Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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Geoffrey Dennis Browne


Major Geoffrey Dennis Browne - Regiment: Royal Field Artillery Unit Text: "C" Bty. 240th Bde. Age: 28 Date of Death: 19/09/1916 Additional information: Son of the Rev. Ernest A. Browne, of 1, Miles Rd., Clifton, Bristol. Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference: H. 39. Cemetery: AVELUY COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION.

The Browne family descends from a Michel Bruneau and Helene Elizabeth Descharmes who were Huguenots that settled in Brick Lane, Spitafields. London.  They changed their names to Michael and Eleanor Browne after they married in St Jean, Spitafields on Christmas Day 1722.
Their son Simon was the father of William Loder Browne who emigrated to Philidelphia in 1824 (abandoning his family) after absconding with someone else's trust fund, changing his name to William L. Breton.  He became one of the first American Lithographers and died there in 1855. 
William Loder Browne's sons Septimus and Octavius emigrated to Australia and New Zealand and on their voyages were writing to a Thomas and Eliza Moxon (believed to possibly be their sister and brother in law).  The letters are held at the National Library of Australia.
Octavius, the grandfather of Geoffrey, was a Merchant who was friends with Charles Joseph La Trope the 1st Lieutenant Governor of Victoria, the Bishop of Melbourne, Charles Perry and the artist Georgiana Huntley McCrae who painted his portrait in 1841 which is in the State Library of Victoria.  Octavius returned to England and was on the Board of Directors of the Indian Mercantile Agency (Ltd) in 1856.
Geoffrey's father Rev. Ernest Alfred Browne B.A. was ordained by the Bishop of Chichester at Chichester Cathedral on 18th December 1870 and became Curate of Hurstpierpoint and later St Margaret's in Westminster.  Ernest was conferred his degree, 'Master of Arts' at Trinity College, Cambridge University on 15th May 1873.
Whilst living in Westminster in 1884 Ernest's housekeeper/cook, Emily Cheek, swindled money meant for the trademan's bills and was accused of stealing £27/1s, although £120 was unaccounted for.  She was taken before the Magistrate who sent her for trial at the 'Old Bailey', where she was found guilty of forgery and other indictments for stealing articles belonging to Ernest and sentenced to 12 months hard labour on 28th January 1884.

Geoffrey was born on the 10th May 1888. He attended Clifton College from 1902 to 1905. His elder brother, Michael Ernest Browne (born 28th February 1886), a Solicitor, also attended Clifton College 1901-1905. He also played rugby for Clifton RFC from 1905-06. He died in 1911. Their father was Rev. Ernest Alfred Browne and mother Maria (nee Boles). His mother's brother, Dennis Fortescue Boles, married John Lysaght's daughter Beatrice Ringrose Lysaght on 26th July 1894 in St Jude, South Kensington.  Their son, Geoffrey and Ernest's cousin, Hasting Fortescue Boles also died during WWI. Dennis Boles was an M.P. for West Somerset, Master of the West Somerset Foxhounds and also an Army man with 3rd Bn. Devonshire Regiment.

Above Hasting Fortescue Boles, Geoffrey's Cousin. He died on 24th May 1915, aged only 19. He is buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord). He was an observer for the Royal Flying Corps when making a reconnaissance over enemy lines when he was hit in the head by a shot from an enemy anti-aircraft gun. He was not killed straight away. Upon returning to base and being seen to by medical staff he died later that evening.

Geoffrey Dennis Browne joined Clifton RFC in 1906-07.

Above from the August 15th 1914 edition of the Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic. Departure of the 3rd Battery (Gloucester) 1st South Midland Brigade of Field Artillery. The caption read "Lieut. Ryan and Capt. G.D.Browne just off."

Above Geoffrey in 1915

Above the grave of Geoffrey Dennis Browne.

Above Geoffrey is also commemorated on the Country Department and Spelter Work's War Memorial 1914-1919 at the Avonview Cemetery, Beaufort Road, St George, Bristol. Image courtesy of Pauline Luscombe of the Barton Hill History Group. For more on BHHG click here

Above 1 Miles Road, Clifton. The site has been redeveloped but was the home of Geoffrey Dennis Browne's father.

His name on the Clifton College Memorial Arch.

Above the Clifton College Memorial arch at the entrance to Clifton College in 2008.