William Brewster
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William Brewster (abt. 1566 - 1644)

Elder William Brewster
Born about in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, Englandmap [uncertain]
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married about 1593 (to 17 Apr 1627) in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, Englandmap [uncertain]
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 78 in Duxbury, Plymouth Colonymap [uncertain]
Profile last modified | Created 5 Apr 2009 | Last significant change: 10 Mar 2023
02:47: Bobbie (Madison) Hall edited the Biography for William Brewster (abt.1566-1644). (set capture at Wayback for Rootsweb pages cited; removed lost links.) [Thank Bobbie for this | 2 thank-yous received]
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William Brewster, 1566-1644, Mayflower passenger and Church Elder.

Birth and Parents

Elder William Brewster was born about 1566, probably at Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England, the son of William Brewster.[1][2][3] See Research Notes below for notes on his birth date and place.
It is thought that William was the only child of his father and his first wife, Mary Smythe,[2] widow of John Simkinson of Doncaster, daughter of William Smythe[3] of Stainforth and Doncaster, and sister of John Smythe, alderman of Hull.[4] William had two step-siblings from his mother’s first marriage, Thomas and Dorothy Simkinson. William’s father remarried to Prudence _____ (perhaps born Perkins or a widow of that name) and, by her, he had other children, including: James Brewster, vicar at Sutton on Lound; Prudence, who may have married Robert Peck of Everton, Nottinghamshire and had children, Robert and Anne, who were both wards of their supposed uncle William Brewster at Leiden; and, perhaps, John Brewster, who was in Myssen, Nottinghamshire in 1595 and 1613.[4]

Life in England

William Brewster was an educated man with an inventory of nearly four hundred books. He attended Peterhouse, Cambridge, beginning 3 December 1580,[1][5] possibly staying there until 1583,[6] however the last College record for William is dated December 1581.[7] He left the school without graduating.[1]
In his early career, beginning about 1583, William served as an assistant to William Davison,[6] Queen Elizabeth's ambassador to the Netherlands 1584-1586 and assistant to the secretary of state, Francis Walsingham.[3] William accompanied Davison to the Netherlands in August 1585 and served him at court until 1587.[5] William returned to Scrooby after Davison was imprisoned "when the queen had used Davison as her scapegoat for the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots."[8] This experience made Brewster the only Pilgrim with involvement in politics or diplomacy, prior to the Mayflower's sailing.[9]
In Scrooby, William was administrator of his father’s estate in 1590.[5] That year, he succeeded his father as Archbishop Sandy's bailiff-receiver.[3] Soon after (c 1594) was appointed postmaster there, and supervised distribution, horse relays and entertainment of travelers.[3] William held that office until September 30, 1607.[5]
William was "one of the original members of the separatist congregation at Scrooby which became the nucleus of the Pilgrim church".[1] William and his family lived in part of the archiepiscopal manor house.[3] The separatists who gathered under the direction of their minister, John Robinson, met there, in Scrooby, and from William's home they organized the Pilgrim Church[5] in meetings from about 1604 to 1607.[2] In 1607, the Bishop of York learned of the meetings, and some of the members were thrown into prison.[9]
Their first attempt to leave England, in 1607, ended with their leaders in jail after they were betrayed by Captain of the ship they had paid to transport them.[3][5] Brewster was one of the jailed leaders.[9] There is a plaque by the cell where Brewster and William Bradford were imprisoned reading "In These Cells William Bradford [and] William Brewster and others afterwards known as The Pilgrim Fathers were imprisoned on the 25th September 1607 after attempting to escape to religious freedom."[10]
In 1608, on the second attempt to leave England, the local militia intervened when they had loaded some of the men and none of the women and children. The Dutch captain sailed for Amsterdam, leaving their wives and children on the pier, weeping. Several months later, the community was reunited in Holland.[9]
From William Bradford, on William Brewster’s life in England:
"After he had attained some learning, viz. the knowledge of Latin tongue, and some insight in the Greek, and spent some small time at Cambridge, and then being first seasoned with the seeds of grace and virtue, he went to the court, and served that religious and godly gentleman, Mr. Davison, divers years, when he was Secretary of State; who found him so discreet and faithful as he trusted him above all other that were about him, and only employed him in all matters of greatest trust and secrecy ... he attended his mr. when he was sent in ambassage by the Queen into the Low Countries ... And, at his return, the States honored him with a gold chain, and his master committed it to him, and commanded him to wear it when they arrived in England, as they rid through the country, till they came to the court ... Afterwards he went and lived in the country, in good esteem amongst his friends and the gentlemen of those parts, especially the Godly and religious. He did much good in the country where he lived, in promoting and furthering religion not only by his practice and example, and provoking and encouraging of others, but by procuring of good preachers to the places thereabouts, and drawing on of others to assist and help forward in such work; he himself most commonly deepest in the charge, and sometimes above his ability … They ordinarily met at this house on the Lord's day, (which was a manor of the bishops) and with great love he entertained them when they came, making provision for them to his great charge.... He was the chief of those that were taken at Boston, and suffered the greatest loss; and of the seven that were kept longest in prison, and after bound over …”[11]

