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de Brún, Broun
Arms of Browne of the Tribes of Galway
Arms of Browne of Mulrankan, Wexford
Arms of Browne of Killarney, Earls of Kenmare
Arms of Browne of Mayo
Arms of Browne of County Down
Arms of Brown or Broun of Scotland. Many similar arms are record for the name in Ireland.
Browne and Brown are, of course, common surnames and rank with Smith and Jones among the most numerous in the world. Despite this, it is relatively easy to be fairly specific regarding the name in an Irish context. The name is not of Gaelic-Irish origin, but there are several families of the name sufficiently established as to be regarded as native and are known in Irish as de Brun.
The first of these are the Brownes of Galway, who along with Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Darcy, Deane, Ffont, Ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris and Skerrett, make up what are known as the fourteen tribes of Galway. This family descends from Sir Hugh le Brun of Wales, who was in turn descended from the Counts of Marche in Normandy. A nephew of his, also named Hugh married Isabel, of Augouleme, widow of King John and their son William de Valence, Baron by Tenure, was created Earl of Pembroke in Wales, by Henry III. The first-mentioned Hugh had a son, Stephen who married Eva, sister of Griffith, Prince of Wales, and had three sons: Hugh, Philip and William. The latter two having distinguished themselves in the Civil Wars against Henry were, to escape his resentment, obliged to join in the invasion of Ireland by Strongbow, in 1170, in which year Philip was appointed Governor of Wexford. The Brownes of Mulrankan remained in Wexford till their property was confiscated in the Commonwealth period. Philip, of Mulrankan, is said to have been the ancestor of the Matthew Browne of Mulrankan, from whose son, Sir John Browne, are descended Lord Kilmaine and the Marquis of Sligo. David, a great grandson of William (Philip's brother), was companion-in-arms of Rickard de Burgo, the Red Earl of Ulster, with whom he was connected by marriage, and obtained extensive possessions near Athenry, the capital of the Anglo-Norman settlers in Connaught. He died at David's Castle; having with his son Aymer built the Castle of Carrabrowne, in Oranmore, thus establishing what would become the Browne dynasty in Galway.
The surnames of the families into which the Brownes married reads like a "who's who" of powerful families in Connaught; Bermingham, Blake, Lynch, Bodkin, French and Burke, being Norman and O'Flaherty, O'Malley and Mullally all being Gaelic Irish. These marriages all served to ensure that the family became firmly established in the area and like so many of their Norman colleagues, "more Irish than the Irish themselves".
The Brownes of Killarney, on the other hand, stem from an Elizabethan Englishman, Sir Valentine Browne (died 1589) of Crofts, Lincolnshire, England, who surveyed lands in Ireland and became Auditor General. Again intermarriage with influential Gaelic families in Kerry consolidated their position. A very full account of this family is given in The Kenmare Manuscripts, published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission. Their Kenmare peerage became extinct in the 20th century.
There are many other distinguished families of Browne in Ireland, notably in Connacht that of Lord Oranmore and Browne and the Brownes of Breaghwy, Co. Mayo. No less important were the Brownes of Camus, Co. Limerick; Field Marshal Maximilian Ulysses Browne (1705-1757) was son of Col. Ulysses Browne, of Camus, Co. Limerick. George Count de Browne (1698-1792) was yet another famous continental soldier of the Camus family. Referring to the Brownes of Connacht mention should also be made of John Browne, the first high sheriff of Mayo (1583). He was of the family already at that time well established at the Neale, in the barony of Kilmaine. His descendants who became, in the senior line, Barons of Kilmaine and, in the junior, Earls of Altamount, have since been closely associated with Co. Mayo. Seated at Westport the 3rd Marquis of Sligo (5th Earl of Altamont) was, prior to the land legislation of the late nineteenth century, owner of an estate of 114,000 acres.
In the seventeenth century innumerable settlers of the name came from Scotland and England to stir up the racial mixture. Depending on the side they actively supported - native or coloniser - they had their lands forfeited, or were granted lands taken from the ancient Gaelic owners. Many shared the latter's fate during the Cromwellian transplantations to Connacht. A recitation of the vicissitudes of Irish families must inevitably include a list of those driven out by one or another of the two dynamic social factors, politics and religion and the Brownes were no exception.
