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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Scottish

Where did the English Brown family come from? What is the English Brown family crest and coat of arms? When did the Brown family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Brown family history?

The Brown family name is thought to be of Norman origins. It comes from an early member of the family who was a person who has brown hair or brown eyes, or dresses habitually in brown. The name springs from similar roots in Old English, Old English, Old Norse, Old French, Old German. It is also possible that a given instance of the name is derived from a short form of an Old English personal name such as Brunwine or Brungar.


Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Brown, Broun, Brun and others.

First found in Cumberland, where the Brown family held a family seat and claim descent from Le Brun in Normandy, who was granted many estates there soon after the Conquest. However, many of the family remained in Normandy where Gilbert and William le Brun were listed in 1185. [1]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brown research. Another 197 words(14 lines of text) covering the years 1443, 1506, 1610, 1669, 1605, 1682, 1610, 1682, 1605, 1682, 1641, 1660, 1634, 1684, 1660, 1661, 1616, 1685, 1661, 1626, 1690, 1659, 1688, 1598, 1668, 1642, 1702, 1685, 1735, 1721 and are included under the topic Early Brown History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 417 words(30 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Brown Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Brown family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 123 words(9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Brown or a variant listed above:

Brown Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Edmund Brown, who arrived in New England in 1637
  • Chad Brown, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1638
  • Debora Brown, who landed in Virginia in 1647
  • Hester Brown, who arrived in Virginia in 1650
  • In Brown, who landed in Virginia in 1653

Brown Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Ellinor Brown, who arrived in Virginia in 1700
  • Duksell Brown, who landed in Virginia in 1701
  • Bridgett Brown, who landed in Virginia in 1713
  • Ellen Brown, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Christ Brown, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1729

Brown Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Godlip Brown, who landed in New York in 1801
  • Biddy Brown, aged 38, landed in America in 1803
  • Barbara Brown, aged 18, landed in New York, NY in 1804
  • Widow Brown, aged 60, arrived in New York, NY in 1804
  • Hamilton Brown, aged 35, arrived in New York, NY in 1804

Brown Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Edward Alfonso Brown, who arrived in Alabama in 1918
  • Fred Edgerton Brown, who arrived in Alabama in 1925
  • Hannah M Brown, who arrived in Alabama in 1927


  • Ray Brown (1926-2002), American jazz bassist
  • James Brown (1933-2006), American R&B musician known as the "Godfather of Soul"
  • David McDowell Brown (1956-2003), one of the seven astronauts killed when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up during reentry
  • Curtis Lee Brown Jr. (b. 1956), former NASA Astronaut with over 1,383 hours in space
  • Angeline Brown (b. 1931), birth name of Angie Dickinson, American two-time Golden Globe Award winning actress
  • Helen Hayes Brown (1900-1993), original name of American Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hayes
  • Clifford Brown (1930-1956), influential and highly rated American jazz trumpeter
  • Carlos Brown (b. 1988), American NFL football running back
  • Henry Kirke Brown (1814-1886), American sculptor
  • Herbert Charles Brown (b. 1912), American chemist and Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate for his work with organoboranes



  • Burgess, Mullins, Browning, Brown, and Allied Families by James A. Burgess.
  • Ancestors and Descendants of Henry Marion Murphy and Anna Jane Brown by Lera Murphy Johnson.
  • Brown and Sayre Ancestry; Three Centuries in Northern New Jersey by Mortimer Freeman Sayre.
  • Brown (Browne) and the Descendants in Carolina Today by Joseph Parsons Brown.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Floreat majestas
Motto Translation: Let majesty flourish


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  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)

Other References

  1. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  2. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  3. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  4. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  6. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  8. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  9. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  10. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  11. ...

The Brown Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Brown Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 31 October 2014 at 13:05.

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