Maj. William Bradford, Jr., Dep. Gov. of Plymouth Colony

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William Bradford, Jr.

Also Known As: "William Bradford the Younger", "Lt. Gov. William Bradford", "William Bradford IV", "Major William Bradford", "William Bradford", "Governor"
Birthplace: Plymouth, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
Death: February 20, 1704 (79)
Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, British Colonial America
Place of Burial: Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony and Alice Bradford
Husband of Alice Bradford; 2nd wife of William Bradford and Mary Bradford
Father of Maj. John Bradford; William Bradford, III; Lt. Thomas Bradford; Alice Fitch; Mercy Steele and 10 others
Brother of Mercy Vermayes and Joseph Bradford, of Plymouth
Half brother of Lt. John Bradford; Ens. Constant Southworth and Capt. Thomas Southworth, of the Plymouth Colony

Occupation: Assistant to the colony, deputy governor, treasurer and Major in King Phillip War and wounded in battle at Narragansett’s Fort Fight., Deputy-Governor of Plymouth Colony, Mayor
FamilySearch: 9MSF-598
MEMORIAL ID: 7190993 🪦
🪦 PLOT: B 247.1
WikiTree: Bradford-68
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Maj. William Bradford, Jr., Dep. Gov. of Plymouth Colony

Not the son of Dorothea (May) Bradford, Mayflower passenger

Major William Bradford, Jr.

  • Also known as William Bradford IV and William Bradford the Younger
  • Birth: June 17 1624 - Plymouth, Plymouth Colony
  • Death: Feb 20 1703/4 - Plymouth, Plymouth, Province of Massachusetts Bay
  • Burial: Burial Hill, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
  • Parents: Govenor William Bradford and his second wife, Alice Carpenter
  • Spouses: 1) Alice Richards; 2) an unnamed woman; 3) Mary Wood, widow of John Holmes

Brief biography

William Bradford was the second son of William Bradford, second governor of Plymouth Colony.

Major William Bradford "removed to Kingston, Massachusetts, was assistant deputy governor, was one of Governor Andro's council in 1687, and was the chief military officer of Plymouth colony."

Maj. William Bradford was born on 17 June 1624 in Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. From 1657 to 1658 he was a Member of the Council of War. He owned a large estate inherited from his father after 1657. William lived at the north side of the Jones River in the section known as Stony Brook in Kingston, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. He served in the military as Major Commander-in-Chief of Plymouth forces in The Great Swamp Fight in 1675. He was severely wounded during the fight. From 1679 to 1685 he was a Treasurer. William was elected as Deputy Governor from 1682 to 1686 in New Plymouth Colony. In 1687 he was a Member of Gov. Andros Council. From 1689 to 1691 he was a Treasurer. William was elected as Deputy Governor from 1689 to 1691 in New Plymouth Colony. In 1691 he was an a Member of the Council of Massachusetts. From 1692 to 1698 he was a Councillor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. William died on 20 February 1703/4 in Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. He was buried after 20 February 1703/4 in Burial Hill Cemetery, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. He is buried beside his father. He had his estate probated in Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. His will mentions his wife, living children and grandson William.

Bradford wrote his will June 29, 1703, he died Feb. 20, 1703/4, his small moveable inventory was taken Feb. 28, 1703/4, his will probated Mar. 10, 1703/4 and recorded Mar. 29, 1704. Per the old Julian calendar then in use in England and the American colonies.


Updated 18 August 2023

Major William Bradford (16 June 1624 – 20 February 1703) was the son of Governor William Bradford and his second wife, Alice Carpenter Southworth. Born four years after the Pilgrims arrival in 1620, William was his father's second child, but the first born in the new world, as his older half-brother John Bradford had been left behind in Leiden, Netherlands.


  • Constant Southworth (1612 - 1678) (half brother)
  • Thomas Southworth (1617 - 1669) (half brother)
  • John Bradford (1618-1669) (half brother)
  • Mercy Bradford (1627-bef 1657), wife of Benjamin Vermayes (sister)
  • Joseph Bradford (1630 - 1715) (brother)

He had 10 children with his first wife, a son Joseph with his second wife, whose identity has not been proven, and 4 sons with this third wife, Mary Wood or Atwood, widow of John Holmes.

