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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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William Bradford, Printer

BRADFORD, William, printer, born in Leicester, England, in 1658; died in New York, 23 May, 1752. He was one of the Quakers brought over by Penn in 1682, who founded in the midst of the forest the town of Philadelphia. In 1685 he set up his printing press, the first one south of New England, and the third one in the colonies. The same year he issued the "Kalendarium Pennsilvaniense" for 1686. In 1690 he joined with two others in building a paper-mill on the Schuylkill. Among his earliest publications were Keith's polemical tracts against the New England churches. In 1691, having sided with Keith in his quarrel with the authorities, and printed his "Appeal to the People," and other tracts on his side of the controversy, Bradford was arrested for seditious libel, and his press, forms, materials, and publications were confiscated. He was tried on the charge of having printed a paper tending to weaken the hands of the magistrates, but, conducting his own case with shrewdness and skill, escaped punishment through the disagreement of the jury. In his defense he contended, in opposition to the ruling of the court directing the jury to find only as to the facts of the printing, that the jurors were judges of the law as well as of the fact, and competent to determine whether the subject-matter was seditious, a point that, in after times, was much controverter in similar cases. Having incurred the displeasure of the dominant party in Philadelphia, and receiving an invitation to establish a printing-press in New York, he settled there in 1693, set up the first press in the province, and the same year printed the laws of the colony. He was appointed public printer with an allowance of £50 per annum, and also received the appointment of printer to the government of New Jersey.

He retained an interest in the press in Philadelphia, which was managed by a Dutchman named Jansen until Bradford's eldest son, Andrew, took charge of it in 1712, and obtained the appointment of public printer. On 16 October, 1725, William Bradford began the publication of the " New York Gazette," the fourth newspaper in the colonies, and in 1728 he established a paper-mill at Elizabethtown, New Jersey He was the only printer in the colony for thirty years, and retained the office of public printer for more than fifty years. He is buried in Trinity church-yard.--His son, Andrew Sowles, born in Philadelphia in 1686; died 23 November, 1742, was the only printer in Pennsylvania from 1712 to 1723. On 22 December, 1719, he began the publication of the first newspaper printed in the middle colonies, the "American Weekly Mercury." Benjamin Franklin, upon arriving in Philadelphia in 1723, found employment as a compositor in his printing office. Andrew Bradford was postmaster of Philadelphia in 1732. He kept a bookstore at the sign of the Bible in Second street in 1735, and in 1738 removed to South Front street. In 1741 he started a periodical called the "American Magazine."


I looked up William Bradford, Printer on your website and noticed an error in his year of birth. His year of birth is not 1658 but rather is 1660, which is inscribed on his tombstone in the Trinity Church graveyard in downtown New York City.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 StanKlos.comTM

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