Peter Browne (Mayflower passenger)
Life in England
Peter Browne was a son of William Browne of Dorking. He had two older siblings, Jane and Thomas, as well as three younger brothers, Samuel, John and James. In or about 1605, when Peter was about ten years of age, his father died and the children may have been sent to family members and friends under apprenticeships. A local weaver probably apprenticed the three youngest sons in that line of work.
Browne may have heard of the proposed Mayflower voyage from his relationship with the Mullins family. William Mullins was a shoe and boot maker in Dorking and was one of Londoners who was later involved in the financial support of the Mayflower voyage. Peter’s sister Jane had married John Hammon in Docking in 1610 and her mother-in-law, Jane Hammon, had appointed William Mullins as her estate administrator. Also, John Hammon’s sister Susan married Ephraim Bothell, who purchased William Mullins property and home before he and his family boarded the Mayflower.
On the Mayflower
The relationship between Peter Browne and the Mullins family in Dorking did seem quite close. As a single man of about age twenty-five, and possibly coming from an apprenticeship, he boarded the Mayflower in the company of the Mullins family. But unfortunately these ties were to be broken with the death of William Mullins, his wife Alice and son Joseph soon after arrival in the New World.
The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England on September 6/16, 1620. The small, 100-foot ship had 102 passengers and a crew of about 30-40 in extremely cramped conditions. By the second month out, the ship was being buffeted by strong westerly gales, causing the ship‘s timbers to be badly shaken with caulking failing to keep out sea water, and with passengers, even in their berths, lying wet and ill. This, combined with a lack of proper rations and unsanitary conditions for several months, attributed to what would be fatal for many, especially the majority of women and children. On the way there were two deaths, a crew member and a passenger, but the worst was yet to come after arriving at their destination when, in the space of several months, almost half the passengers perished in cold, harsh, unfamiliar New England winter.
On November 9/19, 1620, after about 3 months at sea, including a month of delays in England, they spotted land, which was Cape Cod. And after several days of trying to get south to their planned destination of the Colony of Virginia, strong winter seas forced them to return to the harbor at the Cape Cod hook, where they anchored on November 11/21. Realizing they were not at the intended destination they determined to bind themselves as a democratically governed and administered colony loyal to England. This document became known as the Mayflower Compact and was signed by all eligible men on behalf of themselves, their families, their fortunes and property. Peter Browne was one of the men who signed the Mayflower Compact.” 
In Plymouth Colony
An interesting incident (from Mourt’s Relations pg 27) regarding Peter Browne took place in January 1621 while the Pilgrims were building their settlement of Plymouth. On January 12 Peter Browne, John Goodman and others had entered the forest some distance from the Pilgrim plantation in order to find material for roofing thatch. Sometime around noon, Browne and Goodman wandered further into the forest while the other men stayed behind to make up the thatch into bundles. After these men had done that work, they tried to locate Browne and Goodman in the forest, but they could not be found. These men went to the settlement and informed others that the men could not be located. This caused about 10-12 armed men to search for them, in fear they were captured by Indians. As it happened, Browne and Goodman were eating lunch when their dogs starting chasing a deer and they were soon lost. According to records, “they wandered all that afternoon being wet, and at night it did freeze and snow, they were slenderly appareled and had no weapons but each one sickle.” At night they thought they heard “lions” in the forest and climbed a tree for shelter. They stayed by the tree that night in case they had to escape to safety. The next day they finally climbed the highest hill they could find, were able to see their harbor and find their way back to the settlement. After the searchers had given up hope of finding them, Browne and Goodman finally arrived in Plymouth quite cold, frost-bitten, tired and hungry, having survived their first experience alone in the New England forest.
In the Plymouth settlement of 1620, the house of Peter Browne was near that of John Goodman and was close to the harbor on the south side of the village street. John Goodman is listed as having been alive at least on January 19, 1621 and is noted as having not survived that first winter, but his name does appear in records of the 1623 Division of Land and he may have died sometime after that.
