May 13, 2010

My ancestor William Brewster

My grandmother Mildred Palmer always insisted we were related to the Brewsters who came over on the Mayflower. Few in the family believed her. But my cousin who's researching our family tree has finally proved the connection. We're descended from Mayflower passengers William and Mary Brewster.

I've updated my postings on my ancestors

My Mayflower relatives
Tallying my Pilgrim ancestors
My Fortune and Anne ancestors
My Mayflower ancestors

to reflect the new information. But here are the highlights:

  • In addition to William and Mary Brewster, I'm related to their daughter Patience, who came over on the Anne in 1623. And to Thomas Prence, who came over on the Fortune in 1621 and later married Patience.

  • My ancestors now include 17 of 102 on the Mayflower, five of 33 on the Fortune, and eight of 83 (or so) on the Anne. Total: 30 of 218.

  • 13 of my 17 Mayflower ancestors survived the first winter and were among the 51 Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving. In other words, I'm related to 25% of the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving.

  • Thomas Prence was perhaps the most interesting of the four newly identified ancestors. He was a religious zealot who persecuted people for "smiling in church, harboring non-church members, and tending garden during the Sabbath." He also was responsible for giving Massasoit's son Metacomet the name Philip (as in King Philip's War).

  • The Brewster connection means I have more famous relatives, including Julia Child, Bing Crosby, Kathryn Hepburn, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Cokie Roberts, Nelson Rockefeller, and Zachary Taylor.

  • It also means I have a third connection to Sarah Palin--the closest one yet. This time the common relative is Mercy Freeman (b. 1659), the granddaughter of Thomas Prence and Patience Brewster and great-granddaughter of William and Mary Brewster. Mercy Freeman is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother.

    With all these original ancestors, I'm better than a Founding Father. I'm practically a Native American. When we talk about the founders' "original intent," we're talking about what my people thought and believed.

    This makes me even more qualified than before to judge the Johnny-come-latelys and their attempts to whitewash America. For instance, Arizona's new laws cracking down on immigration and ethnic studies. I judge these efforts to be contrary to the spirit of my country.

    Since my family has been here longer than almost every other Euro-American family, you can trust me on this. Those of us who have been here since the beginning know best.

    For more on the subject, see 10 Little Pilgrims and Indians.

    Below:  "An imaginary likeness of William Brewster. There is no known portrait of him from life."

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