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William Brewster III (1534 - bef. 1590)

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William Brewster III
Born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Brother of
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Scrooby, , Nottinghamshire, Englandmap
Husband of — married before in London, Middlesex (now London), Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died before in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 14 Apr 2010
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In 1970 John G Hunt published an account of the family of William Brewster of Duncaster in NEHGR Volume 124 p 253 in 1970.[1] This was a follow-up article to his previously published treatment of this family published in 1965 in TAG Volume 41 p 1-5[2] In 2014 the General Society of Mayflower Descendants published the latest research on Elder William Brewster and the authors call these two articles the current state of research on this topic.[3]

William Brewster of Scrooby was born about 1534 to William Brewster and Maude Mann probably in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England where we find the last record of his parents. His date of birth is estimated based on the birth date of his son Elder William Brewster.[1] A William Brewster witnessed the will of his uncle Christopher Mann on 13 Jan 1558 with Thomas and John Simkinson of Doncaster. Although we are uncertain if this was William Brewster of Scrooby or his father, William Brewster of Doncaster, John G Hunt believes it was the former. He was named in the will of Bartholomew Bryan of Scrooby dated 6 May 1564 as William Brewster "dwelling in Scrooby."[1][4] Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England is a small village on the River Ryton near Bawtry in the northern part of the English county of Nottinghamshire. Scrooby is located just seven miles South of his ancestral home in Doncaster.

He married first Mary (Smythe) Simkinson, daughter William Smythe of Stainforth parish in Hatfield. She was sister of John Smythe of Hull and widow of John Simkinson of Wakefield and Doncaster. With her previous husband she had two children:[1][2]

  1. Dorothy Symkinson[1]
  2. Thomas Simkinson who died in 1612 in Hull[1]

Mary Smythe and William Brewster had one child:

  1. "Elder" William Brewster, "Mayflower" Passenger. He was born in 1566 or 1567 in Doncaster, England and died 10 April 1644 in Duxbury, Plymouth Colony. He married Mary, whose parents are unknown.[1]

According to an undated proceeding addressed to Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal (1558-1579) Mary (Smythe) Brewster and William Brewster sued Francis Hobson. She is identified as the late wife of John Symkinson late of Doncaster, Yorkshire, England and she testified that her late husband was seized of lands in Doncaster and in his lifetime he did convey these land to her when she was his wife for the term of her life and afterwards before he died at Doncaster.[5] Since the proceeding is undated we only know that this event occurred during the career of Sir Bacon between 1558 and 1579. Mary probably died by 1567 based on the estimated birth dates of the three children of William Brewster and his second wife.

William Brewster married second to Prudence shortly after the birth of his first son. It has been postulated that her maiden name may have been Peck or Perkins but not with any confidence.[1][2] Prudence Peck and William Brewster had only three children. The children are specifically listed on NEHGR Vol 124 p 251.[1]

  1. James Brewster born say 1568 probably in Scrooby died 14 Jan 1613 in Sutton, Nottinghamshire, England. He married Mary Welbeck who died 7 Apr 1637 in Sutton, Nottinghamshire, England and they had four daughters Grace who married William Glaive, Elizabeth, Susanna and Judith who married Edward Oldfied.[6] He is proposed to be the James Brewster who was vicar of Sutton cum Laude. He matriculated at St John's College at Cambridge in 1582, succeeded Henry Brewster (his uncle) as vicar at Sutton on Lound in 1594. His brother William Brewster testified on his behalf.[1][7][7][1] Although it has not been decisively proven that this son James is identical to the man of the same name who was vicar.[3] However, the evidence is fairly strong that he was. [8]
  2. Prudence Brewster born say 1567 probably in Scrooby and probably died before 1609 in Everton, Nottinghamshire, England when two of her children were wards to William Brewster (see below). She married Robert Pecke whose will was dated 1598 in Everton, Nottinghamshire, England. He possibly had a second wife named Jun Jenyver if he was the man of the same name who married in 15 Jun 1589 in Loude, three miles from Scrooby. It is unclear which children were from which wife but in his will he names: Robert the eldest, Ann, Prudence, William, Thomas and George. His children Robert Peck and Prudence Pecke were wards of their supposed uncle William Brewster at Ledyen.[1]
  3. John Brewster who in 1595 and 1613 was identified in the town of Myssen in Nottinghamshire, England where he was twice fined. After that he disappears. Note that this son John is often conflated with Rev John Brewster of Surrey and he is not identical. That John is related to the Strong family and has nothing to do with this family of Scrooby. Our John vanishes it would seem in the town of Myssen after 1613. This is last date and place we find evidence for him.[9][1] The other John of Surrey is discussed by Mary Coffin Johnson in The Higleys and Their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family.[10]

This is the family of a very important historical character and it should be as accurate as possible. A whole list of children are getting copied to GENI, Wikitree, Familysearch, Ancestry and Werelate, etc. and there is no evidence to support their existence. We should raise the bar. If we include a name or a profile in the family tree of the only college educated Mayflower Passenger then we had better pony up a solid source to back up that name or profile. John G Hunt lists no children named Millicent (Brewster) Eames, Elizabeth Brewster, Henry Brewster, Edward Brewster, or Amy (Brewster) Weld. As stated above 2014 the General Society of Mayflower Descendants published the latest research on Elder William Brewster and they called these two articles by John G Hunt the current state of research on this topic.[3] Therefore all profiles of children except for the Mayflower passenger and the three others outlined by John G Hunt in NEHGR and TAG should be removed.