In the 1623 Division of Land, as a single man, Peter Browne received one “aker” of land “these lye on the South side of the brooke to the baywards.” In that record, his name appears as “Peter Browen.”
Sometime after the Division of Land, Peter Browne married the widow Martha Ford, arriving in November 1621 on the ship Fortune as the only recorded woman on board. Her husband Mr. Ford apparently died on the voyage or just after arrival. Martha gave birth to a son the day of arrival but he died soon after. Per Banks, Mourt’s Relations (p. 63) records this event: “the good wife Ford was delivered of a sonne the first night shee landed, and both of them are very well.” 
In 1626 Peter Browne was one of twenty-seven Purchasers involved with the colony joint-stock company which afterwards was turned over to the control of senior colony members. That group was called Undertakers, and were made up of such as Bradford, Standish and Allerton initially who were later joined by Winslow, Brewster, Howland, Alden, Prence and others from London, former Merchant Adventurers. On the agreement, dated October 26, 1626, his name appears as Peter Browne.
By the time of the 1627 Division of the Cattle, Peter Browne and his wife Martha had a daughter Mary and was pregnant with another daughter, Priscilla. Also in the family were children from Mary Browne’s first marriage, John and Martha Ford. The two Ford children shared in the 1627 division of the cattle. The “eaight lot” of the Division under ‘Samuell ffuller”, consisted of the “Peeter Browne” family listed as “Peeter Browne, Martha Browne, Mary Browne, John fford, Martha fford.”
His wife Martha died about 1630, and Peter Browne remarried to a woman named Mary whose surname and ancestry have not been discovered. With the second wife, Peter Browne had two more children, Rebecca, about 1631, and another child about 1633, name and gender unknown, who may have died as a youth.
On the 1633 Tax List he was recorded as Peter Browne.
On January 1, 1633, Browne was fined three shillings by Plymouth Colony Court for failing to appear at the court session and on January 2 was fined by the court in the same amount for the same reason. When he did appear in court on January 7, he was sued by fellow Mayflower passenger Dr. Samuel Fuller for “divers accounts…wherein they differ.” They were sent to arbitration, the outcome of which is not known. Also in 1633, he appeared on the Tax List for that year as “Peter Browne.”
Marriages and Children
Peter Browne married:
- Martha, the widow of a Mr. Ford, both passengers in 1621 on the ship Fortune with the husband dying before arrival. She was married to Peter Browne in 1626 and had two daughters before her death in 1630.
- Mary (maiden name and parentage unknown), married about 1630 or 1631 and had two children.
Children of Martha and her first husband, Mr. Ford:
- John Ford, born about 1617. His name appears in a record of January 5, 1640/1 and after that no further reference can be found.
- Martha Ford was born about 1619 and died in Plymouth on December 20, 1683. She married William Nelson in Plymouth on October 29, 1640 and had four children.
- A son born on November 9, 1621 upon the arrival of the Fortune in Plymouth. He died soon after.
Children of Peter and Martha Browne:
- Mary Browne was born about 1626 and died after November 1689. She married Ephraim Tinkham in Plymouth by October 27, 1647 and had nine children. A deed dated October 27, 1647 notes that Ephraim Tinkham and wife Mary sold to Henry Sampson land in Duxbury which was one-third of the land belonging to Peter Brown, deceased.
- Isabel Browne (1636-1698) in Plymouth. She married Anthony Hoskins (1632-1706).
- Priscilla Browne was born about 1628 and died after February 17, 1697/8. She married William Allen in Sandwich on March 21, 1649 and had eight children. On June 8, 1650 William Allen of Sandwich and wife Priscilla sold to John Brown of Duxbury, weaver, land in Duxbury which was one part of three belonging to the children of Peter Brown, brother of John Brown. On April 15, 1668 William Allen sold to Henry Tucker a one-third share of land in Dartmouth which was granted to Peter Brown as a Purchaser of 1626.
