The parents of Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) are still unproven, but new information has been found that provides another clue in that puzzle. This update was prompted by the finding of an August 1779 Chatham County, NC land grant warrant for Peter Reynolds that
contains the name “Ambrose Smith Brewer”, as recorded in Chatham County, NC land records
in book 46 on page 304. The warrant ordered that a survey be done for 300 acres of land on Flat Creek, “including widow Irvin’s improvement formerly belonging to Ambrose Smith Brewer”.
Flat Creek is a tributary of Deep River in the southwest part of present-day Chatham County, NC. The cover sleeve of the documents is numbered 521, and the grant number was 528.
Warrant number 776 for the survey was entered on 11 Aug 1779, the survey was done on 24 Feb 1780, and grant number 528 was issued on 23 Oct 1782 to Peter Reynolds. In the warrant, the name of a Nalls male was scratched out, and the name of Peter Reynolds was written above it.
The first name of the Nalls male is not legible, but it was not the name of either of the chain carriers, Nicholas Nall and Richard Nall. It might have been the name of the adjoining landowner John Nalls, but that is not certain. The warrant does not specify the nature of the “improvement”, and the survey does not mention it. The wording suggests that Ambrose Smith Brewer had made some kind of improvement, possibly intending to apply for a grant, and then the improvement was somehow acquired by the widow Irvin. The fact that this was a grant to Peter Reynolds implies that Ambrose Smith Brewer did not own the 300 acres. That was during the Revolutionary War, so there are many possibilites
CAUTION!! DO NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS!! The warrant tells us nothing about Ambrose Smith Brewer except his name. It says nothing about his age, or when he occupied the land, or his connection to any of the many Smith and Brewer families who lived or had lived in that vicinity or who had lived in Virginia in the mid-1700s when Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) was born. It is possible, but not certain, that Ambrose Smith Brewer was the same person as Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753), but they might have been different men with one using a middle name to distinguish himself from the other, and they might have been of different generations. The Brewers and Smiths were notorious for reusing names, so relying on name similarities and proximities can be misleading. As far as I know, Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) never used a middle name or initial in documents, and no middle name was reported by any of his descendants. The 1779 land warrant is the only place that I have seen those three names used together. Thus, it would be a mistake to assume that they were the same man without proof, so I will discuss them as if they were different men.
Potential ways that Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) (possibly Ambrose Smith Brewer) could have the Brewer surname and be a genetic Smith include:
1. He could have been the legitimate son of a Brewer male whose father or an earlier forebear was sired by a Smith. It is not certain that the Smith genetic connection was introduced with the conception of Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) or of Ambrose Smith Brewer (whoever and whenever he was).
2. He could have been a legitimate Smith orphan who was adopted by a Brewer family.
His mother might have been a Brewer female who married a Smith, his parents might have died, and he might have been raised as a Brewer by a Brewer relative His mother’s maiden surname might not have been Brewer or Smith. It was common on the frontier for families to adopt orphans without any documentation, and orphaned siblings were sometimes adopted by different families and raised with different surnames.
3. He could have been a legitimate Smith whose father died and who became a stepson of a Brewer when his mother remarried to a Brewer.
4. He could have been born out-of-wedlock to a Brewer girl and raised as a Brewer.
5. His mother could have been married to a Brewer and impregnated by a Smith male, whether consenual or not.
6. He could have voluntarily changed his surname. Ambrose Smith Brewer (possibly Ambrose Brewer, born ca 1753) could have originally been named Ambrose Smith and subsequently added Brewer to his name or had it added by a parent. He could have been a namesake of a relative named Ambrose Smith, and there were
reportedly several men with that name in earlier Virginia records. It is possible that he was born out-of-wedlock to a Brewer girl and given the name of his father....
Ambrose was not an uncommon name.
NOTE FROM SMITHSWORLDWIDE- List of Ambrose Smiths in the big tree.
An apparently-younger Ambrose Smith in Chatham County, NC was born roughly about 1760 as the son of a John Smith (born roughly ca 1730) and his wife Lucy. Those birthyears could be wrong by a decade or more. John and Lucy had sons named William, Ambrose, and Isaac, as documented in the November 1784 will of Lucy’s stepfather John Wise. (Smithsworldwide-link to John Wise will and related people.) John Wise bequeathed land to his step-grandsons with the provision that their parents John and Lucy were
to live on the land for the remainder of their lives. Lucy’s mother was alive and well at that time, so there were three generations alive in November 1784 with John and Lucy being in mid-life and their sons being old enough to inherit land. John or Lucy might have had a brother or father named Ambrose. There were reportedly several older men named John Smith, William Smith, and Ambrose Smith in earlier Virginia records, whose pedigrees are murky.
There were many Smiths and Brewers in North Carolina and Virginia. The wives and children of some of the Brewer and Smith men are not known, and the names of many daughters are not known. Many genealogists seem to assume that every man who ever lived had to be listed in a document somewhere at some time, which could not possibly be true. Many men did not own land, many people were not listed in estate and tax records, and many records have been
lost. Thus, there certainly were people that have not been identified and whose descendants have not been identified.
Many, if not most, of the Brewers in North Carolina in the 1700s were descendants of George Brewer (ca 1680 – 1744) and his wife Sarah (nee Lanier) of Brunswick County, VA.
