William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America


Bradford's Letterbook - 14

[BRADFORD: THIS year we had letters sent us from the Dutch plantation, of whom
we had heard much by the natives, but never could hear from them nor meet with
them before themselves thus writ to us, and after sought us out; their letters
were writ in a very fair hand, the one in French, and the other in Dutch, but
were one verbatim, so far as the tongue would bear.]

[Here follows a letter in Low Dutch, from Isaac de Razier at Manhatas, in fort,
Amsterdam Mar. 9, 1627 IV. S. to the Governour of New-Plymouth.]
[BRADFORD: I will not trouble myself to translate this letter, seeing the effect
of it will be understood by the answer which now follows in English, though writ
to them in Dutch.]

To the Honourable and Worshipful the Director and Council of New Netherland, our
very loving and worthy friends and christian neighbors.

The Governour and Council of Plymouth in New England wish your Honours and
Worships all happiness, and prospenty in this life, and eternal rest and glory
with Christ Jesus our Lord in the world to come.

We have received your letters wherein appeareth your good will, and friendship
toward us, but is expressed with over high titles, and more than belongs to us,
or than is meet for us to receive: But for your good will and congratulation of
our prosperity in this small beginning of our poor colony, we are much bound
unto you, and with many thanks do acknowledge the same; taking it both for a
great honour done unto us, and for a certain testimony of your love, and good
neighbourhood. Now these are further to give your Honours, Worships and Wisdoms
to understand, that it is to us no small joy, to hear, that it hath pleased God
to move his Majesty's heart, not only to confirm that ancient amity, alliance,
and friendship, and other contracts formerly made, and ratified by his
predecessors of famous memory; but hath himself (as you say) and we likewise
have been informed, strengthened the same with a new union, the better to resist
the pride of that common enemy the Spaniards, from whose cruelty the Lord keep
us both, and our native countries. Now for as much as this is sufficient to
unite us together in love, and good neighbourhood in all our dealings; yet are
many of us further tied by the good and courteous entreaty which we have found
in your country; having lived there many years, with freedom and good content,
as many of our friends do to this day; for which we are bound to be thankful,
and our children after us and shall never forget the same but shall heartily
desire your good and prosperity, as our own forever. Likewise for your friendly
proposition and offer to accommodate and help us with any commodities or
merchandize which you have and we want, either for beaver, otters or other
wares, is to us very acceptable, and we doubt not but in short time, we may have
profitable commerce and trade together: But you may please to understand that we
are but one particular colony or plantation in this land, there being divers
others besides, unto whom it hath pleased those Honourable Lords of his
Majesty's Council for New England, to grant the like commission, and ample
privileges to them (as to us) for their better profit and subsistence; namely to
expulse, or make prize of any, either strangers or other English which shall
attempt, either to trade, or plant within their limits (without their special
licence and commission) which extends to forty degrees: Yet for our parts, we
shall not go about to molest or trouble you in any thing, but continue all good
neighbourhood and correspondence as far as we may; only we desire that you would
forbear to trade with the natives in this bay, and river of Naragansett and
Sowames, which is (as it were) at our doors: The which if you do, we think also
no other English will go about any way to trouble or hinder you; which otherwise
are resolved to solicit his Majesty for redress, if otherwise they cannot help

May it please you further to understand, that for this year we are fully
supplied with all necessaries, both for clothing and other things; but it may so
fall out, that hereafter we shall deal with you, if your rates be reasonable:
And therefore when your people come again, we desire to know how you will take
beaver by the pound, and otters by the skin, and how you will per cent. for
other commodities, and what you can furnish us with; as likewise what
commodities from us, may be acceptable with you, as tobacco, fish, corn, or
other things, and what prices you will give.

Thus hoping that you will pardon and excuse us for our rude and imperfect
writing in your language, and take it in good part; because, for want of use, we
cannot so well express that we understand; nor happily understand every thing so
fully as we should: And so we humbly pray the Lord, for his mercy's sake, that
he will take both us and our native countries, into his holy protection and
defence. Amen.

By the Governour and Council, your Honoursr and Worships' very good friends and
neighbours. NewPlymouth, March 19th.

[BRADFORD: Next follows their reply to this our answer, very friendly but
maintaining their right and liberty to trade in those parts, which we had
desired they would forbear; alleging that as we had authority and commission
from our king; so they had the like from the States of Holland, which they would

August 7, 1627.

[BRADFORD: Another of theirs upon our answer to their last, which I here omit.
An answer to the former letters.]

