Peter Browne was baptized 26 January 1595 at Dorking, Surrey, son of William Browne. I need to confirm, but I would think he was baptized at St. Martin's Church, an Anglican parish church in Dorking, Surrey. Surviving parts of the structure date back to the Middle Ages. It is in the archdeaconry of Dorking, in the Diocese of Guildford. His last name is also spelled Brown. He is my 11th great-grandfather on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family, although I have not submitted my line to the Mayflower Society.
|St. Martin's, Dorking, Surrey|
He was a young man of 25, one of the “strangers,” when he boarded the Mayflower. He brought along his English Mastiff dog.
The Browne family appears to have had several associations with the Mullins family of Dorking, who also came on the Mayflower.
The Pilgrims were unsettled by the far off presence of Indians when they first landed at Plymouth. They would see smoke from Indians' fires in the distance. Work was interrupted for several days when Peter Browne and John Goodman went missing one noontime while gathering thatch for the common house roof. A party searched the woods until dark but didn't find them and they were afraid the Indians had killed them. Peter and John were near a pond when their dogs, a large Mastiff (Browne's) and a small Spaniel, raised a big buck which went bounding into the woods. The men tried to follow but were soon winded and lost. They wandered around in a cold drizzle that turned to snow. They lay on the cold ground to sleep and were awoken by two lions roaring, so they dashed for the nearest tree, intending to climb if attacked. The Mastiff kept trying to go after the lions. The next day they climbed a hill and saw the bay, which gave them their bearings. They stumbled into camp after dark. Goodman's shoes, which were worth their weight in gold, had to be cut from his swollen, frost -bitten feet. They soon learned the “lions” were actually wolves!
In a partial list of the house locations of the Pilgrims made out in 1620, John Goodman and Peter Browne appear to have been neighbors on the south side of the Street and the ocean side of the Highway. Peter Browne was apparently still living there during the 1623 Division of Land.
Abt. 1626 he married the widow Martha Ford whose maiden name is unknown. She came in 1621 on the Fortune, giving birth soon after landing. Peter and Martha had two children: Mary and Priscilla. The latter perhaps named after Mayflower passenger Priscilla Mullins who was also from Dorking. Martha would die soon after giving birth, I descend from Mary.
Mary, born about 1626, married Ephraim Tinkham, had 8 children and remained in Plymouth. Priscilla, born about 1628, married William Allen and moved to Sandwich.
In 1623 Plymouth land division "Peter Browen" received one acre as a passenger on the Mayflower (PCR 12:4). In 1627 Plymouth cattle division Peter Brown, Martha Brown and Mary Brown were the fourth, fifth and sixth persons in the eighth company (PCR 12:11).
In the 1627 Division of Cattle he, Peter, his wife Martha, his daughter Mary Browne, and his stepchildren John and Martha Ford were included with the Samuel Fuller and Anthony Annable families. About a year later, Peter and Martha would have daughter Priscilla but wife Martha would die shortly thereafter.
Peter Brown was on the 1633 Plymouth list of freemen ahead of those made free on 1 Jan 1632/33 (PCR 1:4). He was assessed 18 s. in Plymouth tax list of 25 March 1633 (PCR 1:10); Widow Brown assessed 9 s. in list of 27 March 1634 (PCR 1:28).
Peter married, second, Mary whose maiden name is also unknown and had two more children: Rebecca born about 1631 and a child born about 1633. name unknown, who did not live to adulthood.
Rebecca married William Snow and lived in Bridgewater.
The evidence for the marriages of Peter Brown's three daughters is largely from deeds in which his land was sold by his sons-in-law, with the consent of his daughters.
Peter Browne's brother John Browne came to America about 1632 and settled in Duxbury, just to the north of Plymouth. John Browne was baptized in Dorking on 29 June 1600.
Gov. Bradford wrote that "Peter Browne married twice. By his first wife he had two children who are living and both of them married, and the one of them hath two children. By his second wife he had two more. He died about sixteen years since."
Peter died between 25 March and 10 October 1633 at Plymouth, likely in the fall when there was a general sickness in town. He was just 38 years old. Mayflower passengers Samuel Fuller (Peter’s neighbor) and Francis Eaton, both my ancestors, and several other Plymouth residents died at that time.
His estate inventory taken 10 October 1633 shows that he owned 130 bushels of corn, six melch goats, one cow, eight sheep, and a number of pigs, and a Bible, among other things. The Bible indicates he could read. His widow Mary Browne was granted administration. He died without a will leaving “diverse children by diverse wives,” his estate amount to 100 pounds.
In his estate records, Peter’s daughter Mary is mentioned as having been placed with John Doane of Plymouth for the past nine years and was to stay with him until age 17. Widow was to pay down 15 pounds to Doane for “the use of Mary Browne, daughter of said Peter.” She was also to pay down 15 pounds to Mr. William Gilson for the use of Priscilla Browne, another daughter of Peter. It mentions the widow having two children by the said Peter together with her own third, so she must have been married before Peter. Sadly, I appears placed her step-daughters with other families when Peter died.
Peter Browne and his family bring home to me the danger of living in Plymouth in the 17th century—illness, lack of comforts of home and the cold winter climate. He died as a young man in his 30s and he had already buried two wives and possibly one of his children. I wonder though if he regretted coming to Plymouth. He owned land, which likely wouldn’t have happened back in England and experienced a lot more freedom in Plymouth. After his death his children by his first wife were put out to other families, something I find very sad.
My line from Peter Browne:
Peter Browne and Mary (____) (Ford)
Mary Browne and Ephraim Tinkham
Helkiah Tinkham and Ruth (_____)
John Tinkham and Anne Gray
Ann Tinkham and Samuel Fuller
Mary Fuller and Jabez Nye
Desire Nye and David Pierce
Lucy Nye Pierce and Rowland Sturtevant Bumpus
Mary Briggs Washburn and Seth Washburn
Charles F. Washburn and Hattie Benson
Carrie C. Washburn and George Brewster Smith (unmarried)
Arthur Washburn Davis (changed his surname from Washburn to Davis)
Famous descendants of Peter Browne: Dick Van Dyke, the Beach Boys (Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson).
Sources Not Listed Above:
Caleb Johnson, The Probable English Origin of Mayflower Passenger Peter Browne, And His Association with Mayflower Passenger William Mullins, The American Genealogist vol. 79 (July 2004)
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Vol, 1, 1995
Mrs. John E. Barclay, The Widow Martha Ford, The American Genealogist, vol. 42, 1965
William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation
Robert S. Wakefield, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations. Volume Seven, Vol. 7: Peter Brown, 1992
George F. Willison, Saints and Strangers, 1945