Peter Browne


BAPTISM:  26 January 1594/5 at Dorking, co. Surrey, England, son of William Browne.
FIRST MARRIAGE:  Mrs. Martha Ford, widow, by about 1626, at Plymouth.
SECOND MARRIAGE:  Mary, by about 1631, at Plymouth.
CHILDREN (by Martha):  Mary, Priscilla
CHILDREN (by Mary): Rebecca, and a child whose name has not been discovered.
DEATH:  1633, probably in the autumn when a sickness was spreading through Plymouth.


Peter Browne's English origins were discovered in 2004, when I published the results of my research into his origins in The American Genealogist, 79(July 2004):161-178. Peter Browne was baptized in Dorking, co. Surrey, England on 26 January 1594/5, the son of William Browne. The Browne family appears to have had several associations with the Mullins family of Dorking, who also came on the Mayflower. Peter Browne's brother John Browne came to Plymouth Colony about 1632 and settled in Duxbury, the next town just to the north of Plymouth. John Browne was baptized in Dorking on 29 June 1600.

On 12 January 1621, Peter Browne and John Goodman had been cutting thatch for house roofing all morning. They ate some meat and went for a short walk to refresh themselves, when their two dogs (an English mastiff and a English spaniel) spied a great deer and gave chance. Peter and John followed and quickly got lost. They wandered around the entire afternoon in the rain, and spent the night in a tree (and pacing back and forth under it) fearing that they had heard lions roaring in the woods. The next day they made their way up a hill, spotted the Bay, reoriented themselves, and made it back home to an extremely worried Colony that had already sent out two exploring parties in an attempt to find them.

This oak and birch tankard is believed to have belonged to Mayflower passenger Peter Browne.  It is on display at the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth. 

In a partial list of the house locations of the Pilgrims made out in 1620, John Goodman and Peter Browne appear to have been neighbors on the south side of the Street and the ocean side of the Highway. Peter Browne was apparently still living there during the 1623 Division of Land. By about 1626, he married Martha Ford, who arrived as one of the only female passengers on the ship Fortune in 1621. She gave birth almost immediately after arriving, but husband Ford apparently died during the voyage or shortly after arrival. In the 1627 Division of Cattle he, his wife Martha (Ford), his daughter Mary Browne, and his stepchildren John and Martha Ford were included with the Samuel Fuller and Anthony Anable families. About a year later, Peter and Martha would have daughter Priscilla (perhaps named after Mayflower passenger Priscilla Mullins who was also from Dorking), but wife Martha would die shortly thereafter. Peter remarried to a woman named Mary, whose maiden name has not been discovered. With her, he had a daughter Rebecca born about 1631, and another child who was born about 1633 and died before reaching adulthood (the name of this child has not been discovered).

Peter Browne died in 1633, probably during the general sickness that occurred that autumn and also killed neighbor Samuel Fuller, Mayflower passenger Francis Eaton, and several others in Plymouth. His estate inventory, taken 10 October 1633, shows that he owned 130 bushels of corn, six melch goats, one cow, eight sheep, and a number of pigs, among other things.  Peter Browne and his brothers were all weavers, which explains why he had more sheep than anyone else in Plymouth at the time.