Life in Holland

In 1608, William emigrated with the separatists to Amsterdam, later removing to Leiden in 1609.[2][3] He was made the Leiden church’s elder on his arrival there.[1] In Leiden, he supported his family by teaching English to University of Leiden students.[2] He also was a printer there[1] and, in 1616, he started printing separatist texts with the help of Edward Winslow.[3]
In 1617 and 1619, William traveled back to England to negotiate for permission for the congregation to settle in Virginia. When William published a religious tract critical of King James, the king sent his agents in Holland to investigate Brewster. However, they did not arrest him[9] as he had gone into hiding in England.[3][6]
When the Leiden congregation decided to leave Europe and establish a colony overseas, Elder William Brewster, the church’s second highest ranking official, was asked to emigrate to Virginia with the first wave of settlers.[2] John Robinson, the church’s pastor, stayed with the majority who would follow later.[5]
From William Bradford, on William Brewster’s life in Leiden:
“After he came into Holland he suffered much hardship, after he had spent the most of his means, having a great charge, and many children; and, in regard of his former breeding and course of life, not so fit for many employments as others were, especially such as were toilsome and laborious. But yet he ever bore his condition with much cheerfulness and contention. Towards the later part of those 12 years spent in Holland, his outward condition was mended, and he lived well and plentifully; for he fell into a way (by reason he had the Latin tongue) to teach many students, who had a desire to learn the English tongue, to teach them English; ...He also had means to set up printing, (by the help of some friends) and so had employment enough, and by reason of many books which would not be allowed to be printed in England, they might have had more then they could do."[11]

Wife's Surname and Lineage Unknown

[NOTE RE: WIKITREE POLICY ON DISPUTED RELATIONSHIPS: When there are two or more theories about who a person's wife or husband could have been, and it's not reasonable to think that one theory is more likely than another, it is best not to add any of them in the spouse fields of the profile. Instead, all theories can be explained in the biography section of the profile.]
The surname of Mary, wife of William Brewster is unknown according to Anderson in The Great Migration Begins,[1] The Mayflower Five Generation Project,[12] Mayflower Families in Progress: William Brewster[13] and the Elder William Brewster Society.
Two papers have been published suggesting her origin, but no conclusive evidence has been found.[14] It has been proposed (and disproved) that William’s wife could be Mary Wentworth,[15] daughter of Thomas of Scrooby.[1] Other names suggested as WiIliam’s wife are: Mary, possible relative of Robert Hartley,[4] Mary Wyrall,[1] Mary Stubbe,[1] Mary Butler[16] or Mary Smith/Smythe (his mother's name), all of which remain unproven.

A recent finding of a baptism for a Mary Jackson [near Bristol in Yorkshire] is interesting. Her mother died after birth of a son and her father, Richard Jackson, remarried. It would appear young Mary then would have lived with Jackson relatives. As William Brewster lived in Scrooby with another Richard Jackson, it could well be Mary was a distant [second?] cousin of the teacher in Scrooby, Richard Jackson. Mary could have had several children born at Scrooby before 1607; some children may have died in the plague of Winter 1603/4, which followed three years of poor harvests.

Marriage and Children

William married Mary _____ by 1593,[1][3] probably in the vicinity of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire.[2] Although Bradford's History states that William had “many children”,[5] With Mary, William had six children,[3] Anderson's Great Migration Begins names them as follows (Anderson’s sources are in brackets):
  • Child b. Scrooby? ca 1591; d. before 1607
  • Jonathan,[2] was born in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire 12 August 1593,[1][17] "the first bourne of his father".[5] He married Lucretia Oldam of Darby on 10 April 1624.[1][17]
  • Child b. Scrooby? ca 1595; d. before 1607
  • Child b. Scrooby? ca 1597; d. before 1607
  • Child b. Scrooby? ca 1599; d. before 1607
  • Child b. Scrooby? ca 1601; d. before 1607
  • Patience,[2][3] born about 1603; married 5 August 1624 in Plymouth to Thomas Prence, "the ninth marriage at New Plymouth" [Prince 229], as his first wife (of four).[1]
  • Fear,[2][3] born about 1605; married in Plymouth by 1627 to Isaac Allerton [Bradford 218, 242].[1]
  • Love,[2][3] born about 1607; married in Plymouth 15 May 1634 to Sarah Collier [PCR 1:30], daughter of William Collier.[1]
  • an unnamed child, so, b. ca 1609; [2] buried at St. Pancras, Leiden, 20 June 1609 [Dexter 605].[1]
  • Wrestling,[2][3] born about 1611; died unmarried after 1627 and by 1651 [Bradford 444, GDMNH 109, MD 43:13, Waterhouse Anc 67].[1]
William Brewster had no other [proven] children. Over the years, a number of people have been proposed to be the children of William, specifically: Edward Brewster, a member of the Virginia Company, and Reverend Nathaniel Brewster,[1][8] who graduated from Harvard College.[5] Also prososed are Robert Brewster, who matriculated at Leyden University in 1619; and Elizabeth, wife of Reverend Samuel Fuller.[5] The Mayflower Society accepts only descendants of those children listed above.