It is not possible to document all of these families, but it would be remiss no to mention the Scottish family known as Brown, Browne and Broun. One family of the name is known to have been owners of estates in Cumberland shortly after the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066. The Brouns of East Lothian claim descent from the ancient royal house France. They also claim descent from George Broun, who, in 1543 married Jean Hay, daughter of the third Lord Yester, ancestor of the Marquesses of Tweeddale. The lady's dowry included the celebrated 'Coulston Pear' which her remote ancestor, Hugo de Gifford of Yester, a famous magician, was supposed to have invested with the extraordinary virtue of securing unfailing prosperity for the family which possessed it. Broun of Hartrie, near Biggar, is believed to have settled there in the fourteenth century. There is little doubt that many of the Browns, Brownes and Brouns that settled in the northern parts of Ireland spring from these families.
Ignatius Brown (d. 1679), born in Waterford, had to be sent to Spain to be educated. There he joined the Jesuit Order and was confessor to the queen. Later he moved to France to become rector of the Irish seminary at Poitiers.
George Browne (1698-1792) was one of a number of Brownes who, to their misfortune, favoured the ill-fated Stuart King, James II. Following his defeat at the Boyne, the Brownes of Camus, County Limerick, seeing no opportunity for their young son to follow the gentlemanly occupation of arms, sent him abroad. He joined the Russian imperial army and began a life of high adventure. He was imprisoned three times after various battles. He was sold as a slave to the Turks, but was eventually released. Having shown exceptional skill and bravery, he was appointed Field Marshal to Czar Peter of Russia. As Count George Browne, he became Governor of Livonia. He had become a great favourite with the powerful Empress Catherine and she would not consider letting him go, so he remained in Russia, dying there at the age of 94.
A kinsman from the Camus family, Maxmilian Ulysses Browne (1705-57), whose Jacobite father was exiled following the battle of the Boyne in 1690, entered the imperial service of Austria and became a Field Marshal. He was created Count of the Empire by Charles VI of Austria and was killed at the battle of Prague.
Bishop Peter Brown (died 1735) held the diverse ecclesiastical posts of Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and Protestant Bishop of Cork. He was famous for his strong sermons scarifying his congregation for the custom of drinking too merrily at wakes.
Perhaps the most famous of the Irish Brownes is William Brown (1777-1857) of Foxford, County Mayo. He emigrated with his family to Argentina and worked his way up from cabin boy in the American Mercantile Marine to the command of a merchant vessel, from which he was induced to enter the Argentine navy. Under his command it defeated two Spanish squadrons and the Brazilian fleet. In 1814 he blockaded Montevideo. In time he was appointed admiral and stayed with the Argentine navy until 1845. He died in his home near Buenos Aires. In August 1992, the Argentine training ship, the Libertad, sailed into Dublin bay. During its stay the officers entertained a party from Foxford on board. The people of Foxford reciprocated by inviting the entire crew to Foxford where they were greeted by a band and all the local dignitaries.
The Brownes frequently combined learning with travel. Patrick Browne (1720-90) of Woodstock, County Mayo, was a naturalist who took his medical degree at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and became a friend of the great Swedish botanist, Linnaeus. He travelled widely and published a history of Jamaica and various catalogues of the birds, fishes, and other wildlife of his native land.
Andrew Brown (born 1744) came from an Ulster family and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, before serving in America as an officer in the English army. He settled in Massachusetts and fought on the American side at Lexington and Bunker Hill. When peace came, he tried to set up an academy for the young ladies of Philadelphia, but he was more successful in publishing, especially his Philadelphia Gazette, which was the first to regularly report debates in Congress.
Another Browne family which made a contribution to the United States was descended from the Reverend Arthur Browne, born in 1699 in Drogheda, County Louth. He was Vicar General of the diocese of Kildare and was returned to the Irish House of Commons. His son, Arthur Browne, went to America where he was rector of Trinity Church, Rhode Island. His son, a third Arthur Browne, was sent to Dublin to study for the Bar at Trinity College. On returning to America he was one of the original fellows of Rhode Island College which, from 1804, has been known as Brown University, inspired by these gentlemen from County Louth.
The Browns are very strong in Ulster. Alexander Brown (1764-1834), who has been described as "one of America's first millionaires", was born in Ballymena, County Antrim. In 1800, when he left for America, he had a small linen store in Belfast. Beginning by importing linen from Ireland, the Alexander, Brown house soon grew into one of the biggest business and banking companies in America. With the help of his four sons, the business branched out to Philadelphia, New York, and Liverpool in England. They built and sailed their own importing and exporting ships and were involved in every type of civic progress and social activity, including helping to found the Maryland Institute of Art.
One of Alexander's sons, George Brown (1787-1859), was a founder of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Alexander Brown & Sons is the oldest banking house in the United States today.