The wives and children of their sons Howell, Lanier, and John are not proven, and information about some of their other sons is not certain. The only known daughter of George and Sarah was their daughter Sarah who was married by 1741 to John Vick. John Vick reportedly survived Sarah, which implies that she had only the one marriage and that her children would have the surname Vick, not Smith or Brewer. Many descendants of Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753)
believed that he was a grandson of George and Sarah via their son Howell or Lanier. Project members who are proven direct descendants of Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) do not
genetically match members who are proven direct descendants of George Brewer (ca 1680 – 1744), but we do not have genetic results for any proven descendants of the sons Howell and Lanier, and I do not think we have results for any proven descendant of their son John. Thus, there is as yet no proof that the sons Howell, Lanier, and John were biologic Brewers or that Howell and Lanier sired any children, so it is possible that one of George’s sons was a genetic
Smith. Also, it is only assumed, but not proven, that George Brewer (ca 1680-1744) sired all of his sons. We know only that some of his familial descendants have similar dna. We do not know George's origin, so we do not know if he had any brothers, nephews, cousins, or other relatives in America, other than his known descendants. It is also possible that a relative was in America temporarily as a visitor, soldier, or sailor, and such a relative could have left a child.
Inexperienced genealogists tend to assume that the suffixes "Sr." and "Jr." in records imply father and son, which was not always the relationship. In most colonial records, those suffixes simply meant that one man was older than the other. It was a way to identify men with the same name who lived in the same location at the same time, regardless of their relationship.
It is often assumed that Howell Brewer, Jr. was a son of Howell Brewer (born ca 1719) and that Lanier Brewer, Jr. was a son of Lanier Brewer (born ca 1714), but those relationships have not
Informal marriages were common on the frontier, and many folks moved about during hostilities. Those were turbulent times, particularly on the North Carolina and Virginia frontiers.
The Anglo-Cherokee War (1757-1761) happened in the middle of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The Regulator War (1766-1771) was a class battle between the upper class officials and the lower class citizens, and the Revolutionary War was a civil war with neighbors fighting neighbors (Tories versus Whigs). Many strange and bad events happened, and conflicts continued for many years after the wars. The Revolutionary War veteran Isaac Brewer said in
his pension application that the role of his unit was to contain the Tories, who were devastating the country and murdering Whig inhabitants. He also said that families were "all on the stroll
from place to place".
Thus, without an as-yet-undiscovered parental document, it is highly unlikely that we will ever know which Smith male started our Brewer line and which female(s) was(were) the mother(s) of Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) and Ambrose Smith Brewer. There were too many possibilities, both male and female, and too much is unknown about the Brewer and Smith families. There is a popular myth that women of those times married at a young age, but the opposite is true. The average age at marriage for women in the mid-1700s was about twenty-two years, although they might have been able to bear children earlier. Women generally are able to conceive and bear children for roughly about 30-35 years, so the mother of Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) was probably born between 1700 and 1735. Men can father children at an advanced age, so Ambrose’s genetic father could have been considerably older than his mother
and could have been born in the late-1600s.
Even though we do not know the identity of Ambrose Smith Brewer, the finding of his name is helpful. We have considered the possibilities that the earliest common forebear of the Smith and Brewer lines could have been a male who had yet a third surname or that the lines branched many hundreds of years ago when surnames were adopted. Now, the name Ambrose Smith Brewer suggests that those are not probable scenarios and that the Brewer line probably
descends from an unidentified Smith male who lived within three generations of Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) and Ambrose Smith Brewer. Remember that we are ultimately searching for two forebears, one who connects the Brewer and Smith lines and one who connects all of the related Smith lines. So far, the composite of genetic results and genealogical information suggests that the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) of the Smith and Brewer sublines
was probably born roughly between 1650 and 1720, and there is a small chance that the MRCA lived in the British Isles and did not immigrate to America. The name Ambrose Smith Brewer
suggests that the MRCA was probably born within three generations of him, which is compatible with the above dates. That in turn suggests that the MRCA was the father, grandfather, or great-
grandfather of Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753). However, as I discuss below, it is not likely that the MRCA was Ambrose’s father, but rather was probably an earlier forebear who lived in
Virginia during the late-1600s and early-1700s. The other man that we are seeking (the MRCA of all of the related Smith sublines) was probably of an older generation and might not have
immigrated to America. It is unlikely that the Smith male who started the Brewer line was the MRCA of all of the related Smith and Brewer members.
The earliest proven ancestors (EPAs) of the subgroup were born in the mid-1700s. Two of those were Ambrose Brewer (born ca 1753) and Colby Smith (born ca 1750s), both of whom were reportedly born in Virginia.
There is another Smith male who matches the subgroup, but he does not want to join a project or to correspond, and he uses the email address of a go-between relative. His EPA was the John Smith (born ca 1730) of Chatham County, NC that I discussed above. (It is possible that John was the father of Colby Smith (born ca 1750s) (smithsworldwide- link to Coleby/Colesby Smith) and that John was a brother or cousin of Drury Smith (born ca 1738),(smithsworldwide- link to Drury Smith of Laurens Co SC) but there is as yet no genealogical proof. If Colby was a son of that John Smith, why was he not named in the 1784 will of John Wise? Colby did not need land, because he had settled on nearby land in 1779 and acquired the grant in 1782.
Thus, the search for the two MRCAs should focus on Virginia, not North Carolina, and on men who were probably born in the 1600s.