Friday, May 4, 2012



You and I share Quaker ancestors from the 1600’s, and I’m hoping you may have the answers to some long standing questions about our Browne family...their name has changed slightly over the years.  These ancestors of mine are your ancestors as well.


Daughter Jenny came across the name Wilfred Henry Brown in an internet story about Hertfordshire’s history and in particular the Harpenden Quaker Meeting House. 

Following 1933 renovations to the Quakers House mention was made of Wilfred, a current member who was a direct descendent of Daniel Brown, a Quaker whose family lived in Luton in 1700, and was a son of the Brown family of Pottington in North Bedfordshire.  

Richard and Mary’s children.
Two of the children, William and James, chose to leave England and sailed across the Atlantic to the new Quaker colony of Pennsylvania formed by William Penn in the 1680’s.

There they married and established large families that multiplied over the centuries with my branch of the Brown finally settling in Indiana and producing my grandfather, Bertie Brown who turned out to be a bit of a rogue.

You can follow the story of the Browne’s Quaker family in my 9 part Quaker Series, just click on the link at the bottom of this page and follow the story from there.

Grandfather was born in Indiana in 1874 and left home in circumstances that caused him to change his name to Charles Brown-Parker.  He met my Grandmother in Fiji, then toured New Zealand with a show biz act before finally bringing his family across to Australia where he died in 1944.  His colourful story is told in a 14 part Ancestor series on the web starting with his wife’s story in Fiji, midway into the series... 

 The Quaker story though really starts with a mystery.  The family has always believed the original Quaker, Richard Browne of Pottington married Mary Master, the daughter of a prominent Cirencester knight, Sir William Masters.  This assumption has now, finally been proved wrong.

Around 1642 young Mary did marry a Richard Browne, but this one was not a Quaker and was not our Richard.

I really have very little knowledge about the English side of the Brown family and would love to know more.  I’m hoping Harpenden’s Wilfred H. Brown has descendents still living in the area who may have some clues that will point me in the right direction.  Right now I’m leaning towards a Marjorie (Mary) Mooy being Richard’s wife, and to his family having descended from the Tolethorpe Brown’s.

So please, if you have any clues at all to the whereabouts of Wilfred H. Brown’s existing family, include your or their contact details in a comment at the end of today’s story.  Those personal contact details will be deleted by me before your message is published.

And if you want to read more about these people from the past, use the Search this Blog facility at the top of the story and type in either the words QUAKER or ANCESTOR .  A full listing should then pop up.

In the meantime a big thank you to the Harpenden History group who have obviously gone to a great deal of trouble to present the life and times of their community.

Robyn Mortimer