Migration aboard the Mayflower

William's influence was instrumental in winning the approval of the Virginia Company for the proposal to resettle the congregation in America, and he was one of the few original Scrooby separatists who made the voyage.[18]
In September 1620, 41 members of the Leiden church were among the 102 passengers that departed Plymouth, England aboard the Mayflower. William Brewster, his wife, Mary, and two youngest sons, Love and Wrestling were among those passengers.[1][16][17] The Brewster family had originally sailed aboard the Speedwell, but later transferred to the Mayflower after the Speedwell's ill-fated return to England.[19]
Four of the Mayflower's passengers were unaccompanied children from Shipton, Shropshire and they were placed as indentured servants with senior separatists William Brewster, John Carver[20] and Edward Winslow.[21] Richard More and one of his brothers were charged to William Brewster.[17] Richard's brother died the first winter,[11] but Richard lived with the Brewster family until at least 1627, when he is listed with them in the cattle division. Richard later made his living as a sea captain.
William Brewster was the religious leader on the Mayflower[3] and was the fourth of 41 signatories of the Mayflower Compact in Plymouth Harbor.[16]
William’s son, Jonathan, arrived in 1621 on the Fortune.[22] Daughters Patience and Fear came later on the Anne in 1623.[23]

Life in Plymouth Colony

A disease spread among the Pilgrims after they landed at Plymouth and many died during the first winter of 1620-1621. The sick were tended in the common house by the half dozen who remained healthy. Governor Bradford later wrote of William Brewster and his strength nursing the sick.[9][16]
In the 1623 land division, William Brewster received six acres as a Mayflower passenger,[16] his daughters, Patience and Fear, received two acres as passengers of the Anne,[1] and his son, Jonathan, received 1 acre as a passenger of the Fortune.[24]
Plymouth Colony "was unable to achieve any sort of long-term financial success" and the Merchant Adventurers, who underwrote the expenses of the Plymouth settlement, disbanded by 1626. Governor Bradford and seven others, including William Brewster, assumed the colony's debt in exchange for a monopoly on the fur trade;[9] this group of eight has been referred to as the "undertakers".[16]
In the 1627 division of cattle, William Brewster and his sons Love and Wrestling were the first three names in the fifth company.[1] William’s wife, Mary, died at Plymouth on 17 April 1627[1][17] and was not the Mary Brewster included in the cattle division list. Also listed in the fifth company were: Richard More, Henri Samson; son Johnathan Brewster, his wife Lucrecia Brewster and their children Willm Brewster and Mary Brewster; Thomas Prince, Pacience Prince and Rebecka Prince; and Humillyty Cooper.[16][25]
William was listed on the 1633 list of freemen, before those admitted on 1 January 1632/3 and was also assessed in the Plymouth tax lists of 25 March 1633 and 27 March 1634.[1]
As there was no minister at the Plymouth church for many years, William Brewster, as lay leader of the Pilgrim church, conducted services regularly for the congregation.[1][3]
William celebrated the First Thanksgiving in October 1621. The feast was prepared by the four Pilgrim women who survived the first winter, William's wife, Mary, was among them.
From William Bradford, on William Brewster’s life at Plymouth Colony:
“... he would labor with his hands in the fields as long as he was able; yet when the church had no other minister, he taught twice every Sabbath ... For his personal abilities, he was qualified above many; 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 life 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 religions sake, or by the injury and oppression of others; ..."[11]

Removal to Duxbury

In 1632, William received lands in nearby Duxbury and removed from Plymouth to create a farm[26] and he continued preaching there.[1]
Plymouth Colony records dated 4 Sep 1638 note that "a highway laid forth through Captain Standish and Mr. William Brewster's grounds on the "Duxborrow" side, which is not of use for the country, and they do therefore refuse to repair the same, the said Captain Standish and Mr. Brewster do undertake to repair the said way, and it to be only for their own use."[16]
He owned a substantial amount of property in Duxbury and its division was disputed after William's death.

Death and Burial

Elder William Brewster died on 10 April 1644,[2][17] at Duxbury,[3] without having made a will.[1] He may be buried in Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts.[15] Note: The Brewster Book states that William died at Plymouth.[17]
See Research Notes below for further discussion.

