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Daniel Gunn Browne

Margaret Jackson
Born: January 5, 1808
Died: May 24, 1892 Died:
Father: William BROWN Father: John JACKSON
Mother: Unnamed BOYD Mother: Elizabeth McCullagh
Married: 12 June 1838 at First Ballybay Church.

*NOTE: The surname is sometimes spelled as BROWN - without the "E" in several of the records. The photo of Daniel Gunn BROWNE is courtesy of Christine WRIGHT of Gilford Castle.

(NOTE: The first group of names come from 1990 Journal of The Creggan Local History Society The second group of names comes from a scrap of paper found in the papers of Mary Menary. There is some overlap. The handwriting looks to be that of Eliz Jackson. If this is the case, then the list is likely accurate.)

William R. BROWNE, born 9 January 1841, died age 21.
John Jackson BROWNE, born 19 July 1843, died age 33.
Elizabeth Sarah BROWNE Known as "Sarah" 6 February 1847, married James (Jemmie) Jackson.
Daniel Francis BROWNE, born 28 July 1849, died age 18.
Beatrice Matilda Boyd BROWNE
William Herbert BROWNE (died at age 19)
Robert Boyd BROWNE b. February 19, 1845 d. 1927 in Boise, Idaho, USA
David Bell BROWNE
Margaret Jackson BROWNE
Edward George Simpson BROWNE
Thomas McCullagh BROWNE He worked at the HSBC with Sir Thomas Jackson, his uncle. D. aft 1905
Hugh Kirkpatrick BROWNE d. 1904

My own introduction to the particulars of Daniel Gunn BROWNE were in an article by the Rev John MACMILLAN. His account of BROWNE’s life, written as it was in approximately 1930, has a tone which is a touch florid for the readers of today. It is, however, worth disregarding the tone for its contents. Fortinately, MCMILLAN's complete article was reprinted in the 1990 Journal of The Creggan Local History Society and is available by order from that group (on the internet).

Ever since I saw the name of Daniel Gunn BROWNE in the family records which I inherited from my father, and which he received from Gitte JACKSON who had complied them from notes done by Eilie BARTLEY, I was curious about where the family name GUNN might originate from. The only conjecture of mine that had any accuracy at all was that its origin was Scottish. The source of it in our family tree puts the lie to direct family transmission being the only way to an inherited name:

Five years before the nineteenth century had entered on its course, two young Scotsmen - William Brown and Daniel Gunn - bade adieu to their native land and sailed as missionaries for Persia. Carey had just completed his Bengalese Version of the new Testament; Morrison had not yet started for China; Henry Martyn's eyes had not yet been gratified with the sight of India; John Williams and Robert Moffat were still in their mother's arms.

The Scottish vessel was wrecked off the Skerries, the two soldiers of the Cross escaping with their lives. They had to abandon all immediate hope of seeing the land of their dreams. By-and by, they felt convinced that their mission field lay nearer home, assuredly gathering that they were called to labour in Ireland, whither they had been brought in such a strange and unexpected way.

Accordingly, in 1796, William Brown settled as Congregational minister in Moy, Co. Tyrone, where his son was born on the 5th of January, 1808. The child had given to him in baptism the full name of his father's friend - "Daniel Gunn".

I have highlighted the word Persia since with the lives in the next generation of Samuel GILMORE & Elizabeth BROWN (daughter of Thompson BROWN), make this earlier mention of Persia intriguing. Later in the article, a further link of interest occurs with respect to names which I have been tracking in our family tree presents itself. Apparently it was a Dr. Oliver EDGAR who was responsible for BROWNE’s education at “the school in Armagh”. Which school exactly, I don’t yet know.

What we do know is that Daniel Gunn BROWNE matriculated at Belfast College in 1823 and with the view of entering the Presbyterian ministry. According to his biographer, he was a cut above the common lot right from the get go.

“He pursued his collegiate studies with great devotion, distinguishing himself in every class, and gaining the respect of every professor. He was awarded prizes in Logic and Belles Lettres, Greek, Literary Criticism, Mental Science; for "distinguished manner of answering at examination for general certificate in the regular and extra course of Metaphysics, Philosophy and Polite Literature"; whilst, according to Professor Stevelly's certificate, he "all but obtained the Faculty medal in Moral Philosophy, Logic and Belles Lettres".
Nearly every class makes mention of his sound judgement, his high character, his honourable bearing, his exceptional regularity - in some cases only absent for one hour during a session, in most instances not at all. No wonder his teachers took note of his "honourable bearing", for throughout his long life he ever illustrated and adorned the "grand old name of gentleman".

