John Sherren Brewer (1810-1879), English historian, was born in Norwich in 1810, the son of a Baptist schoolmaster. He was educated at Queen's College, Oxford, was ordained in the Church of England in 1837, and became chaplain to a central London workhouse. In 1839 he was appointed lecturer in classical literature at King's College, London, and in 1855 he became professor of English language and literature and lecturer in modern history, succeeding F.D. Maurice. Meanwhile from 1854 onwards he was also engaged in journalistic work on the Morning Herald, Morning Post and Standard. In 1856 he was commissioned by the master of the rolls to prepare a calendar of the state papers of Henry VIII., a work demanding a vast amount of research. He was also made reader at the Rolls, and subsequently preacher. In 1877 Disraeli secured for him the crown living of Toppesfield, Essex. There he had time to continue his task of preparing his Letters and Papers of the Reign of King Henry VIII., the Introductions to which (published separately, under the title The Reign of Henry VIII., in 1884) form a scholarly and authoritative history of Henry VIII.'s reign. New editions of several standard historical works were also produced under Brewer's direction.
He died at Toppesfield in February 1879.