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Sir William Brown (1st Baronet)

1784-1864
Member of Parliament, merchant and banker, founder of the banking-house of Brown, Shipley & Co

Brown was born at Ballymena, Ireland, on 30 May 1784, the son of an Irish linen-merchant Alexander Brown and Grace Davison.   He married Sarah Gibson, daughter of Andrew Gibson, on 1 January 1810 and died on 3 March 1864 at age 79.   At the age of sixteen he accompanied his father and brothers to Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A., but in 1809 left America for Liverpool and established a branch of the firm, which began to deal in raw cotton as well as linen.  Soon afterwards he developed the business into one of general merchants and finally bankers.  Brown became one of the leaders in Liverpool commerce.


He became the Liberal .Member of Parliament for South Lancashire between 1846 and 1859.   He gained the rank of Honorary Colonel of the 1st Brigade, Lancashire Artillery Volunteers.   He wrote the book “Letters on the Advantages of Free Trade to the Landed Interest”.  In 1860 he gave Liverpool a public library and museum, at a cost of over £42,000.  He was founder of Brown, Shipley & Company in Liverpool.  (The company became a major firm in the City of London and is now part of Brown Brothers Harriman).    He held the office of Alderman of Liverpool and Justice of the Peace for Lancashire.  He also held the office of Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire.  He was Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff of Lancashire.    He was created 1st Baronet Brown, of Richmond Hill, Lancashire on 24 January 1863.


In 1860 he presented Liverpool with a public library and museum, the William Brown Library and Museum, and in 1863 was made a baronet. He died at Liverpool in 1864.
The street running in front of World Museum Liverpool, Liverpool Central Library and the Walker Art Gallery is named after him.

Sir William is buried in Childwall cemetery Liverpool.

Rob Ainsworth