Brownes also spread to the southern hemisphere, where William Henry Browne (1800-77) of Mallow, County Cork, who had studied theology at Trinity College, Dublin, sailed in 1825 on the Coronet from Cork Harbour. It was eight months before he reached Hobart Town, where he was to take up his colonial chaplaincy at St John's, Launceston. Although it was far from acceptable at the time, he was ecumenically minded and encouraged a spirit of friendliness between the differing churches. He was also very much against the British policy of transporting prisoners to Australia. One of his sons, who was ordained in 1872, was sent to the Assyrian Christians in Turkey and became so attached to his life at the court of the Assyrian Patriarch that he became an oriental scholar and remained in Turkey until he died in 1910.
A notable Brown lady was Frances Brown (1816-79), the blind poet of Donegal. She educated herself by listening at school. She published volumes of poetry and novels and was granted a civil list pension, and died in London.
John Ross Browne (born 1822), a journalist and world traveller, went wandering at an early age. He met with little success until he shipped before the mast on a whaler bound for the Indian Ocean, which gave him material for his "Etchings on a Whaling Cruise". He finally came to rest in Oakland, California, where he reared a large family. He wrote for Harper's magazine, and, in 1869, was so well-respected that he was sent for two years as US Minister to China.
An earlier home of the Kerry Brownes, Ross Castle, on the lakes of Killarney, was later home to Valentine Browne, Viscount Castlerosse (1891-1943), the 6th and last Earl of Kenmare. He was with the Irish Guards in the First World War. A bon viveur and London's foremost newspaper gossip columnist in the 1920s and 1930s, he laid out a golf course on his estate at Killarney where he invited many celebrities to play. His former home is now American owned.
In the twentieth century, the Irish literary world was startled by Christy Brown (1932-81). Born in the slums of Dublin, one of six children, he was almost completely paralysed from birth. His persevering mother taught him to read and, using his left foot, to write and paint. His paintings were exhibited and he achieved maturity and international acclaim with his autobiography, My Left Foot and his novel, Down All the Days. A very successful film has been made of his life.
Garech Browne (born 1939) is a descendant of the Connacht Oranmore and Browne family. He has contributed substantially to the appreciation of Irish folk music by encouraging exchanges with other Celts, of Scotland and elsewhere, and by making recordings and films of music and poetry with Claddagh Records of Dublin.
Westport House in County Mayo is one of the showplaces of Ireland. A massive Georgian mansion, it stands on the site of an ancient castle of the O Malleys (the dungeons can be visited). It commands a magnificent view over Clew Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to Achill and Clare Island and Ireland's holy mountain, Croagh Patrick. The original house was built by Colonel John Browne and his wife, ancestors of the present Marquess of Sligo. His wife was a great-great-granddaughter of Grace O Malley, the sea-faring pirate queen of Connacht in Elizabeth's time. The house has a fine collection of old silver and a library with many priceless books and manuscripts. There are portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds of the Browne who was 1st Earl of Altamont, and of the Rt. Hon. Denis Browne, brother of the 1st Marquess and a member of Henry Grattan's Parliament. Beechy did the portrait of the 2nd Marquess, who spent four months in an English jail for bribing British seamen, in time of war, to bring his ship loaded with antiques from Greece - including the gates of Mycenae - back to the harbour at Westport. This same enterprising Marquess was a friend of George IV and the poet Byron. All his life Lord Altamont, Jeremy Browne, son of the present Marquess, has been fighting to retain this magnificent inheritance which is threatened by taxation and recession. He opens the house to the public and has established many attractions - an art gallery, boutiques, a zoo and camping sites. Thousands of people visit Westport House every year.
Whether from Normandy, England or Scotland, whether Protestant or Catholic, the Brownes have had many prominent churchmen in their families. They can boast one of Ireland's comparatively few cardinals, Michael David Browne (born 1887), from Tipperary. A learned Dominican, he held many important appointments in the Vatican. Also from Tipperary came Monsignor Patrick de Brun (1889-1960). He was an outstanding scholar, linguist and a Gaelic poet, and was a president of University College, Galway. Michael Browne (1896-1980) was the Bishop of Galway who masterminded the imposing new cathedral in that "City of the Tribes".
Former seats built by the ubiquitous Brownes are located all over Ireland, although some have been demolished, burned down or put to other use. In the eighteenth century, Thomas Wogan Browne, an amateur architect, designed a number of them. Clongowes Wood College, one of Ireland's premier boys' schools, was a former Castle Browne, in County Kildare. Ashford Castle, County Galway, an Oranmore and Brown home, is now a palatial hotel. It was here that President Ronald Reagan stayed during his 1983 visit and that several EU conferences have been hosted.
marriage or inheritance, Brownes have taken on additional surnames,
such as Knox-Browne, Lecky-Brown-Leeky and Browne Clayton.
