Friday, December 22, 2017

Maryland Browning Research

Now that so many more original documents are online I'm taking the opportunity to collect more information on all my lines. I'm attempting to confirm some of the trees I've found online using these documents.

This week I'm working on confirming the Browning line. Back when FamilySearch went online in May of 1999 the only family I was able to find was the Browning family. According to this patron contributed database information my Browning line went back to Francis Browning and Rachel Marriott who settled in Maryland in the late 1600's.

I have not found any evidence that Francis Browning and Rachel Marriott were the parents of my ancestor Edward Browning. I have been able to prove my line back to Edward Browning and wife Elizabeth who first appears in Montgomery County, Maryland in 1758. Someone stated they found this Edward in the same area in 1736, but I have not found anything confirming that.

Here is what can be pieced together using early Maryland surviving documents. What we know about the first Browning family to settle in Maryland comes from John Browning. He needed to establish a legal claim to his deceased father's property. In 1679 he swore to the fact that he was Thomas Browning's son, and that Thomas Browning  transported 9 people to Maryland and received headright land for that in 1664. Thomas Browning's wife was said to be Hester and she does appear as one transported by him in 1665. Also transported was his son John.

John Browning of Cecil County, Thomas's son,  transported Eliza, George, Thomas, and Hester Browning. John did have a wife named Elizabeth? This Eliza could be John's wife. The other Brownings named could be John's children?

Some think that Thomas and Hester originally settled in Lancaster County, Virginia in the 1650's? There were a number of Browning in Virginia in the early to mid 17th century. A John Browning was a Jamestown settler. It's thought Thomas might descend from him or be related in some way?

Francis Browning is the man my line is said to descend from. There are two Francis Brownings listed in "The New Early Settlers of Maryland" by Dr. Carson Gibb. The one in St. Mary's county was an indentured servant. I'm not sure our Francis was the same person listed as being transported in 1670? Some evidence seems to suggest he isn't. The indentured servant may not be a Browning as his name is sometimes spelled Brown or Browne. He was described as a boy in 1678. If our Francis Browning was born in the 1670's it is unlikely the indentured servant was his father.     

There appears to be a different Francis who is said to have be born in America to Thomas Browning and Hester or their son John? According to the author Richey Tracks of the book "Browning family revision, includes related lines: of Hickman-Lewis-Lloyd-Moore", "Francis  was born about 1672, probably in Cecil County, ... Court Minutes of Cecil County, Maryland, dated November 9, 1698, record a suit by Edward Skidmore against Francis Browning for the settlement of a small debt." Is this really a different Francis Browning? The Thomas Browning and wife Hester's family is fairly well off. They had connections to trade in Jamaica and Barbados.The Francis that settled in Virginia was fairly well off too. One of the Brownings in Maryland mentioned some land he owned in Virginia. John Browning who died in 1741 in Kent County, Maryland said he owned land in Virginia, plus mentioned the name of someone living in Orange County, Virginia. It is possible that we are descended from the indentured servant, or the Thomas Browning and Hester family? The only way to confirm if there is a relationship with this couple is through a Browning Y DNA study.


Some believe Francis Browning returned to England with his mother Hester and siblings. They believe this is the family listed on the 1696 Census for Gloucesterhire England. Someone looked into that and found a Francis Browning who remained in that area years after Francis of Virginia was already in America. Doesn't sound promising. Although some DNA testing may be proving the Gloucestershire roots?

What we know for certain is the Kent County and Cecil County, Maryland Brownings are descended from Thomas Browning and wife Hester.

The Cecil County, Maryland Brownings

What we also know for certain is Browning's Plantation in Baltimore County, Maryland, now Cecil County, was purchased from Abraham Morgan who patented it in 1664, and it was sold in 1672 by John Browning and wife Elizabeth . The land was purchased by Thomas Browning referred to as John's father in this deed.

In 1679 John claimed his father Thomas Browning's headright. Apparently that Thomas was dead by 1679. Here is a portion of the letter granting John his father's land:

In 1690 an inventory is recorded for a John Browning in Cecil County, Maryland.

There is a Thomas Browning married to a wife named Anne who appears in late 17th century Cecil County records. I had thought Hester died and John's father Thomas remarried? It seems more likely that he is another son of Thomas and Hester, or a grandson of theirs through their son John? Thomas had a daughter named Ester. The names Ester and Hester were interchangeable, which suggests this Thomas is descended from Thomas and Hester.

I'm confused by a court record which names Anne Browning as a relict, widow, in February 1695. This record describes Anne as the Administrix of Darby Nolan. In June of 1694 she is referred to and signs a bond along with her husband Thomas regarding the same Darby Nolan estate. In 1696 there is still a Thomas is Cecil County, so I don't believe she was widowed by Thomas yet. She must have been Darby Nolan's widow. This Thomas has a daughter named Ester.

