Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Brewster Name
The name Brewster is of Anglo-Saxon origin and considered occupational, it derived its name from craftsmen who made and distilled beer, ale, or certain other spirits. Breowan was the root word for someone “who distills.” Until the 1200s, the term “brewster” was indicative of a female who made ale, beer, or spirits and brewer was the male equivalent. After the 13th century, both men and women who made beer, ale, and other spirits became known as brewers.
Surnames in Britain prior to the Norman conquest were largely unheard of. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities new each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people’s names to distinguish them, one from another. Therefore one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names. The introduction of surnames by the Normans after the invasion seemed to be the next logical step in this evolution. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.
There often exists variations in spelling of many surnames, as with many given names which date back to the early centuries. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. The variations in the spelling of the surname Brewster include but not limited to; Brostar; Broster; Brouster; Brewester and Brewster among others.
The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Richard Briweera which appears in the Hampshire tax rolls from 1192. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Richard I, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom. These records span a period of over 700 years and have proven invaluable to researches over the years. Additional tax rolls show records of Roger Breuestere from Suffolk in 1221 and Emma Le Breustere who lived in Berkshire dated 1279. Church records also show Edward Brester was christened in London in1553.
The first recorded immigrant to America bearing the surname or any variation of the spelling was William and Love Brewster along with their son, Wrestling, who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Jonathan Brewster landed and settled in Massachusetts in 1621.
There were also many immigrants to the British former colonies of New Zealand and Australia bearing the surname Brewster. William Brewster landed in 1850 and settled in Adelaide, Austria. Will Brewster landed in 1852 and settled in Southern Australia as did Abraham Brewster in 1857. William Brewster landed in 1876 and settled in Auckland, New Zealand and Charles Brewster landed in 1842 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Brewster are found in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, United States, and New Zealand . By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Vermont live in West Virginia.
There are many persons of note who bear the surname Brewster. One such person is Sir David Brewster was born in the royal burgh Roxburghshire in Scotland. Brewster graduated from the University of Edinburgh where after graduation, he became a minister, however, Brewster only performed one service as he chose to devote his energy to true passion, the natural sciences. Due to his interest and devotion to science, he is noted as one of the most respected and revered physicist, mathematicians, astronomers, inventors, and historian of science. Brewster was also a writer, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of London, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Fellow of the Scottish Society of the Arts and a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineering. In 1838, Brewster was awarded Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order.
Brewster Coat of Arms Meaning
The three main devices (symbols) in the Brewster blazon are the estoile, chevron and leopard’s face. The two main tinctures (colors) are azure and ermine.
The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli . Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” .
Ermine is a very ancient pattern, and distinctive to observe. It was borne alone by John de Monfort, the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany in the late 14th century It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found . The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.
There were of course many widely recognised symbols that existed long before the advent of heraldry and it should be no surprise that some of these were adopted as charge in coats of arms . The estoile is a typical example, reflecting the stars in the sky and represented with six wavy points, often with a little shading to give it some depth. . The ancient writer Guillim assigns these symbols as the emblems of God’s goodness”.
The chevron is one the major shapes used upon a shield, known as ordinaries. The inverted ‘V’ of the chevron is perhaps thought to have originated to represent a military scarf folded on the shield , or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” , possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.
The leopard’s face (sometimes, incorrectly referred to as a leopard’s head occurs very frequently in heraldry . Early heraldic artists tended to treat lions and leopards as the same animal, but during the development of British Heraldry the heads of the two creatures have adopted separate, and more realistic forms. Wade would have us associate leopards with warriors, especially those who overcome ”hazardous things by force and courage”