Brown, James (1709-1788) (DNB00)
|←Brown, Ignatius||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 07
Brown, James (1709-1788)
|Brown, James (1812-1881)→|
BROWN JAMES (1709-1788), traveller and scholar was son of James Brown MD of Kelso in Roxburghshire where he was born on 23 May 1709. He received his education at Westminster School, 'where he was well instructed in the Latin and Greek classics,' notwithstanding that he must have left school at the early age of thirteen as in the year 1722 he went with his father to Constantinople. During the three years of his stay in the East on this occasion the boy, 'having a great natural aptitude for the learning of languages acquired a competent knowledge of Turkish, vulgar Greek, and Italian.' In 1725 he returned home, and 'made himself master of the Spanish language.' About the year 1732 he conceived for the first time (it has been said) the idea of a 'Directory of the Principal Traders in London.' A 'Directory' upon a similar plan had however been already published in London as early as 1677. After having been at some pains to lay the foundation of it, he gave it to Henry Kent, printer, in Finch Lane, Cornhill, who made a fortune by the publication. In 1741 he attempted to carry out a more ambitious project namely to establish a trade with Persia via Russia. Having entered into an agreement for the purpose with twenty-four of the principal merchants of London members of the Russia Company, he sailed for Riga on Michaelmas day 1741, 'passed through Russia down the Volga to Astrachan, and sailed along the Caspian Sea to Reshd in Persia, where he established a factory in which he continued, near four years. While there he was the bearer of a letter from George II to Nadir Shah. Dissatisfied with his employers and impressed with the dangers to which the factory was exposed from the unsettled nature of the Persian government, he resigned his post and reached London on Christmas day 1746.
The following year the factory at Reshd was plundered, and a final period put to the Persia trade. His old aptitude for languages enabled him during his four years' stay at Reshd to acquire such proficiency in Persian that on his return he compiled 'a copious Persian Dictionary and Grammar,' which however was never published. Lysons states that Brown was also the author of a translation of two orations of Isocrates, published anonymously. He died of a paralytic stroke on 30 Nov 1788, at his house in Stoke Newington where he had resided since 1734, and was buried in the parish church of St Mary, where there is a tomb erected to his memory Lysons iii 290).
[Gent Mag lviii pt ii p 1128; Lysons's Environs of London, iii. 301-2.]