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Browne Family

Chad Browne Providence, came first to Boston in July 1638, in the Martin, as before dep. Governor Dudley, he swore, in support of nuncup [nuncompative meaning: orally and not written]. Will of a fellow passenger dying, on the ocean; was settled at the Baptist church 1642 after Roger Williams. It has been thought by some, that he was earlier on our side of the water, and that imperfect record proves it, on p. 14 of the Vol. 1. of Colonial Records of Rhode Island as to his incorporation in town fellowship with others at Providence, which bears date 20 August without a year. Now the supplying of the numerals for the year admit those which the transcriber used, 1637, by no means; for that day was Sunday, when no civil compact could have been entered into, and before that day in the former year the place was known as Moshasuck, probably the second use of the designation of the modern city being, in the following month at the baptism of the son of Roger Williams, Providence, late in Sept. 1638. Earlier than Aug. 1638 his name, I suppose; will into be found. He brought wife Elizabeth and son John, aged after 8 years and probably other children for we know not the birth dates of any of his five son. The other four were James, Jeremiah, Judah, alias Chad and Daniel. No connection is transacted between Chad and Henry, of the probable sons James was minister of the same church. This is the progenitor of the family so much distinguished as the patrons of Brown University at Providence.

The following is taken from pp. 64-67 of Chad Browne of Providence, R.I. and Four Generations of his Descendants by William Bradford Browne of North Adams, Mass.

Page 64-
Among those Rhode Island families which may almost be styled “basic” in the history and genealogy of that Colony and State the Chad Browne family must be numbered. Spreading almost immediately to all parts of the Colony, it has been from the first influential in all lines of service, whether religious, political, or industrial. Its name is stamped upon a great university, and men of note have borne it proudly. The genealogy of this family has been heretofore but partly written. The “Chad Browne Memorial” devotes itself closely to one Providence branch, and Austin in his “Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island” does not pretend to trace any except the earlier generations and omits entirely the most prolific branch. It is a difficult matter to trace a family of so common a name when its records are mingled with those of other families of similar names. Error is certain under such conditions; but the writer has tried to show where mistakes have appeared in earlier accounts and to add additional data. He has been favored by the possession of records of his own branch dating from 1714, and has been given access to several notable collections pertaining to other branches.

To ensure all possible accuracy and to aid in identification, the genealogies of four other contemporary Brown families were worked out, and in many cases only long, tedious analysis of landholdings has furnished evidence to warrant the acceptance of a doubtful fact.

Other Brown families found early in Rhode Island were those of Henry Brown of Providence and Thomas Brown of Newport, branches of the Rehoboth (Mass.) Browns, and Nicholas Brown of Portsmouth and Beriah Brown of Kingstown, branches of the Stonington (Conn.) families; and there were also various individuals who appear in the earliest records but have left no evidence to show who may have been their children, and who are doubtless responsible for many an unplaced name. In almost every town in Rhode Island we find mention of the large Brown family of Salem, Mass., some of whom are recorded in Attleborough, Mass., and Smithfield,* while others certainly resided in other towns near-by. They were also landholders at Jamestown. Joseph Brown of this family married Mehitable, daughter of Gov. William Brenton.

In studying the records of Rhode Island it is necessary to keep in mind the divisions of the towns of Providence, Kingstown, and Warwick into new townships. The appearance of a family record in the new town does not indicate a removal from the present-day town of the original name, as many seem to think. Especially confusing is the fact that many families record in Rehoboth, Attleborough, Wretham, Bellingham, Mass., appear, after the settlement of

*All places mentioned in this genealogy are situated within the present limits of the State of Rhode Island, unless another State or region is indicated in the text or may be easily inferred from the contex
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the colony boundary, in the town of Cumberland, R.I., where they had been resident all the time.

