Thomas Brownell

Baptized: 5 June 1608  St. Mary's Church in Rawmarsh, Yorkshire, England

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Baptismal font where Thomas was baptized

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.

Marriage: 20 March 1637/1638    Church of St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf

Immigration: 1638
They 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 1648
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

Death: 24 SEP 1664
Details:  On the afternoon of 24 September 1664, Thomas Brownell was killed in an accident while on his way from his farm at the northwest end of Rhode Island to Portsmouth. (The Brownells, as was typical of most settlers at that time, probably did not live on their farm. They would also have had a small lot in Portsmouth where they built their home and lived, going to their farm during the day to work.) Aged 56, Thomas left behind a wife, Anne, and nine children, ranging in age from nine to twenty-five years.

According to the testimony of Daniel Lawton, Brownell had stopped at the home of Lawton's father, Thomas Lawton, and upon leaving, invited Daniel, aged 21, to ride with him the rest of the way to Portsmouth. The ride soon became a race when Thomas put his horse to a gallop as they came down the hill near William Wodel's property, located about halfway between the Brownell farm and the town of Portsmouth. The younger man soon caught up with and passed Thomas.

As he continued the race to Portsmouth, Lawton looked back to see where Brownell was. Seeing his riderless horse running towards a swamp he immediately turned his horse around and caught Brownell's horse.

He then retraced his way until he came upon Brownell lying on the ground near a tree. He called out to him, but received no response and so dismounted to check on him. Taking him by the arms and seeing the great amount of blood on the ground, Lawton realized that Thomas Brownell was dead.

The following day a coroner's jury, with Samuel Wilbur as foreman, made an inquest into the accident. Testimony was taken from Daniel Lawton and details about the scene of the accident were given.

The jury's conclusion was that Brownell, riding furiously down the hill, was either thrown against or hit the tree. The broken reins of his bridle had been found next to the body and there was blood and hair sticking to the tree. His skull was broken and his "brains came out," thus causing his death.

Burial: George Brownell Cemetery, Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island
Details: There is no marker or stone that can be seen.

Click  to see parents:  Robert Brownell and Mary Wilson


Anne Bourne

Birth: 16 FEB 1607  Essex, England

Death:  24 OCT 1666  Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island

Burial: George Brownell Cemetery, Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island
Details: Stone is no longer visible.

for parents:  Thomas Bourne and Elizabeth Martha Rouse

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