A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Brownists
BROWNISTS, the name given for some time to those who were afterwards known in England and Holland under the denomination of Independents. It arose from a Mr. Robert Brown, who about 1590 was a teacher amongst them in England, and at Middleburg, in Zealand. He was a man of education, zeal, and abilities. The separation, however, does not appear to have originated in him: for by several publications of those times, it is clear that these sentiments had, before his day, been embraced, and professed in England, and churches gathered on the plan of them. Nor did the sect call themselves Brownists; but considered it rather as a nick-name given them by their adversaries.
This denomination did not differ in point of doctrine from the church of England, or from the other puritans; but they apprehended that, according to scripture, every church ought to be confined within the limits of a single congregation, and have the complete power of jurisdiction over its members, to be exercised by the elders within itself, without being subject to the authority of bishops, synods, presbyteries, or any ecclesiastical assembly, composed of the deputies from different churches. See Independents.
- Examination of Barrow. Canne's Necessity of Separation, p. 153. Gifford's Plain Declaration, p. 1, 2. Also Neal's Puritans, p. 428.