George S. Brewster (AM0588)

George was born in 1811 in Stonington CT. His middle initial probably stands for Seymore although official records show only the initial, and one unofficial source shows Seymour. He was an eighth generation descendant of MAYFLOWER passenger William Brewster. He was the son of Capt. Stephen Brewster (1775-1837) and Hannah Fellows Brewster (1776-1829). They had five sons, three of whom (George, Charles (AM0587) and William (AM0589)) were whaling masters of ships with New London and Stonington home ports. He married Mary L. Clark (1812-1894) on June 2, 1831 in Stonington. They had five children (Helen and George and three unnamed), all of whom died in infancy. Census records for Stonington for 1860, 1870 and 1880 show George and Mary living in Stonington, all of their children having died before 1860. George is shown as “sea captain” or “retired seaman.” A crew list described him as 5’ 7” tall, light skin and brown hair. George died in August 1884 in Stonington. As recorded in the Log of Mystic Seaport (6/28/2018), “[George] and his two brother captains were to be pall bearers at the funeral of their Aunt Lydia Chesebro who died at the age of 92. At this time George was a selectman of Stonington and after standing to say a few words about his aunt and her upstanding character, George went back to his pew, sat down, and died. His death caused quite a stir in the church and later in the community. His brothers went about the business of burying their aunt and then returned to the church to bear their brother back to his home where he was prepared for his own funeral.” Mary died in 1894 in Stonington. George, Mary and the five children are buried in Robinson Burying Ground in Stonington.The gravestone can be found at Find a Grave.

The above portraits of George and Mary are in the collection of Mystic Seaport Museum (2018.28.1 for George and 2018.28.2 for Mary.

Before he served as a master, George served on the crew of one and possibly two ships with New London as home port: ALABAMA PACKET (AS0831) sailed 1825 (shown with ?) and  SPARK(AS2409) sailed 1829. New London Crew Lists show him as crew on other ships, but they could not be verified elsewhere on AOWV.

George was master for two voyages on two ships with a home port of New London.

FRANCIS (AS1468): (ship). She sailed in 1831 (the crew list is dated July 29) for Brazil and returned on February 28, 1832. The crew list shows William Brewster, age 18, as a member of the crew, probably the younger brother of George. This voyage is not reported in Starbuck or Decker. AV05098.

HELVETIUS (AS1569): (ship, 330 tons, built in Kensington PA in 1804). She sailed in 1832 (the crew list is dated July 3). She stranded on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands and was a total loss. This voyage is not reported in Starbuck. AV06372.

George was master of voyages of three whaling vessels with Stonington as home port: PHILETUS (AS2181): 1835-1837, GEORGE (AS1464): 1838-1841, and FELLOWES (AS1367): 1842-1845.

The story of George and his brother Charles as New London whaling masters and the Brewster family connection with the whaling industry would not be complete without mentioning one aspect of their brother William’s period as master of TIGER (AS2501) homeported in Stonington. His first wife, Mary Louisa Burtch, accompanied him on both voyages on TIGER (1845-1848, AV13970, and 1848-1851, AV13971). Mary maintained an extensive and detailed journal documenting the life of a woman at sea on a multi-year whaling voyage. The journals appear in Druett, She Was A Sister Sailor, published by Mystic Seaport Museum. The introduction provides background information about her.

Sources used: see sidebar and sources cited in text.​​​​​​​​

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) December 2023