Brown, James

, an English traveller and scholar, the son of James Brown, M. D. (who died Nov. 24, 1733), was born at Kelso, in the shire or Roxburgh, in Scotland, May 23, 1709, and was educated under Dr. Freind at Westminster school, where he made great proficiency in the Latin and Greek classics. In the latter end of 1722, he went with his father to Constantinople, and having a great aptitude for the learning of languages, acquired a competent knowledge of the Turkish, vulgar Greek, and Italian; and on his return home in 1725, made himself master of the Spanish tongue. About the year 1732, he first started the idea of a very useful book in the mercantile world, although not deserving a place in any literary class, “The Directory,” or list of principal traders in London; and having taken some pains to lay the foundation of it, he gave it to the late Mr. Henry Kent, printer in Finch-lane, Cornhill, who continued it from year to year, and acquired an estate by it. | In 1741, Mr. Brown entered into an agreement with twenty-four of the principal merchants of London, members of the Russia Company, as their chief agent or factor, for the purpose of carrying on a trade, through Russia, to and from Persia, and he sailed for Riga Sept. 29. Thence he passed through Russia, down the Volga to Astracan, and sailed along the Caspian sea to Reshd in Persia, where he established a factory, in which he continued near four years. During this time, he travelled in state to the camp of Nadir Shah, commonly known by the name of Kouli Khan, with a letter which had been transmitted to him from the late George II. to that monarch. While he resided in this country, he applied himself much to the study of that language, and made such proficiency in it that, after his return home, he compiled a very copious “Persian Dictionary and Grammar,” with many curious specimens of their writing, which is yet in manuscript. But not being satisfied with the conduct of some of the merchants in London, and being sensible of the dangers that the factory was constantly exposed to from the unsettled and tyrannical nature of the government of Persia, he resigned his charge to the gentlemen who were appointed to succeed him, returned to London Dec. 25, 1746, and lived to be the last survivor of all the persons concerned in the establishment of that trade, having outlived his old friend Mr. Jonas Hanway above two years. In May 1787, he was visited with a slight paralytic stroke, all the alarming effects of which very speedily vanished, and he retained his wonted health and chearfulness till within four 1 days of his death; when a second and more severe stroke proved fatal Nov. 30, 1788. He died at his house at Stoke Newington, where he had been an inhabitant since 1734, and was succeeded by his worthy son James Brown, esq. F. S. A. now of St. Alban’s. Mr. Lysons informs us that the elder Mr. Brown published also a translation of two “Orations of Isocrates” without his name. He was a man of the strictest integrity, unaffected, piety, and exalted, but unostentatious benevolence; of an even, placid, chearful temper, which he maintained to the last, and which contributed to lengthen his days. Few men were ever more generally esteemed in life, or more respectfully spoken of after death by all who knew him. 1


Gent, Mag. 1788 Lysons’s Environs, vol. III.