Will and Estate

The inventory of the estate of William Brewster was taken on 18 May 1644 and totaled £150 7d. (no real estate included), and with a large collection of books inventoried by Mr. Bradford.[1][3][27] Administration of the estate was granted on 5 June 1644 to his sons Jonathan Brewster and Love Brewster.[1][17][27]
"Whereas William Brewster late of Plymouth, gent., deceased left only two sons surviving vizt. Jonathan the eldest and Love the younger and whereas the said William died intestate for ought can to this day appear." Jonathan and Love requested assistance from William Bradford, Edward Winslow, Thomas Prence and Myles Standish to help negotiate an agreement between them, and on 20 August 1645 the property was divided.[1][5]
Jonathan Brewster was forgiven a debt he had owed his father (except £4) and Love took his father's dwelling house. William's land was divided equally, except for the lands at Duxbury, which were disputed. Eventually, 68 acres were given to Jonathan and 43 acres were given to Love, "and the reason wherefore we gave Love the less quantity was and is because the quality of Love's land in goodness is equal to the quantity of Jonathan's as we judge." [MD 3:27-30, citing PCLR 1:198-99; PCR 12:115-1].[1]
See William Brewster Probate Documents for transcriptions of the probate proceedings.

Research Notes

Where and When was William Brewster Born?

  • "between June 1566 and June 1567", page 1[12]
  • "about 1566, probably at Scrooby, Nottinghamshire", p. 228[12]
  • "about 1566, probably at Scrooby, Nottinghamshire,"[1]
  • "About 1566, probably at Scrooby"[28]
  • "about 1566 in the vicinity of Scrooby..."[2]
  • "1566 or 1567, of Scrooby", p. 251[8]
  • "born in 1566 or 1567"[29]
  • "William was probably born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England."[30]

Where Did William Brewster Die?

  • William Brewster died in Duxbury, where his property was located, as shown in the inventory of his estate.
  • William Brewster's body was interred in Burial Hill Cemetery, in Plymouth, where most of the Mayflower passengers were buried.
  • William Brewster did not die in Barkhamsted, Connecticut, where a large monument in the Riverside Cemetery proclaims his name, title, birth and death. Barkhamsted was not founded until 1779. Although The Charles R. Hale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions, at Hartford, Connecticut in the Connecticut State Library, has a copy of the inscription in Vol # 1, page 19, it does not mean he was buried there.
  • Concluded that William died in April 1644. "It is somewhat remarkable that a great degree of uncertainty should have so long rested upon the two dates of most importance in the life of so prominent a man as Elder William Brewster ... two different years have been heretofore assigned as those of his death..."[29]

Disputed Ancestors

A number of unsourced genealogies have been created linking William's grandfather, William Brewster, to 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 Elder William Brewster. 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. See, for example, The Brewster Bunch Family Story, by Judy Brewster.


Y-DNA Results I-FT1754[31] Y-DNA testing The Mayflower DNA Project and the Brewster/Bruster DNA Project has recorded a number of individuals who are patrilineal (all male line) descendants of both sons of Elder William Brewster (ie Johnnathan & Love). Almost all of them have only done STR testing to date, with the majority being either 37 STRs or 67 STRs. There is one STR difference between the descendants of Johnnathan (DYS19=16) and the descendants of Love (DYS19=15).[32] NGS/WGS testing Currently three individuals in the project who have done the Big Y-700 test (two descended from Johnnathan and one from Love) and their results (as of 30 Jun 2020) all are under I-M253>Z17954>FGC47136>S2304> Z17942>Z17928>Z17926>Z17924>A9783>A19407>FT1754. Additionally, the two descendants of Johnnathan Brewster have tested positive for a mutation the descendant of Love has tested negative (FT759). This mutation had to occur somewhere between Johnnathan Brewster, his son Benjamin, and his son William (as the two testers descend from different sons of William).