Married 1st to Alice Richards (1629-1671) after 23 April 1650 in Plymouth. She was the daughter of Thomas Richards and Wealthean Loring.

The children of Alice Richards and William Bradford were:

  1. John Bradford (1653 - 1736). Married Mercy Warren.
  2. William Bradford (1654 - 1687). Married Rebecca Bartlett.
  3. Thomas Bradford (1658 - 1731). Married 1) Anne Raymond 2) Priscilla Mason 3) Katherine.
  4. Mercy Bradford (1660 - 1720). Married 1) Melatiah Steel 2) Samuel Steele.
  5. Alice Bradford Fitch (1661 - 1745). Married 1) Willam Adams 2) Maj. James Fitch.
  6. Dr. Hannah Bradford (1662 - 1738). Married Joshua Ripley.
  7. Melatiah Bradford (1664-1739). Married 1) John Steele 2) Ensign Samuel Stevens.
  8. Samuel Bradford (1667 - 1714). Married 1) Hannah Rogers 2) Hannah Ripley.
  9. Mary Bradford (1668-1720). Married William Hunt.
  10. Sarah Bradford (1671-1705). Married Kenelm Baker.

Married 2nd to an unnamed woman about 1673, who died before 1677. Note: it is no longer accepted that she was wife of Francis Griswold [widow of Francis Griswold], who died in 1675.

The child of (Sarah?) and William Bradford was:

  1. Joseph Bradford (1675 - 1747). Married 1) Ann Fitch 2) Mary (Sherwood) Fitch

Married 3rd, after 7 March 1675/6, to Mary Wood alias Atwood (abt 1643 -1714/5), widow of John Holmes of Duxbury (1638-1675). She was the daughter of John Wood and Sarah Masterson. She has 3 children surnamed Holmes: Joseph, Mary and Isaac.

The children of Mary Wood and William Bradford were:

  1. Israel Bradford (1678 - 1760). Married Sarah Bartlett.
  2. David Bradford (abt 1682 - 1730). Married Elizabeth Phinney.
  3. Ephriam Bradford (1690 - 1746). Married Elizabeth Brewster.
  4. Hezekiah Bradford (1692-1761). Married Mary Chandler.


Deputy Governor Plymouth Bay Colony, Major, Deputy Governor of Plymouth Colony, Lt. Governor
Son of William Bradford, second governor of Plymouth Colony. Bradford Jr was assistant to the colony, deputy governor, treasurer and a Major in King Philip War where he was severely wounded at the Narraganset Fort Fight.

Maj. William Bradford succeeded Myles Standish as the chief military man in the colony. He was the commander of the Plymouth forces in King Philip's War. He was wounded in battle at Narragansett Fort and carried the musket ball in his flesh the rest of his life. He also served as Assistant Treasurer and Deputy Governor of Plymouth, residing in what is now Kingston on the south side of Jones River in the same house his father lived in from 1627-47.

In December this little army marched into the Narragansett country The campaign which followed is perhaps one of the best remembered in American history What child has not heard of the great Narragansett Swamp fight It well deserves its reputation Nothing that hap iened in that century enables one more vividly to realize the hardy stuff of which these men true brothers of Cromwell's Ironsides were made What a wonderful day's work was that of the crowning mercy of Sunday December 19 1675 The little army had slept the previous night in an open field under a thin blanket of lightly falling snow At five in the morning they began their march of fourteen miles over nigged hills and through deep drifts until they came in sight of the palisaded stronghold situated in the midst of a treacherous bog which was only made passable by the freezing of its surface The only bridge to the fort was a huge tree trunk slippery with frost and well guarded by loopholes alive with muskets for these men of the stone age had now become expert with fire arms There were 2000 of them within the stronghold stalwart and sturdy warriors nerved with desperation It makes one thrill to day as one reads how in repeated eharges and in spite of heavy slaughter the men of Massachusetts and Plymouth fought their way across the slippery trunk while the men of Connecticut crossing the bog in the rear ascended a steep bank and made a breach In the walls These attacks were superbly conducted by the three majors whose names deserve commemoration Samuel Appleton of Ipswich the younger William Bradford of Plymouth and Robert Treat of Connecticut Within the fortress the fight went on until probably the number of Indians slain exceeded that of all the white men engaged By sunset Canonchet with such followers as could get away had escaped Their fortress with its stores was consumed by fire and the victors entered upon another march of a dozen or fifteen miles in the midst of a blinding snowstorm until two hours after midnight they reached their appointed place of shelter leaving one fourth of their number dead and frozen behind them It was a terrible piece of work but necessary and was very thoroughly done.

