Brewster (Y-DNA)

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Status summary

As of December 30, 2015:

  • Brewster surname project contacted
  • Recruiting Brewster for Y Elite test


Paper trail

Elder William Brewster was born circa 1566[1]" in or near Doncaster, co. York, England, the son of William (II) Brewster & Mary SMYTHE Simkinson.[2] He is the grandson of William (I) and Maud Mann and this William is said to be son of another William who died at Bently cum Arksey (next to Doncaster), Yorkshire in 1521.[3] Elder William died at Plymouth on 10 Apr 1644[4], and Bradford called him "nere fourskore years of age" (ie nearly age 80).

Brewster married about 1592[5] to Mary _____ (maiden name unknown despite an extensive search). They had one child who died shortly after birth, two daughters and three sons: Jonathan, Love & Wrestling (who never married). Y-DNA descendants of both Jonathan and Love have completed DNA testing and verified the Y-DNA of Elder William.


  1. Brewster deposed in a Leyden affidavit dated 25 Jun 1609 that he was then "aged about forty two years", NEHGReg 18:20
  2. NEHGReg 124:250-51
  3. TAG 41:1-5 and NEHG Reg 124:250-54
  4. Gov. Bradford erred, when he stated Brewster died about 18 April. The "Brewster Book" (written by his son Jonathan) stated William died 10 April 1644. See also NEHGReg 18:18-20
  5. Jonathan Brewster is believed to be the eldest son. He recorded his birthdate in a bound volume now called the "Brewster Book" where he states he was born 12 Aug 1593. See MD 1:Frontspiece as well as article 1-ff.

Y-DNA Descendants

  First Generation

William and Mary had three sons, but their son, Wrestling never married. Thus the Y-DNA descent comes down through their two sons Jonathan & Love. Y-DNA STR testing has been done on both lines, and they match up, thus proving the Y-DNA signature for William Brewster. Currently, the descendants of Jonathan (14 in number) have DYS19=16 while descendants of Love (4 in number) have DYS19=15. It is likely a STR mutation happened within the line of Love, but exactly when it occurred is not currently known.

  Second Generation

Jonathan - Three sons, but the two oldest (William and Jonathan) are believed to have emigrated back to England, and their further history is unknown. This line continues through son (Capt.) Benjamin.

Love - Three sons, but eldest son (Nathaniel) had no children. This line continues through sons (Deacon) William & Wrestling.

  Third Generation

(Capt.) Benjamin - Four sons, Jonathan, (Capt.) Daniel, William & Benjamin (II)

(Deacon) William - Five sons, Nathaniel, William (II), Benjamin, Joseph & Joshua

Wrestling - Three sons, Jonathan, (Dea.) Wrestling (II) & John, but John's only son never married so descent from only two sons.


Previous Y-DNA testing

The Brewster/Bruster DNA Project has recorded a number of individuals who descend from both sons of Elder William Brewster (ie Jonathan & Love). Almost all of them have only done STR testing to date, with the majority being either 37 STRs or 67 STRs. There is currently only one individual in the project who has tested out to 111 STR markers. These results have been "backbone" SNP tested by FTDNA showing where they fall under I1 (which is defined by the M253 SNP).

One individual who claims to descend from Elder William Brewster has done the Big Y test. His paper trail does not go back all the way to Elder William Brewster, but he is a close STR marker match (65/67) to the other descendants. His Big Y results have placed him under the I-A9783 clade. This clade does include other families besides the Brewster family, so further SNP testing of Brewster descendants is needed in order to further discover family clade for the Brewsters.

The International Society of Genetic Genealogists is a volunteer body which attempts to maintain a Y-DNA Phylogenic tree. Due to the explosion of results from Next Generation Sequence testing (such as the Y-Elite test from Full Genomes and the Big Y from FTDNA), ISOGG has not been able to keep up with all of the most recent developments. Their tree (as of 2 Jul 2018) only goes down as far as: I1c1a1 Z17926. The Brewster clade includes Z17924 (a subclade of Z17926) then A9783 (a subclade of Z17924).

Summary of findings

(to be added)

External Links and References

FTDNA The Brewster/Bruster DNA website Y-DNA STR results

Wikipedia article on Elder William Brewster

"A Genealogical Profile of William Brewster" by Plimouth Plantation & the NEHG Society

1908 Brewster Genealogy (2 vols.) by Emma C. Brewster Jones

Caleb Johnson biography on William Brewster

Pilgrim Hall biography on William Brewster

The Elder William Brewster Society

FTDNA The Mayflower Society Y and mtDNA Project

Find-a-grave entry for William Brewster

Full Genomes Corp. and Y-Elite 2.1 test

YSEQ which uses traditional Sanger Sequencing to test for Y-DNA SNPs

wikitree entry for Elder Brewster and links to his family

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants

"Five Generations" Project (Silver Books & Mayflower Families in Progress)