Six years later, at age 21,In 1829, BROWNE set out for Edinburgh University, where he resided for two years and completed his theological curriculum. He there gained prizes in Rhetoric, "The Humanities" and for "a very ingenious and eloquent essay, which reflected great credit on his learning and taste".

Having passed with much distinction through a curriculum extending over seven years, Mr. Brown was licensed in Dundalk, on 8th November, 1831, by the Presbytery of Armagh. On the following Lord's Day, he preached in the same church his first public sermon from the text: "Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God". In that sermon he struct the key-note of his life. His aim was to bring the Gospel to bear on personal conduct, social customs and national laws that they might be so transfigured as to be a counterpart of the life of heaven and reflect the mind of the Eternal.

Now Dundalk was the area where our JACKSONs and BRADFORDs were all ready well known and respected, not that history credits them with such a lofty moral compass as that possessed by Daniel Gunn BROWNE:

It is touching and edifying to see a man of imperial gifts entering upon the work that comes to his hand without a thought of fame. Most young men, with a tithe of his talents, would have waited to choose their own fields but Mr. Brown accepted the first call that was presented to him and, three months after licenture, was ordained over the joint charge of Creggan and Newtownhamilton, Messrs. Richard Dill and Shuldham Henry assisting in the service.

It is quite likely that this Reverend Richard DILL was the same as is in the lineage of the MOORHEAD branch of our family. The next bit of the tale shows the lighter side (or more frustrating side – depending upon your perspective) of being a rural minister in Ireland in the mid-1800s.

On one occasion, he [BROWNE] started early in the morning on horseback, as he had arranged to preach on that day in Dundalk. The road was passed over very pleasantly as far as Forkhill, when, all of a sudden, the horse refused to go farther. An hour was spent in trying to humour him but he was not easy to be entreated. Some farmers going to chapel saw the minister's plight and, after their efforts to persuade had proved futile, a fresh horse was offered and saddled. He was mounted by the traveller, who reached his place of destination half an hour past the appointed time of service - followed all the way by his own unbridled steed in apparently penitent and apologetic mood. The congregation had left with the exception of one member, who immediately collected the necessary quorum of "the two or three" whose meeting together secures the presence of Another, when the service was solemnly conducted and greatly enjoyed by preacher and worshippers. The daughter of the gentleman who put so much trust in the preacher's faithfulness to his promise as to linger within the precincts of the sanctuary in confident expectation of his appearing, if at all in the land of the living, is now well known as a thinker and educationist both in this country and on the Continent.

I would love to know who was this daughter who was known as a thinker and educationist both in this country and on the Continent. Surely she was as pious and true as Daniel Gunn BROWNE himself (as MACMILLAN goes on to hammer home – but I will spare you some). What is intriguing about this, is the way that BROWNE chose to respond to the tragedy of the famine:

The years of famine gave him large opportunities for exhibiting the practical side of pure and undefiled religion. He was untiring in his exertions. He not merely took a ceaseless part in distributing public relief - he had himself a hand open as day for melting charity, freely gave the bread from his own table, the last shilling in his own pocket, or the last change of raiment in his own wardrobe. The sum of the Ten Commandments was the rule of his life: "Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself". To him "neighbour" was not merely one of his own family, or friends, or social circle, or denomination, but every Irishman or man, irrespective of creed or class, whom he could help by work or by act. He never asked a blessing at meals without tender remembrance of the poor and needy and them that have no helper.

Mary Cumiskey: in her article on Sir Thomas JACKSON in the same 1990 Journal of the Creggan Local History Society makes many of the same points as MACMILLAN. The political context which she focuses on is particularly interesting:

“Rev. Daniel Gunn Brown was a charismatic figure, a man of great compassion for his less well-off brethern at a time when famine and the abuses of the landlord system were destroying his people. His biographer, Rev. John MacMillan, said of him: "..... He lived fifty years in advance of his time ....." 15. It was also said of him that he was a helper of every man in need, irrespective of religion, freely giving bread from his table and the last shilling in his pocket. He was very much involved in the Tenant League which sought to obtain the legalizing of the "Ulster Custom": that a man should not be evicted by his landlord except for non-payment of rent; that he should be compensated for improvements; and that he should be able to sell his tenancy. He gave evidence before "The Select Committee on Outrages", in 1852, insisting that oppressive landlords were partly to blame for the sad state of tenants at that time. At the hearing, he was asked by the Solicitor-General for Ireland: "..... Do you think a man has a right to do what he likes with his own.....?" This was in connection with Rev. Brown's deposition regarding security of tenure on fair principles for landlord and tenant. Rev. Brown replied: "..... I think no man has a right to do what is wrong.....". He lived to see the "Ulster Custom" made law by Gladstone's "Land Act" in 1880 and fair rents secured by the "Second Land Act" of 1881.16