  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 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, 3 vols. (Boston: NEHGS, 1995). Online with subsc. at Ancestry.com and AmericanAncestors.org. Vol 1 (A-F), William Brewster, pages 227-230.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 Johnson, Caleb. MayflowerHistory.com: Profile of William Brewster.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 Thompson, Roger. "Brewster, William (1566/7–1644), separatist leader." in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. September 23, 2004. Oxford University Press. Accessed 8 Nov 2019 at ODNB with subscription.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Hunt, John G. "The Mother of Elder William Brewster of the Mayflower," published in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. (Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-present). Online with subscription at AmericanAncestors.org, Vol. 124 (Oct 1970) pages 250-254.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 Jones, Emma C. Brewster. The Brewster Genealogy 1566-1907 (New York: The Grafton Press, 1908). Online at Ancestry.com, pages 3-7.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 McConathy, Ruth H. The House of Cravens. (Charlottesville, VA: publ. privately, 1972). See book info at GoogleBooks. Not available online.
  7. Peterhouse College website.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Stratton, Eugene Aubrey. Plymouth Colony - Its History and People 1620-1691. (Provo, UT: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pages 251-252 [citing NEHGR 18:18 for DOB]. Not available online (hard copy checked 2 Nov 2019).
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War. (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2006.) Pages 13, 21, 25-26, 85-86, 90, 98, 103, 125, 161, 168, 184-185. Not available online.
  10. Who Do You Think You Are (US), Season 2, Episode 8. "Ashely Judd". Note: They visit the cells mentioned in the basement of the Boston, Lincolnshire Guild Hall in Boston, England. Watch online.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647. (Boston: The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1912). Online at Archive.org, Vol. 2, pages 343-352 (William Brewster), 404 (death of Richard More's brother).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Merrick, Barbara. Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, (Silver Book) Vol. 24, Part 1, "Elder William Brewster," 1st ed. (Plymouth, MA: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2014). Not available online.
  13. Merrick, Barbara. Mayflower Families in Progress: William Brewster: Patience, (Pink Book) Revised 3rd edition, 2001. Not available online.
  14. Bangs, Jeremy Dupertius. The Mayflower Quarterly, Vol. 78, no. 2 (June 2012), page 145. Not available online.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Find A Grave, database and images (accessed 02 November 2019), memorial page for Elder William Brewster, IV (1566–10 Apr 1644), Find A Grave: Memorial #16195888, citing Burial Hill, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA; Maintained by Kay Cynova (contributor 47064119): image of recently erected memorial with incorrect name of wife (Mary Wentworth) and unsourced biographies. Use with caution.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7 William Brewster - 17th Century Documents (transcribed), online at Pilgrim Hall Museum.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 Bowman, George E. "The Brewster Book" in The Mayflower Descendant. (Boston: The Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1899-). Online at Archive.org, Vol. 1, no. 1, Jan 1899, pages 1-9.
  18. Ferris, Mary Walton. Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines. (USA: privately printed, 1931). Vol. II: "Gates and Allied Families." Online at HathiTrust, pages 143-156.
  19. Cline, Duane. Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony: 1620 website, "The Speedwell Sails for Southampton". (Link via Wayback Machine at Archive.org, capture date 07 Mar 2023.)
  20. Wikipedia profile of William Brewster.
  21. Harris, Donald F. "The More Children of the Mayflower" in The Mayflower Descendant. (Boston: The Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1899-). Online at Archive.org, Vol. 44, no. 1, Jan 1899, pages 1-9.
  22. Johnson, Caleb. MayflowerHistory.com: Fortune 1621 passenger list.
  23. Johnson, Caleb. MayflowerHistory.com: Anne 1623 passenger list.
  24. Plymouth Colony Archive Project: 1623 Plymouth Land Division.
  25. Plymouth Colony Archive Project: 1627 Division of Cattle.
  26. Steele, Rev. 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. (Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1857). Online at Internet Archive, page 352-354.
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897D-VS54 : 5 March 2023), Wills 1633-1686 vol 1-4 > image 63 of 616; State Archives, Boston. Page 53-59.
  28. 2020 American Ancestors: William Brewster (copy of Great Migration Begins profile of William Brewster).
  29. 29.0 29.1 Dexter, Rev. Henry M. "The True Date of the Birth and Death of William Brewster" in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Online at AmericanAncestors.org, Vol. 18, pages 18-20.
  30. Merrick, Barbara Lambert. William Brewster of the Mayflower and His Descendants for Four Generations. Rev. 3rd ed. (Plymouth, MA: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2000). Not available online.
  31. MayflowerDNA.org wiki Brewster Family Y-DNA results
  32. There are some members of the Brewster/Bruster DNA Project who are unable to trace their ancestry back to Elder William Brewster, but whose STR markers indicate they are certainly related to the family. Curiously, they all have DYS19=14.
See also:
  • Bangs, Jeremy Dupertus. Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners - Leiden and the Foundations of Plymouth Plantation. (Plymouth, MA: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2009). Not available online.
  • Banks, Charles Edward. The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers Who Came to Plymouth. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1962). Online at HathiTrust, pages 35-39.
  • Benton, Charles Edward, Ezra Reed and Esther Edgerton: Their Life and Ancestry. (Poughkeepsie, NY: A.V. Haight Co., 1912). Online at Archive.org, pages 53-55.
  • Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978). Not available online.
  • Cotton, John. "An Account of the Church of Christ in Plymouth" (written in 1760) in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society for the Year 1795. Vol. 4. (Boston, MA: Samuel Hall, 1795). Online at Archive,org, pages 113-117.
  • Sherwood, Mary B., Pilgrim : A Biography of William Brewster (Falls Church, Va. : Great Oak Press of Virginia, 1982).
  • Library of Congress. The Pilgrim Town of Duxbury. (Plymouth, MA: A. S. Burbank, 1900). Online at Archive.org, photos and illustrations of the town of Duxbury.
  • Roser, Susan E. Early Descendants of Henry Cobb of Barnstable MA. (Canada: Stewart Publishing and Printing, 2008). Not available online.
  • Roser, Susan E. Mayflower Increasings From the Files of George Ernest Bowman. 2nd ed., 4th printing. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing, Co., Inc., 2001). Not available online.
  • Terry, Milton E. and Anne Borden Harding. A Notebook on the Descendants of William Brewster of Plymouth Colony. (Mountainside, NJ: M.E. Terry, 1985). Not available online.
  • WeRelate.org: profile of William Brewster (sourced).
  • Wetmore, James Carnahan. The Wetmore Family of America, and its Collateral Branches. (Albany, New York, Munsell & Rowland, 1861), online at Internet Archive, Appendix E: pages 552-568.
  • Willison, George F. Saints and Strangers. (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1945). Not available online.
  • Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856) p. 447 (6) M. William Brewster; Mary, his wife; with 2, sons, whose names were Love & Wrasling; and a boy was put 6. to him called Richard More; and another of his brothers. The rest of his childeren were left behind, & came over afterwards." p. 451 "(4) M. Brewster lived to very old age; about 80 years he was when he dyed, having lived some 23, or 24 years here in y” countrie; & though his wife dyed long before, yet she dyed aged. His sone Wrastle dyed a yonge man unmaried; his sone Love lived till this year 1650. and dyed, & left 4. children, now living. His doughters which came over after him are dead, but have left sundry children alive; his eldst sone is still liveing, and hath 9. or 10, children; one maried, who hath a child or 2."
  • Bradford, William, 1590-1657. Of Plimoth Plantation: manuscript, 1630-1650. State Library of Massachusetts "List of Mayflower Passengers." In Bradford's Hand.
  • Familysearch.org LH2V-RD6
  • MayflowerDNA.org wiki and MayflowerDNA.org wiki Brewster Family Y-DNA results
  • https://mayflowermaid.com/pilgrim-videos?fbclid=IwAR3LopahGyxPNp1dx3rkeAfJlwboyA5RYQfyrS5Of-P49qfATYxTj5wQBfA Shared with permission from Sue Allan.

