Brown Surname Meaning
English, Scottish, and Irish: Generally a nickname referring to the color of the hair or complexion, Middle English br(o)un, from Old English brun or Old French brun. As an American family name, it has absorbed numerous surnames from other languages with the same meaning.[i] The name is from an old adjective meaning ‘brown dark red,’ Old English and OHG. [ii] Read More About This Surname
Although only ranked #202 in the world, the surname Brown is ranked #2 in Scotland and Canada, #3 in Australia, and #4 in England and the United States. In the United States, it is surpassed only by Smith, Johnson, and Williams in frequency.[iii]
In the 1840s, the Brown families in the United States were in every state but concentrated in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.[iv]
My Brown Ancestors
#96 – My earliest known Brown ancestor is my 4th great-grandfather, Odel Brown. I know virtually nothing about Odel other than he was probably born about 1773, he married a woman named Jane and had at least two children, David and my 3rd great-grandfather, Barney Brown.
#48 – Barney/Daney Brown was born in New Hampshire about 1814. He married a woman named Mary probably about 1840.[v] Barney and Mary had at least four children, William Henry, Myron O., Alice C., and David V. Brown. Barney/Daney Brown seems to have vanished from the records after 1860 and before 1870, so I believe he died before 1 June 1870.
#24 – William Henry Brown (he apparently went by Henry) was born in 1842 in Michigan. I speculate that he married Marion Sanford in 1866.[vi] They had 11 children that I know of.
- Arthur Durwood Brown
- Nettie May Brown
- Charles Dean Brown
- Mary Brown
- Almond Brown
- Gerome Clifford Brown
- William Henry Brown
- Clyde Hewett Brown
- Frederick Brown
- Ada Brown
- Edward Warberton Brown
William Henry Brown appears to have died between 1885 and 1900.
#12 – Arthur Durwood Brown was born about 1864 in Michigan. He married Mary Elizabeth Manning in 1891. Arthur and Mary had twelve children:
- Clarence Arthur Brown
- Clyde Leroy Brown
- Victoria Cecelia Brown
- Martin Brown
- Cora Elsie Brown
- Richard Earl Brown (Aka Clifford Durand Brown)
- Dorothy Brown
- Edward Lewis Brown
- Arthur Eugene Brown
- Charles William Brown
- Delores Sarah Brown
- Nettie Mae Viola Brown
Arthur Durwood Brown died on 27 Aug 1928 in Walker, Minnesota.
#06 – Richard Earl Brown was born 14 September 1903 as Clifford Durwood Brown. He had a daughter, my mother, with Madonna (Donna) Montran. He always wanted to marry Donna, but she said, “No.”
He changed his name to Richard Earl Durand and married Dorothy Amanda Wilhelm. Dick, as he was known, and Dorothy had two children. Living Durand and Mary Lou Durand. He married Cecelia Ann Squires in 1975.
Richard Earl Brown died 19 January 1990.
My Direct Brown Ancestors
- #96 – Odel Brown (c. 1796-?)
- #48 – Barney/Daney Brown (c.1814-c.1860)
- #24 – William Henry Brown (1842-c.1895)
- #12 – Arthur Durwood Brown (1864-1928)
- #6 – Richard Earl Brown (aka Clifford Durwood Brown, aka Richard Earl Durand) (1903-1990)
- #3 – My mother – (Now deceased)
- #1 – Me – Generation
My known Brown relatives.
My records have 248 direct-line descendants of Barney/Daney Brown identified over nine generations, which is about 5% of my known Brown/Montran family tree. Looking at the Browns another way, I have 144 individuals with the surname of Brown in my Brown/Montran family tree, the most of any surname.
[iii] Web: Wikipedia – List of most common surnames in North America
[v] William Henry Brown was born in 1842 and is believed to be the first child of Barney and Mary Brown. Assuming they did marry, that would estimate they married about 1840.
[vi] Marian’s first child was born in 1867 when she was 20. I guesstimate she and Henry were married about a year earlier when she was 19.
Do you have a Brown ancestor? Do you think that ancestor is one of mine? If so, let’s prove it. If you have tested with Ancestry, Family Tree, or 23 & Me, please contact me through the comments field below. If you haven’t tested, I recommend you do so. Either FamilyTreeDNA or Ancestry.Com tests will easily show the genetic connection.