m. circa 1562
Facts and Events
In 1970 John G Hunt published an account of the family of William Brewster of Duncaster in NEHGR Volume 124 p 253 in 1970. This was a follow-up article to his previously published treatment of this family published in 1965 in TAG Volume 41 p 1-5 In 2014 the General Society of Mayflower Descendants published the latest research on Elder William Brewster and the authors call these two articles the current state of research on this topic.
William Brewster of Scrooby was born about 1534 to William Brewster and Maude Mann probably in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England where we find the last record of his parents. His date of birth is estimated based on the birth date of his son Elder William Brewster. A William Brewster witnessed the will of his uncle Christopher Mann on 13 Jan 1558 with Thomas and John Simkinson of Doncaster. Although we are uncertain if this was William Brewster of Scrooby or his father, William Brewster of Doncaster, John G Hunt believes it was the former. He was named in the will of Bartholomew Bryan of Scrooby dated 6 May 1564 as William Brewster "dwelling in Scrooby." Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England is a small village on the River Ryton near Bawtry in the northern part of the English county of Nottinghamshire. Scrooby is located just seven miles South of his ancestral home in Doncaster.
He married first Mary (Smythe) Simkinson, daughter William Smythe of Stainforth parish in Hatfield. She was sister of John Smythe of Hull and widow of John Simkinson of Wakefield and Doncaster. With her previous husband she had two children:
Mary Smythe and William Brewster had one child:
According to an undated proceeding addressed to Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal (1558-1579) Mary (Smythe) Brewster and William Brewster sued Francis Hobson. She is identified as the late wife of John Symkinson late of Doncaster, Yorkshire, England and she testified that her late husband was seized of lands in Doncaster and in his lifetime he did convey these land to her when she was his wife for the term of her life and afterwards before he died at Doncaster. Since the proceeding is undated we only know that this event occurred during the career of Sir Bacon between 1558 and 1579. Mary probably died by 1567 based on the estimated birth dates of the three children of William Brewster and his second wife.
William Brewster married second to Prudence shortly after the birth of his first son. It has been postulated that her maiden name may have been Peck or Perkins but not with any confidence. Prudence Peck and William Brewster had only three children. The children are specifically listed on NEHGR Vol 124 p 251.
This is the family of a very important historical character and it should be as accurate as possible. A whole list of children are getting copied to GENI, Wikitree, Familysearch, Ancestry and Werelate, etc. and there is no evidence to support their existence. We should raise the bar. If we include a name or a profile in the family tree of the only college educated Mayflower Passenger then we had better pony up a solid source to back up that name or profile. John G Hunt lists no children named Millicent (Brewster) Eames, Elizabeth Brewster, Henry Brewster, Edward Brewster, or Amy (Brewster) Weld. As stated above 2014 the General Society of Mayflower Descendants published the latest research on Elder William Brewster and they called these two articles by John G Hunt the current state of research on this topic. Therefore all profiles of children except for the three outlined by John G Hunt in NEHGR and TAG should be removed.
