« PreviousContinue »
Memorial, first published in 1669; and subsequently by Prince and Hutchinson. In the Preface to the first volume of his Annals, 1736, Prince cites, as one of his manuscript authorities, "Governor Bradford's History of Plymouth People and Colony, from 1602 to the end of 1646, in 270 pages, with some account, at the end, of the increase of those who came over with him, from 1620 to 1650, and all in his own handwriting." Governor Hutchinson, in his second volume, first published in 1767, is one of the last, if not the very last, who has made use of this manuscript. From that time nothing, until recently, has been heard of this volume. While in the possession of Prince, who died in 1758, it was deposited in the New England Library, in the tower of the Old South Church, where he kept his choice historical treasures, and where it may have reposed at the time of the siege of Boston, when that church was used for a riding-school by the British soldiers. Among these treasures was Governor Bradford's Letter-Book. This was carried to Nova Scotia, and a large portion of it destroyed; but the remainder was rescued from a grocer's shop in Halifax some time afterwards, by James Clark, Esq., a Corresponding Member of this Society, and was printed in the third volume of its Collections. It was supposed that Bradford's History shared the fate of other documents that were at that time destroyed or carried away. It had long been given up as lost.
The late Dr. Young was attracted by a narrative in the handwriting of Secretary Morton, in the Records of the First Church at Plymouth, which, on comparing it with the extracts in Hutchinson and Prince, he recognized as a portion of the History of Governor Bradford. This portion, the most of which had been previously printed by Hazard as a work of Morton, and which comes down only to the year 1620, Dr. Young published in the Chronicles of the Pilgrims, in 1841.
Thus matters stood until about a year since as regards this long-lost manuscript. On the 17th day of February, 1855, the Rev. John S. Barry, who was at that time engaged in writing the first volume of his History of Massachusetts, since published, called upon me, and stated that he believed he had made an important discovery; it being no less than Governor Bradford's manuscript History. He then took from his pocket a duodecimo volume, entitled "A History of the Protestant Episcopal · Church in America, by Samuel, Lord Bishop of Oxford. Second edition. London, 1846," which a few days before had been lent to him by a friend, and pointed out certain passages in the text, which any one familiar with them would at once recognize as the language of Bradford, as cited by Morton and Prince; but which the author of the volume, in his foot-notes, referred to a "MS. History of the Plantation of Plymouth, &c., in the Fulham Library." There were other passages in the volume, not recognized as having before been printed, which were referred to the same source. I fully concurred with Mr. Barry in the opinion that this Fulham manuscript could be no other than Bradford's History, either the original or a copy, the whole or a part; and that measures should at once be taken to cause an examination of it to be made.*
Enjoying the privilege of an occasional correspondence with the Rev. Joseph Hunter, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and a Corresponding Member of our Society, who has taken a great interest in the early history of the Pilgrims, and has made valuable contributions thereto, -with the concurrence of Mr. Barry, I addressed him a note on the very day above named, calling his attention to the extracts, and the ref
Mr. Barry stated to me, at the same time, that he had called the attention of our mutual friend, Dr. N. B. Shurtleff, to these references; and that he concurred in his views respecting them.
erence made by the Bishop of Oxford, and requesting of him the favor to ascertain what this Fulham manuscript was; and, if it proved what we hoped it was, to have a copy taken for publication in the Collections of this Society, the next volume of which would come principally under my charge, as chairman of the Publishing Committee. This note, in which was enclosed an original letter of Governor Bradford, as a means of verification of the manuscript, was sent by the steamer of the 21st of February from New York.
Mr. Hunter immediately responded to the call made upon him, and the result may be seen in the following letters.
TO CHARLES DEANE, ESQ., Boston.
Not having the honor of being acquainted with the Bishop of London, I applied to the Bishop of Oxford immediately on the receipt of your letter, who assured me that he was confident the Bishop of London would allow me to make the examination you had requested, and who very kindly undertook to introduce the subject himself to his Lordship.
This cleared the way, and I addressed a letter to the Bishop of London, explaining to his Lordship what it was that the Massachusetts Historical Society had applied to me to perform for them, (or rather what I was requested to do on behalf of the Society,) namely, to ascertain whether the Fulham manuscript were indeed Bradford's original, in his own handwriting, and, more generally, what is the true nature and character of the manuscript.
To this I received an immediate reply on Friday last, in which the Bishop assures me that every facility shall be afforded me for the examination of the manuscript, and that he will bring it to town when first he goes to
Fulham, and give me notice accordingly. You are probably aware that Fulham is several miles distant from London.*
I thought it right at the same time to apprise his Lordship that the granting this favor might possibly draw on another request, namely, that he would permit an exact copy to be made of it, for the purpose of being introduced among the Transactions of the Society. Should this request be presented to him, it will impose more inconvenience upon the Bishop than the mere inspection and comparison, which I could do in a single morning, unless he should be disposed to intrust the manuscript to my care, when I should find no difficulty, or very little, in having a transcript made of it. If, after the report which I shall make of it, a transcript shall be called for, I think there ought to be a formal application from the Council of the Society, expressing this their desire to the Bishop, which I would undertake to present to him.
I shall be in daily expectation of hearing that the manuscript has been brought to London House, though I can easily excuse any delay, conceiving that at this season of the year, when Parliament is sitting and there is so much other public business requiring his attention, the visits of the Bishop to Fulham may not be very frequent.
I am, dear Sir, your very faithful servant,
TO CHARLES DEANE, ESQ.
30 Torrington Square, March 19, 1855.
The Bishop of London, with his accustomed prompti
The village of Fulham is situated on the banks of the Thames, at a distance of four miles from Hyde-Park Corner. The manor of Fulham belonged to the see of London a considerable time before the Conquest, and has since been in the uninterrupted possession of the Bishops of London, except during the interregnum in the seventeenth century; the manor-house, or palace, being their principal summer residence. The library, Mr. Hunter writes, is a very valuable one. The room is forty-eight feet in length, and contains many of the portraits of the Bishops of London, beginning with Tunstall. See a full and interesting description of Fulham in Lyson's Environs of London, 2d ed., II. 224-276.
tude, brought the manuscript to town in the course of last week, and on Friday I had the opportunity of inspecting it at his Lordship's house in St. James's Square.
But his Lordship added much to this favor, by assuring me that I was at perfect liberty to take it home, and to make whatever extracts from it I pleased, or to copy the whole. So that all difficulties of that kind are removed, and the Society is perfectly at liberty to have a copy made for its use, from which they may print, if they think it expedient to do so.
There is not the slightest doubt that the manuscript is Governor Bradford's own autograph. Not only is there a sufficient degree of correspondence between the handwriting of the manuscript and that of the letter which you transmitted to me, but there is the attestation of one of the family, written in 1705, stating that it was given by the Governor to his son, Major William Bradford, and by him to his son, Major John Bradford. There is also, in the handwriting of Prince, a memorandum, dated June 4, 1728, showing how he obtained it from Major John Bradford. It also appears to have been in the New England Library. And finally, the written pages are 270, the number named by Prince, and subsequently by Dr. Young, as the number of pages in the long-lost volume. . . .
It now remains for the Historical Society to determine whether they will have a fair and exact copy made of it. I have spoken to a gentleman who would undertake to do it, and who would execute it in a scholar-like and business-like manner. I cannot undertake to do much myself in the labor of transcribing or correcting, though I should have no objection to giving a little attention and supervison as the work is in progress.
As it seems to be your wish that no time should be lost, and as I should myself be glad to be relieved from the care of so precious a volume, and to restore it to the Bishop's library, it would be well if instructions were