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Bradford's History of 'Plimoth Plantation' From the Original Manuscript. With a Report of the Proceedings Incident to the Return of the Manuscript to Massachusetts   By: (1590-1657)

Book cover

First Page:

BRADFORD'S HISTORY "OF PLIMOTH PLANTATION."

From the Original Manuscript.

With a Report of the Proceedings Incident to the Return of the Manuscript to Massachusetts.

Printed Under the Direction of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, by Order of the General Court.

Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., State Printers, 18 Post Office Square. 1898.

INTRODUCTION.

To many people the return of the Bradford Manuscript is a fresh discovery of colonial history. By very many it has been called, incorrectly, the log of the "Mayflower." Indeed, that is the title by which it is described in the decree of the Consistorial Court of London. The fact is, however, that Governor Bradford undertook its preparation long after the arrival of the Pilgrims, and it cannot be properly considered as in any sense a log or daily journal of the voyage of the "Mayflower." It is, in point of fact, a history of the Plymouth Colony, chiefly in the form of annals, extending from the inception of the colony down to the year 1647. The matter has been in print since 1856, put forth through the public spirit of the Massachusetts Historical Society, which secured a transcript of the document from London, and printed it in the society's proceedings of the above named year. As thus presented, it had copious notes, prepared with great care by the late Charles Deane; but these are not given in the present volume, wherein only such comments as seem indispensable to a proper understanding of the story have been made, leaving whatever elaboration may seem desirable to some future private enterprise.

It is a matter of regret that no picture of Governor Bradford exists. Only Edward Winslow of the Mayflower Company left an authenticated portrait of himself, and that, painted in England, is reproduced in this volume. In those early days Plymouth would have been a poor field for portrait painters. The people were struggling for their daily bread rather than for to morrow's fame through the transmission of their features to posterity.

The volume of the original manuscript, as it was presented to the Governor of the Commonwealth and is now deposited in the State Library, is a folio measuring eleven and one half inches in length, seven and seven eighths inches in width and one and one half inches in thickness. It is bound in parchment, once white, but now grimy and much the worse for wear, being somewhat cracked and considerably scaled. Much scribbling, evidently by the Bradford family, is to be seen upon its surface, and out of the confusion may be read the name of Mercy Bradford, a daughter of the governor. On the inside of the front cover is pasted a sheet of manilla paper, on which is written the following:

" Consistory Court of the Diocese of London

In the matter of the application of The Honorable Thomas Francis Bayard, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in London of the United States of America, for the delivery to him, on behalf of the President and Citizens of the said States, of the original manuscript book entitled and known as The Log of the Mayflower.

Produced in Court this 25th day of March, 1897, and marked with the letter A.

HARRY W. LEE Registrar. 1 Deans Court Doctors Commons"

Then come two manilla leaves, on both sides of which is written the decree of the Consistorial Court. These leaves and the manilla sheet pasted on the inside of the front cover were evidently inserted after the decree was passed.

Next comes a leaf (apparently the original first leaf of the book), and on it are verses, signed "A. M.," on the death of Mrs. Bradford. The next is evidently one of the leaves of the original book. At the top of the page is written the following:

This book was rit by govener William bradford and given to his son mager William Bradford and by him to his son mager John Bradford. rit by me Samuel bradford mach 20, 1705... Continue reading book >>




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