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?
The Cecil County, Maryland BrowningsWhat 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.
Brownings In Kent County, Maryland
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
|1778 Tax List Montgomery County, Maryland|