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Pilgrim : a biography of William Brewster

by Sherwood, Mary B


Publication date: 1982 Topics: Brewster, William, 1566 or 1567-1644, Pilgrims (New Plymouth Colony) -- Biography, Massachusetts -- History -- New Plymouth, 1620-1691, Massachusetts -- Biography Publisher: Falls Church, Va. : Great Oak Press of Virginia Collection: inlibrary; printdisabled; internetarchivebooks Digitizing sponsor: Kahle/Austin Foundation Contributor: Internet Archive Language: English 255 p., [16] p. of plates : 23 cm Bibliography: p. 237-243 Includes index Access-restricted-item: true Addeddate: 2022-09-24 10:01:37 Autocrop_version: 0.0.14_books-20220331-0.2 Bookplateleaf: 0003 Boxid: IA40688403 Camera: Sony Alpha-A6300 (Control) Collection_set: printdisabled External-identifier: urn:lcp:pilgrimbiography0000sher:lcpdf:826634bd-147a-4b95-b76a-79a5f715f47a urn:lcp:pilgrimbiography0000sher:epub:d0148e04-4f41-4665-911c-4793b7dce6eb Foldoutcount: 0 Identifier: pilgrimbiography0000sher Identifier-ark: ark:/13960/s2wpvr7z589 Invoice: 1652 Full catalog record: MARCXML

posted by Richard Schamp
Thank you, Richard. I've added this to the sources.
posted by Bobbie (Madison) Hall
Lets remove the picture that represents anyone born in the 16th century that might look like our William. It has no place in his biography.
posted by Tom Bredehoft
I can't stand that cheesy anonymous "Imagined Likeness." My 2 cents.  :D


posted by Tamara Flora
Brewster-4758 and Brewster-4 appear to represent the same person because: both father of Love
posted by Anne B
Can we delete this? Brewster-4 exists and doesn’t need to be merged with any info on this page.


posted on Brewster-4758 (merged) by Michael Brewster
I'd go along with deleting it, no new data whatever.
posted on Brewster-4758 (merged) by Tom Bredehoft
Well done on the construction and finish of this profile. The PM's should be proud of the work. Noticed because I am his 10th great grandson. I know - long ways away.
posted by Richard Barton
I now see that I had the wrong Nathaniel Brewster so William is no longer in my tree. Thank.
posted on Brewster-4758 (merged) by L Garrone
posted on Brewster-4758 (merged) by Steve Hunt
Hello Profile Managers!

