BROWNE, John I (c.1575-1638), of Gloucester and Churcham, Glos.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1575,1 1st s. of John Browne, alderman and Mercer, of Gloucester and Hester, da. of one Michell of Gloucester, ?wid. of one Webbe.2 m. (1) 7 Feb. 1598,3 Eleanor (d. 14 July 1603), da. of Robert Robinson of Gloucester,4 s.p.; (2) Sarah (d. by 17 Dec. 1646), ?wid. of one Wilshire, s.p.5 suc. fa. 1593.6 d. 29 Aug. 1638.7

Offices Held

Common councilman, Gloucester 1599,8 sheriff 1603-4,9 alderman 1607-d.,10 mayor 1610-11, 1621-2, 1634-5,11 Aug.-Oct. 1636,12 commr. subsidy, 1621-2, 1624,13 dep. lt. 1623-at least 1626;14 commr. sewers, Glos. 1615,15 Wye valley 1621,16 martial law, Gloucester 1628.17


Browne’s father ‘lived in good credit’ as a mercer in Gloucester, served on the corporation, was ‘trusted and used by many men of great worth concerning receipts of monies in Gloucester and making payments thereof again in London’, and died leaving a personal estate valued at over £2,000.18 Browne himself became a brewer, and by 1599 was a member of Gloucester’s corporation. In the same year his mother married Bishop Goldsborough and moved from ‘the brewhouse in Gloucester wherein she dwelt’ to the palace.19

Browne was Gloucester’s sheriff at the time of the elections to the first Stuart Parliament, and used his office to return the diocesan registrar, John Jones, and to distrain the goods of the mayor, who had supported the unsuccessful candidate Thomas Machen*, for non-payment of the city’s fee-farm rent. His behaviour was considered so outrageous that he was subsequently prosecuted in Star Chamber.20 In 1606 the corporation granted Browne a 40-year lease of ‘the house wherein he now dwells between the bridges’.21 A John Browne was licensed in June 1613 to go into the Low Countries for one year ‘about dispatch of his private affairs’,22 but if this was this Member he was back in time to enter Parliament in 1614 alongside Machen, apparently in opposition to the corporation’s nominees.23 The ‘Mr. Browne’ mentioned in the surviving records of the proceedings of the Addled Parliament was probably George Browne of Lyme Regis.

As well as owning the Gloucester brewhouse, Browne had inherited property in the nearby village of Churcham, and his lease of the manor from the dean and chapter rendered him liable to provide a light horse in the 1618 muster.24 When Parliament was re-summoned two years later he took the senior seat at Gloucester. He sat in every subsequent Parliament during the period, although in the first two Caroline assemblies he was forced to yield precedence to Alderman Christopher Capell. It is difficult to know how active he was in the Commons for, except in 1625, there was always another Mr. Browne in the House. Indeed, Browne is only specifically mentioned twice in the surviving parliamentary records, once on 27 Feb. 1621, when he was reported as being absent ‘beyond sea’, 25 and again on 2 June 1626, when he was noted as having failed to attend a call of the House.26 His absence abroad in 1621 was reflected in the payment he received from his Gloucester constituency, for whereas his fellow Member and brother-in-law Anthony Robinson was awarded £20 for his attendance and charges Browne was given only £10.27

During the early 1620s both Browne and Robinson played their part in the city’s conflict with the gentry of the ‘in-shire’, an area adjacent to Gloucester over which the city claimed jurisdiction.28 In 1631 Browne compounded for knighthood at £40.29 Four years later, while serving his third term as mayor, he was accused of unfairly assessing the in-shire for Ship Money.30 He died in August 1638 and was buried at Churcham. The inscription on his funeral monument states that he was aged 70 at his death, but he may only have been about 63, as he had claimed to be 30 years old in 1605.31 No will or letters of administration have been found. Most of his estate passed to his second wife, who made her will in October 1643 in which she appointed Thomas Pury† one of her executors and John Glanville* one of her trustees.32

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. STAC 8/4/9.
  • 2. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), 113; REQ 2/398/25; PROB 11/82, f. 259v.
  • 3. Soc. Gen. St. Nicholas, Gloucester par. reg.
  • 4. T.D. Fosbrooke, Original Hist. of City of Gloucester, 183.
  • 5. Abstracts of Glos. Inquisitions Post Mortem ed. W.P.W. Phillimore and G.S. Fry (Index Lib. xiii), 79, 139; PROB 11/198, ff. 252, 255.
  • 6. PROB 11/82, f. 160.
  • 7. Glos. RO, GBR B2/1, f. 62v.
  • 8. Glos. RO, GBR B3/1, f. 182.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 185.
  • 10. Glos. RO, GBR B2/1, f. 40.
  • 11. Fosbrooke, 209.
  • 12. Glos. RO, GBR B2/1, f. 62.
  • 13. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 14. Glos. RO, GBR H1/1; Glos. RO, GBR, H2/2, p. 67.
  • 15. C181/2, f. 240.
  • 16. C181/3, f. 33.
  • 17. APC, 1627-8, p. 335.
  • 18. REQ 2/118/59, 2/275/13, 2/296/125.
  • 19. REQ 2/398/25; PROB 11/104, f. 124.
  • 20. STAC 8/4/8; STAC 8/4/9.
  • 21. Glos. RO, GBR B3/1, f. 216.
  • 22. APC, 1613-14, p. 110.
  • 23. Glos. RO, GBR B3/1, f. 253v.
  • 24. VCH Glos. x. 17, 18, 25; Glos. RO, GBR, H2/2, p. 10.
  • 25. CJ, i. 529a.
  • 26. Procs. 1626, iii. 346.
  • 27. Glos. RO, GBR B3/1, f. 489.
  • 28. Ibid. ff. 497, 498.
  • 29. E401/2450, unfol. 6 June 1631.
  • 30. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 470.
  • 31. R. Bigland, Hist., Monumental and Gen. Colls. Relative to Co. of Gloucester ed. B. Frith (Glos. Rec. Ser. ii), pt. 1, p. 351; STAC 8/4/9.
  • 32. PROB 11/198, ff. 252v, 253, 254v.