William Bradford, second governor of Plymouth colony, born in Yorkshire, England, in March, 1588, died May 9, 1657. At an early age he emigrated to Holland for the sake of religious liberty, and, having joined the English congregation at Leyden, sailed for America in 1620, in the Mayflower. Upon the death of Gov. Carver in 1621, he was elected to supply his place. One of his first acts was to adopt measures to confirm the league with Massasoit, who afterward disclosed to the colony a dangerous conspiracy among the Indians, which was suppressed. The first legal patent or charter of the colony was obtained in the name of John Pierce; but in 1630 a more comprehensive one was issued in the name of William Bradford, his heirs, associates, and assigns. In 1640 the general court requested him to deliver the patent into their hands, and upon his complying immediately returned it into his custody. He was annually elected governor as long as he lived, excepting five years at different intervals, when he declined an election, holding the office 31 years.
Though without a learned education, he wrote a history of Plymouth colony from 1602 to 1647. On the retreat of the British army in 1775, the MS. was carried away from the library of the Old South church in Boston, but was recovered and printed entire by the Massachusetts historical society in 1856. A large book of copies of letters relating to the affairs of the colony was also lost; but a fragment of it found in a grocer's shop at Halifax has been printed by the same society.
William Bradford, an American lawyer, born in Philadelphia, Sept. 14, 1755, died Aug. 23, 1795. He graduated at Princeton college in 1772, and was admitted to the bar in 1779. In 1776 he joined the militia, and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel; but in consequence of ill health he resigned at the end of two years. In 1780 he was appointed attorney general of Pennsylvania, a judge of the supreme court in 1791, and attorney general of the United States, Jan. 28, 1794. In early life he wrote some pastoral poems in imitation of Shenstone; but his principal production was an "Inquiry how far the Punishment of Death is necessary in Pennsylvania".
William Bradford, an American painter, born in New Bedford, Mass., about 1830. He is of Quaker extraction, and was educated for commerce; but failing in business, he took up painting, and soon acquired facility in making portraits of ships. He practised marine painting for several years at Fairhaven, Mass., and thence made excursions along the New England coast, and northward as far as Greenland, in quest of subjects. His works relate exclusively to the sea and the seashore, and he is an unusually careful delineator of shipping in every form familiar to the coast of North America. Some of his largest and most elaborate compositions have been suggested by his voyages to the higher latitudes. Of these "The Coast of Labrador " and " Crushed by Icebergs " are conspicuous examples. Other characteristic works by him are " The Island of Grand Menan," "Fishing Boats getting under Way," "Fishing Boats at Anchor," "Shipwreck off Nantucket," " Sudden Squall in the Bay of Fundy," and "A Stiff Breeze in the Harbor of Eastport." Many of these have been photographed.
He is now (1873) practising his prossion in New York.