In Search of Scrooby 

‘Not since the publication of The England and Holland of the Pilgrims by H.M. Dexter and M. Dexter in 1905 has anyone studied the history of Scrooby Manor with such care as Sue Allan now presents in her new book. Re-examining manuscripts and adding many previously unknown, she has built up a documentary basis for interpreting the remains of what was once a magnificent structure of more than thirty rooms, including a chapel now recognized again as part of the existing house. Through Sue's tireless research we are enabled to imagine this grand manor of the Archbishops of York, where William Brewster, the leading layman of the Pilgrims, grew up, and where the Pilgrims came together in secret as they attempted to create a true church, yet found themselves forced to plan their escape from England to Holland. In 1620 they would go further, to found the first English colony in New England. Scrooby Manor holds a place in the hearts of anyone interested in the Pilgrim Story. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Sue Allan for giving us this new revelation of past splendour.’   --- Dr. Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, Director, Leiden American Pilgrim Museum.

James Brewster, Bawtry Chapel & A Trybe of Wicked People

The revered name of William Brewster takes centre stage in the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Many Americans proudly trace their descent from this great man and yet very few know the name of his clergyman brother James, the Brewster who stayed behind in England.
In 1584, Archbishop Sandys appointed the Cambridge educated James Brewster to the position of Master of the Hospital Chapel of Mary Magdalene near Bawtry. Within a few short years Sandys would be dead and Brewster would be embroiled in a bitter court case accused for his part in misappropriating this Church property for his own enrichment. Historians would label James as a would-be thief and quarrelsome drunkard thus casting a stain upon his character for centuries to come.
Therefore on the scant occasions when mention is made that William Brewster had a brother, it is only ever in passing and never at length, lest the deeds of the one taint the other. And yet was James Brewster deserving of his sordid reputation?
In this book Sue Allan tells the reader more about James Brewster’s life and more importantly about the political and religious backdrop against which the Hospital Chapel affair ran its course. The author trusts that readers will come to their own conclusion as to the truth of the matter and the character of the man.

William Brewster - The Making of a Pilgrim

The events of William Brewster’s youth, which developed him up into the Pilgrim he became, are the primary focus of this book. In order to understand Brewster, the man, it is necessary to study the life and times within which he developed as a youth.  A study of his family—his father, mother, grandparents, and siblings—provides the foundation.  His educational upbringings, and his time at Cambridge, develop his religious and political mindsets.  

Author and historian Sue Allan has extensively researched Brewster’s early years in Scrooby and elsewhere in England, and here presents an original and insightful view of how he developed into the man who would spiritually lead and nurture the congregation at Plymouth Colony.  A much-needed background on the Scrooby community is provided, as well as ample detail on the political and religious climates into which he was raised.  Notable familial details, adding complexity to Brewster’s father and his upbringing, are investigated—including Chancery lawsuits that paint William Brewster, Sr., in a less positive light.  The full texts of select newly-discovered and important documents are included, which will be a definite benefit to future researchers.  
Particularly insightful is the study of how William Brewster was influenced—even religiously—by William Davison.  His early associations and probable interactions with other religious Protestants, such as Thomas Cartwright, John Penry, Francis Johnson, and others, shows Brewster as a far more interconnected individual with the movement than had been previously considered, rather than simply as a Leiden-based publisher and covert distributor of suppressed religious texts who later acted as Church Elder for the Plymouth congregation.  Background details on Brewster’s paternal and material ancestors, siblings and half-siblings, aunts and uncles, will provide ample new material for the family historian and genealogist to mull over.
At the conclusion, the reader of this book will have a much greater sense of who Pilgrim William Brewster was, and how he developed and later influenced the Mayflower Pilgrims and their church.
                                                                                            Caleb Johnson -


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