And again from Rev MacMillan:

From the date of his retirement in active life in 1869, rendered necessary by heart disease, induced by his manifold labours, he became more than ever the loving and beloved head of his household, and to a very wide circle of relatives, ministers and acquaintances from far and near, the "guide, philosopher and friend".

To the last, he took a keen interest in public events, in all matters relative to church life and work, in all meetings of presbyteries, synods and assemblies. He read the newspaper "to see how his Father was governing the world". It was almost a means of grace to see at times his eyes assume a far-off look, as if gazing on the hills already empurpled with the days, and hear him speak of the great new time that was coming on.

Now, I realize in our day and age it is hard to stumble over language such as empurpled, but it is worth perservering (try reading it aloud):

In replying to an expression of good wishes forwarded to him by the Newry Presbytery on his eighty-fourth birthday, he writes under date of 2nd March 1892: "For many years past I have traced with increasing interest the movements of Divine Providence in the affairs of this lower world. My day of observation is now as a shadow that swiftly declineth, but younger brethern may live to see great changes in churches, states and governments, and greater still may be anticipated when the enlightened nations of Christendom come to comprehend and to apply the sublime truths and counsels of Him who is wonderful, counsellor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end".

His memory remained with him to the end. At family worship he often repeated whole chapters. The Word of God was his mediation. A few days before his death, he remarked: "What a comfort that twenty-third psalm has been to me". He never murmured. Once he said, referring to the years of an old man; "Yet is their strength only labour and sorrow", but, on being reminded that the infirmities incidental to age will be laid aside, that old senses will be rejuvenated and new senses imparted, that we shall see as we are seen, know as we are known, and grow up into the stature of the perfect man in Christ Jesus after the power of an endless life, tears of joy ran down his cheeks and feelings of gratitude strove for utterance on his lips.

And then he died:

The message came as he was surrounded by the members of his family, who had waited on him with touching devotion all through his declining years, and as one of his daughters was reading to him some of the promises of the Saviour, followed by his favourite hymn, "O God of Bethel", and the psalm he particularly loved.

At his funeral, his wife Margaret requested that the following be read. It came from a pamphlet which she had come upon during his last illness:

I shine in the light of God;
His likeness stamps my brow;
Through the valley of death my feet have trod,
And I reign in glory now!
I have reached the joys of heaven;
I am one of the sainted band;
For my head a crown of gold is given,
And a harp is in my hand".

"Full Circle: A Story of Ballybay Presbyterians" David Nesbitt, 1999. Cahans Publications. The Manse, Clones Road, Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

p. 64 "D.G. Brown ministered there for 33 years from 1835 and was noted as a preacher. (NOTE: The "Brown" here has no "e" on the end.) He had "great sympathy with people in trouble" and helped many during the famine years. Like the Jacksons family he was actively involved in the Tenant Right cause (J.B.A. Bell, A History of Clarkesbridge and First Newtonhamilton)

p. 70 23rd August 1842 the name of D G Brown - Newtonhamilton appears in the baptismal register concerning the ordination of James Crawford. Wm Breakey - Balladian & James McCullagh - Ballybay are both mentioned as elders. D G Gunn sermon explained Presbyterian ordination. Afterwards, "the Presbytery was entertained at dinner by the congregation in the house of Mr. John Breakey. This John Breakey was probably John of Drumskelt.
p. 339 Clerk of Ballybay Presbytery

"At the Ford of the Birches", James H. & Peadar Murnane. Published by Murnane Brothers, Sept 1999.
p. 114 "Rev. D.G. Brown was the convener during the vacancy..." This would be 1853.

Margaret BROWNE
As usual when it comes to most sources dating from the 1800s, women are but shadows. The only mention of Margaret BROWNE in the eleven page article by Rev. John MacMillan is with regard to her choice of scripture (I would assume because it met with his approval). Since we also know that she gave birth to at least eleven children (perhaps not all surviving infancy), then is certainly more worth noting in her life than that. Regrettably, for now, we have to be content with merely catching glimpses of her hiding in the shadows of her times. (But I'll keep looking!)



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