Mayflower Passenger "Elder" William Brewster (1566-1643)

Started by Erica Howton on Wednesday, October 20, 2010
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10/20/2010 at 11:50 AM

We've opened a Geni Project for Pilgrim Brewster, Mayflower passenger, and need help to sort out his origins. He is reported to have many half siblings but we have not seen a good source statement on this yet.

Information and research assistance requested, with URL's so we can see the websites.

10/20/2010 at 11:51 AM
10/20/2010 at 12:02 PM

Is this what you are talking about from Wikipedia?

For the many half siblings Wikipedia cites:
Merrick, Barbara Lambert. William Brewster of the Mayflower and His Descendants for Four Generations Barbara Lambert Merrick, compiler, Published by General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Revised 3rd Edition. 2000.

10/20/2010 at 12:03 PM

Yes, that's the reference we're questioning.

10/20/2010 at 12:06 PM

Sorry, I guess you have this information already...

Private User
10/20/2010 at 12:08 PM

Erica, There is some interesting referenced history on WIlliam Brewster on my Mayflower CD. I can't figure out how to downmload and send to you from the CD, but my computer-literate husband will be home later. He can probably do it. There is quite a bit about William's origins. Mary

10/20/2010 at 12:16 PM

Excellent Mary! See, that CD is getting *used.*

Private User
10/20/2010 at 12:36 PM

Alice, I have tried to get the text by Barbara Lambert Merrick and have not been able. However, the library that has it is willing to xerox limited amounts of it and send it to me electronically. I have received the first chapter of this book, where you would expect to find this information, and it is not there.

I believe that there are documented references to half-brothers of William, but the assumption was that they were probably sons of Mary Smythe and her first husband John Simkinson (or Symkinson), in which case they would not be Brewsters. (Sorry, I do not have the reference for this.)

Private User
10/20/2010 at 1:04 PM

Erica, There might be some info here. Links to other websites.

10/20/2010 at 3:46 PM

"Elder" William Brewster, "Mayflower" Passenger is Hatte Blejer's 17th great grandfather!

This is kinda surprising. It depends upon the Bethia Stowe - Bethia Kelsey - John Hopkins link being correct.

10/20/2010 at 3:56 PM

Almost sorted that one out. Apparently a lot of wishful thinking as to her parentage ...

10/20/2010 at 3:58 PM

I noticed progress. Thank you Erica :)

Private User
10/29/2010 at 5:43 PM

My main interest in William Brewster is in understanding whether he had any siblings (because there is a person is in my tree who is alleged to be one). I have yet to see any evidence that he had any, other than occasional family histories, which tend to be unreliable. Has anyone found any source material which would indicate the existence of siblings?

One source is The England and Holland of the Pilgrims by Henry Martyn Dexter and Morton Dexter published in 1905. It is available on Google Books at . On page 253 it states "His father's name was William and his mother's Prudence, and no other child of theirs was living in 1590." The evidence for this is given in a footnote, quoting the probate record of his father's will of July 24, 1590,, which mentions only a son named William. (This disagrees with the general assumption that his mother was Mary Smythe. Is their later scholarship that establishes her?)

For anyone interested, I have the two volume set of "The Brewster Genealogy 1566-1907," by Emma C. Brewster Jones on interlibrary loan. It due on November 29, and listed as not renewable. It does not have any additional information on William's parents or siblings. It just quotes the above mentioned work. However, it is a rather complete reference for William's descendants. I can try to answer any questions anyone has. This set of books seems to be a rather limited edition since each set is hand numbered. Mine is number 334.

Finally, William's profile is a bit of a mess. He has 26 parents, 7 wives (all named Mary) and 41 children. Is any curator planning to clean this up soon?

10/29/2010 at 6:02 PM

I've been working (and weeping) on the Brewsters for a while ... there was a multigenerational collapse going on. Believe it or not, it's better than it was in Brewsterland. Not long ago he was his own grandfather and none of his wives were named Mary.

We've just onboarded our next round of curators and I'm going to draft some help.

The genealogical question about the siblings is very interesting and I worked on cleaning up the Mary Smythe family to try and clarify.

The Brewster Project is live here:

Gary, would you be kind enough to include the references mentioned in the "Works Cited" section of the Project Overview? Just press edit and don't worry about formatting overmuch. One useful hint is that a * makes a bullet and starts a new line.

You've been added to the Project as a collaborator and I'll go back to merging the many William and Mary's.

Private User
10/29/2010 at 6:05 PM

Gary, I have a CD of Mayflower documents and books that has an article titled,
"The Mother of Elder William Brewster of the Mayflower". It links various generations before William of the Mayflower by wills. I'm not familiar with the lineage, so it's rather difficult for me to follow. If you would like a copy, I can send a copy to you via email. I'm not able to copy and paste to this discussion.

Private User
10/29/2010 at 6:36 PM

This part of the tree is a mess! I completed all the mergers in the project. I'm looking at the tree now, but I might need to pick it up again in the morning. I got a few hundred merges done today!

Private User
10/29/2010 at 6:43 PM

Technical question: If you are trying to fix duplicates, and it shows several different sets of parents, can you stack the incorrect names on the correct names to merge them into one person, and then correct dates, etc? I don't want to create a mess and haven't tried this, but wonder if this is a way to get rid of bad parents, spouses, etc.

