52 Ancestors #30 William Brewster – Elder, Pilgrim, Governor

William Brewster was my tenth great-grandfather. He was born to William Brewster and Mary Smythe on January 24, 1560 in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England and died April 10, 1644 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

He married Mary Love Wentworth in Scrooby, England and they had seven children – Edward (1587-1677), Elizabeth (1592-1687), Jonathan Williamson (1593-1659), Fear of God (1600-1634), Patience [my 9th great grandmother] (1600-1634), Westling with the Devil (1603-1643) and Love of God (1611-1650).

There are extensive stories, documents and webpages devoted to William Brewster and his contributions and I’m not going to duplicate them here.  The man had strong morals and convictions, a sharp mind and a drive to take his family from England to Holland to the new land of America.

From Wikipedia – which is not a source I would generally use, but it has the clearest writing of what all of the other sites say.

“He studied briefly at Peterhouse, Cambridge, before entering the service of William Davison in 1584.

Brewster was the only Pilgrim with political and diplomatic experience. With his mentor in prison, Brewster had returned home to Scrooby for a time, where he took up his father’s former position as postmaster.

Cambridge was a centre of thought concerning religious reformism, but Brewster had spent time in the Netherlands in connection with Davison’s work, giving him opportunity to hear and see more of reformed religion. While, earlier in the 16th century, reformers had hoped to amend the Anglican church, by the end of it, many were looking toward splitting from it.”


When the colonists landed at Plymouth Colony, Brewster became the senior elder of the colony, serving as its religious leader and as an adviser to Governor William Bradford. Brewster’s son Jonathan joined the family in November 1621, arriving at Plymouth on the ship Fortune, and daughters Patience and Fear arrived in July 1623 aboard the Anne.

As the only university educated member of the colony, Brewster took the part of the colony’s religious leader until a pastor, Ralph Smith, arrived in 1629. Thereafter, he continued to preach irregularly until his death in April 1644. “He was tenderhearted and compassionate of such as were in misery,” Bradford write, “but especially of such as had been of good estate and rank and fallen unto want and poverty.”

Brewster was granted land amongst the islands of Boston Harbor, and four of the outer islands (Great Brewster, Little Brewster, Middle Brewster and Outer Brewster) now bear his name. In 1632, Brewster received lands in nearby Duxbury and removed from Plymouth to create a farm there.

In 1634 smallpox and influenza ravaged both the English and the Indians in the region. William Brewster, whose family had managed to survive the first terrible winter unscathed, lost two daughters, Fear and Patience, now married to Isaac Allerton and Thomas Prence, respectively.

He died April 1644 and was buried in Burial Hill, Plymouth.

William Brewster (1567 – 1644) is your 10th great grandfather
Patience Brewster (1600 – 1634) daughter of William Brewster
Mercy Prence (1631 – 1711) daughter of Patience Brewster
Abigail Freeman (1693 – 1737) daughter of Nathaniel Freeman
Abigail Freeman Smith (1718 – 1793) daughter of Abigail Freeman
Jesse Eldredge (1742 – 1788) son of Abigail Freeman Smith
Elijah Eldredge (1778 – 1856) son of Jesse Eldredge
Willard Holt Eldredge (1882 – 1957) son of William Hunt Eldredge
Lester Fremont Eldredge (1909 – 1991) son of Willard Holt Eldredge
Charles Sherwood Eldridge (1938 – 2013) son of Lester Fremont Eldredge

About T.K. Eldridge

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One Response to 52 Ancestors #30 William Brewster – Elder, Pilgrim, Governor

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors 2015: #36 Occupations | Of Loons and Lady Slippers

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