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Guide to the Martha Bradstreet Papers
  MS 72

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Corey Farbstein

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 13, 2020
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Note

The Martha Bradstreet Papers, comprised mostly of correspondence and legal documentation, encompasses many of the legal suits Martha Bradstreet brought against various owners and tenants of the land that comprise a portion of Cosby Manor located in Utica, NY. Document types come in the form of letters, telegrams, wills, deeds, court attestations, affidavits and indentures.

The collection spans from 1774 to 1868 with the bulk of the correspondence from the years 1814 and 1815. The manuscripts in this collection span two continents, representing a portion of Martha Bradstreet's life in New York as well as her extended stay in England and Ireland. The bulk of the letters are addressed to either Martha Bradstreet or to her cousin John Bradstreet whom she connected with in Europe and later brought back to the United States upon her return towards the end of 1816.

Although a portion of the letters are more business-like in tone, many are personal in nature, including invitations for visits, discussions of health and the weather, and general wishes of luck with respect to Martha's endeavors in court. Martha received letters from close and distant relatives, including many of the Bradstreet clan, Charles Aldridge and H. Stratton. Many of the letters her cousin John Bradstreet received pertain to Martha's situation and case. He did, however, seem to have his own concerns and personal battles to face, mainly financial in nature, and this too is reflected in the letters both to and from John.

Both John Bradstreet and Edmond Bradstreet (they are brothers) address Martha as "Patty" in their letters to her and correspondence with others in the family. In an early letter addressed to John, dated 1814, Martha signs her name "Martha Codd." Unfortunately, there is only one example of a letter from Martha to John, this one marking the beginning of their acquaintance. It is therefore not representational of their relationship. We do not have anything sent from Martha to Edmond, and, in fact, there are very few letters in this collection personally written by Martha Bradstreet.

There is a lack of correspondence between Martha and the Gould's. Neither Charles Gould, nor Edward Gould, the executor of Martha Bradstreet's (d. 1782) will and his attorney, respectively, ever write to Martha. Martha's claim to the land was based on the fact that land that should have been passed down to her was in fact sold without her consent by an unauthorized person. This person would be Edward Gould, acting on behalf of Charles Gould. There are only two letters (dated 1815) written by John Wilkes, a partner in the firm Gould, Wilkes and Harrison, Esq., both to John Bradstreet, Martha's cousin. They merely attempt to coordinate schedules so that Mr. Wilkes could meet with Mrs. Codd (Martha).

Conversely, Martha had many copies made of letters and legal documents for use in Court. It would seem that she spent a few years in England and Ireland compiling useful legal documentation, specifically copies of wills, for her cases in New York.

There are a number of wills, deeds and court indentures which all shed light on Martha's case. The original wills date to the latter part of the 18th century, however, Martha had copies of wills made beginning in the 1810's and continuing on into the 1850s. In addition to wills there are attestations of wills, "exemplified" and "certified" copies of deeds, transfers of land as well as an 1831 New York Supreme Court decision (not in Martha's favor) with a corresponding letter.

For clarification, some items in this collection are addressed to Martha Codd while others, dated after 1817, are addressed to Martha Bradstreet. To simplify matters, the correspondence to and from both of these names are all grouped together.


The materials are arranged alphabetically or chronologically within each series unless otherwise noted.

The papers are organized into the following five series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I. Martha Bradstreet Codd Correspondence, 1812-1858
  2. Series II. John Bradstreet Correspondence,1814-1818
  3. Series III. Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1811-1817
  4. Series IV. Materials regarding lawsuits, 1774-1856
  5. Series V. Miscellaneous materials, 1815-1868