that much of the land had been cleared for planting.

When the exploration party made their way back on board the Mayflower, Bradford learned of the death of his wife, Dorothy.  She had fallen overboard off the deck of the Mayflower during his absence and drowned.  William Bradford recorded her death in his journal.   for more information about Governor William Bradford and the settlement of Plymouth Colony.

Next Sunday, I will see what I can find out about Joseph Bradford, William’s son with his second wife, Alice Carpenter. Tomorrow I will begin posting a week of letters from November, 1943, with letters reporting the plans and marriage of my Dad and Mom, Alfred Peabody Guion, and Marian Dunlap Irwin. Judy Guion


4 thoughts on “My Ancestors (45 and 46) – Governor William Bradford – 1590 – 1657) and Alice Carpenter (1593-1670)

  1. Valerie says:

    Two hundred and more years later the conditions were much the same, for emigrants to NZ – vessels affected by severe weather at sea, a voyage of three months, deaths aboard, children left behind at “home” in the care of, or to care for, grandparents, and then a new land to be brought into development – these pioneers and settlers were made of stout stuff.
    So sad that Dorothy was to lose her life at the end of the voyage.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Valerie – You are so right. Pioneers to a new country were made of very strong stuff … and so the foundation is built on rock. The hardships they faced and the losses incurred were tremendous. Thankfully, some survived.

  2. Wow! What a history. :)

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