William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America


Bradford's Letterbook - 9

My loving and kind friend, and brother in the Lord; my own and my wife's true
love and hearty salutations to yourself and yours and all the rest of our loving
friends with you; hoping in the Lord of your good healths, which I beseech him
long to continue for the glory of his name and good of his people. Concerning
your kind letter to the church, it was read publicly; whereunto (by the church)
I send you here inclosed an answer. Concerning my brother Robinson's sickness
and death and our practice, I wrote you at large, some five or six months since;
but lest it should miscarry, I have now written to Mr. Brewster thereof, to whom
I refer you. Now concerning your course of choosing your Governours yearly, and
in special of their choosing yourself year after year, as I conceive they still
do, and Mr. Allerton your assistant; howsoever I think it the best way that can
be, so long as it please the Lord to continue your lives, and so good Governours
offer you; yet, considering man's mortality, whose breath is in his nostrils,
and the evils of the times wherein we live, in which it is ordinarily seen that
worse follow them that are good, I think it would be a safer course, for after
time, the government was sometime removed from one to another; so the assistant
one year might be Governour next and a new assistant chosen in his place, either
of such as have or have not been in office; sometimes one, sometimes another, as
it shall seem most fit to the corporation. My reasons are, first, because other
officers that come after you, will look (especially if they be ambitiously
minded) for the same privileges and continuance you have had; and i he have it
not, will take great offence, as though unworthy of the place, and so greatly
disgraced, whom to continue, might be very dangerous, and hazard (at least) the
overthrow of all; men not looking so much at the reasons why others were so long
continued as at the custom. 2dly, because others that are unexperienced in
government might learn by experience; and so there might be fit and able men
continually, when it pleaseth the Lord to take any away. 3dly, by this means,
you may establish the things begun, or done before; for the Governour this year,
that was assistant last, will in likelihood, rather ratify and confirm, and go
on with that he had a hand in the beginning of, when he was assistant, than
otherwise, or persuade the new to it; whereas new Governours, especially when
there are factions, will many times overthrow that which is done by the former,
and so scarcely any thing goeth. forward for the general good; neither that I
see, can this be any prejudice to the corporation; for the new may always have
the counsel and advice of the old, for their direction, though they be out of
office; these things I make bold to put to your godly wisdom and discretion,
intreating you to pardon my boldness therein; and so leave it to your discretion
to make use of as you see it fitting, not having written the least inkling
hereof to any other. Now I entreat you, at your best leisure to write to me, how
you think it will in likelihood go with your civil and church estate; whether
there be hope of the continuance of both, or either; or whether you fear any
alteraton to be attempted in either; the reason of this my request is, the fear
of some amongst us (the which if that hinder not, I think will come unto you)
occasioned partly by your letter to your father in law, Mr. May, wherein you
write of the troubles you have had with some, who it is like (having the times
and friends on their sides) will work you what mischiefs they can; and that they
may do much, many here do fear: And partly by reason of this king's
proclamation, dated the 13th of May last, in which he saith, that his full
resolution is, to the end that there may be one uniform course of government,
in, and through all his whole monarchy; that the government of Virginia shall
immediately depend on himself, and not be committed to any company or
corporation, etc. so that some conceive he will have both the same civil and
ecclesiastical government that is in England, which occasioneth their fear. I
desire you to write your thoughts of these things, for the satisfying of others;
for my own part and some others, we dust rely upon you for that, who we persuade
ourselves, would not be thus earnest, for our pastor and church to come to you;
if you feared the danger of being suppressed. Thus desiring you to pardon my
boldness, and remember us in your prayers; I for this time and ever, commit you
and all your affairs to the Almighty, and rest

Your assured loving friend And brother in the Lord,

Leyden, Dec. 1, Anno 1625.

P.S. The church would entreat you to continue your writing to them, which is
very comfortable.


Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Discovery of the Americas