William Browne, Senior, emigrated from England in 1635, and became a leading member of the Salem community. He was an important supporter of the First Church, donating not only money but wheat, barley, malt, and butter. He was also a benefactor of Salem and Charlestown schools, as well as Harvard College. Browne also served as a representative, assistant, and councillor on the general court for several years.
In his will, proved on February 8, 1687, Wiliam Browne left £10 to the First Church, and these beakers (lots 63 and 64) were undoubtedly made with this bequest.
William Browne's sons and grandsons remained in the Salem area for one hundred years after his death and played active roles in the community. His son William Browne, Jr. (1639-1715) donated a silver vessel to the First Church that was later melted down and fashioned into a silver dish. Another son, Benjamin (1648-1708), donated a silver baptismal basin to the First Church, but which was later transferred to the Salem Tabernacle Church and remade into another dish in 1785. His grandson, Samuel Browne (1669-1731), was the most prominent Essex County merchant of the early eighteenth century and left the First Church money to purchase silver with in his will.
A silver spoon with the monogram of William Browne, Sr. and his second wife, Hannah Corwin, made by John Hull and Robert Sanderson, is in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum and is illustrated in Martha Gandy Fales, Silver at the Essex Institute, 1983, cat. no. 1, p. 9.
Payments made to the Church in money and wheat in 1692 by William Browne Senior, Early Deacons' Account Book 1662-1713
The First Church in Salem