Abraham Browne of Watertown, MA (1588-before December 1648)

Abraham Browne is one of my earliest ancestors who settled in New England, as he lived in Watertown, Massachusetts by 1631. He is also one of the earliest ancestors who appeared during my steps steps in genealogical research, as he appears in the holdings of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. However, he is also an ancestor with whom I’ve done almost no further research, for two reasons.

First, Henry Bond, author of Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts, published in 1860, stated that Abraham Browne appeared to be from Hawkedon, Suffolk, England, based on a will which named an Abraham Browne in the correct time frame.

Back in 1980, when I started family history research, accessing English records wasn’t all that easy. Since Bond, an authoritative source, assigned him to Suffolk County, England, I just entered that in my notes.

Second, I lose the Browne surname after just one generation, as Abraham’s daughter, Lydia, my ancestress, married William Lakin.

Likely in the back of my mind was that, having so much early New England ancestry, it was extremely likely that someone would jump in and tackle the “hard stuff.”

Here we are, 38 years later, and a recent article in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, aka The Register, published in the spring and summer issues of 2017 contains an article that piqued my interest: “The Wylley and Cramphorne Families of Hertfordshire and Their Contribution to the Great Migration” by William Wyman Fiske. As I read the article, I honed in the opening sentence of Part 2: The importance of the Cramphornes to the ancestry of early Massachusetts immigrants Edmund, John, and Abraham Browne!

Wait a minute! Was this my Abraham Browne or another man of the same name? I even checked a map and it wasn’t likely that if my Abraham was from Hawkedon that he was the same man in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, as the two villages are about 50 miles apart. Not impossible, but not likely in the 1500s.

After reading the article, I was able to ascertain that it WAS my Abraham Browne, his Suffolk origins had been discredited, and new information had been published back as early as 1988 in NEHGS’s The Great Migration Study Project, led by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, and, in 1996, when Dean Crawford Smith and editor Melinda Lutz Sanborn published The Ancestry of Eva Belle Kempton (1878-1908).

I had some digging to do! As I am a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, I was able to read the entry for Abraham Browne in The Great Migration series online. Locating the Eva Belle Kempton book was as simple as visiting my local Family History Center here in Tucson, as it has been digitized, but only readable in the Family History Library itself or in a Family History Center.

Abraham Browne is quite a bit older than originally thought – baptized in 1588 and not born c1600, as I had first recorded. He also had two wives, not one – Joan Shelton and Lydia, who is my ancestress. Unfortunately, Lydia’s maiden name is still lost to history.

As The Register research was just published a few months ago, full details about the lineage are being omitted here. My focus is my line from Abraham.

William Fiske’s research has identified Abraham’s parents and grandparents. Here is my updated entry about Abraham Browne. The English baptisms and burials are all in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England unless stated otherwise.

First: William Browne, born c1505; buried 25 January 1565/66. He married Joan, born c1510 and buried on 7 April 1573. It isn’t known whether Joan was William’s first and only wife.

William had nine children, born c1531 to c1547. They included William, Annis, Thomas, John, Laurence, Alice, Nicholas, Margaret and Edmund (my line).

Second: William Cramphorne, born c1530, married Joan Plowright on 21 July 1560. They had three children – Thomas, Mary (who married Edmund Browne, my line) and William.

Next: Edmund Browne, born c1547; buried 21 January 1638/39. He married Mary Cramphorne and had twelve children, born 1584/85 -1606/07. They included Elizabeth, Richard and George (who appear to be twins), Abraham (my line), John, Sarah, John again, John a third time, Edmund, Mary, Hannah and Daniel.

Then: Abraham Browne, baptized 22 October 1588; died between 26 March 1645 and December 1648, probably in Watertown, Suffolk, Massachusetts. He married not once, but twice: (1) Joan Shelton, on 21 September 1619 in South Weald, Essex, England and (2) Lydia (MNU and, of course, my line!), c1629, likely also in England.

Abraham was an active surveyor in Massachusetts and he regularly bought up land as it became available. His estate wasn’t settled until 22 January 1693/94, almost a half century after he died, because his heirs didn’t know the exact boundaries of all the properties he owned and court papers flowed for years.

Abraham had seven known children. Sarah, Hannah and Mary were born to his first wife, Joan Shelton. Lydia was the mother of Lydia (my line), Jonathan, Hannah and Abraham.

It isn’t often that I am able to add new generations to my pedigree chart and, with all the familial details published in The Register and the Kempton book, I have lots to enter into my software.

Here is my newly expanded descent from William Browne of Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England:

  1. William Browne = Joan, if she was the mother of all his children
    2. Edmund Browne = Mary Cramphorne
    3. Abraham Browne = Lydia (Watertown, MA)
    4. Lydia Browne = William Lakin (Groton, MA)
    5. William Lakin = Elizabeth Robertson (Groton, MA)
    6. Lydia Lakin = Jonathan Shepley (Groton, MA)
    7. Oliver Shepley = Mary Lakin (Groton, MA) (Mary is a double Lakin descent for me as she was the daughter of James Lakin and Elizabeth Williams. Oliver and Mary were first cousins.)
    8. Sibbel Shepley = James Scripture (Mason, NH)
    9. Oliver Scripture = Mary Goddard Bucknam (Glenburn, ME)
    10. Mary Elizabeth Scripture = George Rogers Tarbox (Calais, ME)
    11. Nellie F. Tarbox = Calvin Segee Adams (Calais, ME)
    12. Charles Edwin Adams = Annie Maude Stewart (Calais, ME)
    13. Vernon Tarbox Adams = Hazel Ethel Coleman
    14. Doris Priscilla Adams = George Michael Sabo
    15. Linda Sabo Stufflebean

4 thoughts on “Abraham Browne of Watertown, MA (1588-before December 1648)”

  1. How did you connect to William Browne? I have been searching the English records for Sawbridgeworth, Tring, Hawkedon, Wapping, Childerditch, Weald and all of these area have been connected to this Abraham Browne. I have a copy of the Ancestry of Eva Belle Kempton and there are things wrong in it. Neghs also has many issues with this Abraham Browne. There is another reference book at Neghs that was at a local library titled” third supplement of Torry’s New England marriages prior to 1700. It states right off that there are many incorrect and contradictory entries, including those AEBK and Neghs. How did you get the information on Abraham and Joan shelton’s children when they weren’t on the passenger list of the Winthrop fleet of 1630?

    1. Hello
      I am holding fast to the opinion that my ancestor, Abraham Browne was from Hawkedon. I started a file with pieces of information that support this. I read the Dean Crawford Smith book and fail to see where his proof is that Abraham was from Sawbridgeworth.
      Regards
      Irene

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