Gov. William Brewster

Gov. William Brewster

Male 1560 - 1644  (84 years)    Has 7 ancestors and more than 250 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name William Brewster 
    Prefix Gov. 
    Relationshipwith Francis Fox
    Born 24 Jan 1559-1560  Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 10 Apr 1644  Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I76852  Geneagraphie
    Last Modified 3 May 2017 

    Father William Brewster,   b. 1535, Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Aug 1608, Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years) 
    Mother Mary Smythe,   b. Abt 1538,   d. Abt 1568  (Age ~ 30 years) 
    Family ID F81572  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Mary Wentworth,   b. Abt 1560, Scrooby, Nottingham, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Jul 1627, Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 67 years) 
    Married Abt 1591  London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Fear Brewster,   b. Abt 1606, Scrooby, Notinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 12 Dec 1634, Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 28 years)
     2. Elizabeth Brewster,   b. 26 Jul 1584, Bishop Stratford, Hertfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Aug 1638, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 54 years)
     3. Jonathan Brewster,   b. 12 Aug 1593, Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Aug 1659, Norwich, New London Co., CT Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years)
     4. Patience Brewster,   b. Abt 1600, Scrooby, Notinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 12 Dec 1634, Plymouth Colony, MA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 34 years)
     5. NN Brewster,   d. Leiden, ZH, NL Find all individuals with events at this location
    +6. Love Brewster,   b. 1611, Leiden, ZH, NL Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Oct 1650, Duxbury, Plymouth, Ma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 39 years)
     7. Wrestling Brewster
    Last Modified 19 Feb 2001 
    Family ID F31599  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map Click to display
    Link to Google MapsMarried - Abt 1591 - London, Middlesex, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 10 Apr 1644 - Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Notes 
    • Mayflower Pilgrim; elder of the Separatist church
      He is possibly the only noted son of William & his first wife Mary Smythe Brewster (NEHGR 125:150) as suggested by various documents at Doncaster, Yorkshire, England and other research -- and but a few miles from Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England, Brewster's boyhood home.

      Signer of the Mayflower Compact.
      Arrived in Plymouth colony on the first voyage there of the ship," Mayflower".
      Also b. 1567. Also d. 16 APR 1644. Also d. 20 APR 1644.

      William BREWSTER is among the twenty-six "approved" members of the first Mayflower company from which they accept petition for membership in the "General Society of Mayflower Descendents"

      After receiving his degree from Cambridge University, he became the private secretary to Sir William Davison, Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth. William accompanied Davison on his mission to the Netherlands. Subsequently, he succeeded his father as the Postmaster at Scrooby, an office of high responsibility and influence. He held the post until 1607.
      William has been dubbed the leader of the Puritan exodus to New England. He withdrew from the Church, and helped create a Congregationalist society which met Sundays in the drawing room of his manor house at Scrooby. In late 1607 or early 1608, William and the Pilgrims went to Amsterdam. They found the English exiles who had earlier arrived there were fiercely involved in doctrinal controversies, and they decided to search further.
      They travelled to Leyden in 1609, and remained there for eleven years. William opened a publishing house, primarily for theological works. But the group, now over 300 strong, did not wish to be simply absorbed by another country; the wanted to preserve their English language and traditions. In short, they wished to build a new Christian state. Recognizing that this was nearly impossible on the already staked-out Europe, it was decided to go to the Atlantic coast of America.

      After several false starts, the Mayflower, with William aboard, set sail for America on September 6, 1620. They arrived in Plymouth, Cape Cod bay, on November 9th. He was the oldest of the Mayflower passengers who celebrated the first Thanksgiving.

      William Bradford describes William Brewster thusly: "he was wise and discreet and well spoken, having a grave and deliberate utterance, of a very cheerful spirit, very sociable and pleasant amongst his friends, of an humble and modest mind, of a peaceable disposition, undervaluing himself and his own abilities...inoffensive and innocent in his live and conversation...he was tender-hearted, and compassionate of such as were in misery, but especially of such as had been of good estate and rank, and were fallen into want and poverty, either for goodness and religion's sake, or by the injury and oppression of others..."

      Elder Brewster's biography is as good a place as any to comment on the first Thanksgiving in October, 1621. It was really a unique event; the Pilgrims did not celebrate the next year, or any time thereafter. The Thanksgiving holiday was not born until President Lincoln declared as such in 1863.

