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American Medical Biographies/Brown, Gustavus (1689–1765)

Brown, Gustavus (1689–1765)

Gustavus Brown was the first of his family to arrive in Maryland, and was born at Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, Scotland, on April 10, 1689. His parents were Gustavus and Jane Mitchelson Brown, and his paternal grandfather was the Rev. Richard Brown, of the established Church of England, a graduate of the University of St. Andrews and minister to Salton in Scotland in the reign of Charles I. The name was formerly spelled Broun.

Nothing is known of Dr. Brown's education. He came to Maryland in May, 1708, and is said to have been a surgeon's mate on board an English vessel. While his ship lay at anchor, he went ashore, but before he could return a storm arose which made it necessary for the ship to weigh anchor. Thus left, with nothing but the clothes on his back, he made himself known, and informed the planters of his willingness to serve them. He soon gained their respect, married in 1710 a lady of wealth, and acquired a large practice. Many years later he went to Scotland to live, but his wife not liking the country, he returned to Maryland in 1734.

Dr. Brown's place, called "Rich Hill" was four miles from Porto Tobacco, in Charles County. He was prominent in the affairs of the state. He was one of seven trustees appointed by the General Assembly to select teachers for the Province.

He had a number of medical students, two of whom, Dr. Michael Wallace, of King George County, Virginia, and Dr. John Key, of St. Mary's County, Maryland, became his sons-in-law. His nine daughters, known as "the nine graces," married men of prominence. Dr. Brown showed remarkable shrewdness by requiring all their husbands to secure upon them, at marriage, the property which he gave as dower.

Dr. Michael Wallace told that on one occasion Dr. Brown was sent for in haste to pay a professional visit in the family of a Mr. H., a wealthy citizen of King George County, Virginia, who was very slow in paying his physician but very ostentatious in displaying his wealth. In leaving the patient's room it was necessary for Dr. Brown to pass through the dining-room where Mr. H. was entertaining some guests at dinner. As Dr. Brown entered the room, a servant bearing a silver salver on which stood two silver goblets filled with gold pieces, stepping up to him and said: "Dr. Brown, master wishes you to take out your fee." It was winter and Dr. Brown wore his overcoat. Taking one of the goblets, he quietly emptied it into one pocket, and the second goblet into another, and saying to the servant: "Tell your master I highly appreciate his liberality" he mounted his horse and returned home.

Dr. Brown died at Rich Hill, suddenly, of apoplexy, in April, 1765. In his will he speaks of himself as "Practitioner in Medicines and Laird of Mainside and House Byers in Scotland."

Dr. Brown married first in 1710, Frances Fowke, daughter of Col. Gerard Fowke, of Charles County, by whom he had twelve children, of whom one son and seven daughters survived their mother. She died November 8, 1744. His second wife was Mrs. Margaret Black Boyd, a widow, and by her he had a son and a daughter.