BROWNE, John, of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

?Bro. of Sir Valentine Browne. educ. G. Inn ?1571.1

Offices Held

Recorder, Berwick prob. by Mar. 1593-c.1603; clerk of the peace, Northumb., steward of the ct. of Hexham to 1595.


Browne lost two of his local offices in consequence of the appointment of Lord Eure as warden of the middle march in September 1595. He therefore took a leading part in the attacks on Eure made by border gentlemen who resented Eure’s attempts to reform the administration of their locality. Eure retaliated, late in October 1597, by having two servants make a murderous attack on Browne at Richmond, Yorkshire. In the ensuing inquiries Browne was supported by the bishop of Durham, and Eure by his own servants. Eure was removed from his post in February 1598, and was very likely behind the attempts to poison Browne in the following month, first using a lemon, next mercury sublimate dissolved in wine.2

Browne’s return for Morpeth was perhaps due to Eure’s successor as warden of the middle march, Sir Robert Carey, though Browne had been ‘toward’ the 9th Earl of Northumberland, and it was possibly this connexion that secured him the seat. As there were four other Brownes sitting in the 1601 Parliament it is seldom possible to be certain about the parliamentary activities of any one of them, but the journalist is sometimes considerate enough to refer to Mr. Browne ‘of Gray’s Inn’, as when, on 27 Nov., he thought a privilege matter had been ‘shuffled up’, and on 2 Dec., when he spoke on innkeepers and, later in the day, on debts upon shop books. It was as Mr. Browne ‘the lawyer’ that he spoke on the export of iron ordnance on 8 Dec. and next day quoted a Latin tag on a point of privilege, concluding ‘we are all members of one body and one cannot judge of another’. It was probably he who reported a bill about bridges near Carlisle (11 Dec.), who was appointed to a bill about cattle theft (12 Dec.), and who, on the same day, reported ‘the natural born child of us all’, the bill on the export of iron ordnance.3

Browne had ceased to be recorder by 1603, though he was still at Berwick two years later, when he was paid £10 for sending Catholic priests and books to London. By 1607 he was practising law at Durham. Nothing more has been ascertained about his life and it is not known when he died.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. APC, xxxi. 201.
  • 2. Border Pprs. i. 432; ii. 353, 369, 375, 440, 443, 455-62, 477; HMC Hatfield, iii. 273, 339; APC, xxvi. 560; xxviii. 203, 393, 456, 568, 576; C. J. Sisson, Thomas Lodge and other Elizabethans, 175-211.
  • 3. Townshend, Hist. Colls. 255-6, 278, 279, 293, 303, 317; D’Ewes, 655, 671, 676, 679, 680, 681.
  • 4. Sisson, 210-11; HMC Hatfield, vii. 452.