BROWNE, Samuel I (1598-1668), of Arlesey, Beds.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1641 - 30 Oct. 1648
9 Apr. - Nov. 1660

Family and Education

b. bef. 6 Jan. 1598, 1st s. of Nicholas Browne, BD, vicar of Polebrooke, Northants. and preb. of Peterborough, by Frances, da. of Thomas St. John of Toddington, Beds. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1614; L. Inn 1616, called 1623. m. c. May 1629, Elizabeth, da. of John Meade of Nortofts, Finchingfield, Essex, 6s. (4 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. 1608; kntd. 4 Dec. 1660.1

Offices Held

Recorder, Bedford 1640-61; bencher, L. Inn 1641, reader 1642, treas. 1647-8; commr. for assessment, Beds. 1643-8, 1657, Aug. 1660-d., Bedford 1647-8, sequestrations 1643, levying of money 1643, execution of ordinances 1643; j.p. Essex 1644-?49, Beds. Mar. 1660-d.; commr. for new model ordinance, Beds. 1645; elder, Serjeants’ Inn classis 1645; commr. for appeals, Oxf. Univ. 1647, militia, Beds. 1648, scandalous ministers 1654.2

Commr. for great seal 1643-6, preservation of records 1643; member, committee of both kingdoms 1644-8; commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, abuses in heraldry 1646, scandalous offences 1648, treaty of Newport 1648; serjeant-at-law 1648; chief baron of the Exchequer 30 Oct. 1648-9 Feb. 1649; j.c.p. 3 Nov. 1660-d.


Browne’s father obtained ecclesiastical preferment after a distinguished academic career at Cambridge, and acquired property in several counties. Browne became a lawyer, purchasing Arlesey in 1646. Until Pride’s Purge he followed closely in the footsteps of his cousin Oliver St. John, taking an effective part in the prosecution of Archbishop Laud and acting as chairman of the committee to investigate allegations of treachery against the leaders of the peace party at Westminster. He was made a judge in 1648, but refused to act after Pride’s Purge and held no office under the Commonwealth. Although he had been a Presbyterian elder, he came under the influence of Archbishop Ussher during the Interregnum.3

Browne was returned for Bedfordshire unopposed at the general election of 1660. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 18 committees, including those to manage the conference on the King’s letter on 1 May, to consider the land purchases bill and the indemnity bill, and to prepare for two conferences about the jurisdiction of the Lords. In his only speech (on 4 July) he opposed requiring those who claimed the benefit of the indemnity bill to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. He also served on the committee for settling ecclesiastical livings. Presumably he gave satisfaction to the Court, for he was raised to the bench during the autumn recess. His patent as judge of common pleas passed the seal on 3 Nov., but when Parliament met three days later ‘Serjeant Browne’ was named to the important committees to bring in bills to settle the militia and to provide for a modified episcopacy. His last parliamentary committee was for the suppression of swearing on 10 Nov. He died on 11 Apr. 1668 and was buried at Arlesey. His will reveals considerable wealth, for he was able to leave a portion of £2,000 to each of his four daughters, besides other legacies totalling £1,000; but no later member of the family sat in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Leonard Naylor


  • 1. Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. ii. 137-44; Morant, Essex, ii. 366.
  • 2. Bedford Corp. Minute Bk. (Beds. Hist. Soc. xxvi), 147, 157; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 508.
  • 3. Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. ii. 139; VCH Beds. ii. 262; Keeler, Long Parl. 119-20; D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, 20. 68, 72, 203; Whitelocke Mems. ii. 459, 522.
  • 4. Bowman diary, f. 52v; Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. ii. 138, 143.