BROWNE, Ralph I (d.1577), of Snelston, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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This Member was almost certainly the Ralph Browne ‘of the Temple’ who in 1568 was one of the witnesses to the will of the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Ambrose Cave, receiving a bequest of £10. The only Ralph Browne in the Temple records for this period was of Snelston, Derbyshire, admitted to the Inner Temple about November 1556. There is no evidence of his having been called to the bar, but he was probably the man of this name who in June 1574 was made steward for the reader’s dinner.1

As chancellor in 1559, Cave is known to have tried to manipulate the parliamentary patronage in a number of duchy boroughs. At Liverpool his intervention is obvious. The town originally elected a local man, Ralph Sekerston, but on the return Sekerston’s name was erased and Browne’s substituted. At Newton, the steward, William Fleetwood I was both a friend of Cave and a relative of Sir Thomas Langton, lord of the borough, and it is the Cave/Fleetwood/Langton connexion that must have secured Browne the seat. The Ralph Browne who sat for Melcombe Regis in 1571, though possibly the same as the Liverpool and Newton Member, has been biographed separately.2

No pedigrees for any Brownes of Snelston have been found, and the surname is too common for a definite identification. Browne may have been descended from the family of that name at Ince, Lancashire, who held duchy of Lancaster lands in the county. There were also Brownes in Warwickshire, a county where Sir Ambrose Cave was influential. The Ralph Browne who early in Elizabeth’s reign bought lands in Warwickshire and Leicestershire, in partnership with Cave’s servant Edward Williams, was presumably the Inner Temple man; the property covered was so extensive that the ‘purchasers’ were almost certainly acting for Cave.3

Browne probably died early in 1577. On 29 Apr. of that year administration of the estates of‘Ralph Browne of the Inner Temple, London’ was granted to a brother, Nicholas. A new grant, de bonis non, was made on 7 Aug. 1589.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. PCC 9 Daper.
  • 2. C219/26/46; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 298.
  • 3. VCH Lancs. iv. 105 n; DL7/6/14, 30; Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. xcviii), 203 n; CPR, 1560-3, p. 290.
  • 4. PCC admon. act bk. 1577, f. 121.