BROWNE, Francis John (1754-1833), of Frampton, nr. Dorchester, Dorset.
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Family and Education
Sheriff, Dorset 1783-4; capt. Dorset yeomanry 1795.
The last of his family, which had been ‘seated many generations at Frampton’, Browne was again returned unopposed for the county in 1790 and held the seat until his retirement ‘in favour of Mr Portman’ in 1806. His obituary notice stated that ‘his line of politics was generally that of the Whigs’:3 this requires qualification. He had acted independently before 1790, though he supported Pitt during the Regency crisis. On 12 Apr. 1791 he voted with opposition on Grey’s Oczakov motion: but he was a doubtful quantity on the question of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland the same month, and no further vote with opposition is recorded until 1795, when he was in the minority on the imperial loan, 5 Feb., and in support of Wilberforce’s peace motion, 27 May. He was presumably the Mr Browne who presented a petition from Poole for parliamentary reform, 6 May 1793. No other speech can with any certainty be attributed to him. In the next Parliament, when government were hopeful beforehand of his support, he is not known to have voted in the minority. Nor is he known to have voted against Addington’s ministry, but was listed ‘doubtful’ in September 1804 after Pitt had returned to power: he had opposed the latter’s additional force bill in June. He voted for Whitbread’s censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, and also for the criminal prosecution, 12 June. He was listed ‘doubtful Sidmouth’ in July 1805. After that, he disappeared from view. So, on the whole, his conduct was independent rather than pro-Whig. On 20 Oct. 1806 he announced his retirement before the election.4
Browne died 29 Mar. 1833 at the Weymouth house of his brother-in-law Gen. Sir John Colquhoun Grant, to whom he devised his estate. He was ‘one of the most active and useful magistrates in the county’.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. He was the only child to reach maturity. See Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 298; Gent. Mag. (1833), i. 465.
- 2. There is a reference in Gent. Mag. (1791), i. 279 to a marriage between ‘F.T. Browne esq. MP for the county of Dorset and Miss Baring, o. da. of John Baring, esq. MP for Exeter’ (25 (Mar.). It probably came from the Morning Chron., which promised the marriage on 25 Mar. and, on 28 Mar., reported it as having taken place on 25 Mar. at St. George’s, Hanover Square, but it was ‘an idle electioneering report, circulated after the decision of the Exeter election committee’ (Gent. Mag. i. 379).
- 3. Gent. Mag. (1833), i. 465.
- 4. Morning Post, 28 Oct. 1806.