Browne, Stephen Weaver

Stephen Weaver Browne (c. 1769-1832) was originally from Swaffam, Norfolk, near Norwich, and studied for the Anglican ministry at Pembroke College, Cambridge; he was admitted as a pensioner in 1785, formally matriculated in 1786, and graduated in 1790. He briefly served as curate at Harleston, Norfolk, but in the aftermath of the French Revolution, joined with other radicals advocating political reform in England and left the Anglican communion at that time. He moved in a circle in the mid- to late 1790s that included Godwin and many of his friends, as well as Mary and Elizabeth Hays, Amelia Alderson, Henry Crabb Robinson, Mary Reid and her brother, Dr. John Reid (he also subscribed to Fatal Errors), and several of the Romantic poets. After the Peace of Amiens in 1802, Browne went to France, and was detained there for a time by Napoleon. Upon his return to England, he ministered for a time to the French Protestant Church in Norwich, and briefly thereafter to a dissenting congregation on the Isle of Wight before becoming evening Lecturer to the congregation of the Old Meeting (Unitarian), Birmingham (Joseph Priestley’s former church) in May 1819. He closed his ministry in London, first at the Presbyterian congregation in Monkwell Street, London (1821-24), and then for two years at a new Presbyterian congregation in York Street, St James’s Square, London, preaching occasionally as well at the Unitarian chapel in Essex St. He remained in London after his retirement, living in the Featherstone Buildings, Holborn, until his death on 13 January 1832. Among his publications are Remarks on a Charge delivered to the Clergy of his Diocese by the Lord Bishop of Lincoln (1795), The Duties of Christian Ministers (1819), and Corruptions of Christianity (1819). See Browne’s obituary in Unitarian Chronicle 1 (1832), 32; see also George Carter, Unitarian Biographical Dictionary (London: Unitarian Christian Publishing Office, 1902), 23.