This paper represents a period of research extending over more than twenty years. Being mainly genealogical, it does not attempt to give exhaustive biographical information, except in the account of the head of the family. For the sake of uniformity, the final e in the surname, which was regularly used in early times, is omitted in the second and subsequent generations, although the writer contends that it should be assumed by all members of this particular family, as their identification mark, by virtue of historic right and privilege. In some branches it has always persisted.

In the preparation of this article all printed material available has been examined and many errors therein have been corrected. Manuscript records from which information has been derived include the late Albert C. Brown (who collaborated with Mr. Norman of Ishman in preparing the work entitled “Old Rhode Island houses”), which were given to the compiler by Mr. Brown’s widow, Mrs. Esther Brown of Phenix, R.I., the family record of Edwin J. Brown of Hoosick, N.Y., the family Bible and records of Thomas Brown of Johnston, R.I., now in the possession of Mr. Caleb Kenyon of Providence, which have been amplified by many notes by Mrs. Fred B. Smith of Wollaston, Mass., the family papers of Mrs. Josephine B. Forbes of Ravenna, Ohio, and those of Mrs. William Sprague of Chepachet, and records resulting from research by the city of Providence in tracing the titles of lands of Moses Brown of Providence ” a most valuable source of information.

1. CHAD1 BROWNE, the immigrant ancestor of the well-known Rhode Island family that forms the subject of this article, arrived in Boston in the early part of July 1638, in the ship Martin, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth and his son John, aged 8 years. His parentage and the date and place of his birth have not been discovered, but he married at High Wycombe, co. Bucks, England, 11 Sept. 1626, ELIZABETH SHARPAROWE,* who survived him and died probably about 1672. He died in or before 1663, being mentioned as “deceased” in a deed from William Field of that year.”

On the voyage of the Martin to New England one of the passengers, Sylvester Baldwin of Aston Clinton, co. Bucks, died, having declared on 21 June his nuncupative will, which was proved on 13 July 1638 before Deputy Governor Dudley by the oaths of Chad Browne and three other men.” This fixes the arrival of Chad Browne in New England as not later than 13 July 1638. In the same year he proceeded to Providence, where he was associated with Roger Williams, and was a signer of the famous Compact which denied religious interference in civil affairs. His name also appears in other agreements

*The marriage is given in the parish registers of High Wycombe as that of “Chaddus Browne & Eliz. Sharparowe.” (REGISTER, vol. 65, p. 84, from Phillimore’s Buckhamshire Parish Registers, Marriages, vol. 6, p. 105; The Chad Browne Memorial
The assumption that his death occurred as early as 1650, because an unidentified Widow brown appears in a tax list of 2 Sept. of that year, is of no moment, considering that several other Browns, contemporary with him, are found in early records in Providence.
Savage, Genealogical Dictionary, vol. 1, p. 105; The Chad Browne Memorial. p.7

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and compacts. In 1640 he was a member of a committee to consider the colony bounds. He is at times called a surveyor.

In 1642 he was ordained as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Providence, the mother church of that faith in America. Whether he was the first or second pastor rests entirely on one’s premises. He was certainly the first ordained pastor to continue in the office for a long period. Roger Williams’s connection, as preacher, in this church was certainly brief, and is not clearly understood, owing to the loss of the early records. The oldest authority available is the “History of the Baptists in America,” by Morgan Edwards, compiled about 1772. The author says:

“Williams was pastor from the establishment of the church until he left the colony for England in 1643, and he then resigned it to Messrs. Brown and Wickenden. Mr. Chad Brown died between 1660-1665, leaving the church in charge of his colleague.”*

For a brief summary of Chad Browne’s character one can do no better than to quote the remarks of Hague in his “Historical Discourse” delivered at this church:

“Contemporary with Roger Williams, he possessed a cooler temperament, and was happily adapted to sustain the interests of religion just where that great man failed . . . . We know only enough of his character to excite the wish to know more; but from that little it is clear that he was highly esteemed as a man of sound judgment and of a Christian spirit. Often referred to as the arbitrator of existing differences, in a state of society where individual influence was needed as a substitute for well digested laws, he won that commendation which the Savior pronounced when he said, “blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