The will of Robert Pecke of Everton, Nottinghamshire, England (2 miles north of Loude) dated and proved in 1598 states:

  • "I Robert Pecke of Everton, husbandman,... my body to buried in the churchyard of Everton... I give the poor of Everton 3/4. I give William Pecke my son 7/6/8. I give George Pecke, my son , the same. I give Ann Pecke my daughter the same. I give Thomas Hodgson 10/- bequeathed to my mother. I give Thomas Sympson half a rood of Rye. I give Hercules Moore 12d. I give Robert Pecke my eldest son a couple of black stears. I give Prudence my wife and Robert my son all residue and make them executors. I make Richard Perkin guardian of my son Robert during his minority.
  • Witness Anthony Phan, clerke, Richard Harrison, and William Fletcher".[1]

Prudence (Brester) Pecke was obviously still living in 1598. However, she must have died by 1609 for Elder William Brewster, aged about forty-two years, came before the aldermen at Leiden, Holland on 12 June 1609, as guardian of Ann PECK, native of Launde, when they granted to Thomas Simkinson, merchant of Hull (son of John Simkinson and Mary Smythe and half-brother of Elder William BREWSTER), Power of Attorney to receive seven pounds sterling that Ann Pecke had left with Rev. William Watkin, pastor of Clarborough when she left England.[1] The register of St. Pancras church, Leyden, records the burial on Saturday, 20 June 1609, of a child of William BREWSTER. The age and sex of the child are not specified. It might be reasonable to assume that the "child of William BREWSTER" who was buried, 20 June 1609, was Prudence (Brewster) Pecke, daughter of William Brewster and wife of Robert Pecke, since her brother, Elder William Brewster appeared in court eight days earlier as guardian of Prudence's minor daughter, Ann Pecke. That would suggest the widow Prudence (Brewster) Peck accompanied her surviving children, Robert & Ann, to Leyden; that she was taken ill, so William arranged for the transfer of Ann Peck's inheritance. In 1610 William Brewster's wife Mary was living in Leiden with two wards Anne and Robert Pecke.[1][11] The Pilgrim Records in the Archives of the City of Leiden, The Netherlands contain the following entry "9 Dec 1616 Jan Spoenaert, lintier, nit Engelant, wedr. van Sussanna Benijt verger, van Samuel Leee met Anna Peck, jd. nit Engelant, verges. met Lisbeth." which apparently translates to: "9 Dec 1616. John Spooner, linen-worker from England, widower of Susanna Bennet, accompanied by Samuel Lee, [is married] with Anna Peck, young woman from England, accompanied by Elizabeth Spalding her acquaintance." Some have interpreted linen-worker as ribbon maker which is a line of work Jonathan Brewster was in for a period in Leiden.[12][13] John Spooner was at the time residing at the Douver House, a local house for bachelors in Leiden (the Douver House still exists today). John Spooner died 6 Jul 1628 in Leiden.[13] In 22 Jan 1630 Ann Peck of Leyden was witness to the marriage of Henry Parkgus and Margaret Woodwek. In 1637 an Ann Spooner joined the Salem Church with a Thomas Spooner. Thomas Spooner had a wife Elizabeth.[14] Savage lists Ann as a first wife of Thomas but the original records give no evidence that she was his wife. It is possibly that Ann Spooner was Ann (Brewster) Spooner widow of John Spooner of Leyden and step-mother or mother of Thomas Spooner. A William Spooner also arrived in 1637 in Plymouth as an indentured servent. This may imply that he was still a minor and possibly a second child of this family.[15] However, the identity of Ann Spooner of Salem is not yet conclusive.

