Born in England. Arrived in Massachusetts about 1640 and later settled in Rhode Island before 1645.
Arrived in Massachusetts in 1634 aboard the ship Francis and later settled with her parents in Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1638.
Only a limited amount of information is available on Nathaniel Browning, especially concerning his English origins. Some sources claim he was the son of Daniel Browning (a cloth-worker of London) and Elizabeth Furness, who were married on 9 Feb 1612 at St. Andrew’s, Norwich, but evidence linking Nathaniel conclusively to this couple appears to be lacking (although further research may substantiate or disprove this theory).
The following biographical summary of Nathaniel Browning was obtained from several sources, including:
- Hart, Samuel (ed.). Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography, Genealogical-Memorial, Representative Citizens (Boston, Massachusetts: The American Historical Society, Inc.) 1917: Volume 11, p. 3-4. Reprinted in Americana Illustrated magazine, Volume XIV, No. 2 (1920) p. 153-154.
- Wheeler, Richard Anson. 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, p. 273-275.
From the Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography:
“Nathaniel Browning, son of Mrs. Elizabeth Browning, of London, England, was born in London, England, about 1618. Mrs. Browning and her husband would appear both to have been Non-Conformists, and the prosecution that followed them was probably the inducing cause that led Nathaniel Browning to embark for America soon after he came of age, or in the year 1640, when he was about twenty-two years old. He landed in Boston, Massachusetts, and from there went to Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The reason for his going was probably that his subsequent father-in-law, William Freeborn, was also a Puritan, or Non-Conformist, and had sailed from Ipswich, England, in 1634, when he was forty years old, and his wife Mary, thirty-five years old.
“The first mention that we have of Nathaniel Browning in the records of Rhode Island is in 1645, when it is stated that he purchased a dwelling house and two lots in Warwick for three pounds of wampum. The wampum consisted of strings of carefully selected shells, considered and used as money by the Indians. In 1654 he was made a freeman. This implied a good deal at the time, as the colonies were very young, and not only the Indians were in the vicinity, frequently visiting the settlements, but also, what was more to be dreaded, many persons of uncertain character were continually coming from England to America who threatened the peace and quiet of the settlements. As any person who was made a freeman was taken into the council and government of the colony, such persons were only admitted by the General Court, and after having taken an oath of allegiance to the government here established; and it was very important for the protection of their wives and children as well as their property that no such persons should be admitted as freeman. This custom continued until the second charter in 1692 made Massachusetts a royal province. He died at Portsmouth, Rhode Island, about 1670, when about fifty-two years old.
“Nathaniel Browning married, about 1650, Sarah Freeborn, second daughter of William and Mary Freeborn, who sailed from Ipswich, England, in 1634.”
The account goes on to mention two children were born to Nathaniel and Sarah: William (born about 1651) and Jane (born about 1655). Additional children are mentioned in Wheeler’s History of the Town of Stonington (cited above). Wheeler states:
“Nathaniel was the progenitor of the Browning family of Stonington, Conn., and other parts of the country, appears first at Portsmouth, R.I. Afterwards removed to Kingston, R.I., m. Sarah Freeeborn, b. in 1632, daughter of William and Mary Freeborn.”
Nathaniel Browning married Sarah Freeborn (daughter of William Freeborn and Mary Wilson, discussed under their own heading). Sarah was born about 1632 and died 23 Apr 1670. The children of Nathaniel Browning and Sarah Freeborn are listed as follows (all born at Portsmouth, Rhode Island):
- William, born 1651
- Mary Browning, born about 1652-54 (see below)
- Jane, born about 1655
- Hall, born about 1658
- Hannah, born about 1660
- Jonathan, born about 1662
- Daniel, born about 1664
- Jeremiah, born about 1666-68
- Sarah, born 10 Oct 1668
Mary Browning, daughter of Nathaniel Browning and Sarah Freeborn, was born about 1652 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island and died there in 1735. Before 6 Jan 1678, she married Thomas Manchester (Jr.) (son of Thomas Manchester and Margaret Wood, discussed under their own heading), who was born about 1650 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He died in 1722 in Portsmouth.
Mary Browning and Thomas Manchester (Jr.) had several children at Portsmouth, Rhode Island, including Thomas Manchester (1681-1761). On 6 Sep 1714, their son Thomas married Sarah Earle, born 18 Dec 1696 and died about 1727. She is the daughter of William Earle (1666-1715) and Hephzibah Butts (1675-1722). The daughter of Thomas Manchester and Sarah Earle is Judith Manchester, born about 1720. She married Thomas Brightman (Jr.), the son of Thomas Brightman and Penelope [surname unknown], who was born 20 Nov 1718 in Little Compton, Rhode Island. The couple was married on 6 Nov 1741. Their children are listed as follows: Elizabeth Brightman (1742- ), Martha (1743- ), George (1746-1796), Pardon (1750- ), Sarah (1752-1822), Phebe (1754- ), Hannah (1756- ), Thomas (1756- ) and Arnold (1763- ).
The lineage of Judith Manchester and Thomas Brightman (Jr.) is continued under the heading of Henry Brightman (1650-1728).