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William Brewster was the senior elder and religious leader of the Plymouth Colony, a group of English Separatists who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts and celebrated the first Thanksgiving.
See the fact file below for more information on the William Brewster or alternatively, you can download our 24-page William Brewster worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life & Family
- In 1566, William Brewster was born and raised in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England.
- His parents were William and Prudence Brewster.
- He had half-siblings on his father’s side.
- William and his family lived in the Manor of Scrooby.
Education & Career
- He entered Peterhouse College in Cambridge and was instructed in both Greek and Latin.
- He did not finish his schooling at Peterhouse.
- In 1584, he went to serve in the office of William Davidson, who was Queen Elizabeth’s Secretary of State.
- Brewster spent some time in the Netherlands when he accompanied William Davidson on his diplomatic trips there.
- While in Netherlands, Brewster was able to know more about reformed religion.
- When William Davidson was sent to prison, Brewster went back to his hometown, Scrooby, in 1589 and succeeded his father by becoming Postmaster.
- As Postmaster, he was responsible for the relays of the horses that carried mails from London to Scotland.
- In 1602, a Brownist congregation began to assemble in the Manor of Scrooby.
- Six years later, he led the organization of the Separatist Church of Scrooby.
- The Separatist Church faced religious persecution and had to flee England.
- It was illegal to flee England without permission, so the first time the Separatists tried fleeing in 1607, Brewster was arrested.
- In 1608, Brewster was released and, together with John Robinson, he successfully led the group’s move to Amsterdam from the River Humber.
- In 1609, the group relocated to Leiden, Netherlands and Brewster was appointed as the ruling elder of the Pilgrim Separatists.
- As an Elder, he took the responsibility of making sure that the members led their lives properly.
Life in Leiden
- William Brewster lived in Leiden with his wife, Mary, and his children: Jonathan, Patience, Fear, Love, and Wrestling.
- His first job was an English teacher in the University of Leiden.
- He then began working with Thomas Brewer and Edward Winslow in setting up a printing press to publish religious books and tracts that were forbidden to be sold in England.
- In 1619, a pamphlet critical of King James I and the English Church was published by Brewster and Winslow.
- English ambassador Sir Dudley Carleton ordered Dutch authorities to seize the printing press and to arrest Brewster and Thomas Brewer.
- Brewer was captured, but Brewster escaped and went into hiding.
- That same year, while Brewster was in hiding, the congregation was able to get a land patent from the Virginia Company with the help of John Carver and Robert Cushman.
- In 1620, Brewster joined the group of Separatists to board the Mayflower ship and set sail for North America.
- He went with his wife and two youngest sons: Love and Wrestling. His son Jonathan followed them to America in 1621. His daughters Patience and Fear joined the family in 1623.
- He became the senior elder of the congregation that later became known as the Plymouth Colony.
- He was the only member of the colony to have studied in a university.
- He was responsible for being the colony’s religious leader as well as William Bradford’s political advisor.
- In 1627, his wife Mary died at nearly 60 years old.
- He never remarried.
- In 1629, his religious duty was assumed by Pastor Ralph Smith.
- Despite not being the religious leader anymore, he still preached from time to time.
- Brewster was granted the Boston Harbor Islands, which are now named after him.
- He was also granted land in Duxbury, a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.
- Five of his six children grew up to adulthood and four of them had their own families.
- In 1634, his two daughters Love and Patience died when smallpox and other diseases ravaged the Pilgrims.
Death and Legacy
- He lived to nearly 78 years.
- He died in Plymouth on April 10, 1644.
- The islands among Boston Harbor that are named after him are Great Brewster Island, Little Brewster Island, Middle Brewster Island, and Outer Brewster Island.
- Brewster Town in Massachusetts and Brewster Village in Nebraska are also named after him.
- Brewster Gardens is a park in Plymouth, Massachusetts that includes the original land that was granted to Brewster.
- A kind of spindle chair was made in the 17th century and was called the Brewster chair, named after him too.
- Another of his legacies is The Elder William Brewster Society, a group of William Brewster’s descendants, that meets once every three years at the Mayflower Society General Congress in Massachusetts.
William Brewster Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about William Brewster across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use William Brewster worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about William Brewster who was the senior elder and religious leader of the Plymouth Colony, a group of English Separatists who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts and celebrated the first Thanksgiving.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- William Brewster Facts
- Elder Brewster
- Son, Father, Husband
- Brewster Children
- True or False
- Arrange History
- Jack of All Trades
- Named After Brewster
- Brewster Word Search
- Scrooby Village
- Letter to Brewster
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Link will appear as William Brewster Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 1, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
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