Why are two pictures on William Brewster's profile NOT of him?

+12 votes

There are 2 images on William Brewster's profile, supposedly of him, but ''no physical likeness survives'' of William Brewster. [Making Haste From Babylon, by Nick Bunker, pub. 2010, page 126]

Why are they on his profile, since they are not his image?

Am I the only one uncomfortable with this idea, that ministers in New England were of a generic type, and we can use pictures of them like pre-formed pieces, "any one fits all"?

Reading carefully in William Brewster's biography does not give the impression of a narrow faced, dour personality implicit in one of the images. Entirely the opposite.

gives the impression that William Brewster was exceptionally strong and vigorous. In Gov Bradford's journal, he praises Brewster's good care of his sick fellow Pilgrims. William was on his feet nursing the rest of them when nearly everyone was stricken with illness.

William Brewster is described near the end of his life as spending part of  every day hoeing, weeding and planting with the rest of the colonists. He was educated at a college at Cambridge, and had over 400 well-read books in his library when he died, about a fourth of them in Latin.

I would rather see an image of a chair he sat on, or a list of his books, or things that were in his daily experience in Plymouth, like the grist mill where their corn was ground. These things speak to his life as he experienced it.

Ideas, suggestions, comments, please?

PS I've added "Do Not WikiTree While Cranky" to "Do Not WikiTree While Angry"... When I have insomnia from a leg cramp and it's past midnight and I should be sleepy, a lot of things make me cranky, including unlabeled images of our ancestors. What do I know - maybe he did look like that picture, but it would be nice have some evidence:)

WikiTree profile: William Brewster
in The Tree House by April Dauenhauer G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
edited by April Dauenhauer

I've come across several wrongly labelled portraits on wikitree . Reverse image search usually finds the real 'owner'

The first picture, in its original setting, a book published in 1911, is labelled Elder William Brewster The book also includes many photos of places where events took place.  

In this case, if its not him, as suggested by the recent book quoted, the fiction was started over a century ago. Perhaps a comment could be added to the title of the picture and/or in the text

Addison AC The Romantic Story of the Mayflower Pilgrims, (Boston,  1911)


I agree with C. below it should be correctly attributed.

I do think that the generic picture of the Mayflower, complete with another website address should be removed.

I removed the "boat" image.
Thank you Helen and thank you for the link. I didn't know about a reverse image search. Added that to my 'learn how to do list'.

Under the image the print says "Copyright 1904 by A. S. Burbank, Plymouth". I found the same image on the website for the "Elder William Brewster Society", with the attribution not showing. I couldn't find anything on the website about the image.

Thank you Maggie.

What I would love to have posted on all the Mayflower passenger profiles, would be a photograph of the Mayflower II, which is an actual reproduction of the Mayflower, usually based at Plymouth, MA. Currently it is in Mystic, CT getting work done for the 400th Mayflower anniversary coming up in two years.

Good sleuthing, R.J.

The Bradford image at Wikipedia says:

"A conjectural image of Bradford, produced as a postcard in 1904, by A. S. Burbank of Plymouth."

I should have just looked in Wikipedia for William Brewster - there is the image! It says:

Alfred Stevens "A.S." Burbank 

and it is titled:

Imaginary likeness of William Brewster

I wonder if Alfred Stevens Burbank tracked down descendants of these Pilgrims and used them to reconstruct an idea of the original men, or what....

As well as Brewster, the book contains similar images of Edward Winslow, Miles Standish, William Bradford, John Alden and Patricia Mullins.

Interestingly, the one for Edward Winslow states 'the only authentic portrait of a Mayflower Pilgrim' which does beg the question as to where all these other pictures came from.
Somebody saw a gap in the market obviously.

He did souvenir beer mugs as well


3 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer
I think the images would be fine if the pictures themselves were fully described. Created by whom, created when, why is the image free from copyright issues? If that cannot be done, especially the copyright, then I agree the images should be removed. There's quite a bit of this on Wikitree.
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (344k points)
selected by Maggie N.
I like the boat one - ship, sorry - but yeah this is not him but a pic of someone - generic?  Wow that is just goofy - makes you wonder if the people who belong to my Generic came along and saw that what would they think?

I went to the profile and looked because I thought how do they know it is not him - just goofy
Let me know if you want us to remove the "generic" portrait on William Brewer.
Maggie thank you for your help on this.

With the links from Helen and from RJ, and a lot of Google searching, Alfred Stevens Burbank is shown to be a publisher and artist who made and sold post cards, beer steins! (thank you RJ) and books on the history and people of Plymouth and Duxbury.

There is not a copyright issue for the image of William Brewster because it was created in 1904. There is still the issue that it is an imaginary work, and I would prefer it not be on Brewster's profile. Someone said 'our characters are engraved on our faces' or something like that. The face in the imaginary Brewster does not reflect what I imagine of his character.

The other image claiming to be William Brewster is most often found on the Internet claiming to be a different Mayflower passenger - William Warren - except it is not him either:(

I hope both fake images can be removed.

I plan to add links and descriptions of some books by A.S. Burbank which are on Archive.org and have the image in question plus a lot of interesting images of Plymouth and Duxbury, so it won't be gone, but will be in its proper context.
+8 votes

I guess Wikipedia has the wrong pictures up of him.
by Martha Garrett G2G6 Mach 3 (31.7k points)

Hi Martha,

The picture at Wikipedia is not so much the 'wrong' picture of William Brewster, as it is simply an "imaginary"  likeness of him, created in 1904.

If you click on the picture, it takes you to the page describing the origins and credits. If you click on "More Details" you get the following:

English: Imaginary likeness of William Brewster
Source Published in The Romantic Story of the Mayflower Pilgrims: And its place in the life of to-day, 1911 by A. C. Addison; cropped from File:William Brewster.gif by User:Dcoetzee.
Author Alfred Stevens "A.S." Burbank

This image is in the public domain; PD-US; PD-ART.

+8 votes

Why are two pictures on William Brewster's profile NOT of him?

Perhaps it is because there are no picture of him and someone felt that any picture was better than no picture.
I'm all for removing all pictures of Not William Brewster.
by Tom Bredehoft G2G6 Pilot (213k points)
Need proof on  how you know this.
Martha, on Wikipedia images have to be attributed, and the attribution for that image of William Brewster says it is an imaginary idea of what he looked like. Apparently Mr. Burbank was an artist who created postcards and images for books, in the early 1900's, of what he thought our ancestors looked like.

The quote I gave (in the above question) is from the latest best selling non fiction book on the Mayflower Pilgrims, by a graduate of Cambridge U. in England and Columbia U. in America. (B.A., M.A.) I like to have evidence for statements, and since his research was so thorough, I felt it would be considered an expert opinion. Nobody can prove a negative, so technically, there could be an unknown image of the real William Brewster somewhere.
I think maybe someone just wanted to dress up the profile and put those in, felt it was too plain - there are worse things we can find I am betting
I agree Navarro - it is not that it was a bad thing, and maybe in the beginning it added something, but now I feel if we can do better, we should.

If I could paint I would create a very different image of William Brewster, one which would emphasize his robust health, his large world view, his exceptional scholarship, and what I am absolutely sure of - his sense of humor.

There may have been 17th century preachers who looked somewhat like the portrait by Burbank, but in my own mind, Brewster would not be one of them.
he sounds like my grandpa - not a relation, my grandparents were all dead by the time I came along, but I had an adopted grandpa - and he was like that - gardening and fixing stuff up right until the end - maybe I can find a picture of him - would be better
LOL - I'm sure he would represent the spirit of William Brewster quite well:)

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