BROWNE, Brutus (by 1564-95), of Langtree, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. by 1564, 2nd s. of Thomas Browne alias Bevill of Langtree by Joan, da. and h. of John Lene of Cornw. unm.

Offices Held


In June 1585 Browne settled his property on a Mary Reddishe, in case he should die on a ‘voyage intended’. However, he lived, and next year was returned to Parliament for Bodmin, probably through the influence of his father, who was feodary of the duchy of Cornwall. No record has been found of any contribution by Browne to the business of the Commons. At the time of the Armada he served on the Rainbow, under Lord Henry Seymour. Nothing more is known about him except for the voyage which resulted in his death. In 1595 he joined and ventured a thousand marks in what proved to be the last expedition of Drake and Hawkins, who set out to try, among other things, to capture a Spanish treasure ship, said to be at Puerto Rico. Their plans became known to the enemy, who prepared a warm reception for them when they arrived at Puerto Rico in November. While the fleet lay at anchor in the bay a shot from a shore battery penetrated the great cabin of the Defiance, where Drake and his officers were at table. Drake was unhurt, though his stool was struck from under him, but Sir Nicholas Clifford and Browne were mortally wounded. Sick by reason of his ‘hurt’, Browne made his will on board the Defiance on 19 Nov. 1595. He commended his soul to the Lord Jesus Christ, and his body to the earth or to the sea ‘whereof I am indifferent’. He left a ring with five diamonds to Sir Francis Drake, his ‘honourable and most kind good friend’, as a testimony of the honest love he owed him, and with many hearty wishes for his happy success in his voyage. He left his money, plate, jewels, armour, furniture, clothes, napery and woollen and linen cloth to his nephew Roger Langford, together with all his ‘sea provisions’. He requested Langford to use his servants well, to have consideration for such of the General’s men as had ‘taken pains with him’, and also to see that his surgeons were well dealt with. Presumably he was buried at sea.

Vivian, Vis. Devon, 112; Vis. Devon 1564 ed. Colby, 26; W. L. Clowes, Royal Navy, i. 589; Hakluyt, Voyages, x. (ed. 1904), 230; J. S. Corbett, Drake and the Tudor Navy, ii. 420; PCC 92 Drake, 84 Lewyn.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.