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

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

In ancient Scotland, Brownlee was a Strathclyde-Briton name for someone who lived in either of two settlements called Brownlee in the counties of Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.


In Medieval times, spelling and translation were not nearly so highly developed as today. They were generally carried out according to the sound and intuition of the bearer. For that reason spelling variations are extremely common among early Scottish names. Brownlee has been spelled Brownlee, Brownlea, Brownlie, Brownlees, Brownley, Brownlow, Brownless, Brownlee, Brunlee, Brunlees, Brownleis, Brounley and many more.

First found in Belton, in Lincolnshire, where conjecturally they were descended from Gautier d'Aincourt, who was of Royal blood, related to King William's younger brother, a Norman Baron who was granted those lands by William the Conqueror for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brownlee research. Another 367 words(26 lines of text) covering the years 1560, 1567, and 1886 are included under the topic Early Brownlee History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Brownlee Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Brownlee family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 108 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Unrest, poverty, and persecution caused thousands to look for opportunity and freedom in the North American colonies. The crossing was long, overcrowded, and unsanitary, though, and came only at great expense. Many Strathclyde families settled on the east coast of North America in communities that would form the backbone of what would become the great nations of the United States and Canada. The American War of Independence caused those who remained loyal to England to move north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the 20th century, Strathclyde and other Scottish families across North America began to recover their collective heritage through highland games and Clan societies. Among them:

Brownlee Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Alice, Ann, George, James, Jane, John Brownlee settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1770

Brownlee Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • William Craig Brownlee, who arrived in America in 1808
  • John Brownlee, who landed in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1820
  • James Brownlee, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1856
  • Robert, Thomas and William Brownlee landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1813 and 1866
  • Robert Brownlee, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1868


  • Frank Brownlee (1874-1948), American film actor
  • Donald E. Brownlee, American astronomer
  • Edward Malcolm Brownlee, American sculptor
  • Robert Gregg Brownlee (1942-1991), American chemist
  • William Craig Brownlee (1784-1860), Scottish-born, American clergyman
  • Les Brownlee, American Army officer and politician
  • Derek Brownlee (b. 1974), Scottish politician
  • Gerard Anthony Brownlee (b. 1956), New Zealand politician
  • John Brownlee (1900-1969), famous Australian opera singer from the early 20th Century
  • John Brownlee (1868-1927), British statistician



  • Genealogical record of the McDonalds, Logans, Dicksons, Brownlees by Daniel McDonald.

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  1. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  2. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  4. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  5. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  6. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  7. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  11. ...

The Brownlee Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Brownlee 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 30 July 2014 at 13:55.

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