The first Bratcher that I know of to set foot on the shores of the United States was Augustine Bratcher. As you will come to see, there isnt a very good chance that our families descend from him. On the other hand its an interesting story and worth the telling.
A great migration to the new world began in the 1600s. In 1630, the Winthrop Fleet carried some 750 people from the British Isles to America. Along with the flagship, the Arbella, were the Ambrose, Talbot, Jewel, Charles, Mayflower, William and Francis, Hopewell, Whale, Success and Trial. On April 18, 1630, the first five ships set sail from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. They arrived at Salem on June 13 and the days that followed. The remainder of the fleet made the voyage between May and July.
Among the passengers of the fleet was Augustine Bratcher. Austin, as he was also known, was bound for Charlestown and the Mystic River plantation of Mathew Craddock. Evidently he was one of the many servants bound to Master Craddock and sent to New England to work the farm. By September he was dead, slain at the hand of one Walter Palmer.
On September 28, 1630 an inquest was held. At that inquest, a 15 man jury was impaneled to inquire into the death. "Austen Bratcher, dying lately at Mr. Craddocks plantation was viewed before his burial by diverse persons... We find that the strokes given by Walter Palmer were occasionally the means of death of Austen Bratcher, & so to be manslaughter."1
Ralph Sprague and John Strickland acted as bondsmen for Mr. Palmer. They accepted the grand sum of 40 pounds to ensure that Palmer would appear in court on October 19 "to answer for the death of Austen Bratcher". On that date, Mr. Palmer appeared in court and was bound over until the next court.
On November 9, a jury of 12 men including Rev. Giles Sexton heard the case. The court records show that "the jury finds Walter Palmer not guilty of manslaughter, whereof he stood indicted, & so the Court acquits him"2.
The story doesnt end there. Thomas Fox, also a servant for Mr. Craddock claimed that the Court had taken bribes in the Bratcher case. He was punished by that same court in March of 1631. On the other hand, Mr. Palmer became constable by 1633 and later served as deputy, town officer and juryman. So ends the tale of the first Bratcher to set foot in America.
1 Anderson, Robert Charles: The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633. 1995, New England Historic Genealogy Society. Vol. I. p. 217.
2 Anderson, Robert Charles: The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633. 1995, New England Historic Genealogy Society. Vol. I. p. 217.
This story written and copyrighted 1997 by Richard W. Bratcher. You may copy this story for personal use providing this statement remains in the text.