Elder William Brewster and Mary Wentworth

Born in 1560 in the town of Scrooby in Nottinghamshire, England, William Brewster married Mary Wentworth, and studied briefly at the college of Cambridge before becoming active in the movement to reform the Anglican church.

His congregation eventually emigrated to the more religiously tolerant environment of Leyden, Holland, where he began publishing religious tracts that were circulated illegally in England. By that time, his congregation had become Separatists, seeking a total break with the Anglican church.

After English agents came to arrest Brewster in Leyden, he was forced to go into hiding for a time, then rejoined his congregation for the Mayflower’s voyage to the New World. The most educated member of the party, he served as the Pilgrims‘  spiritual leader in Plymouth Colony for many years, and as a prominent adviser to Governor William Bradford.

The signing of the Mayflower Compact.

The signing of the Mayflower Compact.

Mama Kelly actually descended from two of Elder Brewster’s granddaughters by his son Elder Jonathan Brewster, an early settler of New London, Connecticut: Elizabeth and Grace. Elizabeth’s 4 greats granddaughter, Mary Latimer, married her second cousin, Nathaniel Latimer, who was a descendant of Grace Brewster, and they moved to the part of Cumberland Territory that was later to become Sumner County, Tennessee.

According to this page, other Brewster descendants include Howard Dean, Herbert Hoover, Nelson Rockefeller, Julia Child, Bing Crosby, Richard Gere, Katherine Hepburn, Ashley Judd, Cokie Roberts, Dan Quayle and (gack!) Sarah Palin.

William Brewster memorial stone. Burial Hill, Plymouth, MA.

William Brewster memorial stone. Burial Hill, Plymouth, MA.

Mama Kelly’s 8th great-grandparents.
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