BROWNE, John II (1580-1659), of Dorchester and Frampton, Dorset
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Family and Education
b. c. Dec. 1580,1 1st s. of Sir John Browne of Frampton and Jane, da. of Sir Henry Portman of Orchard Portman, Som.; bro. of George*.2 educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 1598; M. Temple 1599.3 m. 18 Nov. 1607, Elizabeth (d. 25 June 1656), da. of Sir George Trenchard† of Wolveton, Dorset, 4s. 6da.4 suc. fa. 1627.5 d. 16 Mar. 1659.6
Freeman, Lyme Regis, Dorset 1611;7 j.p. Dorset 1628-36, 1641-2, by 1650-d.,8 treas. W. Dorset 1628-9,9 sheriff, Dorset 1632-3,10 commr. sewers 1638,11 assessment 1641-4, 1647-52, 1657,12 piracy 1642,13 sequestration 1643, levying money 1643,14 execution of ordinances 1643-4, militia 1648.15
Cttee. Dorchester New Eng. Co. 1624-7.16
Browne was descended ultimately from yeoman stock. His ancestors were tenant farmers of the demesnes of Frampton by the reign of Henry VI, though his grandfather bought the manor in the 1570s, having recently been granted arms.19 His father, Sir John, served for many years as colonel of the west Dorset militia, but apparently never nursed parliamentary ambitions.20 In 1607 Browne married the daughter of Sir George Trenchard, one of the county’s leading gentleman. The accompanying settlement provided him with an estate worth £200 per annum. He was returned for Bridport on his father-in-law’s interest to the 1621 Parliament, but left no trace on its records, and gave way to his cousin Robert Browne* at the next election.21
In 1626 Browne was living in Dorchester, where the county elections were held. Unusually, the county gentry failed that year to nominate the two shire knights in advance, and on election day Browne allowed his name to be put forward for the junior seat. Although he enjoyed the support of his friends in Dorchester and many other county freeholders, he found himself at odds with his own brother-in-law, the influential Sir John Strangways*, who was backing a rival candidate, Sir George Morton*. Under pressure from his father, who was reluctant to offend Strangways, Browne himself made a show of withdrawing. His supporters forced a poll regardless, which was then manipulated in Morton’s favour. Accordingly, Robert Browne and others petitioned the Commons on Browne’s behalf, and the election was declared void. The blatant fraud during the first poll had divided the Dorset gentry, and when the second election was held Browne stood again, this time with the backing of his father, father-in-law, brother-in-law Sir Thomas Trenchard*, and Sir Richard Strode*. Once again Morton emerged victorious, and although there was further evidence of underhand dealing, Browne this time opted not to challenge the result.22
In 1627 Browne succeeded to the Frampton estate, and an annual income of £1,100. He was returned for Bridport in the following year, but this election was marred by a franchise dispute, and the result was declared void on 12 Apr. 1628, before Browne could take any part in the third Caroline Parliament.23
A puritan by conviction, as demonstrated by his membership of the Dorchester New England Company and his private correspondence during the 1630s, Browne disliked the policies of Charles I’s Personal Rule, and defaulted on Ship Money.24 One of Dorset’s shire knights during the Long Parliament, he was also an active and unpopular member of the parliamentarian county committee. He took part in the king’s trial, but declined to sign his death warrant.25 Browne died in March 1659, acknowledging ‘the blessing of my good God for the temporal estate and means given me’, and was buried at Frampton. His son Thomas was returned for Dorset as a country candidate in 1678.26
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. C142/439/56.
- 2. Vis. Dorset Addenda ed. Colby and Rylands, 8.
- 3. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
- 4. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 298, 556; Vis. Dorset Addenda, 8.
- 5. C142/439/56.
- 6. Hutchins, ii. 298.
- 7. Dorset RO, B7/B6/11, f. 11.
- 8. C231/4, f. 249; 231/5, pp. 223, 475, 530; C193/13/3, f. 15v; 13/5, f. 21v.
- 9. Dorset Q.S. 1625-38 ed. T. Hearing and S. Bridges (Dorset Rec. Soc. xiv), 67.
- 10. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 39.
- 11. C181/5, f. 113v.
- 12. SR, v. 61, 83, 150; A. and O. i. 90, 544, 964, 1081; ii. 33, 296, 464, 661, 1066.
- 13. C181/5, f. 226v.
- 14. A. and O. i. 111, 147, 229.
- 15. Ibid. 460, 1236.
- 16. Procs. Dorset Nat. Hist. and Antiq. Field Club, xiii. 65.
- 17. A. and O. i. 914, 1255.
- 18. Ibid. ii. 143, 149, 523, 562, 689.
- 19. Hutchins, ii. 298; Vis. Dorset Addenda, 8.
- 20. APC, 1597, p. 254.
- 21. Dorset RO, ms 7567; Vis. Dorset Addenda, 7.
- 22. J.K. Gruenfelder, ‘Dorsetshire Elections 1604-1640’, Albion, x. 5-7; Som. and Dorset N and Q, iv. 23-4; Procs. 1626, ii. 62
- 23. Dorset RO, ms 7582; CD 1628, ii. 429-30.
- 24. CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 182; 1635-6, p. 395.
- 25. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 118-19; CCAM, 1290-1; R. Browne, Hunting the Dorset Hare, 57.
- 26. PROB 11/291, f. 143; HP Commons, 1660-90, i. 735.