John Brown (~1595-1686): My Progenitor–And Everyone Else’s,Too, It Would Appear


Now, where was I with the story of my Brown ancestors? Ah, yes, coming back from a series of delightful digressions. (My mother would say I keep losing the plot.)

I began the story of the Browns with Jonathan Brown and his wife Sally Fitts because they are buried in Candia, New Hampshire, the next town over from where I live, and I feel the closest kinship with them. (Jonathan and Sally are my great-great-great grandparents.)

However, the story of the Browns in New Hampshire begins much, much earlier, with Jonathan’s great-great-great grandfather John Brown (~1595-1686), who was one of the early settlers of Hampton, New Hampshire.

I’d been aware that Brown is a very common surname in southern New Hampshire, but I didn’t realize just how many people I must be distantly related to until I started looking more closely at the Brown genealogy.

As you can see from the following family tree, my mother traced her patrilineal line from her father Ronald Dalrymple Brown (1899-1985) back to John’s son Benjamin Brown (1647-1736).  But if you continue to scroll down, you’ll see that John had a total of five sons, who in turn had seven sons. In fact, a quick Google search on the following keyword search string gave me 28,800 hits: “‘John Brown’ 1595 Hampton New Hampshire.”

It would appear I’m not that special in being a direct descendant of said John Brown.



Speaking of Sheep


I continue to get a kick out of reading J. Bailey Moore’s discussion of farming in Candia, New Hampshire in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. I offer the following passage as an example of an author who is not afraid of digression. From fettering sheep to the life of Samuel Johnson to haying, without so much as a “But I digress . . . “!

The sheep of those days often caused their owners much trouble by jumping over the walls and fences into the cultivated fields under the lead of an old ram or bell wether. In such cases fettering the legs of the sheep was considered the only remedy.

The reference to sheep recalls a passage in Thomas Carlyle’s great essay upon the life of Dr. Samuel Johnson. After quoting the statement of the German philosopher, Jean Paul, that a whole flock of sheep will jump over an imaginary pole after the real pole over which the bell wether has jumped has been removed, Carlyle declares that the great masses of mankind are utterly incapable of guiding themselves and, like stupid sheep, they too must have their bellwethers and jump over nothing, blindly following those who undertake to lead them, whether in the matter of fashion, politics or religion, without knowing or caring to know why they are led this way, that or the other.

Haying begins soon after the 4th of July. A few patches of grass around the house are first moved, and soon after the red-top and clover fields are attacked.1

Uh oh. My digression from the subject of Brown family history wouldn’t be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, would it?

1J. Bailey Moore, History of the Town of Candia, Rockingham County, N.H., from Its First Settlement to the Present Time (Manchester, N.H.: George W. Browne, 1893), 259.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Speaking of Lambs

Reading J. Bailey Moore’s account of little lost lambs in Candia reminded me of this treasure: the cereal dish my mother fed me from when I was a baby. It’s a treasured possession because every time I see it, I’m reminded of how my late father called me “Lambikin” when I was little.



The Real Lambikin

I just Googled “lambikin,” thinking to confirm that it’s not a real word and discovered that “The Lambikin” was a fairy tale that had originated in India. Who knew?! If my parents read it to me, I certainly don’t remember it. I found two versions of it.

The Accumulative Droll

Here’s the first version, taken from a 1923 children’s literature textbook for teachers. According to the book’s editor, “It is an accumulative droll in character and should be told early along with, say, ‘The Story of the Three Little Pigs’.”1


Once upon a time there was a wee wee Lambikin, who frolicked about on his little tottery legs, and enjoyed himself amazingly. Now one day he set off to visit his Granny, and was jumping with joy to think of all the good things he should get from her, when whom should he meet but a Jackal, who looked at the tender young morsel and said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll eat YOU!” But Lambikin only gave a little frisk and said:

“To Granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”

The Jackal thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.

By and by he met a Vulture, and the Vulture, looking hungrily at the tender morsel before him, said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll eat YOU!”

But Lambikin only gave a little frisk, and said:

“To Granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”

The Vulture thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.

