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Surname:  Browne
Branch:  Browne
Origins:  Irish
More Info:  Ireland

Background:  The surname Browne was first found in County Galway. The first Browne to settle in Ireland was descended from the Counts of Marche in Pictou, in Normandy. Hugh le Brun married Isabel, the widow of King John, and their son, William de Valence was created Earl of Pembroke. Sir Hugh le Brun was one of the Lords of the Marches of Wales. His grandson, Sir William landed in Ireland in 1172 during the Norman invasion, and his son, Fromond le Brun, was Chancellor of Ireland in 1230. From Fromond was descended Sir David who built the Castle of Carrowbrowne in Oranmore. This became the senior branch of the Brownes of Galway.

Browne is a variant of the English surname Brown, meaning "brown-haired" or "brown-skinned". It may sometimes be derived from French le Brun with similar meaning. The Mac A Brehons clan of County Donegal have anglicized Browne since about 1800. The name has also been used throughout North America as an anglicization of the Spanish surname Pardo.

Motto:  Fortiter et fideliter, Boldly and faithfully.
Arms:  Ar. an eagle displ. sa. membered gu., a crescent for diff.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

Brown(e) families comprise on of the 10 most numerous names in Scotland and England, and one of the 50 most numerous names in Ireland. Often a name of English or Scottish origins when found in Ireland, the final 'e' in the name appears common in Ireland.

One of the noted 'Tribes of Galway', this family was of Anglo-Norman descent, coming from the name of le Brun. They are still of note to this day.

In the North of Ireland, in the province of Ulster, many Brownes are of Scottish settler origin. They were amoung the Ulster Scots settlers in the 17th century.

The Brownes of 'Killarney' who settled in County Kerry under Elizabeth the first, are of English heritage and have remained on or near their territory into modern times. We also find the name early in County Limerick, near Camus.

In County Mayo we find the name centered near Breaghwy, and in the barony of Kilmaine, in this county the first High Sheriff was John Browne, from his line descend Barons and Earls of the name.

In the 17th Century we find 'Browne' more often in the north of Ireland and 'Browne' in County Cork, in the census of 1659. Roughly the same pattern can be found a century ago. 'Brown' was found at Wexford and Dublin and 'Browne' mostly in Ulster and the capital.

Estate papers in the National Library in Dublin, relate to Browne families. Several familes of the name are found in the Irish Book of Arms. These include the Brownes of Riverstown, County Cork, Of Breaghwy, County Mayo, of Brownestown, County Mayo, and of New Grove, County Clare. The pedigrees of several of the name in Wexford, London, Ireland and Galway are given by O'Hart.

Though this is one of the commonest of all surnames in Endland (more often without the E there), it is included here because the Brownes were one of the "Tribes" of Galway. The arms illustrated on Plate II are those of the Galway Brownes. There are many other distinguished families of Browne in Ireland notably in Connacht - that of Lord Oranmore and in Kerry the Brownes of Killarney, whose historic Kenmare peerage has recently become extinct. No less important were the Brownes of Camus, Co. Limerick; Field-Marshal Maximilan Ulysses Browne (1705-1757) was son of Col. Ulysses Browne, of Camus, Co. Limerick, George County de Browne (1698-1792) was yet another famous continental soldier of the Camus family.

The Galway Brownes are descended from a Norman, le Brun, who came to Ireland at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion. The Brownes, or Brunaches, are mentioned by MacFirbis in his Hy Fiachrach as one of the four Norman tribes who wested the territory of Tirawley from the Fiachrach following the invasion. They established themselves in Galway by intermarriage with its leading family, the Lynches. By similar alliance with the O;Flahertys and the O'Malleys they secured their position as an Irish family of the West. The Brownes of Killarney, on the other hand, stem from an Elizabethan English-man, but there again intermarriage with influential Gaelic families in Kerry consolidated their position. A very full account of this family is given in The Kenmare Manuscripts, published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

Referring to the Brownes of Connacht mention should also be made of John Browne, the first high sherriff of Mayo (1583). He was of the family already at the time well established at the Neale, in the barony of Kilmaine. His descendants who became, in the senior line, Barons of Kilmaine and, in the junion, Earls of Altamount, have since been closely associated with County Mayo. Seated at Westport the 3rd Marquis of Sligo (5th Earl of Altamont) was, prior to the land legislation of the late nineteenth century, owner of an estate of 114,000 acres.

Admiral William Brown (1777-1857), celebrated as the creator of the Argentine navy, was born at Foxford, County Mayo. It is thought that his family was a branch of the Connacht O'Breens whose name appears in the sixteenth century Fiants, inter alia, as O'Browne. No conclusive proof, however, of this descent is as yet forthcoming.

Recently two of the most important men in Galway city were Brownes: Michael Browne, Biship of Galway, and Patrick Browne, President of University College, Galway, and a Gaelic poet of distinction.

Name Variations:  Brown, Browne, Brownie, Brownes, Brawn, Brawny, Brunach, le Brun, Brun, Broune, Brune, O'Brown, O'Browne.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Irish Families, Their Names, Arms & Origins; Edward MacLysaght - 1957.
The Surnames of Ireland; Edward MacLynsaght - 1957.
The Book of Irish Families Great and Small.
The Book of Irish Families Great & Small.

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