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By Richard Dana Smith, Sr.

Date of birth: unknown
Baptized: 26 Jan 1594/5, Dorking, Surrey, England
Marriage 1: widow Martha Ford, about 1624
Children: Four (4) 2 children, 2 stepchildren
1. Mary Browne, b. about 1626, married Ephraim Tinkham
2. Priscilla Browne, b. about 1628, married William Allen
3. stepchild Martha Ford
4. stepchild John Ford
Marriage 2: Mary (maiden name unknown)
Children: Two (2)
1. Rebecca, b. about 1631, married William Snow
2. child name unknown, b. about 1633, d. before adulthood
Death: between 25 March 1633 and 28 October 1633
Burial Site: unknown

 

Peter Browne's Ale tankard on display at the Pilgrim Hall Museum.

  • Peter Browne was not part of the Leiden Separatist community and not much is known about his background.
  • Peter was the 31st signer of the Mayflower Compact.
  • On 12 Jan 1621, Peter Browne and John Goodman had been cutting thatch for house roofing all morning. They ate some meat and went for  s short walk to refresh themselves, when their two dogs (an English Mastiff and an English Spaniel) spied a great deer and gave chase. Peter and John followed and quickly got lost. They wandered around the entire afternoon in the rain, and spent the night in a tree fearing that they had heard lions roaring in the woods. The next day they made their way up a hill, spotted the Bay, reoriented themselves, and made it back home to an extremely worried Colony that had already sent out two exploring parties in an attempt to find them.
  • In a partial list of the house locations of the Pilgrims made out in 1620, John Goodman and Peter Browne appear to have been neighbors on the south side of the Street and the ocean side of the Highway. Peter Browne was apparently still living there during the 1623 Division of Land.
  • By about 1624, he married Martha Ford, who arrived as one of the only female passengers on the ship Fortune in 1621. She gave birth almost immediately after arriving, but husband Ford apparently died during the voyage or shortly after arrival.
  • Peter and Martha had two children. After Martha died, Peter married Mary (unknown) and they also had two children.
  • By the middle of the 1620s, Browne had married Martha, the widow of ship's mater Ford of the Fortune, who was a passenger of that second ship to arrive at Plymouth.
  • Peter's skills as a carpenter were valuable in the new settlement. Building shelters was a top priority. By late 1621, there were seven dwellings  and four storehouses. By 1623, when additional ships had brought more settlers, the Colony had twenty houses.
  • In addition to his carpentry and farming tools, Peter owned 130 bushels of corn, six goats, five lambs, a cow and several pigs. Household goods included a variety of bedding, cooking utensils, two brass candlesticks, some pewter and the essential chamber pot. The household had a Bible, a cradle and several chests.

  • He died without a will and left four children under age 10. The court placed the older two in Plymouth families, stipulating that at the end of the period they were bound for Mary, 9 years, and Priscilla, 12 years, each be provided the sum of 15 pounds.
  • His widow Mary presented the inventory of his estate to the Plymouth Court on 28 October, 1633.
  • The widow Mary and her two Browne children received the balance of the estate after debts were paid.
  • The administration of the estate of Peter Browne on October 10, 1633, indicates that he died sometime since the last reference to his property in the records. It is widely believed that he succumbed to the same sickness that spread through Plymouth Colony in the summer of 1633. He was survived by his second wife Mary who acted as the executrix of his estate. The Plymouth General Court determined that money was to be set aside for his daughters from his first marriage, whose care was taken up by neighbor John Donne.
  • Peter Browne died, probably during the general sickness that occurred that autumn and afflicted the Mayflower passengers Samuel Fuller Sr. and Francis Eaton among several others in Plymouth.
  • Peter was the son of William Browne of Dorking, the same community in which William Mullins and family lived. His father died when Peter was 10 years-old. He had and older brother Thomas and sister Jane, and three younger brothers Samuel, John and James. His brother came to PLymouth Colony about 1632 and eventually settled in Duxbury.

REFERENCES
General Society of Mayflower Descendants
Mayflower Families Through Five Generations (Silver Books)
Pilgrim Hall Museum
Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, William Bradford
Caleb Johnson's MayflowerHistory.com