Brewster, Henry Percy (1816–1884)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 18, 2019

Henry Percy (Persy) Brewster, lawyer and personal secretary of Sam Houston, was born on November 22, 1816, in the Laurens District, South Carolina, where he studied and began the practice of law. He learned of the Texas Revolution while on a trip to Alabama and traveled to New Orleans, where Lt. Meriwether Woodson Smith recruited him for service in the Texas army. There he and his fellow recruits "remained two days without anything to eat except a box of rotten Fish." Brewster landed at Velasco on April 2, 1836. In Austin county he joined Capt. Henry Teal's Company A of Lt. Col. Henry Millard's First Regiment of Regular Infantry but was detached for duty as Sam Houston's private secretary. Brewster was subsequently reassigned to his old company, then to the command of Capt. Andrew Briscoe for a single day of duty at the battle of San Jacinto. Afterward he accompanied Houston to New Orleans for treatment of the general's wound.

Brewster returned to Texas in August and on October 1 was appointed acting secretary of war and navy, to succeed John A. Wharton, in the administration of David G. Burnet. In the fall of 1836 he established a legal practice at Brazoria. In 1840 he was appointed district attorney of the Second Judicial District, a post he held until 1843. On March 16 of that year he married Ann Elizabeth Royal at Matagorda. In 1849 he was appointed attorney general by Governor George T. Wood, to succeed John W. Harris, who had resigned. In 1855 Brewster moved to Washington, D.C., to practice international law. At the outbreak of the Civil War he returned to Texas and was commissioned a captain and appointed adjutant general to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston on September 11, 1861. On March 17, 1862, he became Johnston's chief of staff and was with the general when he was killed at the battle of Shiloh in April 1862. Thereafter Brewster served on the staff of Gen. John Bell Hood, where he rose to the rank of colonel. At the close of the war he returned to Texas and practiced law in San Antonio. In 1881 Governor John Ireland appointed him commissioner of insurance, statistics, and history, a position he held until his death. Brewster died in Austin on December 28, 1884. His body was taken to Galveston and buried in the Gulf of Mexico. Brewster County was named in his memory in 1887.

Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Zachary T. Fulmore, History and Geography of Texas As Told in County Names (Austin: Steck, 1915; facsimile, 1935). Galveston Daily News, December 29, 1884. C. L. Greenwood Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). James D. Lynch, The Bench and Bar of Texas (St. Louis, 1885). Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Brewster, Henry Percy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 18, 2019