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About us

This DNA surname project was started under the direction of Terry Barton and skillfully managed on WorldFamilies and later, FTDNA, for over 9 years by Jeanne Killick. Arlin Brewster began administration in November 2017. We owe you both a debt of gratitude!

Like many European families, the Brewsters are a mixed bag of genetics. Our ancestors hail from the majority of western and northern mainland Europe and the United Kingdom, and more recently, the eastern seaboard of the United States and much of Canada.

At this time, it is uncertain what point in time the Brewster surname began. Conventional linguistics would have us believe that a Brewster was a female who brewed beer (the counterpart to the male Brewers), but this is derivative of relatively modern forms of the English language. In reality, the Brewster surname has been around much longer, and very likely described an entire group of people, rather than an individual line. This, in part, explains why we have such a mixed heritage.

A more recent development is now causing us to believe that the Brewster surname was derived from older Germanic languages. It is very typical of Germanic names to describe the occupation or accomplishments of its people, and frequently end in the '-er' suffix. Names originating under the Norman and English tradition are more direct - for example, someone who worked as a blacksmith would be a 'Smith' instead of a 'Smither(s)'. The 'Brewst' part of 'Brewster', however, is not typical of the Germanic language. It is believed this part has evolved through Latin and English translations, likely from 'Bruct', which, in the older Germanic languages, meant 'bridge'. A Bructer, by extension, would be 'one who builds bridges' or 'bridge builder'.

A passage in the 1086 A.D. Domesday Book mentions that the Brewsters were long-seated in the Suffolk, England region. Most of our pedigree research, if completed far enough back in time, find our oldest Brewster ancestors living in Suffolk. Most of us can trace back to a 14th century Galfridus Brewster (Latin for Geoffrey), whose father was Johannes (John) Brewster III. We have not seen any documentation of John I or II, but following the average generation gap, this takes us back to at least the 13th century in Suffolk.

An English monk and historian known as the Venerable Bede (672-735 A.D.) wrote a book titled Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (translated: The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) in 731 A.D. In this book, Bede claimed that the English people were made up of a number of Angles and Saxon tribes, including the Bructeri in East Anglia (comprised, in part, of Suffolk).

The Bructeri were a pre-Frankish Germanic tribe, likely composed of a mix of genetic types, who inhabited parts of what is now modern northwest Germany. Their territory spanned the banks of River Ems, where they became accomplished bridge-builders until being nearly wiped out by conflict with the Romans and other nearby tribes. Convention holds that the Bructeri largely disappeared from history - some being absorbed into the Frankish tribes, others fleeing their homeland and settling in East Anglia sometime between 150 and 400 A.D., where they were picked back up in history by Bede.

The Bructeri were a large tribe and allied with several other Germanic tribes against the Roman invasion. They were present at the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, where three legions of the Roman army were wiped out. It wasn't until many years later that the Romans retaliated and reclaimed the golden Eagle Standard of the XIX Legion from the Bructeri. Roman records indicate that they destroyed everything the Bructeri held - lands, homes, families, livestock, and those they could capture alive were taken to the colosseums for sport, while the rest were driven out of their lands.