Brown #2628

Thomas Brown (1628-1693)

Probably born in England.  Most likely arrived in Massachusetts several years prior to 1654[1] and

Mary Newhall (1637-1693)

Born in Massachusetts in 1637.

Brown 2628The many Brown families that settled in the early colonial period in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are exceedingly difficult to sort out.  If some of these lines have a common origin in England several generations prior to the migration to New England, I have not been able to discover it through my limited research[2].

For years, family historians have speculated on the parentage of Thomas Brown (1628-1693) of Lynn, Massachusetts.  Many sources (such as the 1907 edition of the Brown Genealogy by Cyrus Henry Brown[3]), report that he is the son of Nicholas Brown (1601-1674).  However, other researchers have cast doubt on this conclusion, and Cyrus Henry Brown, in his 1915 edition of the Brown Genealogy revised his conclusion as follows[4]:

 “NOTE. – The compiler spent much valuable time in research to establish whether Nicolas Browne was the father of Thomas Browne, of Lynn. He found much about Nicholas Browne, and had written it out in full, only finally to come to the conclusion that he was not the father of Thomas. Other historians of recent date are of the same opinion; although I had so stated in my first volume, which I here positively contradict. At a good deal of trouble and expense I got a copy of the will of Nicholas Browne (which is kept in East Cambridge, Mass.) to publish here, and found that Thomas Browne was not mentioned, while his children by his wife Elizabeth were all particularly mentioned. Thomas is not referred to in any probate of Nicholas; nor can I as yet get any note referring to any gift from Nicholas of rights in Lynn. Mary, the wife of Thomas Browne in 1701 [record vol. IV, p. 93], was alive, in Stonington, when she, with her son Thomas, Jr. (2), sold rights to his brother Daniel. Thomas was of the right age to be a son of Nicholas, but the proof is lacking that he had any link to Thomas Browne referred to as dish-turner and constable of Lynn.”

Thomas is therefore considered the progenitor of this line in America until this assumption is contradicted by documentary evidence to the contrary.  Ultimately, it may prove impossible to discover the English origins of our immigrant ancestor, Thomas Brown.  However, it is worth noting that I am related to Nicholas Brown through a different path:  Nicholas is my 1st cousin 12x removed, since Nicholas’ uncle, Benjamin Brown (1571-1638), is my 11th g-grandfather – i.e., the father of Sarah Brown (1600-1653), discussed under the heading of Pardon Tillinghast (1622-1718).  This Nicholas Brown also had a son named Nicolas Brown (1639-1711) who (according to some sources) may have been the second husband of my 10th g-grand aunt, Catherine Almy (1636-1688), but I have not investigated this connection.  This Nicolas is a 1st cousin 1x removed of Sarah Brown.  Catherine Almy is the sister of my 10th g-grandmother, Ann Almy, discussed under the heading of William Almy (1601-1677).

Thomas Brown was probably born in England (but possibly in Massachusetts[5]) about 1628, according to his deposition taken 11 Jul 1666. (Essex Co., Court Papers, B. XIII.L 62).  He settled at Lynn, Massachusetts, but we do not know the date of his arrival.  Thomas died 28 Aug 1693, and his widow, Mary Newhall, was appointed administrator of his estate on 9 Oct 1683, on the same day his nuncupative will was taken down (on file in the office of the Register of Probate in Salem).  She was born about 1637, based on depositions she filed with the court, and she is the daughter of Thomas Newhall, one of the earliest settlers of Lynn, Massachusetts (1630).  Mary’s name first appears in records as wife of Thomas Brown in 1658, but the birth dates of their children suggest a probable marriage date of about 1654.

The occupation of Thomas was that of a dish-turner, which according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary is “a worker who turns wooden dishes on a lathe”.

In his will, Thomas names his eldest son, Thomas Brown (Jr.), his sons Joseph, John, Daniel and Ebenezer and his daughter, Mary, who married Thomas Norwood.

The children of Thomas Brown and Mary Newhall are listed as follows: (1) Thomas Brown (Jr.), see below; (2) Mary (1655-1662); (3) Sarah (1657-1658); (4) Joseph, born 16 Feb 1658 and married Sarah Jones on 22 Jan 1680; (5) Sarah (1660-1662); (6) Jonathan ( -1662); (7) John ( – ) settled at Stonington as a young man.  In 1692 he married Elizabeth Miner, the daughter of Ephraim Miner and Hannah Avery and the granddaughter of Thomas Minor and Grace Palmer[6]; (8) Mary (1666- ) married Thomas Norwood; (9) Jonathan (1668- ); (10) Eleazer (1670- ) settled at Stonginton; (11) Ebenezer (1672-1700); (12) Daniel (1673- ), died young; (13) Ann; (14) Twins, born 4 Feb 1674 who both died 7 Feb 1674; (15) Daniel (1676- ) bought out the rights of his three brothers who came to Stonington and lived and died on the old Brown homestead at Lynn.

