Anthony Browne (died 1548)

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Sir Anthony Browne
Arms of Sir Anthony Browne, KG

Sir Anthony Browne, KG (c. 1500[1] – 6 May 1548) was an English courtier, Master of the Horse and a Knight of the Shire.


He was the son of Sir Anthony Browne, Standard Bearer of England and Governor of Queenborough Castle, by his wife Lady Lucy Neville, daughter of John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu and widow of Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam.[1] Anthony junior was thereby half-brother of William Fitzwilliam, 1st Earl of Southampton.

By 1528, Browne married Alice, daughter of Sir John Gage, and by her had seven sons and three daughters including:[1]

His recorded royal service began in 1518, when he was appointed surveyor and master of hunting for the Yorkshire castles and Lordships of Hatfield, Thorne, and Conisbrough. He was included him in an embassy to hand over Tournai to Francois I. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, knighted him on 1 July 1522. In 1525 he was made lieutenant of the Isle of Man. He was ambassador to France in 1527, reporting home in increasingly anti-French terms. In 1539 he was appointed Master of the Horse for life.

During the uprisings in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire in 1536, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, Browne was sent against the Catholic protesters to test his loyalty. Anthony maintained Henry's trust. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1540 and given ownership of Battle Abbey, confiscated by the Crown in 1538 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which he turned into a country house.[2]

When Henry VIII came to Rochester to meet Anne of Cleves, he first sent Anthony, as his Master of Horse, into her chamber. Anthony later declared that he was never more dismayed in his life, lamenting in his heart to see the Lady so far unlike that which was reported. Henry confided his own disappointment the next day to Anthony as they returned to Greenwich by barge.[3]

He was elected to Parliament as knight of the shire for Surrey in 1539 and re-elected in 1542, 1545, and 1547.

Sometime after 1540, he married Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, his wife Alice having died. They had two children who died young. Elizabeth was one of the great beauties of the Court, known as " the fair Geraldine". After his death she remarried Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln.

Elizabeth FitzGerald

As a conservative, he had to be careful not to be brought down by factional politics at the court of Henry VIII. He became so trusted by Henry that in the King's latter years, Browne held a dry stamp of the King's signature, to use for minor letters. By 1547, he was Keeper of Oatlands Palace.

He died on 6 May 1548 at Byfleet, Surrey, and was buried at Battle in a tomb with his first wife. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Anthony.

Mistresses Brown[edit]

Browne was said to be a good-looking man and two members of his family were said to have been mistresses of Henry VIII. One, 'Mistress Browne', we do not know her first name, but it was allegedly his sister. One piece of information, however, points to it being his sister, Elizabeth Browne, countess of Worcester. The ex-mistress was alleged to have been a prime mover in the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth Browne was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn and the chief witness against her. Another member of his family, Anne Bassett was rumoured to be in the running to become Henry's fifth wife and there were earlier rumours of an affair, shortly before his marriage to Anne of Cleves.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Bindoff. The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982. 'BROWNE, Sir Anthony (c.1500-48), of Battle Abbey and Cowdray Park, Suss.'
  2. ^ "Houses of Benedictine monks: Abbey of Battle". British History Online. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memoirs, vol. 1 part 2, Oxford (1822), 456-458.
  4. ^ Hart, Kelly (1 June 2009). The Mistresses of Henry VIII (First ed.). The History Press. ISBN 0-7524-4835-8. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Nicholas Carew
Master of the Horse
Succeeded by
Sir William Herbert
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Essex
Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners
Succeeded by
The Lord Braye
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Rutland
Justice in Eyre
north of the Trent

Succeeded by
The Earl of Shrewsbury