Occupation: Both Thomas and his brother, George, apparently left Yorkshire at some point and
went to London, where they probably worked as drapers (dealers in cloth or clothing and
dry goods) for their uncle, Thomas Wilson. Known as Thomas Wilson The Elder, he was the
brother of Mary (Wilson) Brownell and was a prosperous cloth worker or fabric merchant in
London. He also owned a very large estate called Ryecroft, near Rawmarsh where both he and
Mary Wilson were born.
March 1637/1638 Church of St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf
arrived in New England on board the ship Whale. According to the ship's passenger list,
they had lived in the London parish of St. Mary Cole before making the journey to America.
Birth of Daughter: APR 1639
Name: Mary Brownell
Note: Thomas and Anne
Brownell settled first in Mt. Wollaston (later known as Braintree) Massachusetts, where
Thomas was a "planter" or farmer. The first record of him there is in the
notebook or legal memoranda of Thomas Lechford. He sold "a house, a garden and six
acres of arable land in Braintree" to Deodatus Curtis. The deed is
undated, but occurs between entries of 26 May and 11 June 1640.
Birth of Daughter: ABT 1641
Name: Sarah Brownell
Birth of Daughter: 01 May 1643
Name: Martha Brownell
Note: 22 February
1646. The record states that "I Thomas Brownell do acknowledge myselfe indebted to
Robert Kearne in the just summe of 1 pound 12 shillings and 4 pence which I promise to pay
to the said Robert or his assigns in his now dwelling house in Boston at or before 1 July
(?)." This second record could imply that the Brownells lived in Braintree
until 1646. It is more likely, however, that this was an old debt and that the Brownells
left Braintree in 1640 when the house and land were sold.
Land Rec: The
Brownell Farm was on the western side of the northwestern end of Rhode Island. (The
island, formerly known as Aquidneck Island, which is now Newport County and on which both
Portsmouth and Newport are located is officially known as Rhode Island.) The farm,
comprised of forty acres, extended down to the water and looked out on Narragansett Bay. There is still today a road named "Brownell
Lane" at this location.
Birth of Son: ABT 1647/48
Name: George Brownell
Note: 10 July
Details: Thomas was chosen at the town meeting for the post of "water
bailey," a position which gave him jurisdiction over fisheries and other maritime
matters. He was often chosen to serve on various juries, as were
most of the Freemen of Portsmouth.
Birth of Son: ABT 1652
Name: Robert Brownell
Birth of Son: ABT 1653
Name: William Brownell
Birth of Daughter: ABT 1654
Name: Anne Brownell
Note: 11 MAR 1655
Details: At the General Court of Trials held at Warwick, Rhode Island, a
jury heard a case between the state and Caleb Carr about a sheep that Thomas Brownell
"Challengeth." The verdict of the jury was that Caleb Carr was
"cleere" or not guilty. At the same session of the
General Court, Thomas accused John Coggeshall "uppon suspition of Felonie of an Ewe
sheepe." He was ordered to post a bond of £100 to prosecute Coggeshall, who was
ordered to post the same bond to answer the charge at the General Court of Trials at
Providence. A jury heard the case on 24 June 1656 and found the
charges against Coggeshall to be not true. The case was ended by the consents of both
parties in open court and Thomas was released from his £100 bond.
Note: 05 MAY 1655
Details: Thomas was chosen to be one of six Commissioners to represent
Portsmouth at the General Court in Providence. The General Court
served as a kind of legislative body for the colony, which at that time consisted of the
towns of Portsmouth, Newport, Providence and Warwick. The location of the Court's meetings
alternated among the four towns.
Note: 04 JUN 1655
Details: Later in the same year, Thomas was elected one of three constables for
the town of Portsmouth. On 29 September 1662 he was
again chosen as a Commissioner to the General Court which was to be held in Warwick and
was also chosen to be on the Grand Jury for the Court of Trials in Warwick. Thomas was chosen once again on 27 April 1664 as a Commissioner to the General
Court to be held at Newport.
Birth of Son: ABT 1656
Name: Thomas Brownell
Birth of Daughter: BET 1656-1665
Name: Susanna Brownell