William Brewster (pilgrim)

William Brewster (pilgrim)

Infobox musical artist
Name = William Brewster

Img_capt = An imaginary likeness of William Brewster. There is no known portrait of him from life.
Landscape = yes
Birth_name = William Brewster
Father = William Brewster
Mother = Mary Smythe
Born = c. 1560 in Scrooby, England
Died = 10 April 1644 in Duxbury, Massachusetts
Elder William Brewster (c. 1566 - April 10, 1644), was a Pilgrim colonist leader and preacher who came from Scrooby, in north Nottinghamshire and reached what became the Plymouth Colony in the "Mayflower" in 1620. He was accompanied by his wife, Mary Brewster, and his sons, Love Brewster and Wrestling Brewster. Son Jonathan joined the family in November 1621, arriving at Plymouth on the ship "Fortune", and daughters Patience and Fear arrived in July 1623 aboard the "Anne".



He was the son of William Brewster and Mary Smyth and he had a number of half-siblings. His paternal grandparents were William Brewster and Maud Mann. His maternal grandfather was Thomas Smyth. Brewster may have been born in Doncaster.

Scrooby Manor was in the possession of the Archbishops of York. Brewster's father, William senior, had been the estate bailiff for the archbishop for thirty-one years from around 1580. With this post went that of postmaster, which was a more important one than it might have been in a village not situated on the Great North Road, as Scrooby was then.

William Junior studied briefly at Peterhouse, Cambridge before entering the service of William Davidson in 1584. In 1585, Davidson went to the Netherlands to negotiate an alliance with the States-General. In 1586, Davidson was appointed assistant to Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State Francis Walsingham, but in 1587 Davidson lost the favour of Elizabeth, after the beheading of her cousin (once removed) Mary, Queen of Scots.


Cambridge was a centre of thought concerning religious reformism, but Brewster's time in the Netherlands, in connection with Davidson's work, gave him opportunity to hear and see more of reformed religion. While, earlier in the sixteenth century, reformers had hoped to amend the Anglican church, by the end of it, many were looking toward splitting from it. (See Brownist).

On Davidson's disgrace, Brewster returned to Scrooby. There, from 1590 to 1607, he held the position of postmaster. As such he was responsible for the provision of stage horses for the mails, having previously, for a short time, assisted his father in that office. By the 1590s, Brewster's brother, James, was a rather rebellious Anglican priest, vicar of the parish of Sutton "cum" Lound, in Nottinghamshire. From 1594, it fell to James to appoint curates to Scrooby church so that Brewster, James and leading members of the Scrooby congregation were brought before the ecclesiastical court for their dissent. They were set on a path of separation from the Anglican Church. From about 1602, Scrooby Manor, Brewster's home, became a meeting place for the dissenting Puritans. In 1606, they formed the Separatist Church of Scrooby.


Restrictions and pressures applied by the authorities convinced the congregation of a need to emigrate to the more sympathetic atmosphere of Holland, but leaving England without permission was illegal at the time, so that departure was a complex matter. On its first attempt, in 1607, the group was arrested at Scotia Creek, but in 1608 Brewster and others were successful in leaving from The Humber. In 1609, he was selected as ruling elder of the congregation.

Initially, the Pilgrams settled in Amsterdam, and worshipped with the Ancient Church of Francis Johsonson and Henry Ainsworth. Offput by the bickering between the two, though (which ultimately resulted in a division of the Church), the Pilgrams left Amsterdam and moved to Leiden, after only a year.

In Leiden, the group managed to make a living. Brewster taught English and later, in 1616-1619, printed and published religious books for sale in England though they were proscribed there, as the partner of one Thomas Brewer. In 1619, the printing type was seized by the authorities under pressure from the English ambassador Sir Dudley Carleton and Brewster's partner was arrested. Brewster escaped and, with the help of Robert Cushman, obtained a land patent from the London Virginia Company on behalf of himself and his colleagues.

In 1620 he joined the first group of Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower on the voyage to North America. When the colonists landed at Plymouth, Brewster became the senior elder of the colony, serving as its religious leader and as an advisor to Governor William Bradford.

As the only university educated member of the colony, Brewster took the part of the colony's religious leader until a pastor, Ralph Smith, arrived in 1629. Thereafter, he continued to preach irregularly until his death in April 1644.

