Brown Family History & Genealogy

656,119 biographies and 839 photos with the Brown last name. Discover the family history, nationality, origin and common names of Brown family members.

Brown Last Name History & Origin



According to one branch of the Brown family, the surname is primarily English, Scottish, and/or Irish.  The surname Brown comes from a nickname, describing the hair and/or complexion of the person.  The surname has roots in Middle English, Old English, Old French, Old Norse, and Germanic languages.


My ancestors were from Ireland and it was spelled Browne. I’m told my great grandfather Clem Brown started to randomly drop the e at the end and then it became that way.

Name Origin

Brown is generally a nickname referring to the color of the hair or complexion, Middle English br(o)un, from Old English brūn or Old French brun. This word is occasionally found in Old English and Old Norse as a personal name or byname. Brun- was also a Germanic name-forming element. Some instances of Old English Brūn as a personal name may therefore be short forms of compound names such as Brūngar, Brūnwine, etc. As a Scottish and Irish name, it sometimes represents a translation of the Gaelic word Donn.

Spellings & Pronunciations


Nationality & Ethnicity

The last name Brown is of equally English, Irish, and Scottish origin. According to one branch of the Brown family, the family is English, Scottish, and Irish.

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Early Browns

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Unknown User commented on Dec 01, 2002
From Cope's "BROWNS OF NOTTINGHAM" 1846, page 2. A paper read at East Nottingham monthly meeting 28th of the 1st month of 1786.

"After the said Richard Brown's convincement his landlord sent him a couple of young hounds to feed and raise for him, being a wild airy man and given to sporting and merriment, but his tenant was not free to give countenance to such vain diversions and there fore did not comply with his desires, at which his landlord was much displeased, and Richard having generally paid his rent at a set time every half year to a steward appointed to receive the rents, he had not been careful to demand receipts, the steward appearing honest and trusty; but the landlord out of humour with him as above hinted, taking advantage of his neglect, came and demanded the rent. Richard told him it was paid at the proper day. The landlord then queried if he had a receipt, to whom he answered "No", as he had not been in the way of asking receipts, expecting there would be no occasion; yet the cruel man said "except you will take your oath that it is paid, you shall pay it to me;" and being of tender conscience on that account because he believed our Saviour had forbidden all swearing this Friend had to pay his rent over again.

After this the landlord was bitter and not fond of seeing him, being probably condemned in himself for such usage, yet turned him off the farm, and Friends at that time being viewed in an unfavourable light by many because of their singuarity and concientious scruples in divers matters which differed from the corrupt ways of the world, it occasioned him considerable difficulty before he found another farm to settle on to his mind. From his industry and upright conduct on the second farm he was in good repute and much in favor with his new landlord. The Lord prospered him in his worldly affairs and otherwise.
Joanne Smith commented on Dec 01, 2002
Ever since I was a little girl, I was told a story about this Grandmother So-and-So who during a War went and rescued her husband. Almost 30 years later, I finally found out exactly who she is! Her name was born Virginia Jane Osborn, she was my Great-great-great-grandmother, but later in her life she was known as "Jenny Brown". Her tombstone reads just that and the year she died.
Jenny Brown was born in 1832 to Leonard Osborne and Elizabeth Melone in Greenbrier, Virginia(now WVA). She married David Fox sometime before the start of the Civil War. I have yet to find when David Fox died, but I have found from different versions of the same story that I was told by my Grandfather, that he died in Richmond, Va.
The real story, I believe, is that she did not "rescue" her husband, but instead travelled from Greenbrier, WVA to Richmond, Va with a wagon to retrieve her deceased husband.
Later in March of 1865, Jenny Brown, listed as Jane Fox, married Tinsley Brown,who was to become the father of My Great-great grandmother Martha Ann "Mattie" Brown.
It doesn't really matter which story is true or whether nothing heroic happened at all. To me, it is just cool, to finally see the Infamous "Jenny Brown",Grandmother Brown, in a photo!
Paul Brown commented on Dec 01, 2002
North Carolina Will Abstracts, 1760-1800
the North Carolina Wills
page 270
[p.270] 1772 BROWN, WILLIAM, Margaret (wife), William, John, James, Susannah, Elizabeth, Margaret; also Robeson, Charity; Elliott, Constant; Wynn, Constant.

