William Bradford

Bradford, William, 1663–1752, British pioneer printer in the American colonies. Born in Leicestershire, England, he served an apprenticeship under a London printer before emigrating in 1685 to Philadelphia, where he set up the first press. He added a bookstore in 1688 and was in 1690 one of the founders of the first paper mill in the colonies. He was arrested for printing a pamphlet critical of the Quaker government; his trial, at which no verdict was reached, was probably the first in the United States involving freedom of the press. Bradford moved (c.1693) to New York City where he became royal printer and issued some 400 items in the next 50 years, including the first American Book of Common Prayer (1710), some of the earliest of American almanacs and many pamphlets and political writings. In 1725 he began publication of the royalist New York Gazette, the first New York newspaper. Many of his descendants, including Andrew Bradford and William Bradford, became printers.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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