William Bradford, Printer

"William Bradford, printer, was born in Leicester, England, in 1658, and belonged to the company who, under the leadership of William Penn, came to America in 1682. He set up the first printing press in Philadelphia in 1685, and the same year published "Kalendarium Pennsilvaniense" for 1686.

In partnership with two others he built a paper mill on the Schuylkill River in 1690, and would doubtless have continued in Philadelphia had it not been for his sharp thrusts at the New England churches. His "Appeal to the People" in 1691, and other tracts were held to be so flagrantly libelous and seditious, that all his publications, his press, type, etc., were confiscated. He was imprisoned and tried before the courts; conducted his own case, and escaped by disagreement of the jury.

Being invited to establish a printing press in New York, he set up the first press in that province in 1693, and printed the laws of the colony. Aside from his ordinary printing business, he had the position of public printer, not only of New York, but of New Jersey, and for thirty years he was the only printer in the colony, and held the office of public printer for more than fifty years.

He retained an interest in the press he set up in Philadelphia until 1712, when his son, Andrew Sowles Bradford, took charge of it, and became the public printer. Mr. Bradford’s unusual vitality and vigor is indicated by the fact that when sixty-seven years old he started the New York Gazette. This was in October, 1725. The Gazette was the fourth newspaper in the colonies. Three years later (1738) he built a paper mill in Elizabethtown, NJ. He died in New York City, May 23, 1752, and was buried in Trinity churchyard.

 

— Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States, 1900 (edited)

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