The will of Robert Pecke of Everton, Nottinghamshire, England (2 miles north of Loude) dated and proved in 1598 states:
Prudence (Brester) Pecke was obviously still living in 1598. However, she must have died by 1609 for Elder William Brewster, aged about forty-two years, came before the aldermen at Leiden, Holland on 12 June 1609, as guardian of Ann PECK, native of Launde, when they granted to Thomas Simkinson, merchant of Hull (son of John Simkinson and Mary Smythe and half-brother of Elder William BREWSTER), Power of Attorney to receive seven pounds sterling that Ann Pecke had left with Rev. William Watkin, pastor of Clarborough when she left England. The register of St. Pancras church, Leyden, records the burial on Saturday, 20 June 1609, of a child of William BREWSTER. The age and sex of the child are not specified. It might be reasonable to assume that the "child of William BREWSTER" who was buried, 20 June 1609, was Prudence (Brewster) Pecke, daughter of William Brewster and wife of Robert Pecke, since her brother, Elder William Brewster appeared in court eight days earlier as guardian of Prudence's minor daughter, Ann Pecke. That would suggest the widow Prudence (Brewster) Peck accompanied her surviving children, Robert & Ann, to Leyden; that she was taken ill, so William arranged for the transfer of Ann Peck's inheritance. In 1610 William Brewster's wife Mary was living in Leiden with two wards Anne and Robert Pecke. The Pilgrim Records in the Archives of the City of Leiden, The Netherlands contain the following entry "9 Dec 1616 Jan Spoenaert, lintier, nit Engelant, wedr. van Sussanna Benijt verger, van Samuel Leee met Anna Peck, jd. nit Engelant, verges. met Lisbeth." which apparently translates to: "9 Dec 1616. John Spooner, linen-worker from England, widower of Susanna Bennet, accompanied by Samuel Lee, [is married] with Anna Peck, young woman from England, accompanied by Elizabeth Spalding her acquaintance." Some have interpreted linen-worker as ribbon maker which is a line of work Jonathan Brewster was in for a period in Leiden. John Spooner was at the time residing at the Douver House, a local house for bachelors in Leiden (the Douver House still exists today). John Spooner died 6 Jul 1628 in Leiden. In 22 Jan 1630 Ann Peck of Leyden was witness to the marriage of Henry Parkgus and Margaret Woodwek. In 1637 an Ann Spooner joined the Salem Church with a Thomas Spooner. Thomas Spooner had a wife Elizabeth. Savage lists Ann as a first wife of Thomas but the original records give no evidence that she was his wife. It is possibly that Ann Spooner was Ann (Brewster) Spooner widow of John Spooner of Leyden and step-mother or mother of Thomas Spooner. A William Spooner also arrived in 1637 in Plymouth as an indentured servent. This may imply that he was still a minor and possibly a second child of this family. However, the identity of Ann Spooner of Salem is not yet conclusive.
The will of Maude Mann's brother Christopher Mann is not only helpful in determining her maiden name it also helps us elucidate the identity of the mother of William Brewster the Mayflower passenger, Mary Smythe. Christopher's will was witnessed by John Symkinson who was the first husband of Mary Smythe, the mother of Thomas Sinkinson of Hull by her first husband and the mother of William Brewster the Mayflower passenger by her second husband William Brewster of Scrooby. In 1609 William Brewster of the Mayflower while living in Leiden gave power of attorney to his half-brother Thomas Simkinson of Hull to receive money that Anne Pecke had left in England. Ann Peck and her brother Robert Pecke were ward's of William Brewster. They have been identified as the children of William Brewster's half-sister Prudence Brewster and her husband Robert Pecke of Everton. These two records link William Brewster of Leiden to his grandfather William Brewster of Doncaster just seven miles North of Scrooby. The will of Thomas Symkinson Alderman of Doncaster dated 29 Jan 1558 proved 2 May 1560 names John Simkinson and his two children Dorothy and Thomas Simkinson as well as Thomas Smythe, John Smythe of Hull, William Smythe and Alice widow of Chirstopher Mann among others. The will of John Smythe of Hull dated 8 Aug 1592 proved the following October made it evident that Elder William Brewster and the younger Thomas Smythe of Hull were maternal half-brothers when he named "my nephews" William Brewster, John Smythe and Thomas Simkinson executors of his estate. For an in depth discussion of the will of Christopher Mann please see the profile of Maude Mann.
George F. Willison writes "In 1575 Archbishop Grindal of York addressing him [William Brewster] as "our trusty and well-beloved servant," and commissioned the senior William Brewster as bailiff and receiver at Scrooby manor, an extensive lordship embracing hundreds of farms and many village round about." He collected manorial fees, rents and fines and could act as magistrate in disputes. He also became master of the local station of the royal post and operated a tavern to refresh the delivery men traveling on the Great North Road. The Scrooby Manor House included a blacksmith shop, stables, kennels, dovecotes and a granary, brewery and bake shop. The younger William Brewster received payment for operating it as a bed and breakfast. William Brewster of Scrooby died 1590 in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England.