Transcribed by Kristine A. Card 8 August 1985
This will is in the State Archives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The will is in good condition. The paper is a light brown color and the ink is dark brown, but it is very readable. The will was folded in half right along the line which reads "I give and bequeath to my daughter Margaret Brown one Cow and one year old lamb and". The ink on this line is much more faded than the rest of the document, but it is still readable. However, it is easy to see how the line could be missed if not studied with care.
The will was obviously written by a scribe and William Brown signed with his mark. The mark is visible between the words William and Brown with the word his over it and the word mark below. The mark is difficult to describe. There is a strong slanted line as in the letter X from upper right to lower left. The cross the other direction is very short and faint above the line of the other diagonal and below is looped and bent.
Almost every word was readable. The few words that were questionable I have marked with a question mark in brackets following the word, like this [?]. Also in one instance the word my was written where I believe he meant may. I have put may in brackets following my. I have done the same with Being [been].
I have kept all spellings as they are in the original document and capitalization’s as best I could determine. I have preserved all line divisions; because his lines are longer than mine, I have indented all continuations. There were no indentations in the original.
After the final word in the first paragraph, following, there is a broken line (dashes) from the end of the word to the right edge of the paper; likewise after the word distributed in the next sentence. At the end of each sentence that begins "I give and bequeath" there is a solid line from the last word to the right edge of the paper.
The word Seal after the name of William Brown is encircled with small, continuous arches, each interior point looped in a small circle. The best description I can think of is an elementary drawing of a cloud.
After the names of witnesses John Bentley and John Northen, there is something written in very small letters. It looks like the two are identical, and I believe both begin with the letter I, but that is all I could determine
In the Name of god Amen I William Brown of the County of Roann in
The province of North
Carolina being of a perfect and sound memory tho of a Weak and
frail body and Calling to mind
that it is appointed for all men once to Die do Constitute and
appoint this my last Will and testament
Revoking and disannulling all other heartofore made by me:
Imprimis I give my Body to the
ground from Whence it was first taken and Recommend my Soul into
the hands of almighty
god Beseeching his most gracious acceptance of it: as to my
Burial I desire it my [may] be neat [?] and
decent without pomp or pride according to the Discretion of my
Executors hear after named
and as to this Wordly Estate it has Being [been] the almightys
pleasure to bestow upon me I Will
and desire in manner following…
I will that all my Just Debts be Justly payd before my Estate be
I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Margret Brown my
Improvement where I now
live and all my houshold furniture and my sheep and my work
horses and nine head of
Cattle and my hogs and my plantation working tools during her
natural life
I give and bequeath to my daughter Charity Robson one shilling
sterling and that is all I will give her
I give and bequeath to my daughter hannah Elliot one shilling
sterling and that is all I shall give her
I give and bequeath to my son William Brown one Cow and that is
all I shall give him
I give and bequeath to my son John Brown one sorril hors and that
is all I shall give him
I give and bequeath to my son James Brown one horse Colt and that
is all I shall give him
I give and bequeath to my daughter Constant wynn one Cow and that
is all I shall give her
I give and bequeath to my daughter Susannah Brown one Cow and
that is all I shall give her
I give and bequeath to my duaghter Elizabeth Brown one Cow and
that is all I shall give her
I give and bequeath to my daughter Margret Brown one Cow and on
Year old [?] lamb and
that is all I shall give her
I give and bequeath to my grandaughter Margret Brown the daughter
of Susannah
Brown one heifer Calf and that is all I shall give her
and the Remainder of my Estate If there be any left I leave unto
the disposial
of my wife Margret Brown
I do hearby through the love and goodwill I Bear to my well
beloved friend Henry
Strange appoint him with my well beloved wife Margret Brown as
Executor and
Executrix of this my last will and testament depending on their
faithfull discharge
In witness where of I have here unto set my hand and Seal this
nineteenth day of february
In the year of our lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy
Sind Seald and acknoledged in the
presence of us his
John Bentley William Brown Seal
Abner Cotton mark
John Northen

