Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Friday, April 6, 2012

Two Brewers in Richmond County (Staten Island) Wills

Over the course of time I have found very few references to persons named BREWER or BROWER in Richmond County (Staten Island), New York. There are mentions of two Brewers in the probate records at the Surrogate's Court at St. George, Staten Island. Abstracts can be found in a typescript titled, "Wills of Richmond County, N. Y., 1787-1863, originals on file Surrogate's Office, St. George, Staten Island, New York," compiled by Frances S. Fast in 1941. A copy of the pages pertaining to Brewers taken from this typescript was included in William B. Bogardus' collection, and it is now online:

Wills of Richmond County, N. Y. by Frances S. Fast

The first mention is in the will of Ann Robbins, widow of Robert Robbins of New York City, deceased. Ann's will was dated 29 August 1844 and proved 18 September 1847. She died on 30 September 1846. In her will she leaves her property at Castleton and Southfield (both on Staten Island) to her daughter, Christiana Ann, the wife of Benjamin P. Brewer. In addition, Benjamin P. Brewer is appointed as the only executor of the estate. The probate hearings record (among others) the children of Benjamin P. Brewer and Christiana Ann, naming them as Daniel R. Brewer (of age), Benjamin, Robert, Ann, Caroline, Andrew J. and John N. Brewer. This Benjamin P. Brewer would be Benjamin Prince Brower, born 2 May 1801, son Nicholas Birdsall Brower and Ruth Prince. Benjamin is a descendant of Adam Brouwer. n 1860 he was Post Master of the the New Brighton Office on Staten Island.

The second mention is the will of Samuel Brewer who died 3 December 1861 at Westfield, Staten Island. His will is dated 25 September 1861 and was proved 12 February 1862. He leaves his estate to a Sarah Carlock "as long as she stays unmarried." On her death or remarriage, the estate is to go to the children of his brother, Hastings Brewer, except a watch, which is to go to Abraham Riker Kelsey. The probate hearing also records sister (sisters?), Mary Eltting, Hannah Smith, Maria Mayhew, Eliza Edwards, Sarah Brewer, and sons of Thomas Brewer, deceased, names unknown, and brothers Hastings Brewer, Henry and William. Determining just who this Samuel Brewer was took a little digging, which started with finding Sarah Carlock on the 1860 census. She was age 55, living in Westfield, Richmond Co., New York, as a housekeeper in the home of "James" Brewer, age 64, born in England. Perhaps James was a brother of Samuel, or perhaps he is Samuel with his name erroneously recorded as "James." In 1850, Sarah Carlock, age 45, was living with Samuel Brewer, age 59, born in England, in Ward 12, New York City, New York. In the household was a Mary Brewer, age 61, and adults John Carlock, James Carlock, George Carlock and Henry Carlock. In searching for Hastings Brewer, the only one found, was living in 1860 in Southfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. He was age 49, born in England. This Hastings Brewer had married Fedilia Bunnell on 11 September 1842 at Harwinton, Connecticut. The 1860 census includes, Fedilia and six children aged 4 to 16 years. The family can be found at New Marlborough, Berkshire County, Massachusetts in 1850, 1870 and 1880. Hastings Brewer's death is recorded in the New Marlborough Town Records, the date being 27 December 1890. So, it appears that the Samuel Brewer who left a will in Richmond County, New York, was an immigrant to the U. S. from England sometime during the first half of the 1800s. He was not a descendant of either Adam Brouwer of Gowanus or of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands. Likewise, the Hastings Brewer of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, is not a descendant of one of the New England Brewer families who are found that county throughout the 1800s. As for Sarah Carlock, she apparently was a widow prior to 1850. In 1880 she is found enumerated as "mother" in the household of Robert Carlock, age 53, blacksmith, in New York City.

The typescript mentioned above is available through the Family History Library, FHL film #860323, items 2-4.


  1. Samuel Brewer of Staten Island appears to be the man who petitioned for citizenship in 1829 from Great Barrington, Mass and then completed the process from Manhattan in 1851, citing his birthplace as Suffolk England and his arrival in 1822 in the US. The William Brewer cited in the probate papers as Samuel's brother appears to be my fourth grandfather who operated a six-acre dairy and flower farm by Harlem Road (7th Ave and 117th Street or nearby), likely as a renter from Charles M. Graham II, the son of the inventor of modern false teeth. William married Eunice Turner of Great Barrington, from an old New Haven Colony family, and the couple raised three or four deaf children on their farm of 70 cows. William arrived in the 1820's from Aldington, Suffolk, England, as did Hastings and Samuel. So, I believe your conclusion is right about Samuel's origins and I can't thank you enough for finding and deciphering the old handwriting in Samuel's will, which has allowed me to identify a huge cast of my ancestors from England. I know that following the American Revolution families left the New Haven area (and coastal Massachusetts) for good soil in the Berkshires which is how the Turners got there. I don't know whether Samuel's family was related to some of the New Haven people and that is why he and Hastings and William began their American life in the Berkshires of all places. A few of the most prominent settlers of New Haven also came from coastal Suffolk but that was six generations beforehand.

  2. John-Paul, Thank you very much for this interesting addition of info about Samuel Brewer. This case is very important in that in underscores the fact that just because an ancestor with the name BREWER or BROWER is found in the greater NYC area, doesn't imply that he must be a descendant of Adam Brouwer or of Jan Brouwer. By the mid-1700s, and well into the 1800s, BREWERs of other ancestry began moving into the greater NYC area, and Samuel Brewer is just one example of that.

  3. One correction to my comment--the farms on upper Manhattan operated by Samuel and William Brewer were by Harlem Lane, not Harlem Road. There are wonderful paintings of Harlam Lane on the internet, a road that started at the upper edge of Central Park and continued to Manhattanville.


Because of spamming issues, all submitted comments are moderated. Your comment is appreciated, but it will not appear online until it has first been reviewed. All relative comments will be sent through. Comments of a commercial nature will be blocked. It may take as little as a few hours or as long as a few days for submitted comments to appear online. Please do not resend the same comment. Thank you.