BROWNE, Sir Ambrose, 1st Bt. (c.1589-1661), of Betchworth Castle, Dorking, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. c.1589,2 1st s. of Sir Matthew Browne† of Betchworth Castle and Jane, da. of Sir Thomas Vincent† of Stoke d’Abernon, Surr.3 educ. Jesus, Camb. 1606; G. Inn 1625.4 m. 1 Oct. 1607, Elizabeth (bur. 19 Oct. 1657), da. and h. of William Adam of Saffron Walden, Essex, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da.5 suc. fa. 1603; cr. bt. 7 July 1627. d. 16 Aug. 1661.6 sig. Ambrose Browne.
J.p. Surr. 1614-at least 1648;7 commr. subsidy, Surr. 1622, 1624,8 1641-2;9 sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 1624-5;10 dep. lt. Surr. by 1628-at least 1638;11 commr. Forced Loan, Surr. 1627,12 oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1630-42, Surr. 1644, sewers, Surr. 1632, Surr. and Kent 1645,13 maltsters, Surr. 1636,14 assessment 1643-8, sequestration 1643, levying money 1643, execution of ordinances 1644,15 gaol delivery 1644,16 New Model Ordinance 1645, defence 1645, militia 1648, 1660;17 elder, Dorking classis 1648.18
The Brownes acquired Betchworth Castle, near Dorking in Surrey, in the fifteenth century and first represented Surrey in 1478.19 Sir Anthony Browne†, a member of a cadet branch of the family, was created Viscount Montagu in 1554.20 Browne’s grandfather was returned for Surrey in 1559 and was elected to four subsequent parliaments, but his father was returned only once, for Gatton in 1601, before his death in a duel in 1603.21
Browne was among the Surrey gentry who signed a petition in favour of the Wey navigation bill promoted by the Guildford corporation in the 1621 Parliament.22 In 1622 he was summoned before the Privy Council for failing to contribute to the Palatinate Benevolence,23 but in July 1627 he secured a baronetcy without paying cash into the Exchequer.24
Browne was elected for the senior seat in 1628, apparently against the opposition of Sir George More* who had represented the county in six previous parliaments but was not a candidate on this occasion. On 16 Feb. Browne wrote to More accusing him of obstructing his candidacy from ‘an innate and inveterate malice unto my house and name’; however there is no evidence of a contest.25 By this date Browne was a deputy lieutenant, and his only recorded speech, on 28 Mar., was to disclaim responsibility for abuses committed in the billeting of soldiers in Surrey.26 His sole committee appointment, on 11 June, was to consider the bill to annex the estates of the earl of Arundel to the latter’s title. Browne was presumably interested in this measure because both he and the earl owned parts of the manor of Dorking. Interestingly, the Commons ordered that Browne should be given notice of the first meeting of the committee, suggesting that he was not present in the chamber at his appointment.27 Browne played no recorded part in the 1629 session.
In the early 1630s Browne paid £25 for his knighthood composition.28 In 1639 he refused to contribute towards the king’s army raised to crush the Scottish Covenanters.29 He was re-elected for Surrey to the Short and Long Parliaments, and took the side of Parliament in the Civil War. Nevertheless he was a moderate and was consequently secluded at Pride’s Purge in 1648. After the regicide he was accused of having aided the royalists during the war, although the accusation was not substantiated. In 1661 his eldest son Adam, who had fought for the king, was returned for Surrey. Browne died the following August, and was buried at Dorking. No will or grant of administration has been found.30
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates
- 1. Secluded at Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648.
- 2. C142/280/67.
- 3. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 10.
- 4. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
- 5. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. lx), 16, 17, 86; M. Stephenson, ‘List of monumental brasses in Surr.’, Surr. Arch. Colls. xxvii. 85; W. Berry, County Gens.: Peds. of Surr. Fams. 80.
- 6. CB, ii. 28-9.
- 7. C66/1988; ASSI 35/89/5.
- 8. C212/22/21, 23.
- 9. SR, v. 65, 155.
- 10. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 138.
- 11. CD 1628, ii. 168; CSP Dom. 1638-9, p. 50.
- 12. C193/12/2, f. 58.
- 13. C181/4, ff. 35, 121v; 181/5, ff. 222, 238v, 263v.
- 14. PC2/46, f. 273.
- 15. A. and O. i. 94, 116, 150, 234, 451, 541, 636, 976, 1093.
- 16. C181/5, f. 239v.
- 17. A. and O. i. 624, 731, 1243; ii. 1443.
- 18. W.A. Shaw, Hist. of Eng. Church during Civil Wars and under Commonwealth, ii. 433.
- 19. Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 557; OR.
- 20. CP, ix. 97.
- 21. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 501, 505; Blomefield, Norf. vii. 134.
- 22. Surr. Hist. Cent. LM/1331/32.
- 23. SP14/127/80.
- 24. SCL, EM 1284(b).
- 25. Surr. Hist. Cent. LM/6729/6/103.
- 26. CD 1628, ii. 168.
- 27. Ibid. iv. 339; VCH Surr. iii. 145-6.
- 28. E407/35/160.
- 29. Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, iii. 914.
- 30. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 117; CCAM, 1236.