Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thomas Brown

THOMAS, known as Thomas Brown (fl. 1170), officer of the exchequer, was an Englishman by birth, who, like others of his countrymen, took service under the Norman kings of Sicily. He is probably the ‘magister Thomas capellanus regis’ whose name occurs in Sicilian charters dated 25 Aug. and 24 Nov. 1137. Richard FitzNigel, in the ‘Dialogus de Scaccario,’ says that Thomas had held a high place in the councils of the king of Sicily, until a king arose who knew him not, when, in response to repeated invitations from Henry II, he returned to England. Thomas Brown is mentioned as ‘Magister Thomas,’ and styled ‘familiaris regis’ in a number of charters of King Roger. In a Greek charter his name appears as ‘Θῶμα τοῦ Βρούνου.’ He returned to England after 1154, but before 1159 (Pipe Roll, 5 Henry II, p. 49). He held an important place in the English exchequer, and, owing to the confidence in his loyalty and discretion, kept a special roll in which were recorded the king's doings. He was almoner to Henry II in 1166, and still held that post in 1174 (ib. 12 Henry II, p. 83, and 20 Henry II, p. 181). His nephew, Ralph, had a pension of 5l. from the king in 1159 (ib. 5 Henry II, p. 49), and Thomas himself is mentioned as in receipt of a pension of 36l. in 1168 and 1176. Madox conjectured that the special duties assigned to Thomas were the basis of the later office of chancellor of the exchequer.

[Dialogus de Scaccario, ap. Stubbs's Select Charters, pp. 178, 189–90; Documenti per servire alla storia di Sicilia, 1st ser. vol. i. fasc. i. pp. 12–13 (Soc. Siciliana per la Storia patria); Pirri's Sicilia Sacra ap. Grævius' Thesaurus Antiq. et Hist. Siciliæ, ii. Eccl. Mess. Not. ii. i. 282; Pipe Rolls, 5 to 20 Henry II (Pipe Roll Society); Madox's Hist. Exchequer, ii. 376; Reale Academia dei Lincei, 3rd ser. pt. ii. pp. 411–17, Rome, 1877–8; Freeman's Historical Essays, 3rd ser. pp. 471–2; Stubbs's Lectures on Mediæval and Modern History, 133–4.]

C. L. K.