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JOHN BREWER - died in Isle of Wright County, Virginia in 1635

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JOHN BREWER - died in Isle of Wright County, Virginia in 1635

Posted: 1326132318000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Brewer, Drake, Grove, Baker
Ancestral line referenced:

William Brewer, the physician (1520??-1618) and Deane Baker (d 1614)

Thomas Brewer (1540??-1637) and Mary Drake

John Brewer (1565??-1635) and Mary ?? (John and Mary came to the Jamestowne / Isles of Wright County area of Virginia from London before the close of 1616.)


I am seeking information on the family of John Brewer who was born in London, England and died on his plantation called Brewer's Burough in Isle of Wright County, Virginia near Jamestowne 13 May 1635. It seems that a lot of info online about him is messed up and I am trying to get to the bottom of what is accurate and what is not. I hope someone has some insight they can share.

In his will he states that his father, still living in 1631, was Thomas Brewer, to whom he wills money for his support. His wife was listed as Mary, and his living children as John, Roger and Margaret, and his brother as Thomas. He also mentions his uncle Roger Drake, a clothmaker of London, who would have been the brother of his mother Mary Drake.

It has been speculated that this John Brewer was the same John Brewer who sailed with Sir Francis Drake 1577-1580 as his bugler and trusted friend. It would be exciting if this was the case. There was also a Thomas Brewer on that voyage who was butchered by natives in Chili. I can not figure out yet exactly which Thomas Brewer this was though.

I've been trying to pin down better estimates of the birth years of John Brewer, as well as his father Thomas, and also William Brewer who is believed to be his grandfather. Some of the dates I've seen seem a little buggered up. I had thought that John Brewer was born in London in about 1565. I read that he had sailed on a ship called the Dove in 1570 at the age of 17 (if it's the same John Brewer) which would have put him as being born in about 1553 instead.

As to his father's birth year, I'd had that as about 1540, but that doesn't seem quite right as John would have been born when Thomas was only 13.

Thomas' father, William Brewer, has been shown online as being born in about 1520 in Chard, Somerset, England. I'd assumed this to be correct until I realized that in the burial inscription of William Brewer and Deanes Baker, it states that William and Deanes had been married for 40 yrs when she died in 1614, which would have made them married in about 1574. This makes their son Thomas' birth in 1520, some 34 yrs earlier, highly unlikely. John Brewer's birth of 1553 or 1565 do not make sense either in light of this, since John's birth year would have been before his grandparents were even married, let alone his parents.

So that leads me to believe that perhaps William and Deanes are parents to a different Thomas Brewer, although they are obviously from the same family. Another explanation could be that our John Brewer was not the same one that sailed on the Dove in 1570 or with Drake in 1577, as this John Brewer wouldn't have even been born yet if the lineage going back to William and Deanes is correct.

The visitation of London in 1634 shows William and Deanes Brewer as having children Peter (heir), William, Thomas, Christopher, and John (citizen and grocer of London). This John Brewer's children with Mary Grove listed on that document were John, Francis and Mary. One hunch I have had is that the John Brewer that sailed with Drake was actually our John Brewer's uncle, the one shown on the above mentioned document. He would have been older, but actually now that I think about it, that wouldn't be right either with the uncle John Brewer's parents not being married until 3 yrs before the voyage and thus their children not being born early enough.

Another confusion for me is that the John Brewer on the above mentioned document is listed as a citizen and grocer of London in 1634. In our John Brewer's will in 1631 (he didn't die until 1635 though) he is also listed as a citizen and grocer of London even though he was living in Virginia and had traveled back to London to get his will written up and likely to transport more immigrants to Virginia, so wouldn't have even been living in London anymore. Maybe since he went back and forth so much from Virginia to England he was considered to be a citizen of both places??? Maybe he was once a citizen and grocer of London, but no longer, but still listed himself as such since that's how he was known when he'd lived there before??? Anyone have any ideas about this? Maybe he and his uncle John Brewer had both had the same occupation in the same location at one time?

There also seems to be a common assumption that John Brewer of Isle of Wright County, Virginia was married to Mary Grove, daughter of Ralph Grove. I had assumed this as well until I looked at The Visitation of London mentioned above and it clearly states that the John Brewer who was married to Mary Grove was the John Brewer who was the son of William Brewer, not the one that was the son of Thomas Brewer. Thomas' son John Brewer was married to someone named Mary, according to his will, but I don't know what her last name was. It seems unlikely that our John Brewer and his uncle John would both have wives with the same name. I worry that somewhere along the line someone has gotten these two John Brewers confused with one another.

More about John's father, Thomas Brewer: I read online that he was a founder of Jamestowne, but I can not find any records about him there really, other than he supposedly died in Warwick, Virginia in 1637. An alternate death date that I have seen for him is 2 Aug 1635 and that one is suspected to have been in London. I don't know which oneis right. Perhaps one date is for Thomas Brewer Sr and the other for Thomas Brewer Jr, brother of our John Brewer. Thomas Brewer Sr, supposed early settler of Jamestowne, does not appear on the Ancient Planter list in Virginia with John Brewer, so I'm not sure where the idea came from that he was one of the founders. In order to have been on that list, one needed to have lived there before the close of 1616. Does anyone know of any records about Thomas Brewer Sr or Jr in Virginia? Thomas Sr was supposedly on the 1624/5 Muster roll but I can't find him on there either. I read online also that he transported Dorothy Cole, Richard Jones, and Edward Spencer to the colony 9 Apr 1648, but this can not be right if he died in 1635 or 1637. Maybe that Thomas Brewer was John Brewer's brother Thomas rather than his father Thomas.

If anyone has access to any records on anyone in this family that might clear some of this up, I would love to hear from you. I'm trying to prove things with actual documentation, although I know this is often not possible given that records during that time period were sparse to begin with and many documents were lost or destroyed.

I would also like more specific dates for birth/death/marriage of siblings to this line and I would like to know which John Brewer and Thomas Brewer were actually on the voyage with Sir Francis Drake if anyone knows that. A book on the Brewers states that it was our John Brewer, the same one who settled in Virginia, and I hope it was because he is my direct ancestor and that would be really exciting. I am just concerned that some of the dates are not matching up given info on his father and grandparents. I have read that it was likely from his spoils from the treasure from that voyage that he became wealthy enough to transport some 50 immigrants to Virginia. It makes sense, if we can get the dates to work out so that he could have been on the voyage rather than it being a different John Brewer.

There's so much confusion on this line when you get back this far and I really want to get to the bottom of all this.

Mary Andersen, 11 gr granddaughter of John Brewer

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