The following Pedigree, complied by O'Hart may not be completely accurate
1. Sir Hugh le Brun, one of the Lords of the Marches of Wales, had:
2. Sir Stephen, who mar. Eva, sister of Griffith, Prince of Wales, and had three sons: 1. Hugh; 2. Sir Philip; 3. Sir William, of whom presently. Sir Stephen and his sons supported King Stephen against the Empress Maud.
I. Hugh, the eldest son, having rendered important services to King Henry II. on his invasion of Wales, was permitted by that Monarch to inherit the father's large estates; but
II. Philip and
III. William, having distinguished themselves in the Civil Wars against Henry were, to escape his resentment, obliged to join in the invasion of Ireland, in 1170, in which year Sir Philip, of Mulrankan, was appointed Governor of Wexford. The Brownes of Mulrankan remained in Wexford till their property was confiscated in the Commonwealth period, under the pretence that William, of Mulrankan, had joined in the War of 1641.
3. Sir William: youngest son of Sir Stephen; landed in Ireland with the Earl Marshall; went against Dublin, then in possession of the Danes, and settled near Clondalkin. One of his descendants, Fromond le Brun, was Chancellor of Ireland in 1230, 1259, and 1272. Sir William had two sons:
I. Sir Nicholas.
II. Walter, of whom presently. Sir William and his son Sir Nicholas were witnesses to the foundation Charter of Dunbrody Abbey, co. Wexford, in 1182.
4. Walter: second son of Sir William; had:
5. Sir Stephen, who had two sons:
I. Stephen, who settled in Meath:
II. Sir David.
Sir David: second son of Sir Stephen, was companion-in-arms of
Rickard de Burgo, the Red Earl of Ulster, with whom he was connected
by marriage, and obtained extensive possessions near Athenry, the
capital of the Anglo-Norman settlers in Connaught. He died at David's
Castle; having with his son Aymer built the Castle of Carrabrowne, in Oranmore.
Note: Another pedigree has this David as the first of this family recorded as having settled in Ireland
7. Stephen: son of Sir David; was at the Battle of Athenry in 1316; and Dundalk in 1318, in which he was engaged under Richard, the fourth Lord Athenry, and his brother Sir John Bermingham, the first Earl of Louth. He m. Katherine de Bermingham, dau. of Lord Athenry, and with daughters had four sons:
I. Henry, of whom presently.
II. John, of Stradbally.
8. Henry, of Ballydavid: eldest son of Stephen; joined his relatives the Berminghams in the Civil Wars between the Anglo-Irish Nobles, and subsequently accompanied the Earl of Kildare to France, where he joined the Forces of Edward III. On his return he m. Christian, dau. of Sir Ambrose Browne, of Kent, and had with other issue:
9. Philip, who mar. Lily, dau. of Walter Blake, eldest son of Richard Blake alias Caddle, Sheriff of Connaught in 1304. Philip, while young, was killed in a battle with the native Irish, and was succeeded by his son:
10. Thomas, who m. Kate, dau. of John Bowdekine, Provost of Athenry, by whom he had a numerous family.
11. Henry: son of Thomas; mar. Sheela, daughter and heiress of Dominick Mullally, and had:
12. Thomas, who m. Mabel, dau. of William Browne, Provost of Athenry in 1420.
13. John: their eldest son; mar. Mary, daughter of Walter Ffrench, Mayor of Galway in 1445, and had:
14. William, who m. Mary Athy.
15. John: their eldest son; mar. Honoria de Burgo; joined William de Burgo and others who rose against the oppression of England, and fell at the Battle of Knock-a-tuath in 1504, after which Athenry and Galway surrendered.
