Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Friday, January 3, 2014

Adam Brewer, Shrewsbury Monthly Meeting, 1743

File no. 31 from Abstracts of Monmouth County Court Papers, Part II, is a record from the Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) at Shrewsbury, New Jersey, 2: 3rd month, 1743.

No. 31. Adam Brewer, Shrewsbury Monthly Meeting, 1743

The copy of the document was given to William B. Bogardus by a correspondent (identity not known) who states the source as Shrewsbury Monthly Meeting Records, 1732-1756, microfilm roll MR-NY140, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. "Filmed by Mormons" is added, so I take it that the records were filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah for the Family History Library. The best guess would be that these records are found on FHL film #17351, items 3-6.

In this record, Adam Brewer is confessing to the act of fornication, which in today's world would equate to "pre-marital sex." The record is valuable in that it helps us determine the approximate birth date of Adam Brewer's youngest child, Magdalena.

The Adam Brewer of this record died before 15 March 1769, and is generally considered to be the Adam who was baptized on 29 March 1696 at Breuckelen (Brooklyn), Kings Co., Long Island. The baptism is recorded in the register of the Old First Dutch Reformed Church of Brooklyn, and his parents are written as "Jakop Brouwer, and Annitje Brouwer," the mother being Annetje Bogardus, daughter of Willem Bogardus and Wynnetje Sybrants. Adam Brewer was first married to Deborah Allen and they had nine children who were supposedly recorded in a Bible record first brought to attention in 1923 by William A. D. Eardeley. Adam Brewer's second wife was Catharine Mitchell, and their New Jersey License to marry was dated 12 January 1742. The source for this is: Nelson, William. Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey. Volume XXII. Marriage Records, 1665-1800. Archives of the State of New Jersey. First Series. Paterson, N.J.: Press Printing and Publishing Co., 1900, page 32. It is not clear, but if this date is in "Old Style" then it more correctly could be written as 12 January 1742/43. The date of the Monthly Meeting in which Adam Brewer confessed to his sin, was (as stated above) 2: 3rd month 1743. This is Quaker terminology (they did not recognize the names of the months January through August as they were derived from non-Christian sources) for 2 May 1743 (the Quakers would have also been using the "Old Style" calendar in that year).

During this time and place (mid 18th century colonial America) the sin of fornication was detected and proved by the birth of a child to an unwed mother, or to a couple who had married, but then had a child born to them within nine months after their marriage date. If Adam and Catharine were married in January 1743, and he was brought to answer to the charge of fornication in May 1743, then in all likelihood a child was born to Adam and Catharine sometime between those dates. That child would be their only known daughter, Magdalena, who is also mentioned in Adam's will dated 17 August 1768.

In the Adam Brewer's will, his daughter Magdalena is described as under age 21(she is to receive £200 when she turns age 21). This creates a bit of uncertainty, as the child born to Adam and Catharine in early 1743 would have been aged 25 in August 1768. Either, Adam was incorrect about Magdalena's age when he wrote his will (something that is not unusual during Adam's time), or, the child born to Adam and Catharine is not Magdalena, but rather some other child who has not yet been discovered or identified. Since we do not have a name, or some other record to identify this child by, my inclination is to assume that the child of 1743 was Magdalena, and the will is simply incorrect. But to be clear, this is something we may never know with any greater degree of certainty. It would be equally reasonable to reconstruct Adam Brewer's family with the inclusion of a child, whose name is unknown, born in early 1743, followed by Magdalena, who would have then been born sometime after August 1747.

Catharine Mitchell was deceased by 22 August 1761, when Adam had a license to marry his third wife, Mary Davis (Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey. Volume XXII, page 32). I have seen a date of 28 August 1761 for this marriage, but have yet to find a source to support that claim. I would also note that William J. Hoffman, in "Brouwer Beginnings," The American Genealogist v. 24 (1948):30, states that the Adam Brewer who married Catharine Mitchell, is "possibly" the Adam Brouwer who was a son of Hendrick Brouwer and his wife, Elizabeth. I have yet to find any evidence that might support Hoffman's theory.

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