      The indian king Massasoit with about 90 of his men were the guest for three days. They brought five deear to the feast, and four of the Pilgrim men hunted and brought back enough fowl (turkey, geese, pheasant, and other birds) to feed the group for nearly a week. Beer was the primary beverage for everyone, including children


      William Brewster matriculated at Peterhouse, one ofthe colleges forming Cambridge University on 12-3-1580. (He was 14 years old). He did not remain to take his degree. He bacame assistant to William Davidson, Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth. He accompanied Davidson on his embassy to the Netherlands in August of 1585. He served Davidson at Court until 1587. He returned to Scrooby and became converted to the doctrine of John Robinson, the founder of Congregationalism and the first prominent layman who rejected conformity to the Church of England.
      The manor house at Scrooby became the place for worship for all members of the new churchin the vicinity. In 1590, he was appointed the administrator of his father's will. William was appointed the post master in his fathers' place until September 30, 1607. In 1592, he was sppointed the executor of the will of his uncle John Smythe of Hull. In 1607, determined to flee to Holland, Brewster and several others were arrested at Boston, England, through the treachery or the ship master that was engaged to transport them. They were detained in the Boston jail for several weeks, but finally arrived at Leyden, Holland.
      William was a teacher and printer at Leyden. An affadavit made at Leyden on June 25, 1609 states him as 41 years old, Mary as 40, and Jonathan as 16 years old. In the summer of 1619, Brewster was in London, England secretly as he was being hunted both in Holland and England for publishing a seditious book.
      William had the guardianship of Anne and Robert Peck in Leyden. He was the ruling elder of the Pilgrims.
      He was a passenger on the Speedwell to Southampton in July, 1620 on the first step to New England.
      William, his wife, two sons (Love and Wrestling) embarked on the ship, Mayflower, which sailed from Plymouth, England on September 16, 1620 and landed in Plymouth Massachusetts on December 26, 1620. William is believed to be the author of the Mayflower Compact which was signed on November 21, 1621
      During the first Winter, half the Pilgrims died. At one time, there were but seven people well. Brewster was one. These seven tended the sick and performed "loathesome duties".
      As Ruling Elder of the church, he preached twice each Sabbath.
      William died at the home of his son, Love, in Duxbury Massachusetts in April, 1644. He left a Library of 400 volumes, 62 of which were in Latin. He died intestate and his sons Love and Jonathan had bitter differences in settling the estate. It was finally divided on August 20, 1645.
      There are some genealogists who believe the Brewsters had left children in England, who died there or remained there. There was some reference to William's son in England in 1616. Also, an Edward Brewster and his father William bought shares in a Virginia Company in 1609. This Edward was a London printer and printed between 1616 and 1640, some 25 books on sermons on religious controversy.

      Bradford wrote of his friend Brewster:
      "He was qualified above many, wise and discrete, and well-spoken, having a grave and deliberate utterance, of a very cheerful spirite, very sociable and pleasante among his friends, of an humble and modest mind, of a peacable disposition, under-valewing himself and sometimes over-valewing others, inoffensive and innocent in his life and conversation, which gained him ye love of those without, as well as those within."
      Up until his death in 1644, William Brewster's hand was never lifted from Pilgrim History. He shaped the counsels of his colleagues, helped to mould their policies, safeguarded their liberties, and kept in check tendencies towards religious bigotry and oppression. He tolerated differences, but put down wrangling and dissension, and promoted to the best of his power, the strength and purity of public and private life.

      William's life is well-documented in many books. He was among the leaders of the Pilgrims that came to America on the Mayflower in 1620 and was the religious and philosophical leader, though not a minister. He was born at Scrooby, where his father, William Brewster, held minor official positions as well as operating a tavern. His mother was Mary Smythe.
      He attended Peterhouse College at Cambridge where he apparently began to acquire his Separatist ideas. He visited Holland twice in the 1580s as a secretary to a minor diplomat. He resided in London at the time. The diplomat was denounced by the queen and Wiliam returned to Scrooby.
      His father died in 1590 and William acceded to his father's positions of bailiff and postmaster. He left for Holland with his family in 1609 and settled in Leyden, where he became a teacher and printer of Puritan ideas. Prior to leaving England he was charged with disobedience in religion and fined about $1000. Twice before actually leaving England William and many others in the Scrooby congregation tried without success to get to Holland, being arrested in the process. Apparently as a means of making money, he made ribbons in Holland also.
      From July, 1919 until Sepember 6, 1920, when the Mayflower left, William was in hiding to avoid English authorities. He left on the Mayflower at London with his wife and 2 of his sons, Love and Wrestling. Jonathan followed in 1621 on the Fortune, Patience and Fear came in 1623 on the Anne. One child died while the family was at Leyden.
      William moved from Plymouth to Duxbury in 1632.
      Whether Mary Wentworth was William's wife is in some dispute. Mary Wentworth is a descendent of English kings from William I to Edward I, as well as Charlemagne and Alfred the Great and many monarchs of Europe. Her father was Thomas Wentworth, bailiff of Scrooby before William's father. The position of bailiff is somewhat akin to that of a tax collector.

      Notes for Mary:
      Whether Mary Wentworth was William's wife is in some dispute. Mary Wentworth is a descendent of English kings from William I to Edward I, as well as Charlemagne and Alfred the Great and many monarchs of Europe. Her father was Thomas Wentworth, bailiff of Scrooby before William's father. The position of bailiff is somewhat akin to that of a tax collector.

      Mary Brewster's family name is unknown, but some believe to be Stubbs. There is conjecture that her maiden name may be Hartley, Love, Wyrall, or Wentworth.
      She may have been from Duke Street in London, England where several Mayflower passengers had ties.

      She is called "The Mother of The Surviving Matrons and Maidens" after the winters of 1621 and 1622.


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