[The drollery accumulates as Lambikin encounters other animals.]

At last he reached his Granny’s house, and said, all in a great hurry, “Granny, dear, I’ve promised to get very fat; so, as people ought to keep their promises, please put me into the corn-bin at once.”

So his Granny said he was a good boy, and put him into the corn-bin, and there the greedy little Lambikin stayed for seven days, and ate, and ate, and ate, until he could scarcely waddle, and his Granny said he was fat enough for any thing, and must go home. But cunning little Lambikin said that would never do, for some animal would be sure to eat him on the way back, he was so plump and tender.

“I’ll tell you what you must do,” said Master Lambikin, “you must make a little drumikin out of the skin of my little brother who died, and then I can sit inside and trundle along nicely, for I’m as tight as a drum myself.”

So his Granny made a nice little drumikin out of his brother’s skin, with the wool inside, and Lambikin curled him self up snug and warm in the middle, and trundled away gayly.

Soon he met with the Eagle, who called out:

“Drumikin l Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin? “

And Mr. Lambikin, curled up in his soft warm nest, replied:

“Lost in the forest, and so are you,
On, little Drumikin! Tum-pa, tum-too!”

“How very annoying!” sighed the Eagle, thinking regretfully of the tender morsel he had let slip.

Meanwhile Lambikin trundled along, laughing to himself, and singing:

“Tum-pa, tum-too;
Tum-pa, tum-too!”

[More accumulating drollery.]

At last the Jackal came limping along, for all his sorry looks as sharp as a needle, and he too called out:

“Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin? “

And Lambikin, curled up in his snug little nest, replied gayly:

“Lost in the forest, and so are you,
On, little Drumikin! Tum-pa — “

But he never got any further, for the Jackal recognized his voice at once, and cried: “Hullo! you’ve turned yourself inside out, have you? Just you come out of that!”

Whereupon he tore open Drumikin and gobbled up Lambikin.2

What?! That’s not droll! Lambikin was just killed by a jackel!  HOW IS THAT DROLL?!


Thank Goodness for Alternative Endings

Luckily, Stories for Little Children provides an alternative ending  for children–or their parents–who are prone to nightmares:

“I’ll soon stop your ride, Mr. Lambikin,” said the cunning fox.
With a howl he ran after Lambikin as fast as he could go.
But the drum was rolling safely along.
Down the side of the hill it went.
The fox could hear Lambikin as he sang,
“I’m in the Drumikin! Tum-tum-too!
I’m safe at home. How do you do?”3


1“The Lambikin,” in Children’s Literature: A Textbook of Sources for Teachers and Teacher-Training Classes, ed. Charles Madison Curry and Erle Elsworth Clippinger (Chicago, New York: Rand, McNally, 1921), 149.

2Children’s Literature, 149-150.

3Anonymous, “Lambikin,” in Stories for Little Children, comp. Lucy Wheelock (New York : Houghton Mifflin, 1920), 409.

Poor Little Lamb


I can’t resist sharing this choice passage from J. Bailey Moore’s History of Candia. I just love the juxtaposition of late Victorian sentimentality and flinty New England pragmatism:

Later on, a few lambs and calves make their appearance. How delighted are the children to jump over into the pens in the barn and take up the tender lambs and fondle them in their arms . . . . Sometimes a lamb is disowned by its mother and the poor thing is taken into the house, to be placed in a basket upon a warm blanket and kindly nursed in the hope of saving it for future usefulness. But the experiment often failed and the poor lamb, after a few hours of struggles and sufferings, gives up the ghost. How pitiful are its moans through the long, dreary night and how sincerely is it mourned by the children. The bodies of the dead lambs were often hung upon the limbs of apple trees out of the reach of dogs, for the purpose of preventing the latter from acquiring a habit of attacking and devouring sheep as they roamed in the pastures.1

1J. Bailey Moore, History of the Town of Candia, Rockingham County, N.H., from Its First Settlement to the Present Time (Manchester, N.H.: George W. Browne, 1893), 255.