- Colonization of the New World
By John Fiske, John Henry Wright

Major William Bradford Jr

Born 17 Jun 1624 in Plymouth, Plymouth

Son of William Bradford and Alice (Carpenter) Bradford

Brother of Constant Southworth [half], Thomas Southworth [half], John Bradford [half], Mercy (Bradford) Vermayes and Joseph Bradford

Husband of Alice (Richards) Bradford — married after 23 Apr 1650 in Plymouth

Husband of Sarah (Unknown) Bradford — married about 1674 (to 1675) in Norwich, Connecticut [uncertain]

Husband of Mary (Wood) Bradford — married after 7 Mar 1676 [location unknown]

Father of John Bradford, William Bradford, Thomas Bradford, Alice (Bradford) Fitch, Mercy (Bradford) Steele, Hannah (Bradford) Ripley, Melatiah (Bradford) Steele, Mary (Bradford) Hunt, Samuel Bradford, Sarah (Bradford) Baker, Joseph Bradford, Israel Bradford, Ephraim Bradford, Hezekiah Bradford and David Kingston Bradford

Died 20 Feb 1704 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay

Profile last modified 15 Jul 2019 | Created 10 Sep 2010

William Bradford Jr was related to a passenger on the Mayflower.


Lt. Gov. William Bradford, son of Gov. William Bradford and Alice Carpenter. Born on 17 June 1624 in Plymouth, Plymouth Colony, (Now in Massachusetts USA). He died on 20 Feb. 1703/4 in Plymouth, 79 years old. Buried in Burial Hill, Plymouth.

Married first Alice Richards, dau. of Thomas Richards and Welthian Loring, after 23 April 1650 in Plymouth when at least 25 years old (Alice was at least 22 years old). Alice Richards b. on 16 June 1627 in Pitminster, Somerset, England; bap. on 7 April 1629 in Pitminster when a year old; d. on 12 Dec. 1671 in Plymouth, 44 years old. "On 23 Apr 1650 William Bradford deeded land to his son William upon his agreement to marry Allice, dau. of Mr. Thomas Richards of Waymouth." Quoted from William Bradford of the Mayflower, 4th Ed., p. 7

Deputy 1657; Assistant Governor 1682-86 Commander in Chief of Plymouth forces in King Phillips War at the Great Swamp fight where he was severely wounded. Deputy Governor of Plymouth from 1682-86 and from 1689-91. Served on Sir Edmund Andros' Council in 1687 & 1688 Resided in Kingston, MA on the north side of the Jones River. Inherited a large estate from his father.

He had 10 children with his first wife, a son Joseph with his second wife, whose identity has not been proven, and 4 sons with this third wife, Mary Wood or Atwood, widow of John Holmes.[1]

The identity (and even the existence) of the second wife of William Bradford, son of the immigrant, remains a major mystery. His will included a bequest to his son Joseph of "a portion of lands near Norwich aforesaid (which was his mother's & part I purchased)" [ MD 4:144]. Many sources call her "widow Wiswall," but the basis for this is not seen.

A good argument has been made that his second wife was Sarah, widow of Francis Griswold.[2]

His will is dated 29 June 1703 and proved on 10 March 1703 in Plymouth. He mentions his wife Mary, (listed as seen in the will), Daniel Bradford, Ephraim Bradford, Hezekiah Bradford, John Bradford (eldest son), his grandson William Bradford (son of his son William, decd.), Thomas Bradford, Samuel Bradford, Joseph Bradford (bequeathed "a portion of lands near Norwich which was his mother's), Israel Bradford, his grandson John Bradford, his grandson William Bradford (son of his son John), Mercy Steel, Hannah Ripley, Melaliah Steel, Mary Hunt, Alice Fitch, and Sarah Baker. His inventory was taken on 28 February 1703.[3]


Here lyes ye body
of Honourable Major
who expired Febr ye 20th
1703/4 Aged 71 years.

