William Brewster (Mayflower passenger)
An imaginary likeness of William Brewster. There is no known portrait of him from life.
|Died||10 April 1644 (age 76)
|Occupation||Postmaster and English Teacher of Scrooby, Preacher of Plymouth|
Patience Brewster Prence
Fear Brewster Allerton
Life in England
William Brewster was most probably born in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England, about 1566, and died at Plymouth, Massachusetts on 10 April 1644. He was the son of William Brewster and Mary (Smythe) (Simkinson) and he had a number of half-siblings. His paternal grandparents were William Brewster (1510–1558), and Maud Mann (1513–1558). His maternal grandfather was William Smythe (1505–1560).
He studied briefly at Peterhouse, Cambridge before entering the service of William Davison in 1584. Brewster was the only Pilgrim with political and diplomatic experience. With his mentor in prison, Brewster had returned home to Scrooby for a time, where he took up his father’s former position as postmaster. Cambridge was a centre of thought concerning religious reformism, but Brewster had spent time in the Netherlands in connection with Davison's work, giving him opportunity to hear and see more of reformed religion. While, earlier in the 16th century, reformers had hoped to amend the Anglican church, by the end of it, many were looking toward splitting from it. (See Brownist.)
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.
Life in Holland
William lived near Pieterskerk (St Peter’s church] with his wife and children. He taught English to Leiden University students and was also a printer of religious pamphlets. His son, Jonathan, was a ribbonweaver. William was chosen as assistant and later as an elder to Pastor John Robinson. He was still an elder when he travelled to Plymouth Colony in 1620.
In Leiden, the group managed to make a living. Brewster taught English and later, in 1616–1619, as the partner of one Thomas Brewer, printed and published religious books for sale in England, though they were proscribed there. In 1619, Brewster and Edward Winslow published a religious tract critical of the English king and his bishops. James ordered Brewster’s arrest, and when the king’s agents in Holland came to seize the Pilgrim elder, Brewster was forced into hiding just as preparations to depart for America entered the most critical phase. The printing type was seized by the authorities from the English ambassador, Sir Dudley Carleton, and Brewster's partner was arrested. Brewster escaped and, with the help of Robert Cushman and Sir Edwin Sandys, obtained a land patent from the London Virginia Company on behalf of himself and his colleagues.
With Brewster in hiding, the Separatists looked to their deacon John Carver and to Robert Cushman to carry on negotiations with the appropriate officials in London. In 1620 when it came time for the Mayflower departure, Elder Brewster returned to the Leiden congregation. He had been hiding out in Holland and perhaps even England for the last year. At the time of his return, Brewster was the highest-ranking layperson of the congregation and would be their designated spiritual leader in the New World.
Brewster joined the first group of Separatists aboard the Mayflower on the voyage to North America. Brewster was accompanied by his wife, Mary Brewster, and his sons: Love Brewster and Wrestling Brewster.
Among children boarding the Mayflower were four children from Shipton in Shropshire placed as indentured servants with senior Separatists with William Brewster, John Carver and Robert Cushman, on behalf of Samuel More, husband of the children’s mother Katherine More. The children were placed without their mother’s permission after four rancorous years between the More adults over charges of adultery against Katherine More with her longtime lover, the children’s alleged father. Two children were placed with William and Mary Brewster – Mary More, age four and Richard More, age five. Mary was to die in the winter of 1620 as did two other siblings. Only Richard survived and lived with them until approximately 1627. The event has become a bizarre 17th century historic incident. It is not known what Brewster knew about the More children.
The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England on 6/16 September 1620. The small, 100-foot ship had 102 passengers and a crew of about 30–40 in extremely cramped conditions. By the second month out the ship was buffeted by strong westerly gales. The ship‘s timbers were badly shaken with caulking failing to keep out sea water. Passengers laid wet and ill even when in their berths. This, combined with a poor rations and unsanitary conditions for several months attributed to what would be fatal for many, especially the majority of women and children. On the journey there were two deaths, a crew member and a passenger. The worst was yet to come after arriving at their destination. In the space of several months almost half the passengers perished in the cold, harsh, unfamiliar New England winter.