Eight of this family of children died young and unmarried, and seven of them reached maturity.  Of these, four of them remained in Massachusetts, and three of them, Thomas Brown (Jr.), John and Eleazer, settled at Stonington, Connecticut before 1688.  There, they purchased and received large tracts of land, most of which was located in the present town of North Stonington, bounded as follows (according to the Brown Genealogy cited above):

 “…the western boundary was nearly all on Ossekonk Swamp, the northern bounds of which extended from the Ossekonk brook on the west to Shunnock River on the east, joining on the north the lands of the late Stephen Avery and land of the Main family, to lands of the Randall family; easterly on the Randall land to the Richardson’s possessions; on the south by the Palmer family land and Miner territory; and on the west by the Wheeler family land up to the said Ossekonk Swamp. Subsequent sales and purchases made by the Brown Brothers, and the distribution of these lands as they and their successors have departed this life, have greatly changed their original possessions, and other families now dwell upon the same.”

The descendants of these three brothers lived for about one hundred years in Stonington, removing to other towns adjacent in Connecticut and especially New York State, which at that early date was comparatively a wilderness.

Thomas Brown (Jr.), the son of Thomas Brown and Mary Newhall, was born at Lynn, Massachusetts in 1654, and he died at Stonington on 27 Dec 1723.  He was interred at the Cedar Swamp, on lands first purchased by the three Brown Brothers and probably was among the first who were interred there.  The grave is unmarked.  On 8 Feb 1677 he married Hannah Collins.  According to the Brown Genealogy (cited above):

 “He built his house about forty rods northwest of the ‘Pond Place’ house on the Anguilla Road and thirty rods west of the road.  The cellar is filled six feet above the ground with a large quantity of stones; and down the hill is a fine living spring of water, a natural place for a pioneer to build his house.  His ten children, without doubt, were born here.  Twenty-one months before his death, he deeded to his son Daniel a large tract of land one mile east from his homestead (Copy of Will, Appendix II. Copy of Deed to his son Daniel (24), Appendix III.)”

Hannah Collins was born 1 Feb 1660 at Lynn, Massachusetts and died at Stonington in about 1704.

The children of Thomas Brown (Jr.) and Hannah Collins are listed as follows: (1) Samuel, born 8 Dec 1678; (2) Hannah, born 5 Dec 1680; (3) Mary Brown, see below; (4) Jerusha, born 25 Dec 1688; (5) Sarah, born 11 Jul 1689; (6) Thomas, born 14 Feb 1692 and married Deborah Holdredge; (7) Elizabeth, born 9 May 1694; (8) Daniel, born 9 Oct 1696 and married Mary Breed; (9) Priscillah, born 30 Jan 1699 and (10) Humphry, born 16 Sep 1701 and married Tabitha Holdredge.

Mary Brown, the daughter of Thomas Brown (Jr.) and Hannah Collins, was born 26 May 1683 at Stonington, Connecticut.  On 3 Jan 1704 she married Thomas York, who was born 17 Oct 1676 at Stonington.  Their lineage is continued under the heading of James York (1614-1683).


[1] This is the probable date of his marriage to Mary Newhall.

[2] As an aside, I have also found no credible connection between our Brown family and either Peter Brown, the Mayflower Pilgrim, who arrived at Plymouth in 1620 or John Brown, the famous abolitionist, who was executed in (West) Virginia 1859.  None of the claims I have seen to the contrary are convincing. Neither can I find any documented connection to Robert Browne (1550?-1633), the prominent Elizabethan Separatist theologian, called by some the “father of Congregationalism”, who provided the theological foundation for many of the English dissident groups which set sail for America in the early 1600s and established congregations along the lines of basic Brownist theology.

[3] Cyrus Henry Brown. Brown Genealogy: Many of the Descendants of Thomas, John and Eleazer Brown, sons of Thomas and Mary (Newhall) Brown of Lynn, Mass. (Boston, Massachusetts: The Everett Press, 1907, p. 9.

[4] Cyrus Henry Brown. Brown Genealogy (Volume II):  Part I, Many of the Descendants of Thomas, John and Eleazer Brown, sons of Thomas and Mary (Newhall) Brown of Lynn, Mass.; Part II, Many of the Descendants of Charles Browne of Rowley, Mass. (Boston, Massachusetts: The Everett Press, 1915, p. 8.

[5] Richard Anson Wheeler’s History of the Town of Stonington, County of New London, Connecticut: from its first settlement in 1649 to 1900 (Press of the Day Publishing Company, 1900) reports Thomas Brown was born at Lynn, Massachusetts in 1628, but this is probably erroneous as that town was not settled until 1629.

[6] My 9th g-grandparents, discussed under their own heading


One comment

  • cathy

    thank you for posting this i’m descendants of noah shurtliff that married a lydia brown and her father is thomas brown. intill today that is all i knew about the brown family. through this i have a lot more to research thank you again
    cathy mcgrew

Your comments are welcome. Keep in mind, however, all comments are moderated, and please no off-topic links.