We have received your letters dated the 7th of August, and with them a rundlet
of sugar, and two Holland cheeses, by John Jacobson of Wiring; for which we give
you many thanks and must remain your debtors till another time, not having any
thing to send you for the present that may be acceptable: Further, you shall
understand that it is also our resolution and hearty desire to hold and continue
all friendship and good neighbourhood with you as far as we may and lies in our
power; we desire also that we might have opportunity (according as you write) by
word of mouth, to confer together touching our mutual commerce and trading in
such things as our countries afford; and would now have sent one, but that one
of our boats is abroad, and we have much business at home; But if by the next
you would please to depute one (according as you have propounded) to come hither
and to confer hereabouts, we should be glad and he should be welcome. If not, we
shall send as soon as conveniently we can (after harvest) if we can know when
your bark comes this way. We cannot likewise omit (out of our love and good
affection toward you and the trust you repose in us) to give you warning of the
danger which may befal you, that you may prevent it; for if you light either in
the hands of those of Virginia or the fishing ships, which come to New England,
peradventure they will make prize of you, if the can, if they find you trading
within those limits; as they surprised a colony of the French, not many years
since, which was seated within these bounds: For howsoever you allege in your
former letter, that you have navigated and traded in these parts above this
twenty-six years, and that your company have now authority from the States and
the Prince of Orange to do so; yet you must understand that her Majesty, Queen
Elizabeth, of famous memory hath began to navigate and plant in these lands well
nigh forty years ago, as appeareth by her patents and royal grants conferred
upon divers of her subjects and since confirmed and enlarged by his late
Majesty, and still continued by possession. Therefore it were best (in our
opinion) that your masters should solicit the States that they might come to
some order and agreement with the King's Majesty and State of England hereabout,
before any inconvenience befal; for howsoever you may be assured for ourselves,
yet we should be sorry to hear you should sustain harm from any of our nation;
but more of these things when we shall speak one with another: In the mean time
we commit you and your affairs to the protection of the highest.

Your loving friends, the Governour and Council of NewPlymouth. WILLIAM
BRADFORD. Plymouth, August 14, Anno 1627. Governour, etc.

[BRADFORD: THEIR answer to this directed to myself thus superscribed: Monsieur
MonseiDnieur, Williem Bradford, Governeur in NieuPlemenen. This I will put in
English and so will end with theirs, viz. ]

After the wishing of all good unto you, this serves to let you understand, that
we have received your (acceptable) letters dated the 14th of the last month, by
John Jacobson of Wiring, who besides, by word of mouth, hath reported unto us
your kind and friendly entertainment of him: For which cause (by the good-liking
and approbation of the Directors and Council) I am resolved to come myself, in
friendship, to visit you, that we may by word of mouth friendly communicate of
things together; as also to report Unto you the good will and favour that the
Honourable Lords of the authorized WestIndian company bear towards you. And to
show our willingness of your good accommodation, have brought with me some cloth
of three sorts and colours, and a chest of white sugar, as also some sea-wan etc.
not doubting but, if any of them may be serviceable unto you, we shall agree
well enough about the prices thereof. Also John Jacobson aforesaid hath told me,
that he came to you overland in six hours, but I have not gone so far this three
or four years; wherefore I fear my feet will fail me, so I am constrained to
entreat you to afford me the easiest means that I may, with least weariness,
come to congratulate with you: So leaving other things to the report of the
bearer, shall herewith end; remembering my hearty salutations to yourself and
friends, etc. from a-board the bark Nassau, the 4 th of October; before
Frenchman's point.

Your affectionate friend, Anno 1627 ISAAC DE RAZIER.

[BRADFORD: So, according to his request, we sent our boat for him, who came
honourably attended with a noise of trumpeters; he was their upper commis, or
chief merchant and second to the Governour; a man of a fair and genteel
behaviour, but soon after fell into disgrace amongst them; by reason of their
factions; and thus at length we came to meet and deal together. We at this time
bought sundry of their commodities, especially their sewan of wampamicack, which
was the beginning of a profitable trade with us and the Indians: We further
understood, that their masters were willing to have friendship with us and to
supply us with sundry commodities, and offered us assistance against the French
if need were. The which, though we know it was with an eye to their own profit,
yet we had reason both kindly to accept it and make use of it: So after this
sundry of them came often to us, and many letters passed between us, the which I
will pass by, as being about particular dealings, and would not be here very
pertinent; only upon this passage we wrote one to their Lords and masters; as

Right Honourable and Worthy Lords, etc.

We understand by your agent, Mr. Isaac Razier, who is at this present with us
(and hath demeaned himself to your honours and his own credit) of your
honourable and respective good intentions towards us, which we humbly
acknowledge with all thankfulness, and shall ever be ready in the performance of
all offices of good and christian neighbourhood, towards your colony and
plantation here, and in an satisfactory correspondence to your Honours, so far
as in us lieth and may stand with our allegiance to the King's most excellent
Majesty. our Sovereign Lord the King of Great-Britain; acknowledging ourselves
tied in a strict obligation unto your country and State, for the good
entertainment and free liberty which we had, and our brethren and countrymen yet
there have and do enjoy, under our most honourable Lords the States; and so
shall be ready to accommodate ourselves to your good satisfaction: For the
propositions of your agent concerning, the matter of trade and commerce, we will
have due and respective consideration, wishing it had been sooner propounded at
the beginning of the year, before we sent our factor into England and Holland
about our trade and supplies; for, till his return, we can determine of nothing,
not yet knowing certainly what issue there will be of the business between the
merchants our partners, and ourselves; and therefore desire suspension of our
determination and resolution herein till the next year, we being not yet
altogether free in respect of our engagements unto them: In the meantime we will
digest it in our best cogitations; only we desire your Honours, that ye would
take into your wise and honourable considerations, that which we conceive may be
a hindrance to this accordation, and may be a means of much future evil, if it
be not prevented, namely, that you clear the title of your planting in these
parts, which his Majesty hath, by patent, granted to divers his nobles and
subjects of quality; least it be a bone of division in these stirring evil
times, which God forbid: We persuade ourselves, that now may be easily and
seasonably done, which will be harder and with more difficulty obtained
hereafter, and perhaps not without blows; so there may be assured peace and good
correspondence on all parts, and ourselves more free and able to contract with
your Honours. Thus comending our best service to our most noble Lords, praying
for the prosperous success of your worthy designs, we rest your Lordships'
Most sincerely affected and bounder, William Bradford.