We are featuring this profile in the Connection Finder this week. Between now and Wednesday is a good time to take a look at the sources and biography to see if there are updates and improvements that need made, especially those that will bring it up to WikiTree Style Guide standards. We know it's short notice, so don't fret too much. Just do what you can.



posted by Abby (Brown) Glann
Brewster-4480 and Brewster-4 appear to represent the same person because: Clear duplicate. daughter Fear Brewster is also a pending merge. Spouse Mary Smythe (abt.1566-1644) (maiden name unproven) is aka Mary (Unknown) Brewster.
posted by Faylene Bailey
edited by Faylene Bailey
Hello, I have found Elder William Brewster to be my 11th Great Grandfather. However, there are different opinions as to his wife, and another female in the line. This is so frustrating, how can we find these answers? His place in historic documents should readily solve this, correct? How can I connect his profile to my info without causing duplication problems?

I know this is not just for me, but for all who want answers too. Thank you!

posted by Tina Cox
Hi Tina,

Thanks for your interest in William Brewster's wife. You mention "different opinions" on his wife - have you read the section about her in this profile? I believe it's well explained there what the current state of research is. If you have more recent reliable sources that support other conclusions than what we have in that section currently, please let us know.

posted by Bobbie (Madison) Hall
Thats a Lovely frieze! Authentic representation. I value very much the time and seriousness taken to honor the profile appropriately! Thank you :)
posted by Tamara Flora
edited by Tamara Flora
Removed recently added image of (possibly) Richard Warren. See discussion below.
posted by Traci Thiessen
I added the image from "Frieze of American History" as his primary photo. Feel free to remove or change.
posted by Traci Thiessen
Citing "Information from Dr. Rendel Harris," in Walter H. Burgess, John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrim fathers ... (London: Williams and Norgate, 1920), p. 236; digital images Hathi Trust.

"Meanwhile, friends in Leyden were making their preparations for the voyage ... To meet the immediate need for money, Robinson, Brewster and William Jepson mortgaged property in Leyden in 1620. This tided them over the occasion, and six months later, they were able to pay off the mortgage."

Presumably Dr. Rendel Harris is aka, "J. Rendel Harris," Wikipedia.

I have been unable to locate a mortgage or other such matching document in the Pilgrimdocs section of the Leiden archives--John Robinson search; William Brewster search; William Jepson search.

What I have found is a record "acknowledgement of debt" dated 2 January 1621. Of course, William Brewster's name does not appear in the English abstract of that record (he was in Massachusetts Bay by that time). The abstract reads, "On 2 January 1621, Thomas Brewer, preacher John Robinson and William Jepson appear before notary Jacob van Tethrode in Leiden. They declare they owe the sum of 744 guilders, thirteen stivers and three pennies to Jean de Lalaing." [Record group 0506; Call no. 82; Page 28]

Given that Brewster was in hiding much of 1619 through at least early 1620, the comment in Burgess' material is either interesting or odd.

Perhaps someone has had better luck. Any insights?--Gene

posted by GeneJ X
edited by GeneJ X
A private message was sent: This is stated in the profile for William Brewster but I think Edward Winslow’s involvement with Oliver Cromwell might qualify Edward with involvement in politics or diplomacy. “ This experience made Brewster the only Pilgrim with involvement in politics or diplomacy.”

Addressing this. -- Winslow's involvement with Cromwell took place after the sailing of the Mayflower. So I added the words "prior to the Mayflower sailing to the above sentence. This was probably the author's intent.

posted by Anne B
Another source which contains genealogy of Elder William Brewster.

Elder William Brewster was matriculated at Peterhouse College, Cambridge University, Dec. 3, 1580. After leaving the University he entered into the service of William Davison, Queen Elizabeth's ambassador to Scotland, etc. includes children, grandchildren.

Signers of the Mayflower Compact and their Descendants (https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/412450-signers-of-the-mayflower-compact-and-their-descendants?offset=6)

posted by Linda Davison
Since there are no known paintings/drawings of William Brewster, I suggest that we remove the file that has been attached to this profile and replace it with something that actually represents him, like one of his many memorial plaques, or something related to the Pilgrims.
posted by [Living Emmons]
I agree but feel we should collect more consensus before changing the the primary photo. It is possible to change the small photo that is beside his name to another one without deleting the imagined portrait. Perhaps this could be a compromise.
posted by Morag (Morrison) M
It's easy enough to change the primary photo without deleting the image. Generally I am not in favor of using other images that represent him like memorial plaques etc. If we want to remove it, I'm in favor of using the generic wikitree male image.
posted by Anne B
I concur. The generic male image is adequate.
posted by Tom Bredehoft
I just Found this in U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900

Name: Mary Wyrall Gender: Female Spouse Name: William Brewster Spouse Birth Place: En Spouse Birth Year: 1560 Marriage State: En Number Pages: 1 Source Citation Source number: 2860.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: RH1

Source Information Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

posted by Jackie Stoddard
Another unreliable source.

