Sir Valentine Browne
Browne was the son of Sir Valentine Browne of Croft, Lincolnshire. He may have been educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, although the dates in the University record seem to apply to a younger man of the same name. He was appointed Surveyor General of Ireland in 1559 by Queen Elizabeth I of England, later being appointed Auditor of the Exchequer. He was elected Member of Parliament for Berwick-on-Tweed in 1571, Thetford in 1572 and for Berwick again in 1586. He was also a member of the Privy Council during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
As victualler and treasurer of Berwick he was involved in diplomacy and negotiations during the Scottish Reformation and the Marian civil war. He was Governor of Berwick for a time in May 1573 during the 'lang siege' of Edinburgh Castle, and after the siege acquired some of the jewels of Mary, Queen of Scots which Sir William Drury brought from Scotland. His page stole jewels from him including a diamond studded mermaid. His management of finance at Berwick was criticised several times.
In July 1584, the English government commissioned a survey of the lands of Munster, following the Desmond Rebellions. Browne was appointed to this task, whose purpose was to facilitate the plantation of Munster. In a letter to Lord Burleigh dated 10 October 1584, he said that "the work was so difficult as to have extended over three years." He 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 wrote that "not one of thirty persons" was left alive after the famine caused by crop destructions, and "those for the most part starvelings". 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 now untenanted 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, 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. He also married Ellice Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald Fitzgerald, 15th Earl of Desmond.
His son Sir Nicholas married Sheila, a daughter of the O'Sullivan Beare, a family with lands in West Cork.Unlike most of the English settlers following the Reformation, the Brownes soon reverted to the Catholic faith. Although 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.
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