Note: See my profile for an image of this will or emailme at [contact link]
Vivian Brown commented on Aug 28, 2004
Michael Brown late of Jennings township, was born in Lebanon Co. Penn., where he resided till 1835, when he removed with his family in a one-horse wagon to this county, but settled first in Union Co, IN. He had nine children, four of whom were born in Penn: Samuel, Cyrus, Mary and Catherina - others: Elizabeth, Daniel, Hettie, Henry and John. Mr. Brown died Nov. 13, 1979, his wife having preceded him Aug. 19, 1879. Both were members of the Lutheran church. Samuel Brown was born in Lebanon Co. PA Jan. 21, 1822. His brother Daniel also settled in Fayette County in E. Connersville. Being a poor boy, his education advantages were very much curtailed by his having to work for a living. He started out in harvest fields at $8.00 per month and got a start. His first marriage in 1841, was with Elizabeth, dau. Of Garland Stanley (deceased 1813 Campbell Co. Tenn.) and his widow Eleanor (Nellie) Noble Stanley who came to Union Co., IN in 1822 and then to Jennings Twnshp, Fayette Co. Albert S. and Preston were born to this union. Mrs. Brown died in 1848 at the age 31 years. In 1849 he married for his second wife Sarah Stanley, sister of his first wife. Nathan and Joseph were born to them. This Mrs. Brown died in 1867, aged 64 years. In 1869 Mr. Brown then married for his third wife, Sarah Ellen, dau. Of Nathan Stanley, who has borne him one child, Charley. Samuel Brown has prospered in life, and now owns 174 acres of excellent land , after settling his children in good homes, he is a self-made man In the strongest sense of the word, and is a respected and progressive citizen. He has held the office of Township Trustee seven years, and in the transaction of public business has shown good executive ability. (Taken from History of Fayette Co. IN 1885) Michael Brown married Mary Rudy . Michael buried in Fayette Co. Michael is father of Samuel Brown who married Elizabeth Stanley. Samuel Brown is father of Preston Brown who was married to Florence Moore. Preston was father of Walter Brown who was married to Mary Reisinger. Walter was father of Louis Albert Brown who married Kathryn Neff Cooney. Louis and Kathryn Brown were parents to Charles W. Brown and Sally Irene Brown Cook.
Patricia Darling commented on Apr 29, 2006
Harvey M. Brown was born in 1834 Madison, New York to Harvey M. Brown, MD, and Sarah Ann Nichols, four months after the death of his father. As a small child he stayed with his mother’s relatives in Clarendon, New York while his mother was working in a school. Shortly before his fifth birthday his mother married Shubael Lewis, They moved to the Kenosha, Wisconsin area, which was unsettled at that time, and little more than dense woods. Here Sarah gave birth to five children while living in a shack in the woods, all alone. Harvey lived in Clarendon with his grandfather Lewis for a number of years so he could attend school.
At the time of the California gold rush Shubael decided he must go to California to look for gold. Leaving his family behind, Shubael took off for California, and was never seen again.
Shubael’s brother, James Lewis, had started a law practice in Columbus, Wisconsin, and encouraged Sarah and her children to move there. This she did, setting up a small boarding house for the support of herself and her children.
At this time Harvey, a lad of sixteen, was in Madison serving an apprenticeship to a printer. In 1851, his training complete, he did not have the money to make the trip to Columbus where his mother was living. However, being the enterprising young man that he was all his life, he threw his sack on his back and walked the thirty miles to Columbus. He joined his mother and half-siblings, and began employment as a drayman to help with the support of the family.

When the Civil War broke out, Harvey was twenty-seven years old, and not yet married. He was anxious to sign up for the war, but his mother was very much against it. He was all she had left of her beloved first husband, and the only son she had left. She was hopeful he would let others take up the fight, but Harvey was determined to fight for his country. He immediately helped recruit Company I of the 31st Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, and was subsequently commissioned first-lieutenant. He remained with this regiment until the 9th of February, 1864, when he was commissioned by Governor James Lewis, his uncle, as major of the 36th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He went to the front with this regiment and participated in all its fierce battles.

James Aubery, in his book about the 36th Infantry, relates the following story:

“Major Harvey M. Brown rode a very fine Kentucky bred cream horse. Every soldier knew ‘Dandy.’ Brown was a very outspoken, warm-hearted, sympathetic man, but would do his duty ‘if it took a leg.’ One of the officers commanding a company in a regiment which was also going to the front, at the sound of that first gun was suddenly taken with a cramp in the stomach, dropped out and doubled up on the ground apparently in great pain. Major Brown rode up to him and said, ‘Captain, what’s the matter?’ ‘Oh, I’m so sick, I cannot go any further.’ ‘Captain, I am not of your command, but I will say remember your country, remember your company and remember your family.’”

