A Good Catch Was John Brown (~1595-1686)


Here is Asa Brown’s assessment of John Brown as husband material:1

From the fact that, at the time of the oldest tax list in Hampton (1653), the tax of John Brown was third in amount, and also that he was a single man 40 or 46 years of age when he came to this country, it is to be presumed he did not leave London entirely destitute of property, but that he was a man of considerable wealth. This may have been one reason why Sarah Walker married a man so much older than herself, and, besides, as he lived to be over 90 years of age, and as his descendants are generally well built, rugged and healthy, he was doubtless a well formed, handsome man, appearing much younger than he really was.

I assume that Asa would have counted himself among John Brown’s descendants who were “generally well built, rugged and healthy.”

1Asa Warren Brown, “From the Exeter News Letter, October 27, 1851: The Hampton Brown Family” (unpublished manuscript, Personal Papers of Ronald Dalrymple Brown, n.d.), pp.1-2.

Image: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Farmer’s boy.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 27, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dd-e2be-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

John Brown (~1595-1686): Shipbuilder, Landowner, Litigant


Asa Brown provides the following account of John Brown’s activities as one of the founding fathers of Hampton, New Hampshire:1

From 1635 until 1638, he remained in Salem or Lynn [Massachusetts] (tradition says Salem); he was one of the first proprietors and settlers in Hampton, 1638. About 1648 he appears to have been engaged somewhat in shipbuilding, for “he built a barque, at the river near the present sight [sic] of Perkins mill, supposed to be the first craft, larger than a common row boat, built in town”.

He was one of the largest land holders in Hampton, being owner of one of the four farms, and tradition asserts that he and his sons were engaged considerably in raising stock. This is, no doubt, correct, for from the records of the Court, it appears that John Brown in 1654 sued Thos. Swetman for a “debt due for two fat oxen” for the want of which money he claimed to have been much damaged. In 1673 and 1674, he, with his son John, brought suit against the “prudential men” and also against the town of Hampton for not causing a road to be built to his farm near the Falls River towards (now Seabrook). The Court decided that the road should be built.

Now, this next bit would appear to be a case of damning with faint praise:2

In the management of the affairs of the town and church, Mr. Brown never seemed to have taken a very active part, nor to have been very prominent; in 1651 and 1656 he was one of the selectmen. It is doubtful if he was ever a member of the church; in 1664 he was one of those chosen to watch over the boys in the gallery.

All in all, though, not a bad fellow:3

Concerning the moral character of the man, and the estimation in which he was held by his townsmen, little can be known; but he was sober, industrious, hard working, and enterprising.

1Asa Warren Brown, “From the Exeter News Letter, October 27, 1851: The Hampton Brown Family” (unpublished manuscript, Personal Papers of Ronald Dalrymple Brown, n.d.), 2-3.

2Brown, 3.

3Brown, 4.

John Brown (~1595-1686): A London Baker Sets Sail for New England with a Bunch of Other People


I found Asa Brown’s account of John Brown (~1595-1686) and his immediate descendants among the papers of my grandfather, Ronald Dalrymple Brown (1899-1985). The version I have is typewritten on onion skin, and judging from the blurriness of the typeface it’s a carbon copy. My understanding is that Asa’s 21-page manuscript has been used extensively by subsequent researchers of John Brown’s descendants and the founding of Hampton, New Hampshire. For more information about the source, please click on Bibliography on the main navigation menu above.  Asa’s write-up of John Brown originally appeared in The Exeter News Letter, October 27, 1851:1

John Brown, the son of a Scotchman, was born in England, was a baker in London, (if we may judge from his age) for some years previous to his emigration to this country. In 1635, on the 17th of April, he embarked on the “Elizabeth” for New England, and landed at Boston on June following. Among his fellow passengers were, “James Walker, 15 years, and Sarra [sic] Walker, 17 years”. The former of whom had been employed by him in his bakery, and the latter afterwards became his wife, and was probably a sister of James. She had been in the employ of Wm. Brazey, linen draper in Cheapside, and it is an interesting fact, that Wm. Bracey of Scarborah and Saco was, years after, married in Hampton to one of the daughters of John Brown and Sarah Walker. The similarity of the name, and the circumstance itself would seem to intimate that Wm. Bracey of Saco was a grandson of Wm. Brazey of Cheapside

Another passenger was “Jo. Cluffe 22 years”, who settled in Salisbury, Mass., and was the ancestor of Clough, who intermarried with the Browns. We find, also, two more of the name of Walker, Rich’d 24 years, and Wm. 15 years. The former afterwards settled in Reading, Mass., and the latter perhaps in Portsmouth, N.H., for about sixty years after, in the settlement of the estate of Wm. Brookin of P., among the claimants were Jacob Brown of Hampton and Sarah, his wife, one of the daughters of said Brookin and Wm. Walker, and Mary, his wife, widow of the same.

1Asa Warren Brown, “From the Exeter News Letter, October 27, 1851: The Hampton Brown Family” (unpublished manuscript, Personal Papers of Ronald Dalrymple Brown, n.d.), 1-2.

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.