BROWNE, Francis (by 1484-1541), of Tolethorpe and Little Casterton, Rutland.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1484, 1st s. of Christopher Browne of Stamford, Lincs. and Tolethorpe by 1st w. Grace, da. of John Pinchbeck of Pinchbeck, Lincs. educ. G. Inn. m. (1) c.1514, Margaret, da. of Robert Mathew of Bradden. Northants., 2s. 1da.; (2) Beatrix, wid. suc. fa. 11 Nov. 1518.2

Offices Held

Autumn reader, G. Inn 1521.

Member, council of Countess of Richmond by 1509; j.p. Lincs. (Holland) 1512-d., (Kesteven) 1514-d., Rutland 1531-d.; commr. subsidy, Lincs. (Holland) 1515, (Kesteven) 1523, Rutland 1524; other commissions 1515-d.; sheriff, Lincs. 1522-3, Rutland 1524-5; dep. steward to Sir John Hussey , Lord Hussey, Stamford 1532-3.3


The fact that Francis Browne did not follow his father into trade but his mother’s father into the law may be seen as a step in the social advance marked by Christopher Browne’s assumption of arms and his second marriage to a Bedingfield of Norfolk. The process was furthered by association with another rising family, the Cecils; one of Francis Browne’s half-brothers was to marry a daughter of David Cecil. It was probably to Cecil that Browne owed his place on the council of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, then living at Collyweston near Stamford, and it was with Cecil that he sat in the first Henrician Parliament. Why, in spite of his active career in local government, Browne was not to be re-elected is a matter for speculation although the patent of July 1526 exempting him from service on juries or as sheriff or escheator, and allowing him to remain covered in the royal presence, hints at a disease which may have inhibited him from Membership.4

Browne was momentarily endangered in the aftermath of the Lincolnshire rising of 1536, when he was taken into custody upon an accusation by men of Little Casterton, a manor which he had acquired nine years earlier, of having used treasonable words. What may have given colour to the charge was his relationship with Lord Hussey, whose deputy-steward he was at Stamford, and his long-standing professional link with Crowland abbey. His son Anthony solicited Cromwell’s help after an inquiry had failed to give Browne a chance to exculpate himself, and Browne was not only released but was retained on the commission of the peace.5

By his will of 1 Mar. 1541 Browne made several small bequests to charities and kinsmen besides making ample provision for his wife and children. He stipulated that his debts should be paid, his lands in Calais and Stamford sold, and his body buried either at Little Casterton or in St. Andrew’s, Holborn. He died at Tolethorpe on the following 11 May, leaving the 26 year-old Anthony as his heir, and the will was proved 12 months later. Browne’s name was mistakenly included in the Lincolnshire (Holland) commission of the peace issued on 16 Oct. 1542. His grandson Robert gave his name to the Separatist movement.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Stamford hall bk. 1461-1657, f. 88.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/34/87. Blore, Rutland, 93; Vis. Rutland (Harl. Soc. lxxiii), 8; C142/66/65.
  • 3. LP Hen VIII, i-v, viii, xi, xii, xiv-xvii; Statutes, iii. 172; Peterborough Mon. (Northants. Rec. Soc., xii), pp. xxvi, xlii; Stamford hall bk. 1461-1657, f. 120.
  • 4. Blore 92-93; Fuller, Worthies, iii. 50-51; VCH Rutland, ii. 239; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xxxvii. 18; LP Hen. VIII, iv. Browne may, however, have been the merchant of Calais pardoned in 1505, CPR, 1494-1509, p. 447.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xii; Elton, Policy and Police, 35-1; Subsidy Coll. Dioc. Lincoln 1526, ed. Salter, 93; VCH Rutland, i. 180-1; ii. 237, 239.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xvii; PCC 6 Spert; C142/66/65.