Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Brown, John (d.1829)

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BROWN, JOHN (d. 1829), miscellaneous writer, was an inhabitant of Bolton in Lancashire, where during the early part, of this century he was engaged in miscellaneous literary work. There he projected his 'History of Great and Little Bolton,' of which seventeen numbers were published (Manchester, 1824–5). This work begins with an 'Ancient History of Lancashire,' which he maintains was peopled by colonists of a 'German or Gothic' origin, and frequent visits to the west of Europe confirmed him, he says, in this belief (Introduction, pp. 9, 10). He became about this time very intimate with the inventor Samuel Crompton, also a Bolton man, and, laying his 'History of Bolton' aside, drew up 'The Basis of Mr. Samuel Crompton's Claims to a second Remuneration from Parliament for his Discovery of the Mule Spinning-machine' (1825, reprinted Manchester, 1868). Moving to London, Brown there prepared a memorial on this subject, dated May 1825, addressed to the lords of the treasury, and numerously signed by the inhabitants of Bolton, with a petition to the House of Commons (6 Feb. 1826) on the part of Crompton, which briefly narrates the grounds of his claim (Appendix to Crompton's Life, p. 281). 'There is abundant evidence,' says French, the biographer of Crompton, 'that Brown was indefatigable in his endeavours to procure a favourable consideration of Crompton's case from the government of the day.' He was, however, completely unsuccessful, owing, as he wrote to Crompton, to secret opposition on the part of 'your primitive enemy,' as he called the first Sir Robert Peel. Further efforts were rendered useless by the death of the inventor in June 1827, and Brown did not long survive him. His life in the metropolis was in all ways unsuccessful, and in despair he committed suicide in his Loudon lodgings in 1829. A posthumous work of his of sixty-two pages was published in 1832 at Manchester. It is entitled 'A Memoir of Robert Blincoe, an orphan boy sent from the workhouse of St. Pancras, London, at seven years of age to endure the horrors of a cotton mill.'

[Life and Times of Samuel Crompton, by G. J. French (2nd ed. Manchester, 1860); Fishwick's Lancishire Library (1875); Sutton's Lancashire Authors (Manchester, 1876).]

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