Plymouth, Oct. 1, Anno 1627. Governour, etc.

[BRADFORD: WE well knew likewise, that this dealing and friendship with the
Dutch (though it was wholly sought of themselves) yet it would procure us envy
from others in the land, and that at one time or other, our enemies would take
occasion to raise slanders and frame accusations against us for it; therefore,
to prevent their malice, as also to shew the sincerity of our dealing and our
loyal and dutiful respect to his Majesty and the Honourable Council for New
England; we sent their first letter (with our answer thereto and their reply to
the same) unto the Council as may appear more particularly by our letters

A letter to the Council of New England.]

Right Hononrable,

WE held it our bounder duty to inform and acquaint your Lordships and Honours,
with all such occurrences and matters of note as do here befal, and may any way
concern the estate of this country, in either the good or hurt thereof, which,
next his Majesty, stands under your honourable governments and protection; or
which may in any sort, be worthy your wise and prudent considerations. May it
please your Honours and Lordships to understand, that of late we received
letters from the Dutch plantation, who using to trade near unto us, had order to
stay for an answer from us; and the effect of their letters, being friendly and
congratulatory, we answered them in like sort; since which time, we received
another from them, but have had as yet no opportunity to give answer thereto.
Their first letters were two,* but both one in effect and verbatim, so far as
the proprieties of the tongues will bear; the French, with the copies both of
our answer and their reply, we have here enclosed sent unto your Honour's view,
that according to your honourable directions therein, we may govern ourselves,
in our dealings with them. We further understand that for strength of men and
fortification, they far exceed us, and all in this land. We cannot likewise
forbear to complain unto your Lordships, of the irregular living of many in this
land, who without either patent or licence, order or government, live, trade and
truck, not with any intent to plant, but rather to forage the country and get
what they can, whether by right or wrong, and then be gone: So as such as have
been and are at great charge to settle plantations, will not be able to subsist,
if some remedy be not provided, both with these and the inordinate course of
fishermen, who begin to leave fishing, and fall wholly to trading, to the great
detriment of both the small beginning here, and the State of England, by the
unprofitable consuming of the victuals of the land upon these salvages: Whereas
plantations might here better raise the same in the land, and so be enabled both
to subsist and to return the profit thereof into England for other necessaries,
which would be beneficial to the commonwealth. Our humble suits therefore to
your good Lordships is, that you would take some such order, for redress herein,
as shall seem best to your honourable wisdoms, for the relief of all the
plantations in the land. So in all humbleness we commit ourselves to your
honourable direction, and you to the protection of the Almighty, resting Yours
ever at commandment,


NewPlymouth, June 15, Anno 1627. Governour, etc.

[BRADFORD: Another to Sir Ferdinando Gorges, touching the same subject.]
Honourable Sir,

MY humble duty remembered; we have of late received letters from the Dutch
plantation and have had speech with some of them; I hold it my duty to acquaint
your Worship and the rest of the Honourable Council therewith, unto whom we have
likewise writ and sent the copies of their letters, that, together with their
and your honourable directions, we may know how to order ourselves herein: They
have used trading there this six or seven and twenty years, but have begun to
plant of later time, and now have reduced their trade to some order, and
confined it only to their company, which heretofore was spoiled by their seamen
and interlopers, as ours is this year most notoriously, of whom we have made
some complaint in our letters to the Council, not doubting but we shall find
worshipful furtherance therein. We are now upon concluding with our adventurers,
and shall be put upon hard straits by great payments, which we are, enforced to
make, for sundry years, or else to leave all, which will be to us very
difficult; and to say the truth, if these disorders of fishermen and
interlopers, be not remedied, no plantations are able to stand, but will decay,
whereas otherwise they may subsist and flourish: Thus in all humbleness I take
leave, and rest,

At your service,

WILLIAM BRADFORD, Plymouth, June 25, Anno 1627.

P.S. Besides the spoiling of the trade this last year, our boat and men had like
to have been cut off by the Indians, after the fishermen were gone, for the
wrongs which they did them, in stealing their skins and other abuses offered
them, both the last year and this; and besides they still continue to truck
pieces, powder and shot with them, which will be the overthrow of all, if it be
not looked unto.


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