The will of Maude Mann's brother Christopher Mann is not only helpful in determining her maiden name it also helps us elucidate the identity of the mother of William Brewster the Mayflower passenger, Mary Smythe. Christopher's will was witnessed by John Symkinson who was the first husband of Mary Smythe, the mother of Thomas Sinkinson of Hull by her first husband and the mother of William Brewster the Mayflower passenger by her second husband William Brewster of Scrooby.[2] In 1609 William Brewster of the Mayflower while living in Leiden gave power of attorney to his half-brother Thomas Simkinson of Hull to receive money that Anne Pecke had left in England. Ann Peck and her brother Robert Pecke were ward's of William Brewster. They have been identified as the children of William Brewster's half-sister Prudence Brewster and her husband Robert Pecke of Everton.[2] These two records link William Brewster of Leiden to his grandfather William Brewster of Doncaster just seven miles North of Scrooby. The will of Thomas Symkinson Alderman of Doncaster dated 29 Jan 1558 proved 2 May 1560 names John Simkinson and his two children Dorothy and Thomas Simkinson as well as Thomas Smythe, John Smythe of Hull, William Smythe and Alice widow of Chirstopher Mann among others.[1][16] The will of John Smythe of Hull dated 8 Aug 1592 proved the following October made it evident that Elder William Brewster and the younger Thomas Smythe of Hull were maternal half-brothers when he named "my nephews" William Brewster, John Smythe and Thomas Simkinson executors of his estate.[1] For an in depth discussion of the will of Christopher Mann please see the profile of Maude Mann.

George F. Willison writes "In 1575 Archbishop Grindal of York addressing him [William Brewster] as "our trusty and well-beloved servant," and commissioned the senior William Brewster as bailiff and receiver at Scrooby manor, an extensive lordship embracing hundreds of farms and many village round about." He collected manorial fees, rents and fines and could act as magistrate in disputes. He also became master of the local station of the royal post and operated a tavern to refresh the delivery men traveling on the Great North Road. The Scrooby Manor House included a blacksmith shop, stables, kennels, dovecotes and a granary, brewery and bake shop. The younger William Brewster received payment for operating it as a bed and breakfast.[11] William Brewster of Scrooby died 1590 in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England.[1]

William was born about 1535. He passed away about 1608.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 John G Hunt "The Mother of Elder William Brewster of the Mayflower" in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1970) Volume 124 p 250-254 link to article at AmericanAncestors
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 John G Hunt, "New Light on the Brewsters of Scrooby and New England" in The American Genealogist (Demorest, Habersham, Georgia, United States: D.L. Jacobus, 1965) Vol 41 p 1-5 link
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Merrick, Barbara Lambert, and E. Virginia Hunt. William Brewster of the Mayflower: and his descendants for four generations. (Plymouth, MA: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2014), p 1-2, 2014. The GSMD "Silver Book"
  4. York P&E, 17:389
  5. "2. Gt. Brit. Public Record Office, ref. C 2 Eliz. B 31/1, an undated proceeding addressed to Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal (1558-1579): "Bill of Compaint by William Bruester [!] and Mary his wife, the late wife of John Symkinson late of Doncaster, Yorks. The said John was seized of lands in Doncaster and in his lifetime did convey them to the said Mary then his wife for the term of her life and afterwards he died at Doncaster." an "undated" proceeding. So we don't know the date. But Lord Bacon had the seal from 1558-1579 so it had to occur between those years.
  6. Joseph Hunter, Collections concerning the church or congregation of Protestant Separatists formed at Scrooby in north Nottinghamshire (John Russell Smith, 1854) p 75 link
  7. 7.0 7.1 Nottingham Parish registers, vol 21, Marriages at "Sutton on Lound," p 11, 12. See also, will of Richard Ellis, made there in March 1586 (York P&E 23:227) which was witnessed by Henry Brewster, clerk, and James Brewster, clerk, presumably his nephew and his successor as vicar.
  8. Cambridge alumni database Accessed 6/20/2016: James BREWSTER Approx. lifespan: 1564–1613 Matric. sizar from St John's College 1582:10MT: One of these names, Master of Bawtry Hospital, West Riding of Yorkshire 1584 V. of Sutton-on-Lownd, [ West Riding of Yorkshire ???] 1596 ( H. M. Dexter 254) [app:] brother of William BREWSTER (1580) a Pilgrim Father Son of Henry, V. of Sutton cum Lound, [ Nottinghamshire ???] [:app] [app:]V. of Sutton cum Lound, [ Nottinghamshire ???] 1594-1613 [:app] [app:]succeeded his father[:app] [app:]Buried 1613:01:14 [:app] [app:](T.P.R. Layng: Notts Parish Regs. vol. XXI p. 11; Thor. Soc. XX, 178)[:app]
  9. York Fines IV p 31 (Yorkshire Archaelogical Society Record Series VIII); Will of Simon Fowe of Mayssen Notts, dated 1613 (York P&E will 30:121).
  10. Mary Coffin Johnson, The Higleys and Their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family (New York: D. Appleton and Company, MDCCCXCVI) Page 1 link
  11. 11.0 11.1 Geoge F Willison, Saints & Strangers: Lives of the Pilgrim Fathers and Their Families (New York: Reynal and Hitchcok, 1945)
  12. H.M. Dexter, Mourt's Relation.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Pilgrim Records in the Archives of the City of Leiden, The Netherlands link
  14. Robert Charles Anderson. The Great Migration Directory: Immigrants to New England, 1620–1640 (Boston, Massachusetts. New England Historic and Genealogical Society. 2015) p 315 (William Spooner: Unknown; 1637; Plymouth; [PCR 12:19, MD 15:27, 16:238; NEHGR 23:407-8; Thomas Spooner, Records of William Spooner of Plymouth, Mass., and His Descendants (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1883)]. Thomas Spooner: Unknown; 1637; Salem; STR 1:51; SChR 7; MBCR 1:374; EIHC 28:124; Perley 1:433; NEHGR 23:348
  15. T.S., "Ann Spooner" in New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1970) Vol 23 p 348 link
  16. York P&E court, vol. 16 f. 46
  • Find A Grave
  • Transactions of the Thoroton Society, John Standish, ed. (Cooke & Vowles, 1906) Vol. 9, Page 7-11
  • Cutter, William Richard. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts (Lewis historical Publishing Company - Boston, Mass., 1908)
  • Collections Concerning the Church Or Congregation of Protestant Separatists Formed at Scrooby in North Nottinghamshire, in the Time of King James I: The Founders of New-Plymouth, the Parent-colony of New-England by Joseph Hunter John Russell Smith, 1854 - Pilgrims (New Plymouth Colony) p 237 link
  • English Origins of New England Families, Second Series, v. I., selected from the NEHGR, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985. Online:

