Martha Bradstreet Family Papers
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Martha Bradstreet was born in 1780 on the island of Antigua to Major Samuel Bradstreet and Mary Cook. Major Bradstreet was the stepson of British colonial general John Bradstreet (1711-1774) and was then stationed in the West Indies with the 40th Regiment of Foot, an infantry regiment of the British Army raised in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. When her father died shortly before her birth, Bradstreet's mother took her and her brother, Samuel, back to England and Ireland, where they were raised with support from other members of the Bradstreet and Livius families, including Bradstreet's aunt and namesake, Martha Bradstreet.
In 1799, Martha Bradstreet (1780-1871) immigrated to the United States and married the Irish-born Matthew Codd, with whom she had five children, Elizabeth Catherine (later Bennett), Sarah Mary Anne (later Sterling), Eleanor Cloney, John Bradstreet, and Edward Livius. She divorced Codd in 1816, and through acts in the New York State Assembly, she regained her birth name in 1817 and applied the surname of Bradstreet to her children in 1818.
Martha Bradstreet inherited various portions of land in Oneida, Herkimer, and Delaware Counties, New York, by way of John Bradstreet, down through various family members, including her aunt Martha Bradstreet, Agatha Bradstreet Evans and Charles John Evans, Elizabeth and Peter Livius, and her father, Samuel Bradstreet. In 1801, she brought a suit against New York City merchant Edward Goold, who was the executor of her inheritance, for selling land without her consent. This began a fifty-year legal fight to reclaim various tracts of land in upstate New York, during which Bradstreet often represented herself in court. In 1831, the United States Supreme Court denied her claim to land in Cosby's Manor, a tract of land in and around Utica, New York. Despite this loss, Bradstreet continued to pursue her land claims in communities throughout the Mohawk River Valley until her death in 1871 in Bennettsville, New York.
Consists of a collection of correspondence, writings, legal documents, and genealogical papers belonging to Martha Bradstreet (1780-1871) of Bennettsville, New York, the step-granddaughter of Major General John Bradstreet (1711-1774) who fought legal battles surrounding her land claims in Oneida, Herkimer, and Delaware Counties, New York, for much of the 19th century.
Correspondence includes fourteen pages of copied letters from 1780 and five autograph letters dating from 1780 to 1794, which were exchanged between three of Martha Bradstreet's aunts and relate to John Bradstreet, as well as the family's efforts to care for Martha Bradstreet and her mother and brother following her father's death. Among the copied letters are detailed accounts by Elizabeth and Peter Livius (Chief Justice of Quebec) that describe "the fearful termination" of their "intended voyage to Quebec," due to a massive storm that resulted in "the wreck and total loss of the Royal Yacht, the Worseley" off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. There are also twenty-four family letters dating from 1848 to 1869, which are largely exchanged between Phebe Bradstreet and her family, including her husband Edward L. Bradstreet (Martha Bradstreet's son) and two daughters, Martha Northrup and Flavilla Humphrey.
Of note are several dozen legal documents and letters relating to Martha Bradstreet's legal claims and associated legal activities to regain title to land throughout the Mohawk River Valley in upstate New York that she had inherited from the estates of John Bradstreet and his wife Mary Aldridge. There are also two brief drafts of an outline and chapter of Martha Bradstreet's memoir, genealogical and historical materials relating to the Bradstreet, Livius, and Cook families, and two paintings of the Bradstreet Family Coat of Arms.
Materials were maintained in the original groupings in which they were received.
Purchased from Between the Covers Rare Books in January 2020 (AM 2020-53).
This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in January 2020. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in February 2020.
No materials were removed from the collection during 2020 processing.
- Women -- New York (State) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
- Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States -- 19th century
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Kelly Bolding
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
Drafts related to her memoir titled "Retrospection or What is She?," consisting of a 3-page synopsis covering the years of her life from 1780 to 1789 and a 2-page draft of the first chapter titled "A Birthday."Physical Description
Manuscript copies.Physical Description
Correspondents include Edward L. Bradstreet, Augusta Niles, A.J.C. Edwards, Julia A. Crandall, and Flavilla Humphrey.Physical Description
Includes several historical, genealogical, and biographical documents about General John Bradstreet, genealogical accounts of Peter Livius and other Livius family members, two letters from 1867 written by Martin Scott to Martha Bradstreet regarding the Bradstreet and Scott families, and three letters from 1875-1880 written by E. P. Bradstreet to Edward L. Bradstreet.Physical Description
Consists of several dozen legal documents and associated letters and memoranda related to Martha Bradstreet's legal claims to land formerly owned by Major General John Bradstreet. Includes historical estate records, court cases, and claims taken up by Bradstreet's son Edward L. Bradstreet.Physical Description