Sir Anthony BROWNE of South Weald, Knight

Born: 1509, South Weald, Essex, England

Died: 1567

Father: Winston BROWNE of Abbess Roding (Sir)

Mother: Elizabeth MORDAUNT

Married: Joan FARRINGTON BEF 1551

The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Born 1509/10, second or third son of Sir Winston Browne, by Elizabeth, dau. of William Mordaunt of Turvey. Educ. ?Oxf.; M. Temple. Married by 1551, Joan, dau. and heiress of William Farrington of Lancs., wid. of Charles Booth and of Henry Becconshall of Becconshall, Lancs., d.s.p. Kntd. 2 Feb 1567. Lent reader, M. Temple 1554. Commr. gaol delivery and clerk of assize, home circuit 1538-d. Sir John Spelman, the senior judge on the home circuit, wrote to Cromwell on 12 Apr 1538 that he had made Browne his clerk of assize at the minister's request, although he had meant one of his own sons to have the post. Two months later Browne became a commissioner for gaol delivery on the circuit at the early age of 28. Browne's legal expertise may have secured his return in 1545 for Lostwithiel, a duchy of Cornwall borough, he is not known to have had any links with the duchy, but his fellow-Member Walter Mildmay had a brother in its employment. Relief, Essex 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; other commissions 1551-d.; j.p. Essex 1547-d.; member, council of John De Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford c.1554. In the Parliament of 1547, when he helped to secure the passage of the Act for frustrating assurances to the Duke of Somerset made by the Earl (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no. 35) and received £6 13s.4d. for his pains. He was also known to Sir John Gates, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and an Essex man, who had probably been responsible for the choice of Browne as one of the committee of six lawyers appointed on 21 Mar 1552 to draw up a new bill for the punishment of treason. The bill, inspired by Northumberland, sought to make it treason for anyone to question the title of the actual wearer of the crown, however he (or she) had acquired it, but this purpose was frustrated by skilful textual alterations made after the bill was engrossed following its second reading in the Commons (5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.11). A bill against regrators of beasts and corn had also been committed to Browne on 26 Jan 1549. Committed to the Fleet on 29 Jul 1553 but was released after two days. He must have been known to the new chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Robert Rochester, an Essex gentleman whose nephew and successor in the chancellorship, Sir Edward Waldegrave, Browne's precursor as under-steward of Waltham forest, was to name him in his will. In 1554 Rochester helped Maldon to obtain a new charter. Serjeant-at-law and Queen's serjeant 1555; c.j.c.p. Oct 1558-Jan 1559; j.c.p. Jan 1559-d.; duchy of Lancaster steward of Penwortham, Lancs. 1553-d., of manors in Clare honor, Essex and Suff. 1558; chief steward, crown lands in Essex 1558-9; under steward and clerk of swanmote ct., Waltham forest Aug 1558. As a serjeant he received writs of assistance to the Parliaments of 1555 and 1558 and carried bills and messages from the Lords to the Commons on several occasions; in this, too, he was following his uncle Sir Humphrey Browne, who had been receiving writs of assistance since 1536. On 5 Oct 1558, after only three years as a serjeant and without having served as a puisne judge, Browne was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the common pleas. It was renewed by Elizabeth on her accession but shortly afterwards, on 22 Jan 1559, he was reduced to the rank of puisne judge. Browne remained a justice of common pleas and at least did nothing more to incur Elizabeth's disfavour. In Jul 1563 the Spanish Ambassador reported that Sir Nicholas Bacon was likely to lose and Browne to be granted the office of lord keeper. Receiver of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of 1559 and 1563.

Browne appointed his wife (who was to survive him less than six months) executrix of the will which he made on 20 Dec 1565, and Sir William Petre and Sir Edward Saunders overseers. Among the beneficiaries were Edmund Tyrrell and George White. He died on 16 May 1567 and the Spanish Ambassador, writing to Felipe II on the following day, described his death as a great loss to the Catholics. His heir was his great-nephew, Wiston Browne.


Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 5, 166

Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 28

Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, p. 75


E. W. Ives, ‘Legal profession in late 15th and early 16th cents.’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1955), 287-8

L. W. Abbott, Law Reporting in Eng., 21, 173.

W. J. Fitzgerald, ‘Treason legislation 1547-1603’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1963), 38 seq.

Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc, xlviii), 100

G. Emmison, Tudor Sec. 128

Plowden, Commentaries (1779), 190, 356
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