NYC - Financial District: Trinity Churchyard - William Bradford
William Bradford (May 20, 1663 – May 23, 1752) was an early colonial printer, and the head of a family that included leading publishers for 140 years. In an irony set in stone, the graver marker of the man popularly called “the father of American printing” bears a typo--Bradford was born in 1663, but his tombstone incorrectly reads 1660. The 1863 copy that replaced the weather worn original also bears the original mistake. A cemetery dictum demanded that tombstone duplications be faithful to the originals.
Born in Leicestershire, England, he came over to America in 1682 before the City of Philadelphia was laid out. In 1692 William was arrested and tried for sedition in the first case in America that raised the issue of Freedom of the Press. He printed the confessions of faith of the schismatic Quaker, George Keith, that contained material objectionable to the community leaders. He and John McComb, a taverner who distributed the paper, were briefly jailed, and his press was seized. The trial resulted in no decision, based on a split jury, but soon after release he decided to leave Philadelphia. After moving to New York in 1693, he was made the official printer for that colony. Bradford became a Trinity Vestryman in 1703, where created the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer to be printed in America in 1710. When he died at the age of 92, he was interred in the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery.
Trinity Church, prominently located at the terminus of Wall Street at 79 Broadway, is the oldest Episcopal church in New York City, having been consecrated on Ascension Day May 1, 1846. Designed by architect Richard Upjohn, Trinity is considered a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture. At the time of its completion, the 281-foot spire was the highest point in New York until being surpassed in 1890 by the New York World Building.
The adjoining Trinity Churchyard Cemetery, opened in 1697, is one of three separate burial grounds that make up the non-denominational Trinity Church Cemetery (the others being the Churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel and the Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum at the Chapel of Intercession). Among the 1,186 interred here are Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, Robert Fulton (memorial tribute), Captain James Lawrence, Horatio Gates, and Albert Gallatin. There are also memorials to the unknown martyrs of the Revolution buried on the grounds, 16 officers of the Continental Army and Navy buried in the church cemeteries, and to the thousands of Americans who died in prison ships in New York Harbor.
Trinity Church and Graveyard was designated a landmark by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966.
National Register #76001252 (1982)