William Brewster was one of the leading separatists who protested religious intolerance in England.
Brewster was instrumental in establishing a Separatist church with Richard Clyfton, and they often held their meetings in the Manor house. Brewster and the others were eventually found and forced out, and fleeing prosecution and persecution they headed to Amsterdam in 1608, and moved to Leiden, Holland in 1609. Brewster became the church’s Elder, responsible for seeing that the congregation’s members carried themselves properly, both helping and admonishing them when necessary.
In Leiden, Brewster working with Thomas Brewer, Edward Winslow, and others, began working a printing press and publishing religious books and pamphlets that were then illegally conveyed into England. Brewster also employed himself teaching University of Leiden students English. By 1618, the English authorities were onto him and his printing press, and had the Dutch authorities in pursuit of him. Thomas Brewer was arrested and held in the University of Leiden’s prison, but Brewster managed to evade the authorities and went into hiding for a couple years.
As one of the leading church elders, Brewster traveled to the new world on the Mayflower and was instrumental in leading the community of believers committed to the freedom to practice their religious convictions.