Brewster was granted land amongst the islands of Boston Harbor, and four of the outer islands (Great Brewster, Little Brewster, Middle Brewster and Outer Brewster) now bear his name.cite web| title = Calf Island Factsheet | url = http://www.bostonislands.org/factsheet_template.asp?rsIslands__MMColParam=calf | publisher = Boston Harbor Islands Partnership | accessmonthday = August 11 | accessyear = 2006] cite web| title = Islands You Can Visit - Great Brewster Island | url = http://www.bostonislands.org/isle_greatbrewster.html | publisher = Boston Harbor Islands Partnership | accessmonthday = August 3 | accessyear = 2006]


William Brewster married Mary, whose maiden name is unknown. During much of the 20th century she was thought to be the daughter of Thomas Wentworth, however there is no compelling evidence to support this. More recent speculation suggests her maiden name was Wyrall, but again the evidence is weak at best.cite book | last = Stratton | first = Eugene Aubrey | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Plymouth Colony: Its History & People | publisher = Ancestry Publishing | date = 1986 | location = Salt Lake City, Utah | pages = 250-2551 | isbn = 0-916489-18-3]

The children of William and Mary were:
* Elder Jonathan Brewster (August 12, 1593 - August 7, 1659) married Lucretia Oldham of Derby on 10 April 1624, [http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Fields/5576/brewster.html BREWSTER Family Tree] eight children: [ [http://home.earthlink.net/~djaness/d17.htm#P2394 Jonathan BREWSTER] ]
**William, born 9 March 1625
**Mary Brewster, born 16 April 1627
**Jonathan, born 17 July 1629
**Ruth Brewster, born 3 October 1631
**Benjamin Brewster (17 November 1633 - 14 September 1710)
**Elizabeth Brewster, born 1 May 1637
**Grace Brewster (1 November 1639 - 22 April 1684)
**Hannah Brewster, born 3 November 1641
* Patience Brewster (c. 1600 - December 12, 1634) married Thomas Prence of Lechlade, Gloucestershire, 4 children
* Fear Brewster (c. 1606 - before 1634) so called because she was born at the height of the puritans' persecution. Married Isaac Allerton of London, 2 children.
* Unnamed son (born and died 1609)
* Love Brewster (c. 1611 - c. 1650) came over on the "Mayflower" married Sarah Collier of London, 4 children
* Wrestling Brewster (c. 1614 - between 1627 and 1644)
* (possibly) Captain Edward Brewster - traveled to Virginia with Thomas West, Lord Delaware.

Seth MacFarlane, creator of "Family Guy" is one of his descendants through Jonathan Brewster. [ [http://www.wargs.com/other/macfarlane.html Ancestry of Seth MacFarlane] ]


pecific references

General references

#Dowsing, J. "Places of the Pilgrim Fathers" Sunrise Press, London.
#"Encyclopædia Britannica". (1960)

See Ashbel Steele's "Chief of the Pilgrims; or the Life and Time of William Brewster" (Philadelphia, 1857); and, most importantly, a sketch in "Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647" by William Bradford; the complete text, with notes and an introduction by Samuel Eliot Morison (1952; 2001).

More recent sources are:

* 'Brewster, William' in the "American National Biography" (2000) and the "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography" (2004).
* Mary B. Sherwood, "Pilgrim: A Biography of William Brewster" (1982)
* Richard Greaves and Robert Zaller, eds. "Biographical Dictionary of British Radicals in the Seveneeth Century" (1982)
* Dorothy Brewster, "William Brewster of the Mayflower" (1970)

Genealogical information may be found in:

* Emma Brewster Jones, "The Brewster Genealogy, 1566-1907", Two volumes (1907)
* Barbara Lambert Merrick, compiler, "William Brewster of the Mayflower and His Descendants for Four Generations" Mayflower Families in Progress. 3rd Edition (2000)
* Barbara Lambert Merrick, compiler, "William Brewster of the Mayflower and the Fifth Generation Descendants of his son Love2". Mayflower Families in Progress. (2003)

External links

* [http://www.brewsterfamily.org The Elder William Brewster Society, A Pilgrim Lineage Society]

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