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Leadership in Plymouth Colony

"Their government is after the English form. The Governor has his Council, which is chosen every year by the entire community, by election."

- Isaack de Rasieres, 1628

Church and state were governed separately in Plymouth Colony. The Governor and his Assistants, presided over the General Court. Originally, the Court consisted of the "freemen," who voted on laws and tried court cases. After 1639 each town sent representatives to the Court.

WILLIAM BRADFORD
1590-1657


William Bradford
by Cyrus Dallin

William Bradford, born in Austerfield in 1590, joined the original Scrooby congregation as a teenager. After spending 12 years in Holland with the Separatist community, he sailed to America on the Mayflower.

In 1621, Bradford was elected Governor of Plymouth Colony. He held that position for most of the remaining 36 years of his life. Bradford's wisdom, stamina and vision were large factors in the success of the Colony.

Bradford was Plymouth Colony's historian. His manuscript, "Of Plymouth Plantation," is the most complete authority for the story of the Pilgrims and the early years of the Colony.

Click here for more information about William Bradford

GOVERNORS OF PLYMOUTH COLONY
     
1620
1621-1632
1633
1634
1635
1636
1637
1638
1639-1643
1644
1645-1656
1657-1672
1673-1679
1680-1692
  John Carver
William Bradford
Edward Winslow
Thomas Prence
William Bradford
Edward Winslow
William Bradford
Thomas Prence
William Bradford
Edward Winslow
William Bradford
Thomas Prence
Josiah Winslow
Thomas Hinckley
     
NATIVE LEADERS
WAMPANOAG        
Pokanoket   to 1660   Massasoit
    1660-1662   Wamsutta (Alexander)
    1660-1676   Metacom (Philip)
         
Namasket   died 1676   Tispaquin
         
Pokasset   1670s   Weetamo
         
Aquinnah (Gay Head)   died 1683   Iyanough
         
Nauset   died 1623   Mittark
         
NARRAGANSETT   1615-1647   Canonicus
    died 1643   Miantonomo
         
MASSACHUSETT   died 1633   Chikataubut
    after 1633   Josiah Wampatuck

Religious matters were the responsibility of the church leaders. The Plymouth church had no regular minister until the 1630s. In the early years, Elder William Brewster led the church.

Click here for information on Elder William Brewster.

Click here for information on Deacon Samuel Fuller.


Detail (William Brewster) from
The First Thanksgiving by Jennie A. Brownscombe

The military muster was supervised by Captain Myles Standish. Every able-bodied man between 16 and 60 was required to serve in the militia. Although Plymouth had a treaty with several Wampanoag communities, the Narragansett and the Massachusett were still threats.

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Pilgrim Hall Museum
75 Court St, Plymouth, MA 02360 | Phone (508) 746-1620