Richard Browne 1605-1683
Sir Richard BROWNE 1605-1683
Son of Christopher Browne, of Saye’s Court, Deptford. BA St Alban Hall, Oxford 1623, fellow of Merton College, Oxford 1624, MA (Merton) 1628; admitted at Gray’s Inn, 1627. Became secretary to Isaac Wake, English ambassador in Venice and subsequently in Paris, sometime before 1631; spent much of the 1630s in Paris, latterly with the English ambassador John Scudamore, Viscount Scudamore. Clerk in ordinary to the Privy Council , 1641; English resident in Paris, as ambassador for Charles I and subsequently Charles II in exile, 1642-60. Made a baronet by Charles II, 1649. Financial hardships during the 1650s were compounded by infighting among the royalists in exile, but he remained loyal to the idea of a protestant monarchy. At the Restoration, he resumed his position as Clerk to the Privy Council (until 1672), and was made Muster-master-general. He became Master of Trinity House in 1673.
Browne was an active bibliophile whose collection is particularly associated with that of his son in law, John Evelyn, who married Browne’s daughter Mary in 1647 and who lived thereafter at Saye’s Court. Browne influenced Evelyn with his liking for fine French bindings and bequeathed his library to Evelyn; its size and contents are not recorded but much of Browne’s collection remained with the Evelyn family until 1977 when the Evelyn library was dispersed at Christie’s. Browne’s papers are now part of the Evelyn archive at the the British Library. Examples: National Art Library Clements P28; Maggs 1075/48.
Browne sometimes used an engraved armorial bookplate (Franks 4009). Browne used a series of armorial and monogram binding stamps, incorporating his arms or the initials “EB”/“ERB” (combining his initials with E for his wife Elizabeth). He began to use these stamps in the 1630s, and many of his bindings before 1660 were made in Paris; after the Restoration, some new tools were cut, but some of the earlier tools originally used in Paris were also passed to English binders.
- The Evelyn Library, sales at Christies, 22 June 1977-13 July 1978.
- Foot, M. ‘John Evelyn’s bookbindings’ in F. Harris and M. Hunter (eds), John Evelyn and his milieu, London, 2003, 61-70.
- Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903.
- Hofmann, T. et al, ‘John Evelyn’s archive at the British Library’, The Book Collector, 44 (1995), 147-209, pp.196-8.
- Peacey, J. T. "Browne, Sir Richard, baronet (1605–1683), diplomat." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.