Senator William Bradford (1729-1808) was a fifth-generation descendant and namesake of the famous governor of Plymouth Colony. He began his career as a surgeon, but after his arrival in Bristol in the late 1750s, Bradford left medicine and turned to a new profession in the law, and was admitted to the bar in 1767. He established a practice at Bristol. He served the town as state representative and town moderator. Bradford was speaker of the House of Representative for 18 non-consecutive terms, a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and lieutenant governor from 1775 to 1778.
Bradford served on the Committee of Safety of Bristol from 1773 to 1776 on the Committee of Correspondence for the Rhode Island colony. His home was destroyed when the British Navy bombarded Bristol on October 7, 1775. Following the destruction of his home, Bradford went on board a ship to negotiate a ceasefire.
Bradford was a leading supporter of ratification of the federal Constitution and served as U.S. Senator from March 1793 until October 1797 holding the prestigious post of senate president pro tem during the last four months of his tenure. He acquired Mount Hope Farm via confiscation from Loyalist Isaac Royall in 1783 and resided there until his death in 1808.
Originally buried in Bristol’s East Burying Ground, his grave was later moved to the Juniper Hill Cemetery. His distinguidhed Rhose Island descendants include James DeWolf Perry and LeBaron Bradford Colt.