The home lot of Chad Browne was at the corner of the present Market Square and college Street in Providence, and Brown University now occupies part of that lot. He was buried on his own ground (a spot now occupied by the Court House), whence his remains were removed in 1792 to the North Burial Ground, where the gravestone then erected may still be seen, with the following inscription:

In Memory of Chad Brown Elder of the Baptist church in this town. He was one of the original Proprietors of the Providence Purchase having been exiled from Massachusetts for Conscience Sake He had five sons John, James, Jeremiah, Chad and Daniel who have left a numerous Posterity. He died about A.D. 1665. This Monument was erected by the Town of Providence.

Chad Browne left a will, as is shown by references in deeds, but its contents are unknown to us. The year 1672 witnessed a general readjustment of his estate, caused most probably by the death of his widow near that time, lands being thus released which the conveyances state had been left to her by her husband were to revert to his sons after her death. The records of the Town of Providence mention a Chad Brown as present at the drawing of various land allotments at intervals from 1675 to 1683, but whether they refer

*The “Historical Catalogue of the First Baptist Church in Providence,” by Henry King, 1908, considers Williams as the founder and first pastor.

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to the first Chad Browne’s son of the same name or were drawn by proxy in his own right of ancient holdings is not clear. Chad Browne, Sr., owned large parcels of land in the present Gloucester, Scituate, and Johnston. There appears no record otherwise of this son Chad, except the reference on his father’s gravestone.

Abundant proof is on record of the paternity of the three sons John, Jeremiah, and James. There appears no definite statement relating to the son Daniel, but he has always been considered by all authorities a son of Chad Browne, and the use of the name Chad among his descendants seems to substantiate the fact. No mention appears of daughters in the family, although the presumption is that there were daughters. Two peculiarities are noted in the study of this family, the infrequent use of the name of its founder among his descendants and the very prompt abandonment of their fathers” faith by the majority of his kindred. Two of his sons became devoted adherents of the Church of England and many of his descendants at a later interval were Quakers.

Children, all except the first probably born at Providence:*
2. i. JOHN,2 b. in England about 1629.
3. ii. JAMES.
4. iii. JEREMIAH.
iv. JUDAH. “The Friends’ Records of Newport contain the following entry: “Judah Brown the son of
Chad Brown of Providence in the Colony of Rhode Island he dyed at Newport and was buried in
the place given by Thomas Clifton upon 16 d: 3 mo: 1663.”
5. v. DANIEL.
vi. CHAD. He is regarded by “The Chad Browne Memorial” as identical with Judah; but the two
names do not seem interchangeable.

2. JOHN2 BROWN (Chad1), born in England about 1629, died at Providence about 1706. He married
at Providence MARY HOLMES, daughter of Obadiah and Catherine Holmes.
In a deposition dated 9 Oct. 1664 he stated that his age was 35 years. In a deed of 1664 he is called a surveyor. In a deed of 1660 reference is made to “the field where John Browne his dwelling house now standeth near the Great Swamp.” In 1706 his lands are mentioned “at ye head of ye second river which cometh in ye West River at ye north side thereof.”
Children, born at Providence:
i. SARAH,3 m. 14 Nov. 1678 JOHN PRAY, son of Richard Pray.
6. ii. JOHN, b. 18 Mar. 1662.
7. iii. JAMES, b. in 1666.
8. iv. OBADIAH
v. MARTHA, m. JOSEPH JENKS, son of Joseph Jenks.

*It is singular that Chad Browne brought but one child with him from England. Presumably several other children besides John were born in England between 1626 and 1638, and either died young or were left behind in the mother country.

This family is the first of five families (several of which are contemporary) which included among the children’s sons named John and Obadiah, a circumstance calling for extreme caution in order to classify the families correctly.

Last Updated on March 24, 2021 by rootie

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