Monday, November 22, 2010

Elder William Brewster is another of our Pilgrim Ancestors. He was born about 1566 probably in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England or in the vicinity. He was the son of William Brewster and his wife Mary (surname thought to have been either Smythe or Simkinson). William Sr. was the bailiff for Scrooby Manor which belonged to the Archbishops of York for about 31 years. Scrooby Manor was important as it was located on the main road to the north. The position included being Postmaster.

William studied Latin and Greek at Peterhouse College at Cambridge University from about 1580 to 1583 though there is no evidence that he took a degree. After the University, he served as a secretary to Sir William Davison who was an assistant to Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State Sir Francis Walsingham. It was while working for Davison, that Brewster first traveled to the Netherlands.

While it may have been during his Cambridge years that Brewster first became involved with the religious reformism, certainly, his time in the Netherlands gave him additional opportunities to experience the Reformed Church.

Davison fell out of favor with Elizabeth, and William returned to Scrooby where he assumed his father's position as Postmaster from 1590-1607. Brewster's home became the meeting place for dissenting Puritans and in 1606 they formed the Separatist Church of Scrooby.

The atmosphere of restrictions and persecution, convinced the congregation that they should leave the country for the more tolerant Netherlands. They first tried to leave in 1607, but were arrested at Scotia Creek and several were imprisoned. They were finally successful in leaving for Amsterdam in 1608 where they joined the Ancient Church of Francis Johnson and Henry Ainsworth. Caught up in the in-fighting between the two men, they relocated to Leiden in less than one year.

Brewster taught English to support his family, and later printed and published separatist religious books in English for sale in England. This raised the ire of the English who prevaled upon the Dutch to have Brewster and his partner arrested in 1619. Brewster escaped and knew the congregation would have to move on.

The story continues tomorrow.

Oh, for the descent.... William Brewster's daughter Patience married Thomas Prence, their daughter Hannah married Nathaniel Mayo, their son Thomas married Barbara Knowles, their daughter Lydia married Joshua Merrick, their daughter Abigail married Elisha Hopkins, he married Druscilla Conant, their daughter Rhoda Hopkins married Thomas Warner, their daughter Joanna Warner married Naaman Cone, their son William Warner Cone married Eliza Utley and their son was Frederick Naamen Cone, Frederick married Helen Brown Newton, and their son was Charles Newton Cone.... you know the rest.

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