Nicholas Brown, Sr

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Nicholas Brown, Sr

Birthdate: (61)
Birthplace: Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Death: May 29, 1791 (61)
Immediate Family:

Son of James Brown, II and Hope Tillinghast Brown
Husband of Rhoda Brown and Avis Brown
Father of Hope Brown; Nicholas Brown, II and Hope Ives
Brother of Joseph Brown; Hon. John Brown, Founder of Brown University; Moses Brown; James Brown and Mary Brown

Managed by: Private User
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About Nicholas Brown, Sr

Nicholas Brown was born in Providence, 28 July 1729. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography says of Him: (Vol VII, 27) "Nicholas Brown, merchant and benefactor of Brown University was the second son of James and Hope Power Brown and the first of the 'four brothers' Brown. From the first establishment of the College at Providence, he was its unfailing benefactor. He contributed generously to the first college hall and with is brothers, gave the land on which it stood. This was a part of the original home site of Chad Brown, their ancestor" He married first, Rhoda, daughter of Daniel Jenckes, second Avis Binney. He died May 29, 1719, leaving two children by his first wife:

  • 1. Nicholas Brown known as Nicholas II
  • 2. Hope b. 1773 m Thomas Ives


Nicholas Brown, Sr. (July 26, 1729 – May 29, 1791) was a Providence, Rhode Island merchant who co-founded the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which was renamed Brown University after Brown's son Nicholas Brown, Jr. in 1804. He was born in 1729 to James Brown II and Hope Power Brown.

According to Sotheby's a desk-and-bookcase crafted by John Goddard of the Newport tradition and originally owned by Nicholas Brown, Sr. sold in June 1989 for $12,100,000, the highest price ever paid for a piece of American furniture at that date.

Foundation of Brown University

In 1764, Nicholas Brown, Sr. joined his brothers John Brown and Moses Brown, and several others as an original fellow or trustee for the chartering of the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the original name for Brown University). Brown was an active supporter of the College and of the First Baptist Church in America throughout his life. Upon his death in 1791, Rev. Dr. Stillman, of Boston gave a eulogy on Nicholas Brown:

He was the affectionate husband, the tender father, the compassionate master, the dutiful son, the loving brother, and the steady, faithful friend. He took much pains, by reading and by conversation, to inform his mind, and had acquired much general knowledge. But religion was his favorite subject. To Christianity in general, as founded on a fulness of evidence, and to its peculiar doctrines, he was firmly attached. * * * He was a Baptist from principle, and a lover of good men of all denominations. Blessed with opulence, he was ready to distribute to public and private uses. In his death the college in this place, this church and society, the town of Providence, and the general interests of religion, learning, and liberality have lost a friend indeed.


Nicholas Brown, Sr. was also a known slavetrader. Brown's involvement in the Triangular Trade in African slaves and financial contribution to the early years of Brown University's development are addressed in the official Response of Brown University to the Report of the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice.


Brown was a descendant of an early Rhode Island founder and Baptist minister, Chad Brown. Nicholas Brown and his three brothers (John, Moses, and Joseph) were known in Rhode Island annals as the “Four Brothers.” He also had a sister, Mary.

Brown's son, Nicholas Brown, Jr. (1769–1841), was a Providence, Rhode Island businessman and philanthropist. He graduated from the College of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in 1786, and became such a great benefactor to the school that it was renamed Brown University for him in 1804.

Find A Grave Memorial# 21280696

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Nicholas Brown, Sr's Timeline

July 28, 1729
Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Age 34
April 4, 1769
Age 39
Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States
Age 43
Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States
May 29, 1791
Age 61