On 9/19 November 1620, after about 3 months at sea, including a month of delays in England, they spotted land, which was the Cape Cod Hook, now called Provincetown Harbor. After several days of trying to get south to their planned destination of the Colony of Virginia, strong winter seas forced them to return to the harbor at Cape Cod hook, where they anchored on 11/21 November. The Mayflower Compact was signed that day.
Landing and life in the New World
When the colonists landed at Plymouth Colony, Brewster became the senior elder of the colony, serving as its religious leader and as an adviser to Governor William Bradford. Brewster's 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.
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. “He was tenderhearted and compassionate of such as were in misery,” Bradford write, “but especially of such as had been of good estate and rank and fallen unto want and poverty.” 
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. In 1632, Brewster received lands in nearby Duxbury and removed from Plymouth to create a farm there.
In 1634, smallpox and influenza ravaged both the English and the Indians in the region. William Brewster, whose family had managed to survive the first terrible winter unscathed, lost two daughters, Fear and Patience, now married to Isaac Allerton and Thomas Prence, respectively.
William Brewster died and was buried on 10 April 1644 at Burial Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts. At present, a gravestone/memorial stone exists there for him. The memorial stone states that it is in honor of "Elder William Brewster Patriarch of the Pilgrims and their Ruling Elder 1609–1644". The burial place of his wife Mary "Mayflower", who died in 1627, is unknown."
Sometime before 1593, in England, William Brewster married Mary "Mayflower" Wentworth, daughter of Thomas Wentworth, Esquire (1522–1574), and Grace Gascoigne (1532–1574). She was born in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England in 1569. She 'dyed at Plymouth, Massachusetts on 17 April 1627.' (Brewster Book).* Bradford says that, though she died ' long before' her husband, 'yet she dyed aged,' but by her affidavit of 1609 she was less than sixty years of age and it is probable that her ' great & continuall labours, with others crosses, and sorrows, hastened it (t. a. old age) before y* time.'
The children of William and Mary were:
- Jonathan Brewster (12 August 1593 – 7 August 1659) married Lucretia Oldham of Derby on 10 April 1624, and were the parents of eight children.
- Patience Brewster (c. 1600 – 12 December 1634) married Gov. 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 child was born, died and buried in 1609 in Leiden, Holland.
- Love Brewster was born in Leiden, Holland about 1611 and died between 6 October 1650 and 31 January 1650/1, at Duxbury, Massachusetts. At the age of about 9, he travelled with his father, mother and brother, Wrestling, on the Mayflower to Plymouth, Massachusetts. He married Sarah Collier in Plymouth, Massachusetts on 15 May 1634. Love and Sarah were the parents of 4 children.
- Wrestling Brewster was born in 1614 in Leiden, Holland; was living in 1627, died unmarried before the 1644 settlement of his father's estate.
Places and things named after Brewster
- Great Brewster Island
- Little Brewster Island
- Middle Brewster Island
- Outer Brewster Island
- Brewster, Massachusetts
- Brewster Gardens
- Brewster Chair
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 46
- Barbara Lambert Merrick, William Brewster of the Mayflower and His Descendants for Four Generations Barbara Lambert Merrick, compiler, (Published by General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Revised 3rd Edition. 2000), pp. 1–5
- A genealogical profile of William Brewster, (a collaboration between Plymouth Plantation and New England Historic Genealogical Society)
- Venn, J.; Venn, J. A., eds. (1922–1958). "Brewster, William". Alumni Cantabrigienses (10 vols) (online ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Nathaniel Philbrick Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 18
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), pp. 13 and 16–17
- Wallace Nutting (1921). Furniture of the Pilgrim century: 1620–1720, including colonial utensils and hardware. Marshall Jones Company. p. 182.
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 16-18
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 19
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 25
- David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (St. Martins Press, New York, 2002) p. 31
- Donald F. Harris, PhD., the Mayflower Descendant (July 1994) vol. 44 no. 2 pps. 112–114.
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620–1691, (Ancestry Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, 1986) p. 413
- George Ernest Bowman, The Mayflower Compact and its signers, (Boston: Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1920). Photocopies of the 1622, 1646 and 1669 versions of the document pp. 7–19.
