The Brewster Trail

I recently sort of met a Brewster cousin, Luke Anderson. He is 13 generations removed from William and Mary Brewster making us very long-distance cousins. He posted photos on Facebook of his recent trip along the trail taken by Elder William and Mary Brewster. He got into places I was unable to see on my research trip along that same trail. With his permission, I am posting a couple of his photos, along with the ones I took.

St. Wilfrid, Scrooby England

Photo by Luke Anderson

A note on the St. Wilfrid website reads: “The church has a strong connection with the Pilgrim Fathers (and Mothers!) being the church where William Brewster was expelled from before his journey to the New World with his fellow Separatists.”

Photo from my 2017 Research Trip

This is perhaps where William and Mary Brewster were married and their first three children were baptized. In their day it was called St. James and is a very short walk away from Scrooby Manor where they lived before fleeing to Holland in 1608.

Numerous gravestones in the cemetery outside bear the name “Brewster.” The ones who sailed on the Mayflower are buried in Massachusetts. Elder William Brewster has a plaque in his honor that reads:

Photo by Luke Anderson

“St. Wilrid’s church, Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England, where William  Brewster was baptized (c. 1566). He became a Separatist and was the Elder and Spiritual Leader of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, New England, until his death in 1643-44. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (U.S.A., 1897) Waldo Morgan Allen – Governor General on their first Pilgrimage – 152, by Planes – to the Netherlands and England September 22 – October 6, 1955 – 335 years after the sailing of the Mayflower”

Scrooby Manor

Photo from my 2017 Research Trip

When William Brewster first started exploring the Separatist movement in England, he and Mary lived here, in Scrooby Manor. He was the bailiff and postmaster, as had been his father before him. The first three Brewster children were born while they lived here. When the pastor of a nearby Church of England was removed from his pulpit for challenging the edicts of King James, the Brewsters hosted illegal worship services at the Manor. That was what ultimately forced them to flee for security in the Netherlands in 1608. They started their pilgrimage to Plymouth, MA from Leiden in 1620.

Leave, or Else

William Brewster, along with several other Separatists leaders from the Scrooby area, spent a few nights in jail in the Boston England Guild house. A group of about a hundred tried to leave England in the fall of 1607. The shipmaster they hired betrayed them for the cash awards given to those who turned in non-conformists.

Boston England Guildhouse

The women and children were free to walk all the way back across northern England without their husbands to wait and wonder what would happen to them. They’d already given away or sold most of their things and were dependent on the  sympathy and charity of friends and neighbors. The men were released after a short stint in jail. They returned to plan their second escape effort. That one succeeded. They arrived in Amsterdam over the summer of 1608, leaving in smaller groups to avoid undue attention from others seeking awards for turning them in.

A Time to Rest

Today St. Pieterskerk in Leiden is no longer a church, but rather a combination  tribute to its part in the Pilgrim story and a venue for concerts and lectures. Murals, plaques and displays in and around the church tell how this church helped the newly arrived English refugees get settled into the community. Though the Separatists did not worship here, their highly esteemed and beloved leader, Pastor John Robinson, is buried here. An alley connects the back of the church to the home where the Brewster family lived.

Thank you for spending a few moments of your precious time reading along today. If you like what you’ve read, please share this with a friend. Or, if you’d like to join this growing on-line community, head over to HowWiseThen to sign up for your FREE subscription. I won’t sell your information. You decide if you prefer a monthly newsletter or weekly articles about whatever is swirling around in my mind that week. I’m often as surprised as you are by what I decide to write about.

Mary Brewster’s Love Life and Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures: available wherever books are sold.; Mary Brewster Brewster’s Love Life
BarnesandNoble/MaryBrewster Autographed copies available at my website.


  1. I just finished reading Mary Brewster’s Love Life and I really enjoyed it! Love that it puts a story into the life she lived. I always try to imagine what life would have been like for my ancestors and this story though fictional is based on facts. Wanted you to know you did a wonderful job of bringing her to life! She and William are my 10th great grandparents.

  2. Maggie Mysie Watson Stern McJannet

    I concur with Carolyn’s comment ,except William and Mary Brewster were my 13th great grandparents.

    Luke took beautiful pictures and so did Kathryn where she was able.
    On the other Facebook page where the church pictures were posted Kathryn said she was grateful because she was not able to gain aces s to the interior of the church.(actually she used another word but I should gain her permission before posting it.

    If Kathryn wasn’t such a curious Kitty I would never have read her two books about the Pilgrims,,,because she would not have written them.
    And I am so grateful for the curiosity and dedication that motivated the hard work and research,,,,,

    I am still chewing the Mary Brewster book slowly.
    I once read that when you finish a good book you lose a friend

    In this case I would be saying goodbye to my grandma,,,,,,soooo
    Who’s next Catherine,,,,how about Jonathon?
    If you write it quick lickety split it could wean me away from Mary.

  3. I actually started a historical fiction account in which a young man descended from Jonathan literally bumps into a young woman descended from the Pokanoket people They wound up in a conflict about the use of some land in SE Ohio, where they both lived and eventually learn their ancestors knew and befriended one another and maybe they ought to do that too. But . . . only so many hours in a day and for now I’m focusing on letting folks know that Mary Brewster’s story it out there.

  4. The Indigenous element in the first book may have been what motivated me to get it.
    So glad to hear another book is gestating.
    I was kinda sorta kidding and being greedy when I posted earlier
    I feel like a feminine version of Oliver Twist
    “Please mama,,,May I have some more?”

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