Ancestry Family Tree Genealogy
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William Brewster, Elder

Male 1566 - 1644  (78 years)


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  • Name William Brewster 
    Suffix Elder 
    Born 1566  Scrooby or Doncaster, Yorkshire England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    _UID 6B5F4518451541B79C21E552C1623A29F3E1 
    Died 10 Apr 1644  Plymouth, MA Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Person ID I34  Bradley - Post
    Last Modified 30 Jul 2013 

    Father William Brewster,   b. Abt 1535,   d. 1590  (Age ~ 55 years) 
    Mother Mary (Simkinson) Smythe,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Bef 1566  England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F30  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Mary Wyrall or Wentworth or Unknown,   b. Abt 1569, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Apr 1627, Plymouth, MA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 58 years) 
    Married Bef 1593  England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Jonathan Brewster,   d. 7 Aug 1659, New London, New London Co, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. Patience Brewster,   b. Abt 1600, Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 12 Dec 1634, Plymouth, MA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 34 years)
     3. Fear Brewster,   b. Abt 1606, Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 12 Dec 1634, Plymouth, MA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 28 years)
     4. Love Brewster,   b. Abt 1611, Leyden, South Holland, Netherlands Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Jan 1650, Duxbury, Plymouth Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 39 years)
     5. Wrestling Brewster,   b. Abt 1614, probably Holland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 1644  (Age ~ 29 years)
    Last Modified 15 Jan 2018 
    Family ID F34  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • 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 ofhis 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 traveled 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 nearlyimpossible 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 anytime 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 deer 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 [source: The Thanksgiving Primer by the Plimouth Plantation, 1991]

  • Sources 
    1. [S1] Register of Pedigrees, , p. 986.