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 125
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 18
- Steele, 353
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 172
- (William Brewster)
- Merrick, 1
- Merrick, 2
- Merrick, 3
- Merrick, 4
- Merrick, 5
- Jones, 5
- Jones, 11
- Jones, 12
- Jones, 13
- Jones, 14
- Merrick, 14
- Merrick, 15
- Jones, 38
- Merrick, 30
- Merrick, 31
- Merrick, 32
- Merrick, 33
- Merrick, 34
- Merrick, 35
- Cottrell, Robert C. (2010). "Roger Baldwin: Founder, American Civil Liberties Union 1884–1981". Harvard Square Library. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
- Cottrell, pp. 1–12
- Roberts, p. 649
- Jones, 766
- Jones, 767
- Jones, 768
- Johnson, Caleb (2007). "Famous Descendants of Mayflower Passengers – Mayflower Ancestry of Lindy Boggs". Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Wright, 34
- Jones, 781
- Jones, 782
- Jones, 351
- Jones, 352
- Jones, 353
- Jones, 625
- Jones, 626
- Jones, 1064
- Jones, 627
- Jones, 1065
- “You're the top! You're a Brewster body.” With that phrase, songwriter – and Brewster auto owner – Cole Porter immortalized the New York City coachbuilder in his hit musical “Anything Goes” in the song "You're the Top".
- Jones, 120
- James Brewster & Mary Hequembourg; Joseph Brewster & Hannah Tucker; Simon Brewster & Anne Andrus; Benjamin Brewster & Elizabeth Witter; Ebenezer Brewster and Susanna Smith; Daniel, Benjamin, Jonathan, William of the Mayflower.
- Jones, 521
- Jones, 235
- Jones, p. 189
- "Jordana Brewster profile". E! Online. Retrieved 26 April 2007.
- Kabaservice, 16
- Obituary: "Kingman Brewster, Jr." New York Times. 9 November 1988.
- Jones, 143
- Jones, 144
- Jones, 280
- Ralph Owen Brewster, William Edmund Brewster, Abiatha, Morgan, William, Icabod, William, William, Love, William, of the Mayflower.
- Fitch, 10
- Giddins, 24
- Edith L. Blumhofer, Her Heart Can See: The life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005):11.
- Reitwiesner, William Addams (2007). "Ancestry of Ted Danson".
- Reitwiesner, William Addams (2007). "Ancestry of George W. Bush". Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Jones, p. 16
- Roberts, p. 668
- Cardinal Dulles gives farewell speech as Fordham's McGinley professor
- Roberts, Gary Boyd. "The New England Ancestry of Actor Richard (Tiffany) Gere". New England Historic Genealogical Society. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Katherine Houghton Hepburn, Katherine Martha "Kit" Houghton, Caroline "Carrie" Garlinghouse, Martha Ann Spalding, Erastus Lyman Spalding, Mary Witter m Oliver Spaulding, Hannah Freeman, Hannah Brewster, Daniel, Benjamin, Jonathan, William of the Mayflower.
- Doris Batcheller Humphrey, Horace Buckingham Humphrey, Simon James Humphrey, Rebecca Brewster Humphrey, Simon Brewster, Jr., Simon Brewster, Sr., Benjamin, William, Love, William of the Mayflower.
- Jones, 784
- Fleury, Melanie (2011). "Ashley Judd's Ancestors are Found on 'Who Do You Think You Are?'". Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
- Jones, 274
- Jones, 620
- Jones, 621
- Newport Historical Society, 24
- Jones, 21
- Hughes, 150
- The Mayflower Quarterly, Vol. 64, General Society of Mayflower Descendants: 1998 (quarterly journal).
- Jones, 32
- Longfellow, 1
- Child, Christopher Challender (2007). "Ancestry of Seth MacFarlane". Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Jones, 16
- Jones, 19
- Jones, 20
- General George B. McClellan, George B. McClellan, James McClellan m. Eunice Eldredge, James Eldredge, Charles Eldredge m. Mary Starr, Jonathan Starr, Samuel Starr m. Hannah Brewster, Jonathan, William, of the Mayflower.
- Markham Playground Highlights : NYC Parks
- Battle, Robert (2008). "Ancestry of Sarah Palin". Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Jones, 15
- James Leonard Plimpton, Sarah Turner Lane, Lucy Stetson, Mercy Turner, Benjamin Turner, Benjamin Turner, Mary Brewster, Jonathan Brewster, William of the Mayflower.
