William Bradford (Plymouth soldier)

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William Bradford
Deputy-Governor of Plymouth Colony
In office
Preceded byJames Cudworth
Succeeded byDominion of New England
In office
Preceded byDominion of New England
Succeeded byProvince of Massachusetts Bay
Personal details
BornJune, 16, 1624
DiedFebruary, 20, 1703 (age 79)

Major William Bradford (a.k.a. William Bradford IV and William Bradford the Younger; 16 June 1624 – 20 February 1703) was a political and military leader in Plymouth Colony in the late 17th century.

Early life[edit]

Coat of Arms of William Bradford

Major Bradford 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. His older half-brother John Bradford had been left behind in Leiden, Netherlands.

Military service[edit]

Bradford was commissioned as the ensign (3rd in command) of the Plymouth militia company on March 7, 1648. He held this position until he was promoted to lieutenant on October 2, 1659.

He was commissioned as the major-commandant of the Plymouth Colony militia regiment on June 3, 1673.

He held the rank of major in the militia and was the commander of the military forces of Plymouth Colony during the King Philip's War.[1] He commanded the Plymouth Regiment, consisting of two companies, at the Great Swamp Fight, in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, on 19 December 1675. During the battle, his eye was wounded and he was hit by a musket ball which he carried in his body to his grave.

Political service[edit]

He later served as the deputy governor of Plymouth Colony under Governor Thomas Hinckley from 1682 to 1686 and from 1689 to 1692 when the colony was merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony to form the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Bradford was suspended from office during the governorship of Sir Edmund Andros from December 20, 1686 to April 18, 1689.


Major Bradford was married three times (1st: Alice Richards; 2nd: Sarah –, widow of Francis Griswold; 3rd: Mary Atwood, widow of John Holmes) and fathered fifteen children from the three marriages.


He is buried in the Burial Hill Cemetery in Plymouth, near the grave of his father.


  1. ^ Field, Edward (1 January 1902). State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century: A History, Illustrated with Maps, Facsimiles of Old Plates and Paintings and Photographs of Ancient Landmarks. Mason Publishing Company.