Browne, Isaac Hawkins (1745-1818) (DNB00)

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BROWNE, ISAAC HAWKINS, the younger (1745–1818), only child of Isaac Hawkins Browne the elder [q. v.], was born 7 Dec. 1745. He was educated at Westminster School and Hertford College, Oxford. Long after taking his M.A. in 1767, he kept his rooms at Oxford and frequently resided there; in 1773 he received the degree of D.C.L. Having made a tour of the continent, he settled on his property in Shropshire, and in 1783 served as sheriff for the county. In 1784 he entered the House of Commons as member for Bridgnorth, which he represented for twenty-eight years (1784-1812); he was a supporter of Pitt. Like his father, he seems to have had no gift for oratory, but when he spoke ‘his established reputation for superior knowledge and judgment secured to him that attention which might have been wanting to him on other accounts’ In 1815 he published, anonymously, ‘Essays, Religious and Moral;’ this work he afterwards acknowledged, and an edition published two years later bears his name. His ‘Essays on Subjects of important Inquiry in Metaphysics, Morals, and Religion’ (1822) were not published till after his death; if the seriousness of his mind is shown by the spirit of this volume, his exactness and capacity for taking pains are illustrated by the array of authorities by which the text is supported. Bishop Newton (Life of Thomas Newton, D.D., Bishop of Bristol, 1782) speaks of him as ‘a very worthy, good young man, possessed of many of his father’s excellencies without his failings,’ and this portrait is completed by a contemporary biographer, who, mentioning that Charles James Fox was a fellow-student with Browne and of the same college, is careful to add that they formed no intimacy, ‘their pursuits, habits, and connections being of a widely different character.' In 1768 he edited his father’s poems in two editions, the best of which, with plates by Sterne, was not for sale. This edition, it may be presumed, contained the memoir of his father, which he is said to have issued with his works; in any case there is no memoir in the edition offered to the public, which is the only one generally accessible, though the material facts in the life of Browne the elder in the 'Biographia Britannica' were, as appears from an acknowledgment in that work, supplied by his son. Browne was twice married (1788 and 1805), his first wife being the daughter of the Hon. Edward Hay, son of the seventh earl of Kinnoul. Browne died in London 30 May 1818.

[Gent. Mag. lxxxviii. part ii. 179.]

J. M. S.