The Brouwer Families of New Netherland and New York
Three distinct and unrelated Brouwer families are found in 17th century New Netherland/New York. Adam Brouwer who resided at Gowanus in Kings County on Long Island was progenitor of the largest of the three. He and his wife, Magdalena Verdon, saw fourteen children reach adulthood and have families of their own. Also found in Kings County, but living at Flatlands, was Jan (or Johannes) Brouwer. He and his wife, Jannetje Jans, had eight children with lines of descent having been found from three, two of them sons. The third family is that of Willem Brouwer and his wife, Elizabeth Drinkvelt. They resided at what was then known as Beverwijck and is today Albany, New York. This couple’s four children, two sons, and two daughters, all left descendants. The earliest generations descended from Willem are found primarily in the Albany and Schenectady, New York area. In all three families the surname is seen as Brouwer in the majority of records from the 17th and earlier decades of the 18th centuries. Later records, depending on whether they are found in predominantly Dutch communities or in English communities, generally show the surname spelled as either Brower (Dutch) or Brewer (English). You may also on occasion find the surname spelled in the German form of Bruer or Brauer. Present day descendants are found with either the Brower or Brewer spellings, and it is apparent that the original Brouwer spelling was lost to descendants of Adam, Jan and Willem beginning in the early 19th century. It is more likely that present day families, who do spell their name as Brouwer, can trace their ancestry to more recent immigrants from Europe to the United States or Canada. In addition to these three Brouwer families, those researching their Brower or Brewer origins today must also consider the possibility that they are descended from Hubert Brower who arrived at the Port of Philadelphia in 1726, or possibly from one of the many Brewer families of English origins who settled in both New England and in the southern colonies during the period before the American Revolution.