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Browne
Browne
57

the Trinity corporation, of which he had been master, Browne married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Prettyman of Dryheld in Gloucestershire. Their only daughter, Mary, became the wife of the well-known John Evelyn.

The Sir Richard Browne of this article should he carefully distinguished from Alderman Sir Richard Browne (d. 1669) [q. v.]

[Evelyn's Diary and Correspondence (ed. Bray) passim and Browne's Correspondence thereto subjoined; Monumental Inscriptions at Deptford, printed in Lysons`s Environs of London, vol. iv.; Wood's Fasti (Bliss). pt. i. pp. 439–40; Calender of State Papers, Domestic, especially from 1640–1 to 1663.]

W. W.


BROWNE, ROBERT (1550?–1633?), the earliest separatist from the church of England after the Reformation, and now claimed as the first exponent of their principle of church government by the modern congregationalists in England and America, was born at Tolethorpe in Rutland about the middle of the sixteenth century, though the exact date of his birth is unknown. The family from which he sprang had been settled at Stamford in Lincolnshire since the fourteenth century. They had amassed considerable wealth, filled positions of trust and importance, and were recognised county magnates before the fifteenth century had closed. One of them, John Browne, a merchant of the staple, and a rich alderman of Stamford, built the church of All Saints in that town at his sole expense, and a brass in memory of him and his wife still exists in the church he erected. This man's son, Christopher Browne of Tolethorpe, was high sheriff for the county of Rutland in the reign of Henry VII, and his son, grandfather of the subject of this article, received a curious patent from Henry VIII, allowing him to wear his hat in the royal presence when he pleased. Robert was the third child of Mr. Anthony Browne of' Tolethorpe, by Dorothy, daughter of Sir Philip Bote er of Watton Woodhall, Hertfordshire, and was coimected more or less closely through both parents with some of the most wealthy and influential families in England, In Cecil, lord Burghley, whose family had been connected with Stamford for generations, and who on more than one occasion acknowledged Browne as a kinsman, he found a friend indeed when he most needed his protection and support.

Browne is said to have entered at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1570, and to have taken his B.A. degree in 1572. Both statements can hardly be true, and—as he certainly did take the B.A. degree in 1572, when his name was placed eightieth on the list-it is probable that he matriculated first at some other college and migrated to Corpus for some reason which must remain unknown to us. Thomas Aldrich, one of the leaders of the puritan party at Cambridge, was master of Corpus at this time, having been elected, on the recommendation of Archbishop Parker, 3 Feb, 1569-70. The college was in a flourishing condition, due in a great measure to the favour shown to it by the primate, who had himself held the mastership from 1544 to 1558. It is hardly conceivable that Browne between the time of his entry at Corpus and the taking of his degree should have been admitted to the household of the unfortunate Thomas Howard, fourth duke of Norfolk, still less that he should in any sense have been the duke’s domestic chaplain in June 1571, as Strype asserts he was. The duke at this time was deeply pledged to the papal party, of which he was soon to be acknowledged as the ostensible leader, and he was the last man just at this time to have extended his patronage to a young firebrand, like Browne, whose violent denunciation of all that was ‘popish' was quite ungovernable and at any rate unrestrained. It is far more probable that Strype has confused Robert Browne with another man of the same name upon whom Cecil doubtless had his eye-the man who two months later was implicated when the Ridolfi conspiracy was discovered, and who was to be the bearer of the bag of money which was intended for Lord Herries but never reached his hands. After taking his degree Browne appears to have gone to London, where he supported himself as a schoolmaster, and delivered his soul on Sundays by preaching in the open air in defiance of the rector of Islington, in whose parish it was that his auditors assembled. About 1578, the plague being more than usually violent in London, his father ordered him to return to Tolethorpe; but unable to remain long without active employment, he grew tired of the quiet home, and again went up to Cambridge, probably with a view to taking the higher degrees, or on the chance of a fellowship falling to him. At this time he came under the influence of Richard Greenham, rector of Dry Drayton, six or seven miles from Cambridge, a clergyman of great earnestness and conspicuous ability, who had remarkable influence upon the more devout and ardent young men in the university then preparing for holy orders. Browne was probably placed for a while under Greenham as a pupil in his family, and the elder man soon perceived that the younger one had gifts of no ordinary kind. Beginning by allowing