BROWNE, Sir William (c.1564-1637), of Chichester, Suss. and Radford Semele, Warws.

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.1564, 1st s. of John Browne of Kirdford, Suss. and Anne or Agnes, da. of Philip Mellershe of Wonersh, Surr. educ. Balliol, Oxf. 1581, aged 17, BA 1585; Clifford’s Inn; I. Temple 1589. m. by 1595, Elizabeth, da. of John Richards of Hants, 3s. 1da.1 suc. fa. 1592;2 kntd. 14 Mar. 1604.3 d. 11 Mar. 1637.4

Offices Held

Capt. militia ft. Suss. by 1603-at least 1606;5 j.p. Suss. 1605-17, Warws. 1617-d.;6 commr. subsidy, Warws. 1621-2 1624,7 Forced Loan 1627.8


Browne has to be distinguished from a Northamptonshire knight of the Bath who died in 1603, and from the Elizabethan soldier who was lieutenant-governor of Flushing until his death in 1611. It was on behalf of the latter’s children that naturalization bills were promoted in 1604 and 1621, and it was probably also the lieutenant-governor who began to invest in the Virginia Company in 1609.9

Browne’s ancestors had held a manor in Kirdford, eight miles from Haslemere, for four generations,10 but his father began the transfer of his family’s interests to Warwickshire by the purchase of the manor of Radford Semele in 1589, and Browne himself subsequently disposed of the outlying portions of the Sussex estate.11 His mother’s family had been long associated with the Mores, and in 1608 his address was given as Loseley, the home of Sir George More*, although he was more usually described as of Chichester. In the following year Browne acted as More’s trustee for lands near Haslemere. More owned the lordship of the manor of Haselmere and it was presumably on his interest that Browne was returned for the borough in 1614, the first of his family to sit.12

Browne made no recorded speeches but was named to four committees in the Addled Parliament. On 14 Apr. he was named to attend the conference with the Lords on the Palatine marriage settlement. He was also appointed to consider bills concerning the observation of the Sabbath (7 May) and the regulation of the Court of Wards (14 May), as well as a private bill for Herbert Pelham*. Pelham came from a junior branch of a prominent Sussex family and may have been a friend of More’s.13

Browne had presumably moved to Radford Semele by 1617, when he was added to the Warwickshire bench; nevertheless three years later he was re-elected for Haslemere. He left no mark on the records of the third Jacobean Parliament. He was an active Forced Loan commissioner in 1627 and died at Radford on 11 Mar. 1637. In his will he named his wife executrix and his son-in-law Clement Throckmorton overseer. His wife was to have all his goods and chattels but, if she re-married, the furniture of his dwelling house at Radford was to go to their eldest son George, ‘excepting three beds’. George Browne sat for Warwickshire in 1660, but died without issue in the following year.14

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 107; Al. Ox.; I. Temple database of admiss.; PROB 11/80, f. 314.
  • 2. WARD 7/24/30.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 129.
  • 4. C142/565/198.
  • 5. Harl. 703, f. 136.
  • 6. Cal. Assize Recs. Suss. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 12, 75; C231/4, f. 46; C193/13/2.
  • 7. SP14/123/78; C212/22/21, 23.
  • 8. C193/12/2, f. 61.
  • 9. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, 261, 269; J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, i. 226; CJ, i. 229b; LJ, iii. 97; T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 255.
  • 10. Vis. Suss. 107.
  • 11. PROB 11/80, f. 314; VCH Warws. vi. 201; Dugdale, Warws. (1730), p. 363; Suss. Manors ed. E.H.W. Dunkin (Suss. Rec. Soc. xix), 3; Abstracts of Suss. Deeds and Docs. from Muns. of the H.C. Lane ed. W. Bugden (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxix), 54-5.
  • 12. PROB 11/43, f. 1; Abstracts of Suss. Deeds and Docs. from Muns. of late H.C. Lane, 55; Surr. Hist. Cent., LM/349/108/1; HMC 7th Rep. 669; VCH Surr. iii. 45-7.
  • 13. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 82, 172, 235, 267. In 1610 More had moved for privilege for Pelham. CJ, i. 413a.
  • 14. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 212; C142/565/198; PROB 11/174, f. 100.