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Collection Overview

Bradstreet, Martha, 1780-
Princeton University. Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
Martha Bradstreet Family Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box B-001457


Consists of a collection of correspondence, writings, legal documents, and genealogical papers belonging to Martha Bradstreet (1780-1871) of Bennettsville, New York. Bradstreet inherited land in Oneida, Herkimer, and Delaware Counties, New York, through her step-grandfather, Major General John Bradstreet (1711-1774), and fought legal battles surrounding her land claims for much of the 19th century.

Collection Description & Creator Information


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.

Collection Creator Biography:

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.

Collection History


Purchased from Between the Covers Rare Books in January 2020 (AM 2020-53).

Archival Appraisal Information:

No materials were removed from the collection during 2020 processing.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in January 2020. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in February 2020.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

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.

Credit this material:

Martha Bradstreet Family Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184