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DateOriginal Topic
27th February 2003Hamilton-Brown
By Steve Moore
Just finished "A lost Legionary in South Africa".
Any one know what he ended up doing and where he is buried?
27th February 2003Keith
Browne is supposed to have died in Jamaica in 1916. He was a complete crook and a Walter Mitty type character. I have been compiling info on him for 10 years. The 3 books he wrote contain many fabrications. For instance, he did not fight in the Maori wars in New Zealand as he did not arrive there until the wars had finished. He certainly was not a Colonel in the British Army. He was not entitled to wear the New Zealand medal as shown in a phot in one of his 3 books. He was a petty criminal with strong anti semitic views. He saw some more action in South Africa in the 1880s and 90s and was later destitute in London. A newspaper article in a 1908 London paper contained the following:
"Colonel G. Hamilton-Brown, a veteran officer of Colonial Regulars who was stranded in London and was willing to black shoes for a living". A lady named Sara Wallis Wilkerson, a wealthy woman, who believed that Browne had saved her fiance in Zululand married Browne on 1st Jan 1909. He described himself as a widower on the marriage certificate. He makes no mention of his wives in any of his books. He was undoubtedly an imposter.even though he behaved credibly on 22nd January 1879. Let me know if you want more details.
28th February 2003John Young

I would certainly like to know more details, as the standard biography that I was looking at on George Hamilton Browne, appears to have been written as long ago as December, 1959 by G. Tylden.

As to your comment above that he '...was not a Colonel in the British Army.' I don't think even he infers that, himself. There is evidence that he was at least a Major in colonial force unit - the Diamond Fields Horse. Whether his confederate, Cecil John Rhodes (also of the D.F.H.), made him a colonel in his private army - the B.S.A.C., I'd have to check.

Do you have any idea when he chose to hypenate his second given name to his surname?

If you need a photograph of his father, Montague Browne, of the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment, I have one. I also have details of his father's home address in 1879, should you wish to make any enquiries in Co. Londonderry for your own research.

As to your comment about him being an imposter, he was not an imposter as far as the dictionary defination of the word, in my opinion far better to infer that he embellished the truth from time-to-time.

As to your comment re- his anti-Semitic views, we are looking at this through our 21st century enlightened eyes. I wish to state I am not acting as his defender, but 'The Jew Smouser and Irish Priest' chapter in 'A Lost Legionary in South Africa' is no worse, I fear, than the views of many of peers of the 19th century. Browne was the produce of a Protestant landed gentry class imposed in Ireland, against the will of the many of its inhabitants, which still causes division to this day. Yes he was a bigot, in my eyes, but so were many others in much higher stations.

With regard to your comment as to him not mentioning his earlier wife in any of his books, then who is the woman in the photograph opposite page 304 of 'A Lost legionary in South Africa'? taken in the 'D.F.H. camp at Speitfontein 1890' with the caption 'Maj. Hamilton-Browne and family.' There are two children present also in the photograph, one a boy aged I'd guess about five or six, the other child appears slightly younger than a toddler, and is held in the arms of a young African teenager. I take it you have conducted a search of the records of births, deaths and marriages for Kimberley circa that period? If not it might reveal something new for your research.

John Young
28th February 2003Keith Smith

Your comments on Hamilton-Browne are most interesting but John is (as usual) quite correct - he was prone to exaggerate the facts. In 'A Lost Legionary in South Africa', he says that he was the commandant of 1st/3rd NNC at Sihayo's kraal on 12th January. In fact, he was officially still only a Captain, (Local General Order 213 dated 3rd December, 1878). His appointment as Commandant was published in LGO 9, dated 12th January and not published until 14th January (Times of Natal). Not much difference, one might say, but enough to identify his character, I think.

Keith Smith
3rd March 2003Steve Moore
Thanks for info.
6th March 2003Keith
I have it that his father was George Browne, a Major in the 44th Regiment. What makes you think his father was Montague Browne? Also my copy of A Lost Legionary In South Africa has had its photos removed. Would you be kind enough to email me the picture of his family if you have time?
Thanks very much

7th March 2003AMB
Did George Browne serve in Afghanistan?
7th March 2003Paul Naish
John/Keith et al.

To ask another question re this charasmatic character' s background. Did he not serve with the Umtali Volunteres during the Mashonaland rebellion in 1897
8th March 2003John Young

You can't believe everything you read on New Zealand Government sites!

Back in 1991, in the Local History Museum, Durban, I looked at H.C. Harford's papers, amongst them is an almanac, which he has used as notebook, due I assume to the shortage of paper.

Listed in this under-researched little book, are certain pieces of information which are true prizes. The one which would interest you is ithat it lists 'Comdt. Hamilton Browne, (then his next of kin) Major Browne, Comber House, Clady, Londonderry, Ireland'.

A check by a local based researcher on my behalf, revealed this to be a Captain Montague Browne, formerly of the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment, but then responsible for the welfare of Army Pensioners in Ireland, with the honorary rank of Major.

Given that information it draw my to the link that George Hamilton Browne states that his father had previously served with Colonel Richard Thomas Glyn of 24th.

Major George Richard Browne, formerly of the 88th (Connaught Rangers) Regiment, -( I don't know if he had previously served in the 44th.) who I assume you're referring to had served in the Crimea & the Indian Mutiny as had Glyn. In 1879, he is the only living retired Major George Browne, who could possibly fit your bill.

Yet I felt the link was too strong between Glyn & Browne's father - a check of the P.R.O. proved that Montague Browne had two marriages whilst in the Army. Now here's the rub - there was no child recorded as George Hamilton Browne. I can only presume that he might have been born out of wedlock - hence this business of adding his mother's name, perhaps, to his father's name and becoming Hamilton Browne - but that's just my theory.


I know you're just trying to while away the time there - you're not confusing him with Henry George (Gore-, added later) Browne V.C., of the 32nd Light Infantry, are you? For he too doesn't look unlike the culprit either!

I'll catch up you today and tell you personally.

John Y.
9th March 2003AMB

No, I made the Afghan connection simply because of Keith's comments on the 6th. Incidently, it is really very interesting here, always plenty to keep one interested!


9th March 2003John Young

Yes the 44th (East Essex) Regt. at Gandamak, now I follow you. If you could do with a copy of Kaye's out there I'll bring it, but you'll have to swing it with my firm.

John Y.
10th March 2003AMB

Always delighted to have visitors, but now might not be a good time!
I've just sent home the copy of Signal Catastrophe that I had. Shadbolt next...
Anyway was this chap in Afghanistan?