Private User
10/29/2010 at 6:45 PM

You can do that. But, sometimes, there are really two people on top of each other, so the double set of parents is correct and the profile needs to be split in two. If the parents are just wrong, yes, put them on top of each other and then correct the names and everything else. Just make sure you're not wiping out a whole family.

Private User
10/29/2010 at 6:49 PM

Brendan, I think I'll leave those type of corrections to people like you and Erica.
I'll just keep researching for y'all. (I'm from Texas)

Private User
10/29/2010 at 7:46 PM

I only recently discovered quiet by accident that I am connected with William Brewster. I only just started back tracking Mayo and low and behold there was William Brewster! I only got as far as putting him into my tree. Now , someone has connected with same tree ,which is fine and save me the time of typing everything into his profile. I am interested in pursuing his line in more depth. Judy

10/29/2010 at 7:51 PM

Since you asked me directly I will see if I can find anything. (no promises, I DO like digging for things)...
Will let you know..
Do you know which curators you fall under the care of??? Maybe one of them can help out with the multiples or can tell you that a major merge is in the works...or at least can get rid of some of the clutter for you...

I would think that a good part of the problem is WHO ARE THE PARENTS!
Each set must have their own set of children etc which are trying to merge.

I'll see if I can find out anything about parents as well as children.

Will let you know either way.


Private User
10/29/2010 at 8:34 PM

Mary, could you paste a link to the profile that you're referring to so that someone can look at it and clean it up? Thanks

10/29/2010 at 8:45 PM

Hi Fay,

As you can see, I've called in Curatorial Reinforcement for Elder Brewster (Brendan is now a Geni Curator, by the way).

The Brewster geni tree is unfortunately a bear to untangle. In the past few months myself, Kim O. and Lori Wilkes have all worked on it ... which has brought it from "I'm speechless" state to "oye, what a mess" state.

With Brendan on the case I'm sure we'll get it much better. Basically we need to supermerge in all the dupes, that's what will make the difference.

Meanwhile the Research and Documentation team has a very interesting question posed by Gary, to whit:

Did William Brewster have brothers or half brothers and if so, can we verify their ancestry and descent?

I found the book Gary has from the library avail online from archivestream, you can search (CTRL-F) and / or download a PDF file:

I am looking on line for the reference Mary mentioned. It is called:

John G. Hunt, "The Mother of Elder William Brewster of the Mayflower," NEHGR 124:250.

Theoretical brother Nathaniel Brewster was discussed here:

Donald Lines Jacobus, "The Family of Rev. Nathaniel Brewster'," TAG 12:99

all mentioned at this interesting website:

10/29/2010 at 8:48 PM

And BTW Mary you got the method we curators use correct. PRO users can also do a lot this. The idea is merge in all the dupes and then use "edit relationships" to remove the connection to the wrong parents and spouses.

10/29/2010 at 8:53 PM

Anyone know where this lady belongs?

Amy Weld

William Brewster did not have any daughters named Amy.

Private User
10/29/2010 at 8:56 PM

John Tilley, "Mayflower" Passenger

Brendan, There is a lot of incorrect information around John Tilley, his wife Joan Hurst Tilley, and daughter Elizabeth Tilley and his parents. It looks like someone has been working on this. I noticed a DO NOT MERGE YET note on one of them.
The Howland-Tilley lineage is the main one for my grandkids, their 10th great-grandparents. Let me know if I can do research for you.

10/30/2010 at 3:36 AM

Geni says I'm lined. to William..

You folks seem to have a good handle on William himself and know that his father was also a William (evidently he had more than 1 wife and there could have been half-siblings) AND grandfather was also a muck up things even worse....sounds like everyone has a good grasp of the intermingling of generations as a large part of the problem.

I'll look into my link which is Esther Calkins (Caulkins) to Ezekial Turner to Mary Brewster dau of Jonathan Brewster to see if that has any validity....might dig up something by going in side-ways....'ve got the direct route pretty well covered so I'll try that for the time being....who MIGHT show something that will help.

Private User
10/30/2010 at 4:27 AM

I don't mind looking at what I've got, to help sort out this mess as well. My great grandfather had lots of genealogy research done long ago and kept meticulous records. I'm not sure off-hand how far he traced those particular lines back. (Imagine all that work, pre-internet!!!) Anyway, I'll let you all know if I find anything. Of the Mayflower folk, I am related to the Tilleys, Brewsters and Howlands.

10/30/2010 at 4:44 AM
10/30/2010 at 8:19 AM

Gary Feldman

You seem to be confused by all of the William Brewsters. I will tell you of the sequence I have.
William Brewster – Wife Prudence Perkins d. circa AFT 1590 – Son William Brewster
Son William Brewster – Wife Maude Mann – Sons John William Brewster & Henry Brewster
John William Brewster – Wife Mary Smythe – Children William Brewster, Elder & James Brewster & Prudence Brewster
William Brewster, Elder – Wife Mary - Children William Brewster, Jonathan Brewster, Patience Brewster, Fear Love Brewster, Love Brewster & Wrestling Brewster
Bob Swoger - 11th great grandson of William Brewster, Elder

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