Brewer History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The vast movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066 brought the Brewer family name to the British Isles. They lived in Devon. The name comes from the Norman area of Brovera or Brueria, now Breviare, near Caen, in Normandy. In its more obvious Old English derivation, the name indicates the bearer is a professional brewer of beers or ales, and stems from the root breowan, of the same meaning.

Early Origins of the Brewer family

The surname Brewer was first found in Devon where they were found "at the time of the Domesday Survey and founded Tor Abbey." [1] Another source provides more detail. "Of 32 Praemonstratensian monasteries in England, that of Torre, founded and endowed by William de Brewer in 1196, was by far the richest; it was dedicated to Our Holy Saviour, the Virgin Mary, and the Holy Trinity. " [2]

"In 1196, William de Briwere founded the great Abbey of Torre. De Briwere was a man of mark. There is a tradition that he was born on the shores of Torbay ; there is another that he was found exposed on a heath, as an infant, and thence acquired his surname. Prince makes him out to be the descendant of Richard Bruer, a companion of the Conqueror. Whatever his origin, he won wealth and fame. In some way not clear he succeeded to the manor of Torre ; and he held prominent positions in the Courts of Henry II., Richard I., John, and Henry III. a statesman of ability and trust. " [3]

Henry de Briwere is generally thought to be one of the first recorded there, held five fees in Devon during the reign of King Stephen (1135-1154.) [4]

"The Abbey of Dunkeswell, [Devon] sheltered among the neighbouring hills, was founded in 1201 by William Lord Briwere. Two years previously, he had acquired the manor of Dunkeswell, and this formed part of the endowment of the Abbey, with Briwere's lands in Wolford and at Uffculme. Dunkeswell was colonized by monks from Ford, and the convent of that place was liberal of its gifts to the daughter house. There were also other donors, so that the Abbey had a very fair start in life. Dunkeswell was chosen by the founder as his burial-place in 1227, and it is presumed that his wife was also buried there. Not long since, two stone coffins were found within the ruins of the Abbey Church, one containing the bones of a man, and the other those of a woman ; and these are believed to have been the remains of Lord and Lady Briwere. All the bones were placed in one of the coffins, and reinterred." [3]

"Buckland Brewer, [Devon] has name from the Briweres; and, by the gift of William Lord Briwere, formed part of the endowments of the Abbeys of Dunkeswell and Torre. " [3]

"Tawstock used, in the common talk of the countryside, to be regarded as having the finest manor, the richest rectory, and the most stately residence at any rate in North Devon. William Lord Briwere held it in the reign of Henry II., and gave it to his daughter on her marriage with Robert, Earl of Leicester. " [3]

William Brewer, Briwere or Bruer (d. 1226), was Baron and judge, the son of Henry Brewer (Dugdale, Baronage), who was "sheriff of Devon during the latter part of the reign of Henry II, and was a justice itinerant in 1187. He bought land at Ilesham in Devon, and received from the king the office of forester of the forest of Bere in Hampshire. When Richard left England, in December 1189, he appointed Brewer to be one of the four justices to whom he committed the charge of the kingdom. During the reign of John, Brewer held a prominent place among the king's counsellors. His name appears among the witnesses of the disgraceful treaty made with Philip at Thouars in 1206. He died in 1226, having assumed, probably when actually dying, as was not infrequently done, the habit of a monk at Dunkeswell, and was buried there in the church he had founded. During the reigns of John and Henry III he acquired great possessions. " [5]

Another noted source gives insight into St. Breward or Simon Ward, Cornwall and the aforementioned William Brewer. "According to popular opinion, as well as historical records, this parish derived its name from a warlike bishop, whose name it bears, and by whom its church was founded. William Brewer, who was consecrated Bishop of Exeter in 1224, was the son of Lord Brewer, Baron Odecomb in Somersetshire." [6]

Early History of the Brewer family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brewer research. Another 171 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1655, 1624, 1611, 1611, 1744, 1822, 1744, 1776, 1780, 1743, 1724 and 1726 are included under the topic Early Brewer History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Brewer Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Brewer, Bruer, Bruyere, Brewyer, Breuer, Brower and others.

Early Notables of the Brewer family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Antony Brewer ( fl. 1655), English dramatic writer who wrote 'The Love-sick King, an English Tragical History, with the Life and Death of Cartesmunda, the Fair Nun of Winchester.' [5] Thomas Brewer (fl. 1624), was an English miscellaneous writer, "of whose life no particulars are known, was the author of some tracts in prose and verse. " [5] Another Thomas Brewer (b. 1611), was a celebrated performer on the viol, was born (probably in the parish of Christchurch, Newgate Street) in 1611. His father, Thomas Brewer, was a poulterer, and his mother's Christian name was True...
Another 160 words (11 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Brewer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Brewer World Ranking

In the United States, the name Brewer is the 251st most popular surname with an estimated 104,454 people with that name. [7] However, in Australia, the name Brewer is ranked the 704th most popular surname with an estimated 5,561 people with that name. [8] And in New Zealand, the name Brewer is the 616th popular surname with an estimated 1,159 people with that name. [9] The United Kingdom ranks Brewer as 653rd with 10,007 people. [10]


United States Brewer migration to the United States +

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Brewer or a variant listed above:

