Seth Ingersoll Browne

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ChartsAncestors of Harriet Hanson Robinson
Seth Ingersoll Browne to Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
(John) Calvin Coolidge Jr. - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
Richard Milhous Nixon - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
George H. W. & George W. Bush - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
Seth Ingersoll Browne, son of William Browne and Mary Bayley, was born probably shortly before his baptism at Cambridge, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, 8 July 1750.1 He died of consumption at Charlestown, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, 9 March 1809, and was buried in the Granary Burial Ground, tomb 52, Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts. The tomb was originally owned in part by a relative, Elisha Browne, but was sold after 1808 by the selectmen of Boston, and another name substituted for the original, "Warren."2,3

Seth married (1) Lucy Brown, whose parents are unknown (or not traced here), at Cambridge, 7 July 1777;2 he married (2) Sarah Goding, daughter of William Goding and Sarah Stearns, at Charlestown, 5 October 1786.4

In 1790, his household was probably the one enumerated at Cambridge, with 1 free white male over 16, 3 under 16, and 4 free white females.5

Seth was a thick-set man with a fierce look--called by his descendents the Browne scowl--and had white, even "double" teeth which he gritted n his sleep. He had black hair and light eyes; one blinded in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

He was a carpenter by trade, and in 1773 had a shop at the end of Warren Bridge in Charlestown. He stored there some of the ammunition later used at the battle of Bunker Hill. The place was destroyed when Charlestown was burned by the British. 1773 was also the year of the Boston Tea Party, and Seth was one of the "Mohawks" and had a hand in tossing the tea into Boston Harbor.

He was a member of the militia, and a non-commissioned officer; he fought and was wounded at Bunker Hill. He fought for some time and then helped in rolling barrels of stone down the hill to make the British think the patriots had plenty of gunpowder. He never forgot the cry of "No ammunition, no ammunition!," which forced the patriots to retreat. When Major Andrew McClary, his commanding officer, was wounded, Browne took over and superintended the retreat across the Mystic River. While the patriots were crossing in open boats, Maj McClary was killed by a shot from a frigate.

He continued his service as assistant camp commissary under Washington at Cambridge, and he was one of the company of men picked to transport on horseback the money sent to Washington by Lafayette from Newport RI to White Plains New York. He was a man to be trusted, but not a man of property.

Family legend held that Seth was paid off after the war with a large sheaf of Continental bills. By then the money had depreciated so far as to be worthless, and his angry wife threw the whole stack into the fire (bringing to mind the phrase "not worth a Continental").

His eyesight did not permit him to work at his trade. Having sacrificed his livelihood, his health, and his fortune to the cause, he supported his family precariously by keeping a tavern called the Punch Bowl, on Wing's lane in Roxbury Massachusetts. He later ran a riding school and stable.

He often relived the glory days of the revolution with his daughters, holding their hands and singing verses of "Yankee Doodle" that probably originated in postwar pubs. Some verses included:
We marched down to the Long Wharf
With officers and soldiers,
And as good troops as England had
Not a foe that dared confront us.

We marched down to Charlestown Ferry,
And there we had our battle:
The shot it flew like pepper and salt
And made the old town rattle.

He used to talk about the cruel scenes which he had witnessed and when the children whimpered, he would tell them not to cry, “for we whipped [the British] when we were boys and we can now that we are men."

In 1896 HHR reported that his gun, "which he carried at Bunker Hill, is now in the possession of his grandson, Eben O. Hawes of Roxbury. It was bequeathed by my grandfather to his daughter Mrs. Cynthia Browne Hawes in about 1808. It is a King's arm with a flint lock, and weights about ten pounds. It is over six feet long, and the ramrod is over three feet long. On the right side of the barrel is engraved or stamped 'G.R.' surmounted by a crown and the word 'Tower'; on the left side there are two crowns under one of which there is something that looks like a 'v' or an 'A' upside down, and other an emblem not easy to describe."

Seth Ingersoll Browne, a genuine patriot, but a poor one--was buried in someone else's tomb in Boston's Granary Burial Ground, resting place for Revolutionary heroes. Presumably he still lies there in anonymous glory. His participation in the Tea Party was later proclaimed on a marble monument in the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Worcester, Massachusetts. After his death, the children were dispersed among strangers.2,3

Family 1

Lucy Brown d. bef. 1786
  • William Browne1 b. say 1778
  • Daniel Browne1 b. say 1780, d. 1809
  • Seth Browne1 b. say 1782, d. 1805
  • Elizabeth Browne1 b. say 1784

Family 2

Sarah Goding b. 13 Jun 1763, d. abt. Apr 1802
  • Lucy Browne2 b. say 1787
  • Abijah Browne2 b. say 1788
  • Sally Browne2 b. Nov 1789, d. 1 Jun 1836
  • Cynthia Browne2 b. 30 Aug 1791, d. 18 Oct 1872
  • Benjamin Piper Browne2 b. Feb 1793, d. 5 Mar 1843
  • Charles Browne2 b. May 1794, d. 28 Apr 1854
  • Harriet Browne+2 b. 19 Mar 1795, d. 22 Jan 1881
  • Isaac Cooper Browne2 b. 4 Nov 1798, d. bt 1841 - 1849
  • Angeline Cooper Browne2 b. 29 Nov 1798, d. 8 Mar 1882
  • William Browne2 b. Sep 1800, d. Sep 1831
  • Jane Browne2 b. 2 Apr 1802, d. 22 Oct 1870
This person was last edited on21 Feb 2020


  1. [S722] Thomas W. Baldwin, Vital Records of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850: Volume I - Births (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1914), 93-99, further cited as Baldwin, Vital Records of Cambridge: Vol I.
  2. [S720] Mrs. Harriet H. Robinson, "Nicholas Browne of Reading and Some of His Descendants," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 44 (Oct 1890): 281-286, further cited as Robinson, "Nicholas Browne."
  3. [S2038] Harriet H. Robinson, "Notes and Queries: Seth Ingersoll Browne," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 50 (Apr 1896): 225, further cited as Robinson, "Seth Ingersoll Browne."
  4. [S93] Frederic Webster Goding, Genealogy of the Goding Family (Richmond, Indiana: p.p., 1906), 13-21, further cited as Goding, Goding Genealogy.
  5. [S2161] Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790, 12 vols. (Washington D.C.: Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, 1907-1908), MA:136, further cited as Heads of Families, 1790.