From Mary's profile The maiden name of William Brewster's wife has not been proven. The claim it was Mary Wentworth rests solely on the fact that Mary Wentworth happened to live somewhat close to William Brewster in Scrooby, Nottingham. It has also been proposed that William Brewster may have married Mary Wyrall, daughter of Thomas Wentworth, who was bailiff of Scrowbie Manor immediately prior to William Brewster, Sr. (father of the immigrant). Both these theories have been rejected by other noted genealogists.[1] There are no fewer than seven marriages from 1590-1610 that have been located in parish registers showing a William Brewster marrying a Mary.

posted by Anne B
I'm wondering if Marys surname was Love , theres a child Love , I have a lot of Love dna matches:

I have the parents of "Mary Wentworth" in my ancestry tree as Thomas WENTWORTH , 3rd Baron Wentworth 1522–1587 Grace Margaret Gascoigne 1532–1574

posted by Jackie Stoddard
It's an interesting thought. I think it's a lot more likely that it's a biblical name. I've never heard the Love used as a surname. I checked at https://www.freereg.org.uk for persons baptized 1580-1640 with the surname Love - not a single one. I did the same thing at family search. There are some "Love" burials in the timeframe, but none in Nottinghamshire.

We do have a profile for Mary Wentworth. Have you looked at it?

posted by Anne B
Love surname theres lots from Wikitree (take a look at them) I refer to the alternate surnames on Wikitree constantly

LOVE Genealogy About 6371 LOVEs. Related surnames: LEVY (2810) LOUW (2117) LOBB (871) LEVI (827) LUBBE (601) LUFF (465) LUFKIN (388) LAVOY (241) LEVEY (225) LEAVY (165) LAVEY (117) LEYVA (101) LOVEL (112) LEVIE (106) LOVEN (112).

posted by Jackie Stoddard
Mary Love Wentworth is what I and a couple of others on ancestry have for Williams wife (could be Mary Love , she could have also married a Wentworth )

there is 100s of Mary Love on wikitree alone many need merging , I don't have the time sorry

just 2 of my Love DNA matches are James Lewis Love 4th Cousin - Remote Cousin 48 12 and Raymond Eugene Love 5th Cousin - Remote Cousin 27 9 I have about 25 on ftdna and 100s on ancestry just a theory

posted by Jackie Stoddard
looks like William did marry Mary Wentworth , read the Headstone, I'd say thats proof enough?
posted by Jackie Stoddard
The headstone was erected in 1967 and is not primary documentation. In addition, the 2014 "Silver Book" (Mayflower Families Through Five Generations) specifically says he married Mary ____. So although, at some time in the past, her name was believed to be Mary Wentworth, that is no longer the case. Guess someone should put up a new headstone.
posted by Anne B
? The burial of the unnamed child took place in Leiden in 1609, because the Brewsters lived in Leiden in 1609. They did not go to Plymouth (Colony) until 1620. We don't know when he/she was born, but he was probably not very old. The mayflower Society currently lists him between Fear and Love, not Love and William.
posted by Anne B
Prefix do not require that a person was born with them (only suffixes in Wikitree require that a person be born with it.) Would you take away the term Sgt. or Mr. just because it wasn't on a birth certificate?
posted by Anne B

Reviewing the list of children in the bio, I'm curious why their (notionally) 5th-born child NN Brewster is buried in Leiden in 1609, after the family has already emigrated to Plymouth? (Is he actually born much earlier? Are we "sorting" on his/her death date, in Leiden? Or, is this a typo? Was he/she born in Leiden too; if so when? If not, then why and how did he/she get there?)


posted by Isaac Taylor
Hi folks. He wasn't born with the prefix Elder. And it's not a noble title that permanently, legally changes his name. Do we need it?
posted by Isaac Taylor
DONE 11/3/19 - If there are no objections, I will cite-check and do a biography review/update for this profile on the Mayflower Project's 5-Star list. I won't remove the picture of his "imagined likeness" that was discussed in 2018 G2G thread.
posted by Traci Thiessen
I was told 55 years ago, when I was 13, at a family reunion of the Card Family, held in Ripley, NY at the Gilbert’s residence, that we were Mayflower descendants. William Brewster is my 12th Great-Grandfather. I am thankful for the Pilgrims who survived! Margaret Sheldon Kleimola. Sheldon-2961
I see no mention of Babworth Church in this page - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Church,_Babworth This is where William Brewster once worshipped. The little lane to one side of the Church is known as the Pilgrim's Way.

My great grandparents Charles and Elizabeth Grant are buried here - though their grandparents only arrived in Babworth around 1793, long after Brewster turned to Scrooby.

Rejected matches › Richard Brewster (abt.1566-1644)