Disputed Origins

A number of unsourced genealogies have been created linking William Brewster, William Brewster, Robert Brewster and Humphrey Brewster, Galfridus Brewster b: 1380, John Brewster, John Brewster b: c.1325 and John Brewster b: c.1299 to create an ancestry for William Brewster and for Elder William Brewster 1566-1644 who emigrated in the ship Mayflower from Plymouth, England to New Plymouth, Massachusetts. Although no sources are offered to support this descent line, we find many unsubstantiated genealogies with a claim for descendants of Elder William Brewster to trace their genealogy from "John I in 1279, who lived in Rushmere, Suffolk, England followed by John II and III; then Galfridus, John IV" etc. for example The Brewster Bunch Family Story by Judy Brewster pub: Amazon in a Kindle Edition

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Images: 1
Scrooby Manor House
Scrooby Manor House


On 3 Mar 2019 at 00:57 GMT Tom Bredehoft wrote:

Does Prudence Peck belong here?

On 22 Nov 2018 at 21:23 GMT Vivienne Caldwell wrote:

The change of name for Mary Smythe from Mary to Prudence and the addition of Perkins shouldn't have been done. This appears to have caused this issue.

There are of course plenty of other things to work on with this profile but restoring the first wife to who she was is a start.

On 22 Nov 2018 at 20:42 GMT Tom Bredehoft wrote:

Let us straighten out Wm's wives. Text here and elsewhere says first wife was Mary, but above says Prudence, twice. I've not enough clout to change it, hope some one can.

On 28 Mar 2018 at 01:46 GMT Gillian Thomas wrote:

Hi Profile Managers. I've added the England Project as manager of this profile. You are definitely encouraged to stay actively involved. Please feel free to contact me or the England Project if you want to discuss any aspects of the profile, or you may like to consider joining the England Project.

On 21 Mar 2018 at 20:34 GMT Becky (Nally) Syphers wrote:

Yes, the England Project seem like a good place for this profile. Thanks for asking, Becky Syphers

On 21 Mar 2018 at 13:04 GMT Merry Ann (Ebenstein) Palmer wrote:

Fine with me

On 21 Mar 2018 at 02:48 GMT Gillian Thomas wrote:

Good morning profile managers, I am a leader of the England Project. The England Project would like to take on the management of this profile, unless another project is interested in managing. Please contact me if you would like to discuss, otherwise I'll proceed to add the England Project account as profile manager in a week or so. Thanks

On 4 Nov 2017 at 00:07 GMT Valerie Willis wrote:

I have removed the "Brewster COA" as there is no evidence that William Brewster was armigerous, ie had been granted the right to display a coat of arms, a right granted & policed by law in the United Kingdom. This design of chevron and three stars belongs to the Brewsters of Wrentham and their kin. William Brewster's link with this family is unproven.

On 2 Jan 2017 at 03:30 GMT Tom Bredehoft wrote:

Does anyone have evidence that Mr. Brewster used the suffix "Sr." in his life? If not, it should be removed.

On 9 Feb 2016 at 17:29 GMT April (Dellinger) Dauenhauer wrote:

I removed the "Burial Hill at Plymouth, Massachusetts" image and the Memorial monument image for William Brewster. Both refer to the son, not this profile. The images can be found on Brewster-4, for William Brewster of the Mayflower.

more comments

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