Browne, Anthony (d.1548) (DNB00)

BROWNE, Sir ANTHONY (d. 1548), politician, only son of Sir Anthony Browne, standard-bearer of England and constable of Calais, and of his wife Lady Lucy Nevill, daughter and coheiress of John Nevill, marquis Montacute, and niece of Richard, earl of Warwick, was knighted in 1523 after the successful siege of Morlaix. In 1524 he was made esquire of the body to King Henry VIII, and from that time until the death of Henry he became more and more the friend of his sovereign. In 1526 he was created lieutenant of the Isle of Man during the minority of Edward, earl of Derby. In 1528, and again in 1533, Browne was sent into France; on the first occasion to invest Francis I with the order of the Garter, and on the second to attend that king to Nice for the conference with the pope respecting the divorce of Henry VIII and Catherine of Arragon. In 1539 Browne was made master of the horse, and in 1540 he was created a knight of the Garter.

Battle Abbey was granted to Browne in 1538; he occupied the abbot's lodging, and razed to the ground the church, the cloisters, and the chapter-house. At the same time he received the priory of St. Mary Overy in Southwark, and the house which he built there was for generations the London residence of his descendants the Viscounts Montague. The manors of Godstow, of Send in Sussex, and of Brede, which included a considerable part of the town of Hastings, were also granted to Browne; and in 1543, on the death of his half-brother, Sir William Fitzwilliam, K.G., earl of Southampton, he inherited the Cistercian abbey of Waverley, the monasteries of Bayham near Lamberhurst and of Calceto near Arundel, the priory of Easebourne, and the estate of Cowdray, both close to Midhurst. Part of the magnificent mansion of Cowdray had already been built by the Earl of Southampton, but much was added to it by Browne.

In 1540 Browne was sent to the court of John of Cleves to act as proxy at the marriage of Henry VIII with Anne of Cleves. In 1543 he accompanied the Duke of Norfolk in an expedition against the Scots, and in the following year, as master of the horse, he attended Henry VIII at the siege of Boulogne. In 1545 he was made justice in eyre of all the king's forests north of the Trent, and in the same year he was constituted standard-bearer to Henry VIII as his father had been to Henry VII. During the last illness of Henry VIII Browne, with 'good courage and conscience,' undertook to tell the king of his approaching end. Henry appointed him guardian to Prince Edward and to Princess Elizabeth, made him one of his executors, and left him a legacy of 300l. On the king's death Browne went to Hertford in order to tell the news to the young prince; and when Edward VI made his public entry into London, Browne, as master of the horse, rode next to him. But Browne survived Henry VIII only one year. On 6 May 1548 he died at a house which he had built at Byfleet in Surrey. He was buried with great pomp at Battle, under a splendid altar-tomb which he had himself prepared.

Browne was twice married. His first wife, whose effigy lies on the tomb at Battle beside his own, was Alys, daughter of Sir John Gage, K.G., constable of the Tower. By her he had seven sons and three daughters; the eldest son, Anthony, succeeded to his father's estates, and was created in 1554 Viscount Montague. Browne's second wife was Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald, ninth earl of Kildare, and better known as 'the fair Geraldine.' At the time of this marriage Browne was sixty, and the bride only fifteen years of age. Her two sons died in infancy. After the death of Browne his young widow married Sir Edward Clinton, first earl of Lincoln, and was buried with him in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

[Collins's Peerage; Baronagium Genealogicum, 1732; Sussex Archeological Collections; Dallaway's History of Sussex.]

J. A. E. R.