The only thing I'm confident about is the Cecil and Kent County Brownings are related. We know Hester and Thomas are parents of the John who died in 1690 in Cecil County. We know there was a younger Thomas who died in 1721, in Cecil County, and is related, and is likely a descendant or another son of Thomas and Hester. George Browning is transported by John Browning of Cecil County and is definitely related, and could be his son. We don't know if Francis is related? The only way to prove it is through a Y DNA test.

In 1702 George and Mary Browning sell land in Cecil County, Maryland.
In 1702 Thomas buys land in Cecil County from Matthias Smith.
In 1702 John and Thomas sell land in Cecil County together. It appears they weren't married as no wives are mentioned They sold the land to James Watkins. (interesting that much later a Jeremiah Watkin's was involved in a suit over Edward Browning's will).
In 1708 Thomas Browning of Cecil County, Maryland and Ann Browning buy and sell land. Interesting a parcel they sold is situated on Captain John's Creek. I wonder if this is Capt. John Browning?  This Thomas Browning dies in 1721 leaving estate to sons Thomas and William. A daughter Ester (Hester), and possibly a daughter Elizabeth.

The Cecil County, Maryland Brownings were later listed in Kent County, Maryland records. It looks like the family migrated to neighboring Kent County.

Brownings In Kent County, Maryland

George Browning left a will dated 1732 in Kent. Leaving his estate to his siblings, Elizabeth and Mary,
Another George Browning died in 1735. He said his father was also named George Browning. He names no wife or children.
A Thomas Browning dies in Kent in 1739. He leaves his estate to his sons William,  John, his wife Joan, and a Martha Browning.
John Browning of Kent County died in Kent County, Maryland 1741. He mentions Orange County, Virginia in his will. He leaves his estate to eldest son Writson, and sons John, Thomas, George, Nicholas, and daughter Rosamond . He mentions a brother George. Wife was Rachel. He owns land in Virginia called Brownings Choice.

Writson Browning died in 1769. Sons Joshua, John Writson , Joshua, George, and Thomas. Daughters Elizabeth and Cornelia. They owned some very expensive furnishings. He willed a tea set, and silver spoons to a daughter. He also willed some expensive furniture such as beds and a dressing table.
Sary died in Kent County, Maryland in 1775. She sounds like Writson Browning's wife. She has a son named John Writson Browning.  Also son's George, Thomas. Daughters Cornealey and Elizabeth.

Thomas Browning and Mary Ward of Kent County, Maryland married 27 April 1708. Their family is listed in the St. Paul's Church records of Kent County, Maryland. 

St. Paul's Church record

The Montgomery and Frederick County, Maryland Brownings

Moving on to the Edward Browning and Elizabeth family. Edward's children are listed in his 1760's will.

I'm confident with my Browning lineage back to Edward Browning who died in 1788. He may have been born around  1700. There is an Edward Browning who appears in Maryland records beginning in 1706. Could this be Edward's father? It's possible that Thomas Browning and Hester's son John was Edward's father? It's possible the indentured servant Francis, or another Edward Browning was his father?

My confidence in the fact Montgomery County , Maryland family is Roger's family stems from the fact Benjamin Browning, confirmed son of Edward, left his estate to his his eldest son Roger. He followed the English tradition of primogeniture. The fact Roger Browning lived in Tennessee and doesn't state he is from Maryland in any surviving documents may cause us to question this connection? The naming patterns in the Roger Browning family are similar to those of the Edward Browning family. Edward had sons named Benjamin and Nathan, and so did Roger. Also one of Roger's grandchildren, Jesse, knew there was a connection to Maryland even though he were born in Tennessee.  Several of Nathan Browning's children, Roger's grandchildren, stated their father Nathan was born in Virginia, according to the 1880 and 1900 Censuses. My mother has a solid AncestryDNA match to a confirmed Edward Browning descendant, who descends from Eli Browning.

Autosomal DNA testing suggests that our Brownings may be related to the Francis Browning family of Culpepper County, Virginia. My mother has some DNA matches with their Browning descendants. A Caleb Browning descendant is one of her matches.  Also a segment from someone claiming to descend from Francis Browning and Rachel Marriott overlaps a confirmed Browning match, who descends through a Catherine Browning.

 In 1706 an Edward Browning is listed as living in Baltimore's Spes Utiz Hundred.