In the historic charge over the “Melon Patch” on June 18th, 1864, Harvey Brown fell terribly wounded, and laid between the lines for the entire day and far into the night, when his mangled and almost lifeless body was finally secured under cover of darkness. In the morning he was transported to the field hospital, where the surgeon probed his wound in search of the bullet, which was never found. The operating table was under the branch of a tree to provide shade, and numerous amputated limbs were stacked under and around the table. Harvey waited in excruciating pain all day for the ambulance to arrive, only to discover he was to be transported in an army wagon, with only straw for a bed. The journey did little to ease his pain and misery. When he finally reached the hospital boat he was taken to Officers Hospital in Washington, where he recovered sufficiently to be removed home. He was never able to return to his regiment again.
Shortly before he was wounded, Harvey had been promoted to Colonel, but it was many months before the paper work was completed and it became official. After returning home and spending time recovering, Harvey became very active in his hometown. Within his first year home he had started a business, a store in a frame building, selling books, stationery, watches, clocks and jewelry. He was twice Mayor of Columbus, held many local offices, was postmaster during Mr. Cleveland’s first term, and raised fine Kentucky bred horses, which were his passion.

In 1868, three years after opening his store, Harvey was married to Helen Marie Cooper, daughter of Horace and Julia Ann Cooper of Columbus. To them were born two children:

Dorothy Nichols Brown, born 1882, married Nelson Webster in 1926, died 1963
Harry Willard Brown, born 1886, married Ellen Ayotte in 1908, died 1959.

In 1876 Harvey had a new store built in downtown Columbus. It was considered one of the finest buildings ever built in Columbus, and is still standing at this time. He continued to sell books, stationery, watches, clocks and jewelry, as well as school supplies, cards, wall paper, and even pistol cartridges and violin strings. He operated this store for twenty-five years, retiring only three years before his death. All those years he was a constant sufferer of pain from his battle wounds.

Colonel Brown died October 27, 1893. His legs had turned gangrenous due to the bullet wounds he had received during the war. The undertaker’s description of the body makes it obvious that he must have been in great pain towards the end of his life, although many people stated that he never complained.
H. O. Deysemeth, undertaker, stated in an affidavit in the matter of Helen’s pension claim, as told to and written by the Notary Public:

“On the 27th day of October 1893, he was called to the residence of claimant to take charge of the body of said H. M. Brown and found the body of said H. M. Brown in the following condition: his limbs were swollen and bursting open and discharging below the knees, and very much discolored, being very dark, and that mortification and decomposition had set in; his feet were black and said limbs were in such bad condition that deponent could not touch the same without gloves on his hands.”