- William Brown born about 1625 and died 7 April 1694 in Eastham, Mass. He married Mary Murdock (1625-1694) and they had at least 5 children: Mary Brown (unmarried?) (1650-1693), George Brown (1651-1721) married Mrs. Mulford and Mrs. Knowles, William Brown (1654-1685) married Susannah Harding (1675-1769), Samuel Brown Sr (1656-1691) married Martha Harding (1662-1692), and John Brown (1658-1730).
Children of Peter and Mary Browne:
- Rebecca Browne was born about 1631 and died after March 9, 1698/9. She married William Snow by about 1654.
- A child born by 1633, who died by 1647.
Peter Browne, death, estate and burial
Peter Brown had health issues which became serious in late 1632. He died later in 1633, possibly in early fall from a probable infectious disease. The inventory of his assets was taken on October 10, 1633. He had apparently been attended to by Dr.Samuel Fuller and his inventory shows a debt by Browne’s widow of Dr. Samuel Fuller for one peck of malt and some purgative, and a debt for “letting her man bleed.” His estate also owed Kenelm, brother of Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow, twelve shillings for building his coffin. Browne’s estate inventory detailed such as grain, animals, a firearm, tools, household goods, clothing, etc.. Ironically, his attending doctor Samuel Fuller also died from the same disease at that time, as did fellow Mayflower passenger Francis Eaton and others.
Following Browne’s death, his widow Mary was made administrator of his estate on November 11, 1633. She was ordered by the court to pay 15 pounds to John Doane to assume custody of Browne’s daughter Mary and the same amount to William Gilson for the custody of Browne’s daughter Priscilla with the court placing Mary with Doane for nine years and Priscilla with Gilson for twelve years until both were age seventeen. Mary retained custody of her two children by her first husband and was allowed the rest of Browne’s estate for her own third for raising her own two children.
At age seventeen, Mary and Priscilla Browne asked the Plymouth Court to assign their custody over to their uncle, John Browne, a weaver then residing in Duxbury. Browne was a brother of their father Peter Browne.
Peter Browne died shortly before October 10, 1633, when the after-death inventory of his property was taken. His death was not recorded in the records of Plymouth County. Both he and his first wife Martha were both buried at Burial Hill in Plymouth.
- In records of the time, his name was either Peter Browne or Peter Brown
- A genealogical profile of Peter Browne, (a collaboration of Plymouth Plantation and New England Historic Genealogical Society accessed 2016), https://www.plimoth.org/sites/default/files/wysiwyg-images/brown_peter_2.pdf
- Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers, (Indiana:Xlibris Corp., 2006), p. 107
- Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., 2006), p. 102
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City:Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 413
- George Ernest Bowman, The Mayflower Compact and its signers, (Boston: Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1920), Photocopies of the 1622, 1646 and 1669 versions of the document, pp. 7-19.
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 411-413
- Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., 2006), p. 103
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City:Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 255
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: a story of courage, community, and war, (New York: Viking 2006). pp. 86-88
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p.297
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p.415
- given name William Ford or possibly John Ford,a Southwark leather dresser
- Mary Boast, The Mayflower and Pilgrim story: chapters from Rotherhithe and Southwark, London Borough of Southwark - 1970, page 34
- Leon C. Hills, Leon Clark Hills, History and Genealogy of the Mayflower Planters, Genealogical Publishing Com - 2009, page 79
- Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: who came to Plymouth on the "Mayflower" in 1620, the "Fortune" in 1621, and "The Little James" in 1623, (Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. 2006), pp. 104, 117
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 292-293
- Pilgrim Hall Museum
- Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: who came to Plymouth on the "Mayflower" in 1620, the "Fortune" in 1621, and "The Little James" in 1623, (Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. 2006), p. 117
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 293, 417
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 27, 28, 36, 419-420
- Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers, (Indiana: Xlibris Corp. 2006), p. 104
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 424
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 428
- Cover Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers, Xlibris Corporation - 2005, page 104
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City:Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 255, 293
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 74, 146
- Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: who came to Plymouth on the "Mayflower" in 1620, the "Fortune" in 1621, and "The Little James" in 1623, (Genealogical Publishing Inc. 2006), p. 41
- Memorial for Peter Browne