Sir Anthony Browne, courtier, (c. 1500 – 6 May 1548) of Battle Abbey and Cowdray Park, both in Sussex, England, was a Member of Parliament and a courtier who served as Master of the Horse to King Henry VIII. was the son of Sir Anthony and Lucy Browne. He was the son and heir of Sir Anthony Browne (died 1506) "the Elder", Standard Bearer of England and Governor of Queenborough Castle in Kent, by his wife Lucy Neville, the widow of Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam of Aldwark and a daughter of John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu and Isabel Ingaldsthorpe. The younger Anthony was, therefore, a younger half-brother of William Fitzwilliam, 1st Earl of Southampton.
Browne was regularly at Henry VIII's court when not engaged in diplomatic, military, or other official duties. Though recalled in 1519 for striking a fellow emissary, by October he had become a gentleman of the privy chamber and thus part of Henry's inner circle.
Browne enjoyed a close relationship to King Henry VIII, and was made guardian of Edward and Elizabeth, upon Henry's death. Browne rode next to Edward during the formal funeral procession from the Tower of London to Westminster Palace in 1547. Browne died on 28 April 1548 at Byfleet, Surrey.
Anthony Browne's recorded royal services began in 1518, when he was appointed surveyor and master of hunting for the Yorkshire castles and lordships of Hatfield, Thorne, and Conisbrough. He was in an embassy to hand over Tournai to King Francis I of France. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, knighted him on 1 July 1522. In 1525 he was made lieutenant of the Isle of Man. He was the English ambassador to France in 1527, reporting home in increasingly anti-French terms.
Browne played a supporting role in the military suppression of the 1536 Roman Catholic uprisings in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, commonly known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. In particular, he led a force of around 2000 mounted troops to Lincoln in October 1536 and was placed in charge of a garrison at Barton-upon-Humber the following month.
In 1539 Browne was elected as a Member of Parliament for the county seat of Surrey and was elected again in 1542, 1545, and 1547. In 1539 he was appointed as the king's Master of the Horse, a position he retained until his death.
In January 1540, when King Henry VIII went to Rochester in Kent to meet his future fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, he first sent Browne, as his Master of the Horse, into her chamber. Browne later declared that he was never more dismayed in his life, "lamenting in his heart to see the Lady so far unlike that which was reported". Henry VIII confided his own disappointment the next day to Browne as they returned to Greenwich Palace on the royal barge.
In 1540 Browne was made a Knight of the Garter and was granted Battle Abbey, the buildings and estate of which had come into the hands of the Crown in 1538 following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which he turned into a country house.
In 1542, on the death of his elder half-brother the Earl of Southampton, Browne inherited from him the estate of Cowdray House in Sussex, purchased by him in 1528. Browne completed the building of "that magnificent house" which was destroyed by fire in 1793, but which was rebuilt. It was sold in 1843 to the 6th Earl of Egmont by the nieces of the 8th Viscount Montagu.
Browne had to be careful not to be brought down by factional politics at the court of King Henry VIII. A possible threat to his position was his mother Lucy Neville, an unreconciled Yorkist who was never trusted by the Tudors. He became so trusted by the king that in his later years he held a dry stamp of the King's signature, to use for minor letters. By 1547 he was Keeper of Oatlands Palace.
Anthony Browne died on 6 May 1548 at Byfleet House in Surrey, which he built, and was buried in St Mary the Virgin Church, Battle, Sussex, in the tomb of his first wife Alice Gage, as requested in his will. His chest tomb with effigies of himself and his first wife Alice Gage survives. He was succeeded in his estates by his eldest son, Anthony Browne, who subsequently in 1554 was created Viscount Montagu.
He married twice:
- Firstly, before 1528, to Alice Gage (died pre-1540), a daughter of Sir John Gage by his wife Philippa Guildford, by whom he had seven sons and three daughters including:
- Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu, eldest son and heir;
- Mary Browne, who married John Grey of Pirgo, her step-mother's first cousin and a younger son of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset. She was the mother of Henry Grey, 1st Baron Grey of Groby;
- Mabel Browne, who married Gerald FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Kildare, her step-mother's brother;
- William Browne, who married Anne Hastings (1528-1572), the eldest of the two sisters and co-heiresses of John Hastings, de jure 15th Baron Hastings (d.1542), of Elsing in Norfolk. The eventual heiress of Elsing and Wesenham was Phillipa Browne, who married John Berney (d.1719), and thus Elsing passed to her Berney descendants. The eventual heiress Frances Berney (born 1760) married Rev. Richard Eaton, Rector of Elsing, who assumed by royal licence dated 1786 the surname "Browne", thus Elsing Hall was once again held by the Browne family.
- Lucy Browne, who married Thomas Roper (1533-1598), of Eltham in Kent, MP.
- Secondly, at sometime after 1540, he married Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a daughter of Gerald FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare by his wife Lady Elizabeth Grey, a daughter of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, a son of Elizabeth Woodville, later the wife of King Edward IV. She was one of the great beauties of her age, known as the "Fair Geraldine". She survived her husband and re-married to Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln. By his second wife he had two further children who both died young.