16. Stephen: son of John; mar. Eveline, dau. of Geoffrey Lynch, Mayor of Galway in 1487, and, besides a dau., had six sons:
I. Andrew, who d. while Mayor of Galway in 1574.
II. William, of whom presently.
17. William: second son of Stephen; mar. Anastatia, dau. of Valentine Blake (by his wife Eveline French, dau. of Geoffrey French), and had four sons:
I. Andrew, of Gloves.
II. Dominick, of Barna, of whom presently.
18. Dominick, of Barna: second son of William; Mayor of Galway in 1575; was with other Chieftains a party to a composition which they entered into in 1585, with Sir John Perrott on the part of Queen Elizabeth, for their properties in Connaught. This Dominick m. a dau. of Sir Morogh O'Flaherty, by whom he had a daughter Jane (the wife of Alderman Patrick Kirwan, ancestor of the Kirwans of Cregg and Bawnmore), and seven sons; he died in 1596, and was buried in the family vault at the Franciscan Abbey, Galway. The sons were:
I. Oliver, of whom presently.
II. Edward, who went to Germany, attained to distinction there, and had issue.
III. Geoffrey, ancestor of Lord Oranmore.
IV. Marcus, ancestor of the Brownes of Connaugh Mór, who are now extinct.
V. Thomas, ancestor of the Brownes of Brownville, and also of Newtown, Ardskeagh, and Cooloo.
VI. James, who had four sons:
I. Peter, who was Sheriff of Galway in 1647.
III. Nicholas, ancestor of John Browne, J.P., of Tuam and Greenville.
IV. Peter, who joined his relations on foreign service.
VII. Andrew, Alderman of Galway, ancestor of the family of Clonkeely and Moyne.
19. Oliver: eldest son of Dominick; served as Sheriff of Galway in 1593, and as Mayor in 1609.
20. Martin, of Coolarne: his son; was a staunch adherent of Royalty, and therefore, under the Commonwealth Rule in Ireland, his property was confiscated, including the handsome Mansion he had erected in Galway, in Abbeygate-street. He mar. Marie Lynch, and left two sons:
I. Oliver, of whom presently.
II. Sir Dominick.
21. Oliver, of Coolarne (called "Captain Oliver"): son of Martin; m. Julia Lynch, and had at the Restoration a re-grant of part of his father's lands. He left, with daughters (one of whom, Elizabeth, m. Marcus Lynch, of Barna), three sons, of whom the eldest was Martin.
22. Martin, of Coolarne, eldest son of Oliver; had issue:
I. Robert, of whom presently.
He had several daughters, one of whom in 1717, m. John Bodkin, Esq., of Annagh. This Martin, on the 25th October, 1729, joined his son Robert and his grandson Martin in the execution of a Deed affecting the Estates. He is supposed to have been the builder of the Castle now in ruins, standing in front of the modern house of Castle Ellen; the letters "M.B." and "M.K." (supposed to signify Martin Browne and Mary Kirwan) are engraved by the side of the principal fire-place in the ruin.
23. Robert: son of Martin; lived at Kilskeagh.
24. Martin of Coolarne: son of Robert; m. Christian, daughter of Geoffrey, and sister of Dominick Browne, of Castlemacgarrett, in the co. Mayo, by whom he had three sons and a daughter:
I. Robert, who d. unm, in 1755.
II. Martin, who m. Mary Kirwan, of Carrowbrown, and died in 1790, leaving a daughter Anne, who at an advanced age died unmarried.
III. Dominick, of whom presently.
The dau. m. Mr. Blake, of Moorfield. Martin Browne d. in 1753; his widow Christian Browne mar. Walter Blake, of Carrowbrowne, whom she also survived; she was living in 1781.
25. Dominick, of Ashford, near Cong, and of Kilskeagh: third son of Martin; b. in 1745, and died in 1830. This Dominick mar. Emily, dau. of the Honble. John Browne, of Elm Hall (son of the first Earl of Altamont), and had four sons and one daughter:
I. Robert, of whom presently.
II. John William of Mount Kelly, who in Oct., 1832, mar. Mary-Sophia, daughter of Nathaniel Cavenagh, Esq., of Bath, who died s.p. 20th August, 1846, at Berne. He died 11th March, 1875.
III. Henry, of Illinois, U.S.A.
IV. George, who died unm.
I. Maria, who m. Edmund Peel, of Bonchurch, Isle of Wight.
26. Robert, of Kilskeagh: eldest son of Dominick, of Ashford; born 19th Feb., 1789, and died in 1868. He was Ranger of the Curragh of Kildare; mar. in 1830 Harriet, dau. of W. S. Dempster, of Skibo Castle, Sutherlandshire, and had two sons and four daughters:
I. Robert-John, of whom presently.
II. George, who in 1853 d. unm. at Rangoon.
III. Emily, who m. John Parker. Esq., of Hill-side, and died leaving issue:
Robert-John Brown, of Coolarne, Glenagarey, Kingstown, co. Dublin,
and of Kilskeagh, co. Galway: son of Robert; born in 1832; mar. on
20th Jan., 1880, Edith, youngest dau. of the late William Beauchamp
Stoker, Barrister-at-Law; and both living in 1887.