William Brewster
Maude Man
William Smythe
William Brewster
(Abt 1535-1590)
Mary Smythe
(-Abt 1566)

Elder William Brewster


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Elder William Brewster

  • Born: 1566/1567, Scrooby, England 613
  • Marriage: Mary
  • Died: 18 Apr 1643, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, British American Colonies at age 77 613

bullet  Noted events in his life were:

• Background Information. 613
From The Brewster genealogy, 1566-1907, and Early Generations of the Brewster Family, by Mrs. Lucy Hall Greenlaw of Boston, Massachusetts in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. LIII, pgs. 109-110:

"Elder William Brewster . . . was born during the last half of the year 1566 or the first half of 1567. The date of his birth is determined by an affidavit made at Leyden, 25 Jun 1609, in which he, his wife Mary and son Jonathan declare their ages to be respectfully 42, 40 and 16 years. Bradford says that he was "nere fourskore years of age whe he dyed.' This statement agrees with the affidavit. The place of birth is not known, but is supposed to have been Scrooby in Nottinghamshire, England. His father, William Brewster was appointed by Archbishop Sandys, in Jan 1575-76, receiver of Scrooby and bailiff of the manor house in that place belonging to the Archbishop, to have life tenure of both offices. "

"William Brewster Matriculated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, 3 Dec 1580, but it does not appear that he remaied there long enough to take his degree. He is next found as a 'discreete and faithfull' assistant of William Davison, Sedretary of State to Queen Elizabeth, accompanying that gentleman on his embassy to the Netherlands in Aug, 1585, and serving him at court after his return, until his downfall in 1587. After the return of Davison, Brewster returned to Scrooby, where he lived 'in good esteeme amongst his friends and ye gentlemen of those parts, espetially the godly & geligious,' doing much good 'in promoting and furthering Religion.' In 1590, he was appointed administrator of the estate of his father who died in the summer of that year, leaving a widow, Prudenence. With the influence of Davison, he was appointed to the office as 'Post' just as his father and grandfather before him had been. He held this office until 30 Sep 1697. His residence at Scrooby was the old manor house. In this house the members of the Pilgrim church were accustomed to meet on the Lord's day, where Brewster 'with great loue entertained them when they came, making prouission for them to his great charge.'"

"The Pilgrims, attempting to remove to Holland in the latter part of 1697, were imprisoned at Boston through the treachery of the master of the ship that was engaged to transport them. Bradford says that Brewster 'was ye cheefe of those that were taken at Boston, and suffered ye greatest loss; and of ye seuen that were kept longst in prison, and after bound ouer to ye assises.' Through Bradford also, we learn that Brewster, after he reached Holland, suffered the many hardships and spent most of his means in providing for his 'many children.' He was not so well fitted as the other Pilgrims for the hard labor which became their common lot, yet he bore his condition cheerfully. During the latter part of the twelves years spent in Holland, he increased his income very much by teaching and by the profits from a printing press which he by the help of some friends, set up in Leyden. At the end of that time, 'for sundrie weightie and solid reasons,' which are duly set forth in Bradford's History, among which '(and which was not least)' was a true missionary spirit, the church at Leyden resolved to emigrate to Virginia. Brewster, the Elder of the Church, who had been chosen to that office during the Pilgrims'stay at Leyden, was 'desired' by those chosen to go first, 'to goe with them,' while John Robinson, the pastor, stayed with the majority who should follow later. Thus it happened that we find Elder Brewster, his wife Mary and two young sons among the passengers of the now famous vessel, the Mayflower, which dropped anchor in Plymouth harbor, 16 Dec 1620. At Plymouth Brewster bore an inportant part in establishing the Pilgrim republic, not shrinking from even the severest manual labor, and 'when the church had no other minister, he taught twise euery saboth, and ye both powerfully and profitably, to ye great contentment of ye hearers.'"

His wife, Mary, whose maiden name has not been discovered, 'dyed at Plymouth in new England the 17th of Aprill, 1627.' (Brewster Book). Bradford says that, though se 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 probable that her 'great & continuall labours, with others crosses, and sorrows, hastened it before ye time.' Elder Brewster survived his wife many years and 'dyed at Plymouth in New England the 10th day of Aprill, 1644' (Brewster Book) . . . 20 Aug 1645, a final division of the Elder's estate was made by Bradford, Winslow, Prence and Standish, between 'Jonathan and Loue his onely children remayneing.'"

The known children of Elder William and his wife Mary are:
• Jonathan, b. 12 Aug 1593 in Scroby, Notthingshampshire, England
• Patience
• Fear
• A child that died at Leyden and was buried 20 Jun 1609 in St. Pancras
• Love
• Wrestling, came in the Mayflower, 1620, with his parents and brother Love. he was living at the time at the division of the cattle, 22 May 1627, but died before the settlement of his father's estate.

~The Brewster genealogy, 1566-1907, pgs. 1-6

• Web Reference: 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, by Rev. Ashbel.

• Burial: From Find a Grave.

• Web Reference: William Brewster from Wikipedia.
William Brewster was most probably born in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England, about 1566, and died at Duxbury, Plymouth Colony, 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).

Sources Cited:
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

Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899

Elder married Mary. (Mary was born in 1569 in England 613 and died 17 Apr 1627 in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, British American Colonies 613.)


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