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Anno Dom: 1643


AM to begine this year whith that which was a mater of great saddnes and mourning unto them all. Aboute the 18. of Aprill dyed their Reve[ren]d Elder, and my dear and loving friend, Mr. William Brewster; a man that had done and suffered much for the Lord Jesus and the gospells sake, and had bore his parte in well and woe with this poore persecuted church above 36. years [254] in England, Holand, and in this wildernes, and done the Lord and them faithfull service in his place and calling. And notwithstanding the many troubles and sorrows he passed throw, the Lord upheld him to a great age. He was nere fourskore years of age (if not all out) when he dyed.' He had this blesing added by the Lord to all the rest, to dye in his bed, in peace, amongst the mids of his freinds who mourned and wepte over him, and ministered what help and comforte they could unto him, and he againe recomforted them whilst he could. His sicknes was not long, and till the last day therof he did not wholy keepe his bed. His speech continued till somewhat more then halfe a day, and then failed him; and aboute 9. or 10. a clock that ev[e]ning he dyed, without any pangs at all. A few howers before, he drew his breath shorte, and some few minutes before his last, he drew his breath long, as a man falen into a sound slepe, without any pangs or gaspings, and so sweetly departed this life unto a better.

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1 The Assistants this year were Edward Winslow, Thomas Prence, William Collier, Timothy Hatherley, John Brown, Edmund Freeman, and William Thomas.

2 In an affidavit at Leyden, dated June 25, 1609, Brewster described himself as "aged about forty two years," which Dr. Dexter interprets as indicating that he was born in 1566. This would make him about seventy-eight at the time of his death. The known facts connected with Brewster's life may be found in Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims, 253, 273 n.

I would now demand of any, what he was the worse for any former sufferings? What doe I say, worse? Nay, sure he was the better, and they now added to his honour. It is a manifest token (saith the Apostle, 2. Thes: 1. 5, 6, 7.) of the righteous judgmente of God that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdome of God, for which ye allso suffer; seing it is a righteous thing with God to recompence tribulation to them that trouble you: and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels. 1. Pet. 4. 14. If you be reproached for the name of Christ, hapy are ye, for the spirite of glory and of God resteth upon you.' What though he wanted the riches and pleasures of the world in his life, and pompious monuments at his funurall? yet the memoriall of the just shall be blessed, when the name of the wicked shall rott (with their marble monuments). Pro: 10. 7.2


I should say something of his life, if to say a litle were not worse then to be silent. But I cannot wholy forbear, though hapily more may be done hereafter. After he had attained some learning, viz. the knowledg of the Latine tongue, and some insight in the Greeke,3 and spent some small time at Cambridge, and then being first seasoned with the seeds of grace and vertue, he went to the Courte, and served that religious and godly gentlman, Mr. Davison, diverce


1 In these citations Bradford has used the King James Bible.

2 He reverts to the Genevan text.

"Preparation for Cambridge or Oxford turned largely upon a good knowledge of Latin.... The writing and speaking of Latin also were subjects of special drill." Greek, however, had fallen almost into disuse at Cambridge. Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims, 256, 276.

'He matriculated at St. Peter's, better known as Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, December 3, 1580. The master of Peterhouse was Dr. Andrew Perne (1519?— 1589). John Penry, chief author of the Martin Mar-Prelate tracts, was an undergraduate at this time. The nature of a college and the university at that time is fully described by Dr. Dexter. The training was almost exclusively of a religious nature.

Prof. Franklin B. Dexter found that of seventy names of New Englanders traced to Cambridge University, "more than twenty of them were connected with Emanuel College, notorious almost from its foundation, in 1584, as a Puritan seed-plot."

years, when he was Secretary of State;1 who found him so discreete and faithfull as he trusted him above all other that were aboute him, and only imployed him in all matters of greatest trust and secrecie. He esteemed him rather as a sonne then a servante, and for his wisdom and godlines (in private) he would converse with

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him more like a freind and familier then a maister. He attended his m[aste]r when he was sente in ambassage by the Queene into

the Low-Countries, in the Earle of Leicesters time, as for other waighty affaires of state, so to receive possession of the cautionary townes, and in token and signe therof the keyes of Flushing being delivered to him, in her ma[jes]ties name, he kepte them some time, and committed them to this his servante, who kept them under his pillow, on which he slepte the first night. And, at his returne,

1 Dexter conjectures that Brewster entered the service of Davison in 1583, a "confidential personal attendant, something more than a valet and something different from a private secretary, holding thus a position of constantly growing value and responsibility, one neither menial nor in any sense diplomatic, yet useful and, in its measure, honorable." William Davison (1541?-1608) became assistant to Walsingham, the queen's secretary of state in the autumn of 1586, after his service in the Netherlands.

