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About us

We are continually defining the separate branches of the Brewster family, based partially on DNA, genealogy, and history. Briefly, we know the full history of three main branches descended from William Brewster (1470 - 1521 A.D.), married to Mary Hervey. Note that there are two different haplogroups represented in the three main lines, which indicates a possible non-paternal event for one of the lines. What follows is a brief overview of these three lines, in order from eldest to youngest.

The Wrentham Line
Haplogroup: unknown
Overview: This is the eldest known branch of the Brewster family. The last male of this line died in 1799, so we do not have any living descendants to collect Y-DNA from. The Wrentham Brewsters were a powerful branch in both politics and religion, most famously seated in Wrentham Hall, Suffolk, England. Humphrey Brewster, who founded Wrentham Hall in 1550 A.D., was instrumental in preserving the heritage of the Brewster coat of arms, which had been lost to history. Working with the College of Arms in London, he resurrected the true Brewster coat of arms, which at the time did not possess a crest. He was granted the right to bear the arms, and as an added bonus, the Clarencieux granted him a crest - that of a beaver's head, erased azure. The correct form of this coat of arms and crest is in the banner above, taken from the inside cover of a book that has long been in my (Arlin Brewster) family, and further certified by the College of Arms in 2016. This line was instrumental in administering the Puritan faith and had deep connections with Leiden University in Holland, where Elder William Brewster (their cousin) would teach in the 1600s.

The Hedingham Line
Haplogroup: R-M269
Overview: The second eldest known branch of the Brewster family. This line left their ancestral Suffolk home and settled in Castle Hedingham, Essex, England, working for the Earl of Oxford in Hedingham Castle. A son of this line, William Brewster (1562 - 1607 A.D.), was a financier for the Jamestown Colony, and was a passenger on the Susan Constant, the ship that brought the first colonists to Jamestown, Virginia. Shortly after helping to establish the colony, this William Brewster died from wounds sustained during a native American attack. Another Jamestown colonist, Stephen Hopkins, was shipwrecked in Bermuda on his way to Jamestown in 1609 (and is very likely represented by Stephano in Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'), but was saved and arrived in Jamestown in 1610. He returned to England and eventually to Holland in 1614, where he made the acquaintance of Elder William Brewster. Hopkins would later turn up at the Plymouth Colony. The surviving line of this Brewster family remained in Essex through the end of the 1800s, when the sons of the family settled in many other parts of England, Canada, and Australia.

The Mayflower Line
Haplogroup: I-M253
Overview: The youngest known branch of the Brewster family. This line left their ancestral Suffolk home and settled in Nottinghamshire, England, on the edge of the fabled Sherwood Forest. It was here that Elder William Brewster established his Puritan congregation, and later taught the faith at Leiden University in Holland. He is most famously known for helping to charter the Mayflower and being a founding member of the Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, and being present at the First Thanksgiving. A very large proportion of living Brewsters are descended from this line, and were deeply involved in the history of the New England area of the United States.

Other Haplogroups with Uncertain Genealogical Connection:
Haplogroup E: We currently have just one Brewster male from this line.
Haplogroup G: We currently have just one Brewster male from this line.
Haplogroup I-M223: We currently have several members from this line. This is a cousin branch to the I-M253 haplogroup.
Haplogroup R-M512: We currently have two members from this line. This is a cousin branch to the R-M269 haplogroup.

Other Brewster Family Lines with No Y-DNA Participants:
Please contact the administrator if you know of lines that have not been tested. The following are Brewster family lines we would like to see Y-DNA results from:
Banff, Canada Brewsters: Descended from an Irish branch with roots in Scotland; related to Sir David Brewster, Scottish physicist.
French-Brewster (Ireland): Descended from an adopted branch of the family that were granted the leopard's head crest to distinguish them from the main Brewster line (with beaver's head).