Nathaniel Browning was the progenitor of one of Rhode Island’s oldest families. His name first appears in Rhode Island records in 1645 when he purchased a house and two lots of land in Warwick, Rhode Island, for three pounds of wampum. He is my 8th great-grandfather on my Grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family. This information on Nathaniel is still a work in progress.
In William Richard Cutter’s 1908 book Genealogy of the Brownings of America, he writes that Nathaniel was born about 1618 in London, the son of Mrs. Elizabeth Browning, from a family of non-conformists, likely Puritans.This is based on a Mrs. Elizabeth Browning marrying second John Palmer, who names his wife’s sons Nathaniel and William Browning in his 1631 will and their supporting silenced ministers.
Nathaniel was of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1655. He settled there on Aquidneck Island.
|Modern-day Aquidneck Island, connected to mainland by three bridges|
Nathaniel married, by about 1650, Sarah Freeborn/Freeborne, the daughter of William and Mary (Wilson) Freeborn. She was baptized St. Mary, Maldon, Essex, England, on 2 October 1631. She was age two in the 1634 passenger list of the ship Francis which sailed from Ipswich, England, to Boston. Her father signed the Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Compact and was one of the town’s founding fathers. On 2 January 1652 she was deeded a gift of land from her father, as Sarah wife of Nathaniel Browning.
Nathaniel and Sarah’s children:
Mary, born after 1652, married Thomas Manchester Jr. prior to 6 Jan 1677/78 and had at least two sons, William and Thomas.
Sarah, born after 1652, died before 6 Jan 1677/8 when the estate of "Sarah Browning, single woman, late of Portsmouth" was divided by the Portsmouth Town Council among her brothers and sisters, namely, Mary, wife of Thomas Manchester Jr., William Browning when 21, sisters Rebecca and Jane when married or age 16.
William born after 1657
Rebecca born after 1662
Jane born after 1662
I descend through son William who married Rebecca Wilbore/Wilbur. I wrote about that couple
Nathaniel Browning was made a Freeman in Portsmouth in 1654.
On 4 May 1670 Nathaniell Browninge of Portsmouth received 20 pounds of Gidion Freeborne of the same town, in full satisfaction of the legacy given to my children by their grandfather William Freeborne of Portsmouth late deceased. I will do my best to improve upon the money to benefit my children and deliver each of them an equal share when they are capable of making use of the same. Signed by his mark.
Sarah died 23 April 1670 at age 38. There may have been a serious illness outbreak as her father died 28 April 1670 and her mother 3 May 1670.
Nathaniel Browning's will, made by the Portsmouth Town Council, 4 April 1673, so he died in the early 1670s, in his early 50s. Five children are mentioned: Mary, Sarah, William, Rebecca and Jane, all under age and unmarried but Mary the eldest soon to come of age. Land given by William Freeborne to the deceased and Sarah his wife by deed 2 Jan 1652/53 mentioned and also the estate given to the children by their grandfather William Freeborne. Executors: Gideon Freeborne and Clement Weaver of Newport "both nearly related to the said children.”
Inventory of the estate of Nathaniel Browning was taken 11 March 1672/73 by Thomas Manchester, Thomas Fish, William Wilbor, Robbert Hassard and William Hall. Amounted to over 192 pounds.
Sources Not Listed Above:
William Richard Cutter, Genealogy of the Brownings in America, vol. 1 and 2, 1908 and 1913
Torrey's New England Marriages
Rhode Island Roots, Rhode Island Genealogical Society, vol. 22, March 1996
The American Genealogist, Vol 20, 1943 (from the RI Historical Soc. Collection, Vol. 21, p. 128)