Brownlee History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Brownlee family

The surname Brownlee was first found in Scotland where "Wedow" Brounlees was tenant on lands under Newbotle Abbey in 1563. Later, "Gavin Brwnelie was heir to James Brwnelie in Kinpuntmyln, 1608 and Issobell Brounleis was tenant on lands of Kelso Abbey in 1567. Janet Brownlee or Brownlees is recorded in Ersiltoune, 1653, John Brounllyes in Chappell, 1659, and James Brounleyis there in 1661. Nathaniel Brounlie in Mauldslie, 1685, and John Brounlie in Toun of Belsraine, parish of Carluke, 1624, and five more are recorded in Lanark Commissariot Record. " [1]

In England, Robert de Browlegh was listed in the Assize Rolls for Staffordshire in 1310 and later, Cuthbert Brownles was a Freeman of York in 1485. This branch is from Brownlee, in Scotland, meaning "'dweller at the brown clearing" [2]

Early History of the Brownlee family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brownlee research. Another 129 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1886, 1560, 1567, 1553, 1638, 1553, 1583, 1606, 1591, 1637, 1638 and are included under the topic Early Brownlee History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Brownlee Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Brownlee family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Richard Brownlow (1553-1638), chief prothonotary of the court of common pleas, the son of John Brownlow of High Holborn, by a daughter of Sir John Zouch of Stoughton Grange, Leicestershire. "He was born 2 April 1553, and baptised 12 April at St. Andrew's, Holborn. In 1583 he was entered at the Inner Temple, and was treasurer of that society in 1606. On 9 Oct. 1591 he was made chief prothonotary of the court of common pleas, which office he continued to hold until his death, deriving from it an annual profit of...
Another 99 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Brownlee Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Brownlee Ranking

In the United States, the name Brownlee is the 2,752nd most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [3]

Ireland Migration of the Brownlee family to Ireland

Some of the Brownlee family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 74 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Brownlee migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 18th Century
  • Alice, Ann, George, James, Jane, John Brownlee, who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1770
Brownlee Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Craig Brownlee, who arrived in America in 1808 [4]
  • John Brownlee, who landed in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1820 [4]
  • James Brownlee, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1856 [4]
  • Robert, Thomas and William Brownlee, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1813 and 1866
  • Robert Brownlee, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1868 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Brownlee migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Brownlee Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Alice Brownlee, aged 18, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Aliquis"
  • Mary Ann Brownlee, aged 22, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Aliquis"
  • Mary Brownlee, aged 18, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Bucephalus"

New Zealand Brownlee migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Brownlee Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Brownlee, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Bruce" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 12th September 1860 [5]
  • Mr. Gavin Brownlee, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Bruce" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 12th September 1860 [5]
  • J. Brownlee, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ulcoats" in 1864

Contemporary Notables of the name Brownlee (post 1700) +

  • Robert Gregg Brownlee (1942-1991), American chemist from South Dakota, founder of Brownlee Labs in the 1970s
  • Romer Leslie "Les" Brownlee, American Army officer and politician, Acting United States Secretary of the Army (2003-2004), United States Under Secretary of the Army (2001-2004)
  • William Craig Brownlee (1784-1860), Scottish-born, American clergyman
  • Edward Malcolm Brownlee, American sculptor
  • Donald E. Brownlee, American astronomer
  • Frank Brownlee (1874-1948), American film actor
  • Derek Brownlee (b. 1974), Scottish politician
  • Alistair Edward Brownlee M.B.E., (b. 1988), British triathlete. He holds two Olympic titles in the triathlon event, winning gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games and won Olympic Gold. He is also a two-time Triathlon World Champion (2009, 2011), a two-time World Team Champion (2011, 2014), a four-time European Champion (2010, 2011, 2014, 2019), and the 2014 Commonwealth champion. He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2013, he came 2nd in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in 2016
  • Mrs. Sarah Roberta Brownlee M.B.E., Irish Chair for Southern Health and Social Care Trust Northern Ireland, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to Health and Social Care and charitable Fundraising [6]
  • John Edward Brownlee (1884-1961), Canadian politician, 5th Premier of Alberta (1925 to 1934)
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


Suggested Readings for the name Brownlee +

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

  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. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, www.thegazette.co.uk/honours-lists


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