« Brewster, Chauncey Bunce Brewster, William Breyfogel, Sylvanus Charles »

Brewster, William

BREWSTER, WILLIAM: Leader of the "Pilgrim Fathers"; b. of good family probably at Scrooby (37 m. s. of York), Nottinghamshire, England, 1560; d. at Plymouth, Mass., Apr. 10, 1644. He matriculated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, but apparently did not graduate. From 1584 till 1587 he was in the service of William Davison, ambassador to the Low Countries and afterward secretary of state. About 1587 he retired to Scrooby, where he lived in the manor-house and was keeper of the post, a position of considerable importance at that time. He was a prominent member of a separatist congregation of which Richard Clifton was pastor, holding its meetings regularly at Brewster's house. Because of persecution in England they made an unsuccessful attempt to flee to Holland in 1607, and in 1608 escaped to Amsterdam with John Robinson as "teacher" and Brewster as "elder." In 1609 they settled at Leyden, where Brewster, having exhausted his means, gave lessons in English and also set up a printing-press. He favored the emigration to America, was influential in securing a grant of land in 1619, and sailed with the first company in the Mayflower, Sept., 1620. He continued as elder of the congregation at Plymouth, and preached regularly until the first ordained minister, Ralph Smith, came in 1629, but as he was not ordained, he never administered the sacraments. See Congregationalists, I, 1, §§ 5–7; 4, § 1.

Bibliography: Memoir, written by his colleague, William Bradford, the governor and historian of the Plymouth colony (b. 1590; d. 1657), in Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrims, Boston, 1841, and in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, series 5, vol. iii; A. Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims. Life and Time of W. Brewster, Philadelphia, 1857; J. Savage, Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, 4 vols., Boston, 1860–62; W. Walker, History of Congregational Churches, pp. 56, 59, 61–74, 77, 227, New York, 1894; DNB, vi, 304–305.

« Brewster, Chauncey Bunce Brewster, William Breyfogel, Sylvanus Charles »
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