Brewer Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Brewer, who arrived in America in 1620 [11]
  • John Brewer and his wife Marie, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1632
  • Daniel Brewer, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1632 [11]
  • Daniell Brewer, who landed in America in 1632 [11]
  • Jeffery Brewer, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Brewer Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Henry Brewer, who landed in Virginia in 1701-1702 [11]
  • Johannes Brewer, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1743 [11]
  • William Brewer, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1747 [11]
  • Colonels Daniel Brewer, Jonathon Brewer, and Samuel Brewer all commanded regiments in the American War of Independence in 1776
  • Nehemiah Brewer, who landed in America in 1783 [11]
Brewer Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William T Brewer, who landed in Texas in 1835 [11]
  • Greenberry Brewer, who arrived in Texas in 1835 [11]
  • Greenburry Brewer, who landed in Texas in 1835 [11]
  • Gerh Heinr Brewer, who landed in America in 1845 [11]
  • Joseph Brewer, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Brewer Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Joseph Brewer, (b. 1866), aged 35, Cornish miner, from St. Austell, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 24th August 1901 en route to British Columbia, USA [12]
  • Mr. James Brewer, (b. 1877), aged 28, Cornish engine fitter, from Stonehouse, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia" arriving at Ellis Island, New York in 1905 en route to Brooklyn, New York, USA [12]

Canada Brewer migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Brewer Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Daniel Brewer, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • James Brewer, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Mr. Aaron Brewer U.E. who settled in Kingston, Ontario c. 1783 [13]
  • Mr. Aaron Brewer U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [13]
  • Mr. Aaron Robin Brewer U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Brewer Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Brewer settled at St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1804 [14]

Australia Brewer migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Brewer Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Mr. William Brewer, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 15th April 1790, sentenced for 7 years for stealing a coat from John Pearce, transported Atlantic" on 27th March 1791 to New South Wales, Australia [15]
Brewer Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Brewer, British convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Calcutta" in February 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, the settlement was listed as abandoned and most of the convicts transported to Tasmania on the "Queen" in 1804 [16]
  • Robert Brewer, English convict from Wiltshire, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [17]
  • Samuel Brewer, English convict from Norfolk, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 29, 1828, settling in New South Wales, Australia [18]
  • Mr. Cornelius Brewer, English convict who was convicted in Kent, England for life, transported aboard the "Countess of Harcourt" on 29th April 1828, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [19]
  • Mr. William Brewer, British convict who was convicted in York, Yorkshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 1st October 1829, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [20]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Brewer migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Brewer Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • C B Brewer, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • William Brewer, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • W V Brewer, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • William Brewer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gipsy" in 1854
  • Mr. Brewer, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship 'Merchantman' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand and Auckland New Zealand on 6th September 1855 [21]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Brewer migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [22]
Brewer Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Daniel Brewer who settled in Barbados in 1680

Contemporary Notables of the name Brewer (post 1700) +

  • Carl Brewer (1957-2020), American politician, 100th Mayor of Wichita, Kansas (2007-2015)
  • Homer E. "Billy" Brewer (1934-2018), American football player and head coach
  • Thomas Austin Brewer (1931-2018), American Major League Baseball player from Wadesboro, North Carolina for the Boston Red Sox (1954-1961)
  • Albert Preston Brewer (1928-2017), American politician, 47th Governor of Alabama (1968-1971), 21st Lieutenant Governor of Alabama (1967-1968)
  • Contessa Brewer (b. 1974), American host for the MSNBC weekend program Caught on Camera
  • Donald George "Don" Brewer (b. 1948), American drummer and co-lead singer for the rock band Grand Funk Railroad
  • James Thomas "Jim" Brewer (1937-1987), American in Major League Baseball relief pitcher who played from 1960 to 1976
  • David Josiah Brewer (1837-1910), American jurist, ssociate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1889-1910)
  • Gay Robert Brewer Jr. (1932-2007), American professional PGA golfer who won the 1967 Masters Tournament
  • William Henry Brewer (1828-1910), American botanist, first Chair of Agriculture at Yale University's Sheffield Scientific School
  • ... (Another 106 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. George Brewer (b. 1918), Canadian Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Burin, Newfoundland, Canada, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [23]
  • Mr. Arthur W Brewer (b. 1920), Canadian Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Burin, Newfoundland, Canada, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [23]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Edwin Ernest Brewer, British Plumber 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died in the sinking [24]
  • Mr. Brewer, British Pay Sub Lieutenant Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [24]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Arthur James Brewer (b. 1906), English Warrant Mechanician from North End, Portsmouth, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [25]
RMS Titanic
  • Henry Brewer (1882-1912), English trimmer, member of the engineering crew aboard the RMS Titanic who died in the sinking [26]


Suggested Readings for the name Brewer +

  • The Chauncey Marble Brewer Family of Marshall, Michigan by James DeWolfe.
  • The Genealogy of Daniel P. Brewer by Buel Amos Langdon.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  4. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  9. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  10. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  11. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  12. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  13. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  14. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  15. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  16. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/calcutta
  17. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1823 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1823
  18. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1828 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1828
  19. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 19th April 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/countess-of-harcourt
  20. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bussorah-merchant
  21. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  22. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  23. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  24. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  25. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  26. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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