Sir Valentine Browne

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For other people named Valentine Browne, see Valentine Browne (disambiguation).

Sir Valentine Browne, of Crofts, Lincolnshire, (later of Ross Castle, Killarney) was an English politician.


Valentine Browne was the son of Sir Valentine Browne of Croft, Lincolnshire and may have been educated at Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] He was appointed Surveyor General of Ireland in 1559 by Queen Elizabeth I of England, later being appointed Auditor General[disambiguation needed].

Browne was elected an MP for Berwick-on-Tweed in 1571, Thetford in 1572 and for Berwick again in 1586 as well as a member of the Privy Council during Queen Elizabeth's reign.

In July 1584, the English government commissioned a survey of the lands of Munster, following the Desmond Rebellions. Sir Valentine Browne was appointed this task which was to facilitate the plantation of Munster.

In a letter dated 10 October 1584 sent to Lord Burleigh, he stated that "the work was so difficult as to have extended over three years." This knight then wrote from Askeaton that he had "travailed hard in superintending the survey, passing through bogs and woods, scaling mountains, and crossing many bridgeless rivers and dangerous waters," waters in which he lost some of his horses, and was twice nearly lost himself; that his son had broken his arm, and that "the service was so severe that many of the men had fallen sick." He described the towns and villages as ruined, and that but one of thirty people was left alive. Desmond's lands, thus void of inhabitants, were, however, "replenished with wood, rivers, and fishings". Sir Valentine's companion, Henry Wallop, expressed more optimism for English prospects in the region.

Browne’s survey resulted in the rebel lands being divided into 35 lots; he himself was granted 6,500 acres (26 km2) of land in County Kerry alone, in addition to earlier grants in Hospital, County Limerick. He erected a castle nearby, which was called Kenmare Castle and in 1585 was MP for County Sligo in the Irish Parliament.

He is the ancestor of the Earls of Kenmare. The sons of his second marriage (to Thomasine, daughter of Robert Bacon) became landed proprietors in Munster whilst the son of his first marriage (to Alice or Elizabeth, the daughter of Robert Alexander) became High Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1593. His son Sir Nicholas married Sheila, a daughter of The O'Sullivan Beare, a clan with lands in West Cork. However, unlike most of the English settlers since the Reformation, the Brownes soon reverted to the Catholic faith, and though they can hardly be said to have become Gaelicised they were at least sufficiently identified with the old Gaelic aristocracy to be coupled with the great Irish families in a 17th-century Irish poem eulogising the old order. On 28 June 1588 he purchased the family's vast estates, including the Lakes of Killarney, from the estate of Donald Maccarty, 1st Earl of Clancare.

He died in 1589 and was buried in St Katherine’s church, Dublin, on 19 February 1589.


  1. ^ "Browne, Valentine (BN691R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 


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  • Brydges, Egerton (1817). A Biographical Peerage of the Empire of Great Britain. London.
  • Curtis, W. E. (1909). One Irish Summer. New York: Duffield.
  • Piese, A. J., ed. (2001). Sixteenth Century Identities. Manchester: Manchester University Press.