An Edward Browning was referred to in the 1708 estate papers of John Hunt of Philadelphia. The executor was Richard Bennett of Queen Anne's County, Maryland (some of Edward's children were married in Philadelphia).
Also in 1708 according to the book "Abstracts of the Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative", by Skinner, Edward Browning was executor of James Mackneale, "per Mr. Vanderheyen." This was in Kent County, Maryland.

I'm not sure who this early Edward Browning was?
About 1725 is the year Edward's son Jonathan Browning was likely born according the "History of western Maryland : being a history of Frederick, Montgomery, Carroll, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties from the earliest period to the present day" printed in 1892.
We first find Edward and sons listed in the land patents records for Frederick County, Maryland. Edward is the first to patent land in 1758 with his sons following suit.
Edward Browning sold land called Friendship Running and Bounding in Frederick County, Maryland in August of 1769 to his son Jeremiah. He gave a tract called Friendship Beginning to his son Benjamin. Edward stated he gave the land to Jeremiah in consideration of "natural love and affection." Parents generally transferred land to children with the consideration being love and affection. 
Edward Browning Jr. bought a parcel of land called Snowden's Manor, from Richard Snowden in 1760 in Frederick county, Maryland. The land was said to be near James Duncaster's land. Edward paid with English sterling. Not sure if that is a hint this family came from England more recently? The fact the Junior Edward purchased land in 1760 would suggest he was over 20 years old. This would mean he was likely born before 1740. Giving us a hint of Edward Sr.'s age.
In 1755 brothers Benjamin and Jonathan Browning along with Jeremiah Prather were charged with "breach of the peace ignoramous."  They forced their way into the plantation of John Davis and assaulted his son Charles Davis according to "This was the Life: Excerpts from the Judgment Records of Frederick County , Maryland 1748-1765."
In 1768 Edward Browning and Samuel Waters are summoned to court in Frederick County "to show cause why they do not account for crops on Plantation." This is regards the estate of Edward Browning's father-in-law Eller Burton, through his second marriage to Drusilla Burton.
In 1784 in Montgomery County, Maryland Edward Browning Sr.'s son Benjamin (my ancestor) sells Friendship to Ashor Laton. Friendship was in Frederick County when Benjamin's father gave the land to him in 1769. Montgomery County wasn't formed until 1776. A problem I spotted with the 1784 deed was Ann was named as Benjamin's wife not Mary (as in Mary Abbott).
In 1783 in Montgomery County, Maryland Edward Browning Jr. sold a 23 year old slave named Doll to Jonathon Nixon for 8000 pounds of Tobacco.
In 1779 Edward and Jeremiah Browning. sold another portion of the parcel Friendship. They sold it to Samuel Phillips of Montgomery County, Maryland. Jeremiah's wife is named  as Cassandria.
The 1778 Tax list for Linganore Hundred Montgomery County. Maryland below.
1778 Tax List Montgomery County, Maryland

Tax list 1783 Montgomery County, Maryland

Archibald Browning. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Basil Browning. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Edward Browning. No Name, 30 acres. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Edward Browning, Sr. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Edward Browning, Sr. Fancy, 10 acres. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Edward Browning, Sr. Red Oak Slip, 140 acres. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Jonathan Browning. Long Looked For, pt, 44 acres. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Jonathan Browning. Maple Branch, 300 acres. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Jonathan Browning, Jr. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Jonathan Browning, Sr. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Virlinda Browning. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Virlinda Browning. Timber Neck, pt, 100 acres. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Virlinda Browning. What You Please, 50 acres. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
Volinda Browning. Hope Improved, pt, 24 acres. MO Linganore and Sugar Loaf Hundred
6 September 1804 is the date of the death of Jonathon Browning son of Edward.

Edward Browning died in 1788.

On 10 June 1788 Elizabeth Sampson of Montgomery County, Maryland appeared in court regarding the destruction of Edward Browning's will. If there are any surviving documents they could help us name many of Edwards descendants.

In closing I have to reiterate we have no documentation regarding the parents of Edward Browning born about 1700 of Frederick and Montgomery Counties, or Francis Browning of Culpepper County, Virginia. We do have some atDNA matches suggesting Edward and Francis might be related.    


Unknown said...

My earliest known Browning ancestor is Eli B. Browning, born 1772 in Maryland, died 1857 in Monroe County, Georgia.

You mention an Eli Browning in this blog post -- don't believe we're talking the same person -- but do you have more information on this Eli.

I have done DNA testing through Family Tree DNA and bases on matches of other users and my own research, I'm fairly convinced my Eli belongs with the Edward Browning/Mary Elizabeth Baker line somewhere. But where is a mystery.

Mack Browning

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Francis Browning Research said...

Try Galston Parrish.