Col. Brown was buried at Hillside Cemetery in his military uniform, the casket being draped with the American flag, and some of his comrades were pall bearers. Shortly after his death, the name of the local GAR Post was changed to the Harvey M. Brown Post. In 1895 a statue of a soldier was erected in Columbus in honor of the Columbus men who had served in the Civil War. At the dedication ceremony, thirteen year old Dolley Brown unveiled the statue
Herman Brown Jr. commented on Sep 23, 2007
My father was born in Ames, Iowa, on March 28, 1887. In early 1950's he moved to Clay County, Arkansas and married Martha Jane Raney. I was born March 21, 1957 and my name is Herman Clyde Brown, Jr. My father died July 14, 1963. All of us kids were given away. I was adopted out and have found out that my adopted parents with held alot of information from me concerning my biological father. If anyone has any information about Herman Clyde Brown, please contact me. My email is [contact link]
Herman Brown Jr. commented on Sep 23, 2007
My father was born in Ames, Iowa, on March 28, 1887. In early 1950's he moved to Clay County, Arkansas and married Martha Jane Raney. I was born March 21, 1957 and my name is Herman Clyde Brown, Jr. My father died July 14, 1963. All of us kids were given away. I was adopted out and have found out that my adopted parents with held alot of information from me concerning my biological father. If anyone has any information about Herman Clyde Brown, please contact me. My email is [contact link]
Kerry Szymanski commented on Jan 06, 2009
In the beginning, our real name was Scottish, MacDiernie, pronounced Mac-Deer-Knee, from the Campbell's of Breadalbane (Breeda'brin) Clan. Only family stories are left of the first ancestor in America, Isaac H. Brown. Isaac Brown worked on various farms in Scotland, learning to be a farmer. He was assigned to an apprenticeship, which he hated. So, he fled the country, looking for better opptunities in America. He changed his name to Brown, fearing that he would be caught and punished for not staying in Scotland. He was thought to have arrived in Ellis Island, New York on September 30, 1827 on the ship, Manchester which sailed from Liverpool, England. The ships manifest was found showing the ship actually arrived on August 24, 1827, but without an Isaac Brown listed. Family stories say that he was stowaway, but if he was, his name would not had been logged in the Captain's log book. Some family members believed he changed his name when he was discovered on the ship. But no record has been found to prove when the name change happened or why? But other members say that he was kept on board the ship to load and prepare the ship for the return to repay his passage, then released. That proves the delay in dates. Once in America, Isaac joined a group of men who fought against the Indians. During a battle, he was shot and left to die. But a tribe of Indians, thought to be Cherokee, since he was in the Tennessee area, found him and brought him back to good health. While with the Indians, he fell in love with the Chief's daughter. Only name that is known for her is Mary. Some family believe her name to have been Mary Mooney. But during whose times, the white population did not believe in the marriage of white people to Indians, so no record was ever made of their marriage. Census records prove the family lived in Davison County, Tennessee until 1849. The couples first ten children were born in Tennessee. Issac was a well educated, since he named his children from the Bible and history names. Then in 1849, Issac H. Brown went to Missouri with his wife, Mary, their nine children and one grandson. Isaac's first son, Ptolema had stayed in Tennessee at that time with his family, but in early 1859 Ptolema with his family settled in Missouri with his father. Their eleventh child, Marcius Brown was born in Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri. Reason are unknown why the family moved to Missouri, probably to find land like most did during those times. Isaac and two of his sons, Lycurgus and Ptolema, bought 800 acres of land in Township 33, Range 9 and 10. It was in this area, that the Blooming Rose Post Office was first established. On July 25, 1856, Isaac H. Brown became the first post master for Blooming Rose, Missouri. Blooming Rose was in Texas County on the farm that he owned at the time. There was also a school in that area. In the fall of 1859, the Brown family sold the land of Licking. Ptolema went to Arkansas, Lycurgus went to Illinois, and Isaac and his other sons bought land in the north part of Texas County, Missouri. They owned land in both Texas and Phelps County. The Civil War broke up the Brown family. The story has been told by neighbors that the Bushwhackers were so bad that Isaac buried his money in fruit jars in the apple orchard and left the country. Her later returned and the neighbors could see a lantern light in the orchard at night. They thought he was trying to find his money. The 1870 census has Isaac and Mary living north of Licking with their grandson, Liberthides and his wife, Nancy. Isaac son's, Leonidas H. with his wife Anna Louisa Howard and Marcus Sabines with his wife Lavenia C. Campbell were living on joining farms. The 1880 census lists Mary an invalid with cancer. No other record can be found on Isaac, until his death in 1884 in Sherrill, Texas County, Missouri. No family member has found his burial location. Family members believe that Isaac and his wife, Mary, were buried on their family farm in Missouri. Liberthides sold Isaac and Mary's home in 1884.
-Source, Boyd Neal Brown, son of Clinton Marcellus Brown
-Source, Ewell Lonnie Brown, son of Elbert Lional Brown
-Source, Georgia Adams, daughter of Feliz Grundy Brown
Carl Reade commented on Sep 08, 2009
Searching for information on a John Durward Brown. Born Fifeshire, Scotland about 1858. Educated as an Architect. Lived in London, England in the early 1900's. Any information appreciated. Thanks.
Melissa Swan-Keller commented on Nov 15, 2013
I am looking for information on my ggg grandparents Joseph Brown and Euphracia Utterback. Also looking for info on my gg grandmother Mary Lutz Brown Thomas. She married my gg granfather Edward Martin Brown.

Elizabeth Hicks commented on Dec 28, 2013
Looking for information on my g-g grandfather John N Brown, born about 1799 in NC or TN. He married Sarah Wood, born 1805 in Knox County, TN. She was daughter of Joseph Wood and Sarah McClain. I suspect that John's father may have been George Braun of the German line of the Brown family, but cannot prove it. Can anyone help me? My e-mail address is: [contact link]. I have an account with AncientFaces..thru my mother's profile. She is/was Millicent R. Flowers Brown.
Denise Brown commented on May 20, 2014
look for information on my g-grandfather Allen Brown born about 1843-1915 N Y State and past away East Jordan Mi. looking for information on my g-grandmother Elizabeth Sedgman Brown born about 1845-1886 N Y State past away East Jordan Mi.They were married to each other. He may have made a living as a horse dealer.
Denise Brown commented on May 20, 2014
My g-great grandparents Allen Brown and Elizabeth Sedgman Brown had two sons Charles Thomas Brown and Elijah Brown I am interest in more information on Elijah Brown.
DeMario Brown commented on Sep 04, 2014
am looking for info about my great-grandfather, Carlos B. Brown Sr (1835-1939). Rumor had it that he had 86-100 children, as he was hired as a breeder. He was born in Camden, SC and died in Manhattan, NY
Lori Russell commented on Mar 25
I'm looking for a Frank Martin Brown. Maybe living in Detroit Michigan?
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