James Brown (Scottish clergyman)

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James Brown (c. 1734 – 9 November 1791) was a clergyman in the Scottish Episcopal Church, notable as one of a few Jacobite dissenters who refused to abandon their allegiance to the House of Stuart when directed to do so in 1788.


James Brown was born around 1734. The son of a Jacobite farmer who died in the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he retained the same Jacobite allegiances throughout his life. He married Helen Taylor, daughter of a Presbyterian minister, and they had a son, Robert, who would become a notable botanist.

Brown was minister at Montrose in 1788 when Charles Edward Stuart died. The Scottish Episcopal Church had long supported the House of Stuart, but found it impossible to support Charles' heir, his brother Henry Benedict Stuart, who was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. Accordingly, the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church met and agreed to recognise George III. 25 May 1788 was set as the day upon which services were to include prayers for King George III for the first time, and on that day the directive was followed by all but two ministers, Brown and Charles Rose, the Bishop of Dunblane and Dunkeld.

Around 1790, Brown moved to Edinburgh, where he became pastor to the remaining Jacobite dissenters. On presenting himself to the old and senile Rose, it is said that Rose consecrated him a bishop. When questioned later, Rose denied having done so, suggesting that perhaps his sister had. Rose certainly had no authority to consecrate Brown, as the canon required no fewer than three consecrating bishops. Brown's alleged consecration was declared null and void, and he was blamed for the affair, having, it was said, taken advantage of Rose's senility in order to advance his own position. The following year Rose died, making Brown the last remaining minister to the Jacobite dissenters.


Brown ordained Donald Macintosh as deacon in 1789. Macintosh then continued the ministry for some years, living to 1808.[1]


  • Stephen, Thomas (1845). The History of the Church of Scotland: From the Reformation to the Present Time. 4. London: John Lendrum. pp. 419–420.
  • Mabberley, David (1985). Jupiter botanicus: Robert Brown of the British Museum. British Museum (Natural History). pp. 15–18. ISBN 3-7682-1408-7.
  • "The Robert Brown memorial" in Journal of Botany, British and Foreign 34.


  1. ^ Howat, Gerald M. D. "Macintosh, Donald". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17542. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)