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BROWNING, JOHN (fl. 1584), divine, matriculated as a sizar at Trinity College, Cambridge, on 14 Nov. 1658, and was afterwards elected to a scholarship and a fellowship. He proceeded B.A. 1562–8, M.A. 1566, and B.D. 1577. He opposed the adoption of the new university statutes of 1572. At the close of the same year he was charged before Dr. Whitgift, deputy vice-chancellor, and the heads of houses, with preaching the Novatian heresy at St. Mary's, and was ordered to abstain from preaching for a time. But he disobeyed the order, and was committed by the vice-chancellor to the Tolbooth on 27 Jan. 1572–3. In February he was released on giving sureties to abstain from preaching until he had come up for further examination. He afterwards sent to Lord Burghley (17 March 1572–3) a formal confession of his errors. Burghley forwarded the confession to the vice-chancellor, with a warning that steps should be taken to see that Browning acted up to his professions of conformity. On 8 July 1580 Browning was created D.D. at Oxford. Dr. Still, master of Trinity College, Cambridge, complained to Lord Burghley that Browning's standing did not permit him to receive the degree; but on 8 Dec. 1581 Still signed the grace by which Browning was incorporated D.D. of Cambridge. On 7 Sept. 1584 Browning, as vice-master of the college, issued an order suspending Still, the master, from his office, on the ground that he had married, contrary to his oath, that he had broken many college statutes, and had wasted the college resources. Still replied by ejecting Browning from his fellowship; but Browning refused to leave, and had to be dragged from his rooms by force. Browning had been chaplain in earlier years to Francis, earl of Bedford, and the earl appealed to Burghley to restore Browning to his fellowship, insisting on 'his sufficiency in the sounde prechinge of the trueth,' and his 'godly conversacion.' But nothing is known of the result of this appeal, or of Browning's subsequent career.

Another John Browning was rector of Easton Parva, Essex, from 22 April 1634 till 1639, and of Easton Magna from 9 Nov. 1639. He was the author of 'Concerning Publike Prayer and the Fasts of the Church: six sermons and tractates,' 2 parts, London, 1636 (Newcourt, Diocese of London; Brit. Mus. Cat.)

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantab, ii. 239; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 216; Strype's Annals, ii. i. 278–81; Strype's Whitgift, i. 98; Strype's Parker, ii. 195–7; Hist MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. 214.]

S. L. L.