2 In 1585, pressed by the victories of the Spanish army, the States General of the Netherlands sought safety by offering the protectorship of Holland and Zeeland, and the sovereignty of the other provinces, conditionally to Henry III of France, who declined to accept, unless the sovereignty of all the Provinces was tendered. They then turned to Elizabeth, of England, who was unwilling to accept the sovereignty, but did enter into a treaty under which she would give some military aid, and as pledges for the repayment of the expenses of which the towns of Flushing, Brill and Rammekens were to be handed over to her. Davison was sent to the Low Countries in August to negotiate the treaty (signed August 10), and was made commander of Flushing. In January, 1586, the Earl of Leicester came with the promised aid, and shortly after, February 4-14, Davison returned to England. This doubtless determines the time of Brewster's visit and stay in the Low Countries.

the States honoured him with a gould chaine, and his maister committed it to him, and commanded him to wear it when they arrived in England, as they ridd thorrow the country, till they came to the Courte. He afterwards remained with him till his troubles, that he was put from his place aboute the death of the Queene of Scots; and some good time after, doeing him manie faithfull offices of servise in the time of his troubles. Afterwards he wente and lived in the country, in good esteeme amongst his freinds and the gentle-men of those parts, espetially the godly and religious. He did much good in the countrie wher he lived, in promoting and furthering religion, not only by his practiss and example, and provocking and incouraging of others, but by procuring of good preachers to the places theraboute, and drawing on of others to assiste and help forward in shuch a worke; he him selfe most comonly deepest in the charge, and some times above his abillitie.3

1 Davison fell from royal favor in February, 1586-87. Three years later Davison asked the Postmaster General, Sir John Stanhope, to appoint Brewster to be post at Scrooby. On the back of Stanhope's reply are some memoranda in the writing of Davison, one of which states that Brewster had been in Scrooby and practically been the post there for a year and a half. Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings, XII. 98. This fixes approximately the time when Brewster retired to Scrooby, but does not necessarily give the time of his leaving the service of Davison.

2 Brewster's father, William Brewster, had in 1576 received from Archbishop Grindal commission to be receiver and bailiff of the lordship, or manor, of Scrooby. That place was on the Great North Road from London to Scotland, and was the twelfth stage from London and fifteenth from Berwick-upon-Tweed. The elder Brewster had for some years held the position of post, and upon his death in 1590, the office passed to his son, who had, without a commission, performed its duties and received the fees since the beginning of 1589. The story is told in Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims, 322.

3 The condition of the clergy in England had been deplorable for many years. The progress of the Reformation, with its rapid transformations under Catholic and Protestant rulers, had introduced great confusion and cultivated a pliancy in the church's servants that had not increased their weight and authority in the localities they served. For a long period many of the churches in country towns and villages were vacant, and months might pass without preaching, or so much as reading a homily. The Universities, intended to be the training schools of the clergy, were not sending out fit

And in this state he continued many years, doeing the best good he could, and walking according to the light he saw, till the Lord reveiled further unto him. And in the end, by the tirrany of the bishops against godly preachers and people, in silenceing the one and persecuting the other, he and many more of those times begane to looke further into things, and to see into the unlawfullnes of their callings, and the burthen of many antichristian corruptions, which both he and they endeavored to cast of; as they allso did, as in the begining of this treatis is to be seene. [255] After they were joyned togither in comunion, he was a spetiall stay and help unto them. They ordinarily mett at his house on the Lords day, (which was a manor of the bishops,)1 and with great love he enter

men in sufficient numbers to assume those charges, and the qualities of many incumbents left much to be desired as religious guides and guardians of the best interests of the church. In the time of Elizabeth a move for improvement began in Northampton and spread through the kingdom. Meetings, termed Prophesyings, were held for the purpose of discussing theological and religious subjects, and served to train unpractised speakers for the delivery of sermons. Even Bacon recognized the good in such an endeavor, "the best way to frame and train up preachers to handle the Word of God as it ought to be handled." The Queen looked with disfavor upon them and issued a letter to the Bishops commanding their suppression. Gardiner, History of England, 1. 30. The rules relative to Prophesyings in Northampton are in Cal. S. P. Dom. Eliz. LXXVIII. 38. In the dearth of ministers the activity of the Puritans made itself felt, and in a work, written before 1595, but not published until 1601, the writer stated: "Ye shal find tenne puritas for one formalist [among the clergy of the land not non-residents and dumb dogs], & that one puritan doth more advance the gospell, & suppresse popery, than tenne formalists. For he attends [to] his ministery, & not [to] multiplying or exchanging of benefices. He preacheth, not once a month, or lesse, but euery Saboth day, & that, not to please the eare, but to moue the heart." Humble Motives for Association to maintaine religion established, quoted in Dexter, The England and Holland of the Puritans, 331. The Millenary Petition (1603) urged that no ministers be authorized but able and sufficient men, and that they be required to preach diligently, especially upon the Lord's day; but no steps were taken to carry such a reform into execution.

1 Domesday book describes a parcel of land of about one hundred acres, lying in Sutton, Scrooby and Mattersey, belonging to the see of York. Early in the thirteenth century there appears to have been a residence on the place for the use of the archbishop and a manor house existed. The property still belongs to the see of York, but

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