- Roberts, Gary Boyd (2000). "The Ancestry of Novelist Thomas Pynchon". Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Johnson, Caleb (2007). "Famous Descendants of Mayflower Passengers – Mayflower Ancestry of Cokie Roberts". Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Jones, 900
- Jones, 901
- Jones, 984
- Rader, Dotson (23 November 1997). "Let Yourself Feel It All". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- Jones, 341
- Tinsley E. Yarbrough (22 September 2005). David Hackett Souter:Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court: Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court. Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-19-515933-2.
- Roberts, Gary Boyd. "The New England Ancestry of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.". New England Historic Genealogical Society. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Jones, 251
- Jones, 252
- Jones, 253
- Roberts, 9
- Johnson, Caleb (2007). "Famous Descendants of Mayflower Passengers – Mayflower Ancestry of Zachary Taylor". Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Roberts, Gary Boyd. "The New England Ancestry of Sewall Green Wright.". New England Historic Genealogical Society. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Sewall Green Wright, Philip Green Wright, Mary Clark Green, Rev. Beriah Green, Elizabeth Smith, Hannah Witter, Hannah Freeman, Hannah Brewster, Daniel, Benjamin, Jonathan, William of the Mayflower.
- Philip Green Wright
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Brewster, William". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Daniel S. Burt (2004). The Chronology of American Literature: America's Literary Achievements from the Colonial Era to Modern Times. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-618-16821-7.
- Robert C. Cottrell (2000). Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union. ISBN 978-0-231-11972-6.
- Fitch, Noel Riley. Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child; New York: Doubleday, 1999.
- Gary Giddins (8 October 2002). Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams – The Early Years 1903 – 1940. Back Bay Books. ISBN 978-0-316-88645-1.
- Hughes, Thomas Patrick. American ancestry: giving the name and descent, in the male line, of Americans whose ancestors settled in the United States previous to the Declaration of independence, A.D. 1776, Volume 11; Publisher J. Munsell's sons, 1898
- Jones, Emma C. Brewster. The Brewster Genealogy, 1566–1907: a Record of the Descendants of William Brewster of the "Mayflower," ruling elder of the Pilgrim church which founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. New York: Grafton Press. 1908
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (30 August 2008). Evangeline, a Tale of Acadie. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 978-0-554-47602-5.
- Merrick, Barbara Lambert, compiler. William Brewster of the Mayflower and His Descendants for Four Generations. Published by General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Revised 3rd Edition. 2000.
- Newport Historical Society. Items of interest concerning Oliver Hazard Perry in Newport, and Newport in the War of 1812. Newport. Newport Historical Society, 1913
- Roberts, Gary Boyd. Genealogies of Connecticut Families: From the New England Historical and Genealogical Register Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983. ISBN 978-0-8063-1030-5
- Jeremy Roberts (30 May 2005). Zachary Taylor. Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 978-0-8225-1397-1.
- Steele, Ashbel. Chief of the Pilgrims: or, The life and time of William Brewster, ruling elder of the Pilgrim company that founded New Plymouth, the parent colony of New England, in 1620 J.B. Lippincott, 1857.
- Gary D. Schmidt (1 June 2004). A Passionate Usefulness: The Life and Literary Labors of Hannah Adams. ISBN 978-0-8139-2272-0.
- Wright, R.W.Biographical record: Yale University. Class of 1842 R.W. Wright, compiler, Published by Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, Printers, 1878
- The Freeman Family
- The Brewster Genealogy, 1566–1907: a Record of the Descendants of William Brewster of the "Mayflower," ruling elder of the Pilgrim church which founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. by Emma C. Brewster Jones, New York: Grafton Press. 1908
- Time Inc (29 November 1948). LIFE. Time Inc. p. 129.
- '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)
- Barbara Lambert Merrick, compiler, William Brewster of the Mayflower and the Fifth Generation Descendants of his son Love2. Mayflower Families in Progress. (2003)
- Dowsing, J. Places of the Pilgrim Fathers Sunrise Press, London.
- The Elder William Brewster Society, A Pilgrim Lineage Society
- Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- Genealogy of William Brewster
- Clara Endicott Sears A descendant of Elder William Brewster
- William Bradford (1856). History of Plymouth Plantation. Little Brown.
- "Brewster, William, pilgrim". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900.