He lived long but still was doing good,
& in his country's service lost much blood.
After a life well spent he's now at rest,
His very name and memory is blest.

Source: Epitaphs from Burial Hill, By Bradford Kingman, Published 1892, Epitaph #11

Source: Headstone of Major William Bradford IV, located on Burial Hill, Plymouth Massachusetts. Credit: "1749 Court House Collection. Photographs. 1749 Court House Museum, Plymouth, MA."


  1. cites
    1. See NEHGR, 155 (July 2001): 245-50
    2. Webber, David Jay. "Major William Bradford's Second Wife: Was she the Widow of Francis Griswold?" New England Historical and Genealogical Register 155(July 2001): 247
    3. "Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967," images, FamilySearch ( : 23 March 2023), Probate records 1702-1710 vol 2 > image 34-35 of 106; State Archives, Boston. See also:
  • Births, marriages, deaths, 1649-ca.1840; intentions of marriage, 1700-ca.1905, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 3 October 2022), FHL microfilm 007009735, image 19, Eastham, Massachusetts, Volume 2, Births, & Deaths, 1654-1797, Page 29, Land grants 1659, Eastham.
  • Lainhart, Ann Smith and Wakefield, Robert S., FASG, Mayflower Families through Five Generations, Volume 22, General Society of Mayflower Descendents, Plymouth, MA., 2004 a/k/a "The Silver Book"
  • State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations < GoogleBooks >
  • Descendants of Governor William Bradford through the first seven generations, Author: Ruth Gardiner Hall, Publication: N.p.: Bradford Family Compact, 1951.
  • Personal E-Mail from Wayne Dyer, Groton, Vermont Publication: Mayflower Descendant
  • William Bradford of the Mayflower, 4th Ed., p. 7
  • Clemens, William Montgomery. American Marriage Records Before 1699. Pompton Lakes, NJ, USA: Biblio Co., 1926.
  • Shepard, James, Governor William Bradford, and his son, Major William Bradford (New Britain, Conn. 1900 [1]
  • The Mayflower Descendant (Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Boston, 1902) Vol. 4, Page 143-7: "Major William Bradford's Will and Inventory" < Archive.Org >
  • Dexter, Franklin Bowditch. Extracts From The Itineraries and Other Miscellanies of Ezra Stiles (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, Conn., 1916) Page 208. < Archive.Org >
  • Fessenden, G.M. A Genealogy of the Bradford Family, The New England Historical & Genealogical Register (NEHGS, Boston, 1850) Vol. 4, Page 45 < GoogleBooks >
  • Stott, Clifford L., Humphrey Blake (1494?–1558) and His Descendants in New England and South Carolina: Blake, Richards, Selleck, Torrey, and Wolcott, The New England Historical & Genealogical Register (NEHGS, Boston, Mass., 2009) Vol. 163, WN 652, Page 295.
  • Bradford's History "Of Plymouth Plantation", Wright & Porter Printing Company,Boston, 1898.
  • Willison, George F., Saints and Strangers, The Cornwall Press, Cornwall, NY, 1943, Third Printing
  • "Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Descendants of the Pilgrims Who Landed at Plymouth, Mass., December 1620, Volume Twenty Two, Family of William Bradford" compiled by Ann Smith Lainhart and Robert S. Wakefield, FASG, published by General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2004, p. 5
  • cites
    • Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862).
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Maj. William Bradford, Jr., Dep. Gov. of Plymouth Colony's Timeline

June 17, 1624
Plymouth, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
February 20, 1653
Plymouth, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
March 11, 1655
Plymouth, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
January 1, 1657
Plymouth, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
September 2, 1660
of, Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
May 9, 1662
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
November 1, 1664
Plymouth, Plymouth Colony
July 1667
Plymouth, Plymouth Colony