George Washington by Gilbert Stuart

Elder William Brewster

Religious Leader of Pilgrims


William Brewster was the religious leader of the Pilgrims and was therefore also known as Elder (Brewster). Brewster was forced to leave England for Leiden, Holland in 1608 due to his religious beliefs. In Holland, he created a printing press and taught at the local University. Brewster was a leader of the Puritan Separatist movement that sought religious freedom in the New World. He brought his wife Mary and their children, Love and Wrestling, with him on the Mayflower. Many Pilgrims looked to Elder Brewster for religious guidance and advice in Plymouth Colony. He helped the sick during the first winter at Plymouth in a kind and gentle manner. He lived to be nearly 80 years old.

“We follow the rules laid out in the Bible for running our church.”

“We gather for prayer, and reading the Bible, and singing the songs of David.”

Elder Brewster also worked as a farmer.


Brewster was born in 1567.


Brewster’s influence helped win the approval of the Virginia Company for the proposal to resettle his congregation in America.

Brewster was a close adviser to Governor William Bradford.


Julia Child, the famous chef, is a descendent of William and Mary Brewster.