Sir Anthony Browne 1500–1548
Sir Anthony Browne, courtier, was the son of Sir Anthony Browne (died 1506), of Betchworth, Surrey, and his wife, Lucy Neville (died 1534), widow of Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam of Aldwark, Yorkshire, and daughter and coheiress of John Nevill, marquis Montacute, and niece of Richard, Earl of Warwick. The elder Sir Anthony was Henry VII's standard-bearer and lieutenant of Calais Castle. His son probably grew up in Henry VIII's household, like his elder half-brother Sir William Fitzwilliam, later Earl of Southampton. . He was regularly at court when not engaged in diplomatic, military, or other official duties, and avoided the disgrace that befell many courtiers. His recorded royal service began in 1518, when he was about eighteen, when the king appointed him surveyor and master of hunting for the Yorkshire castles and Lordships of Hatfield, Thorne, and Conisbrough and included him in an embassy to hand over Tournai to Francois I. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, knighted him on 1 July 1522.
In 1525 Browne became lieutenant of the Isle of Man. He was ambassador to France in 1527, reporting home in a series of dispatches in which he showed himself increasingly hostile to all things French.
He married twice, first Alice (died 1540), daughter of Sir John Gage. They had seven sons and three daughters:
- Anthony Browne, later Viscount Montagu (1528–1592)
- and a second Henry
After the death of Alice, he married Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald (1528?–1589) , the daughter of the ninth Earl of Kildare. He was in his 60s , she was fifteen.They had two sons Edward and Thomas, who died in infancy.
Browne also had two illegitimate children, Charles and Anne.
Browne generally conformed to Henry's will during the upheavals of the early Reformation but remained at heart a religious conservative. In 1536 he and Fitzwilliam, assisted Cromwell in engineering Queen Anne Boleyn's downfall. He helped to suppress the Pilgrimage of Grace, (led by Robert Aske ), leading his Surrey retinue and other cavalry from Ampthill to join the Duke of Suffolk in Lincolnshire in October and proceeding to Yorkshire in November. One of the delegation that negotiated with the rebels at Doncaster in December, he delivered commissions to the new deputy wardens of the northern marches in January 1537, and helped secure peace with Scotland in February and March.
Browne was present at Prince Edward's baptism on 15 October 1537. He was again in France in 1538, once more provoking controversy with complaints about his poor treatment and eliciting praise from Edmund Bonner and criticism from Thomas Cromwell. In 1539 Henry made him a privy councillor, master of the horse, and captain of the gentleman pensioners, and visited his house at Battle in Sussex. There was further trouble with Cromwell, who complained that Viscount Lisle was writing to Browne and others rather than to himself about sacramentaries at Calais. It was rumoured that Browne, Fitzwilliam, and Sir William Kingston wanted to replace Cromwell with Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, and Browne was certainly on good terms with Gardiner, who was no friend to the chief minister. However, Cromwell apparently did not object to Fitzwilliam securing Browne's election as knight of the shire for Surrey in 1539. Active in that parliament, Browne was elected for Surrey again in 1542, 1545, and 1547. In the last two he arranged for his son Anthony to be returned as a burgess for Guildford. He also served on other local commissions from 1535 onwards. He was nominated for sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in November 1539, but lost out to Sir Christopher More of Loseley.
Browne died on 28 April 1548 at Byfleet, Surrey, and was buried at Battle in a tomb with his first wife.
His eldest son, Anthony, succeeded to his father's estates, and was created in 1554 Viscount Montague.