Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/68

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Browne
Browne
62


of high treason in betraying the trust reposed in them in connection with the recent negotiations at Oxford, of which they had had the conduct. After some discussion the matter was referred to a committee, of which Browne was nominated chairman. The affair is frankly described by Whitelocke as a machination of the independents, designed to discredit the presbyterian party, of which both Hollis and himself were members; and as he accuses Browne of displaying a strong bias in favour of the impeachment, it may be inferred that at this time he had the reputation of belonging to the advanced faction. The charge was ultimately dismissed. In October of the following year Browne delivered the great seal to the new commissioners then appointed, the speakers of the two houses. In September 1648 he was one of ten commissioners nominated by the parliament to treat with the king in the Isle of Wight. On the receipt of letters from the commissioners containing the king's ultimatum, the House of Commons, after voting the king's terms unsatisfactory, resolved 'that notice be taken of the extraordinary wise management of this treaty by the commissioners.' Next day Browne was made a serjeant-at-law and justice of the king's bench by accumulation. The latter dignity, however, he refused to accept, whether out of timidity or on principle it is impossible to determine. After this no more is heard of him until the restoration, when he was readmitted serjeant-at-law (Trinity term 1660), and shortly after (Michaelmas term) raised to the bench as justice of the common pleas, and knighted 4 Dec. He died in 1668, and was buried at Arlesey in Bedfordshire, where he had a house. He married Elizabeth, daughter of John Meade of Nortofts, Finchingfield, Essex.

[Wotton's Baronetage,iv. 178; Dugdale's Orig. 256. 324; Willis's Not. Pari. iii. 243; Dugdales's Chron. Ser. 114, 115; Parl. Hist ii. 606, iii. 70, 182; Cobbett's State Trials, iv. 347, 443,449,464-470, 509, 554-7, 599; Whitelocke's Mem. 154, 156, 160, 226, 334, 342, 378; Commons' Journ. iii. 734; Siderfin's Rup. i. 3, 4, 365; Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harleian Society, vol. viii.), 122; Cal. State Papers, Dom. (1640), 103; Morant's Essex, ii. 366; Lysons's Bedfordshire, 40; Foss's Lives of the Judges.]

J. M. R.

BROWNE, SIMON (1680–1732), divine, was born at Shepton Mallet, Somersetshire; educated under Mr. Cumming, and at the academy of Mr. Moor at Bridgewater. He began to preach before he was twenty, and after being a minister at Port.smouth became, in 1710, pastor of the important congregation in the Old Jewry, London. In 1720 he published 'Hymns and Spiritual Songs,' and in 1722 a volume of sermons. In the Salters' Hall controversy (1719) Browne had taken the side of the non-subscribers, who resisted the imposition of a Trinitarian test. This led to a rather sharp controversy in 1723 with the Rev. Mr. Thomas Reynolds in regard to the dismissal of a preacher. About the same time the simultaneous loss of his wife and only son (or, according to another story, the accidental strangling of a highwayman) unhinged his mind; and though his faculties remained perfect in other respects he became persuaded that God had 'annihilated in him the thinking substance,' and that his words had no more sense than a parrot's. He tried by earnest reasoning to persuade his friends that he was 'a mere beast.' He gave up his ministry, retired to Shepton Mallet, and amused himself by translating classical authors, writing books for children, and composing a dictionary. 'I am doing nothing,' he said, 'that requires a reasonable soul.' I am making a dictionary; but you know thanks should be returned to God for everything, and therefore for dictionary-makers.' He took part, however, in the controversies of the time, as an opponent of the deists from a rationalist point of view. In 1732 he published a sober and charitable disquisition concerning the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity,' &c., 'A Fit Rebuke to a Ludicrous Infidel, in some remarks on Mr. Woolston's fifth discourse,' &c., with a preface protesting against the punishment of freethinkers by the magistrate; and a 'Defence of the Religion of Nature and the Christian Revelation,' See, in answer to Tindal's 'Christianity as old as the Creation,' a concluding part of which appeared in 1733 posthumously. To the last of these works he had prefixed a dedication to Queen Caroline, asking for her prayers in his singular case. He was 'once a man,' but 'his very thinking substance has for more than seven years oeen continually wasting away, till it is wholly perished out of him.' This was suppressed at the time by his friends, but afterwards published by Hawkesworth in the 'Adventurer,' No. 88. Browne died at the end of 1732, leaving several daughters.

[Biog. Britannica; Atkey's Funeral Sermon; Town and Country Magazine for 1770, p. 689; Adventurer, No. 88; Gent. Mag. xxxii. 453; Protestant Dissenters' Magazine, iv. 433, v. lll; Leland's View. i. 110, 130; Wilson's Dissenting Churches, i. 165, iii. 338-67, where is a full list of his works.]

L. S.

BROWNE, THEOPHILUS (1763–1835), unitarian clergyman, born at Derby in 1763, entered as a student at Christ's College, Cambridge, graduated B.A. and M.A., took