27 November 2008

a Pilgrim & a Stranger

my Mayflower roots: Elder Brewster & Stephen Hopkins

Elder William Brewster (c. 1566 - April 10, 1644), was a Pilgrim colonist leader and preacher who came from Scrooby, in north Nottinghamshire and reached what became the Plymouth Colony in the Mayflower in 1620. He was accompanied by his wife, Mary Brewster, and his sons, Love Brewster and Wrestling Brewster. Son Jonathan joined the family in November 1621, arriving at Plymouth on the ship Fortune, and daughters Patience and Fear arrived in July 1623 aboard the Anne. Initially, the Pilgrams settled in Amsterdam, and worshipped with the Ancient Church of Francis Johsonson and Henry Ainsworth. Offput by the bickering between the two, though (which ultimately resulted in a division of the Church), the Pilgrams left Amsterdam and moved to Leiden, after only a year.


In Leiden, the group managed to make a living. Brewster taught English and later, in 1616-1619, printed and published religious books for sale in England though they were proscribed there, as the partner of one Thomas Brewer. In 1619, the printing type was seized by the authorities under pressure from the English ambassador Sir Dudley Carleton and Brewster's partner was arrested. Brewster escaped and, with the help of Robert Cushman, obtained a land patent from the London Virginia Company on behalf of himself and his colleagues.


In 1620 he joined the first group of Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower on the voyage to North America. When the colonists landed at Plymouth, Brewster became the senior elder of the colony, serving as its religious leader and as an advisor to Governor William Bradford. As the only university educated member of the colony, Brewster took the part of the colony's religious leader until a pastor, Ralph Smith, arrived in 1629. Thereafter, he continued to preach irregularly until his death in April 1644. Brewster was granted land amongst the islands of Boston Harbor, and four of the outer islands (Great Brewster, Little Brewster, Middle Brewster and Outer Brewster) now bear his name.






Stephen Hopkins (born about 1582 – 1644), was a tanner and merchant who was one of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620, settling in Plymouth Colony. Hopkins was recruited by the Merchant Adventurers to provide governance for the colony as well as assist with the colony's ventures. He was a member of a group of passengers known to the Pilgrims as "The Strangers" since they were not part of the Pilgrim's religious congregation. Hopkins was one of forty-one signatories of the Mayflower Compact and was an assistant to the governor of the colony through 1636.


Hopkins had made a previous attempt to reach the New World in 1609 aboard the new flagship of the Virginia Company, the Sea Venture, on which Sir George Somers took the helm. Hopkins had embarked as a Minister's Clerk on the "Sea Venture", the Admiral of the Fleet. The ship was on the way to the Jamestown Colony in Virginia with much needed supplies when it was deliberately driven onto the reefs of Bermuda to prevent its foundering as a result of the damage it had sustained during a severe storm. All aboard, 150 passengers and crew and a dog, survived. The ship's longboat was fitted with a mast and sent to Virginia for help, but it and its crew were never seen again. Hopkins attempted to start a mutiny while stranded on the island. He was sentenced to death when this was discovered but was eventually set free after complaining of the "ruin of his wife and children". Hopkins and the remaining survivors spent nine months on Bermuda building two smaller ships, the Deliverance and Patience, from Bermuda cedar and materials salvaged from the Sea Venture. He and the other castaways eventually made their way to Jamestown, where Hopkins appears to have stayed for (some say) two years before returning to England. The Hopkins family is considered one of the First Families of Virginia. The story of the Sea Venture shipwreck (and Hopkins' mutiny) is said to be the inspiration for The Tempest by William Shakespeare.


Hopkins was respected for his previous experience with Indians and was elected ambassador for native relations. When Squanto arrived in Plymouth he resided with the Hopkins family. In 1621 Hopkins, Edward Winslow and William Bradford were delegated by their associates to treat with the Indians in the Plymouth vicinity on behalf of the Pilgrims and succeeded in winning the friendship of Chief Massasoit (1580-1661), concluding a peace treaty on 22 March 1621 in the Hopkins home. He later served in the Pequot War of 1637.

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