The BROWNING Bank book mystery!

As you know I love to investigate and research old photographs and postcards to discover more about the family connections and sometimes to try and locate a living descendant to reunite the item.

Well recently my friend Rachel from Framlingham has passed on to me three old Royal Bank of Scotland Western Branch Bank books that were discovered in a box of ephemera purchased at the Campsea Ashe Auction in Suffolk.


Loving a  mystery as I do, I wanted to see if I could discover more about these three old Bank books and possibly see how they ended up at a country auction in Suffolk!

The first clues were the names Mrs L E BROWNING on the back of one book and the name Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING Esq. on the other two books.

img_4272    img_4273

I quickly discovered that Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING was born in the January quarter of 1901 and the 1901 census record shows him aged one month living with his parents Henry G and Lucy E BROWNING – confirming that the owner of the other Bank book was Henry’s mother.

This 1901 census record also showed that Henry had two sisters Eileen E G BROWNING aged 4 and Christabel L G BROWNING aged 3 – the family were living at 21 Albert Gate in Knightsbridge in London. Henry’s father Henry’s occupation is shown as a Sprit and Wine Merchant an Employer.


Source: 1901 England Census Source Citation: Class: RG13; Piece: 83; Folio: 44; Page: 7

Further research showed that Henry Gonne BROWNING had married Lucy Evelyn STEVENSON in the April quarter of 1893 in the St George Hanover Square Registration District. This also confirmed that the Evelyn name had been passed down to Henry as a middle name and the GONNE name was also a family connected name.

The 1911 census record shows the BROWNING family living at 29 Hans Mansions in Kensington with Head of house Henry Gonne BROWNING aged 52 married to Lucy Evelyn for 17 full years with a total of three children Eileen Elizabeth Gonne aged 14, Christabel Lucy Gonne aged 13 and Henry Evelyn Gonne aged 10.


Source: 1911 England Census Source Citation: Class: RG14; Piece: 111

My research also uncovered a document dated 1st June 1922, the London Freedom of the City papers, which admitted Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING born on the 26th February 1901 son of Henry Gonne BROWNING of 21 Albert Gate Knightsbridge to be admitted as a Citizen and Grocer into the Freedom of the City by Patrimony, in the said Company of Grocers.


Source: London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1925 Source Citation: London Metropolitan Archive; Reference Number: COL/CHD/FR/02/2684-2686

I can find no marriage for Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING, but have found that he died on the 29th January 1976 aged 75 and his final address is shown on his Probate record as The Old House, Holland Street in London W8.

His mother Lucy Evelyn BROWNING died on the 29th July 1951 aged 51 and Henry her son was named as her Executor.

The mystery now is how these three old BROWNING Bank books turned up for sale at an auction earlier this year in Suffolk, 40 years after Henry died – did they get passed down to another member of the family who has now since also passed away?

If anyone has any information or a connection to the BROWNING family and can confirm a valid link, it would be great if these old Bank books could be reunited with the family archive – If you can help I would be delighted to hear from you.

Many thanks

Simon Last 



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One Response to The BROWNING Bank book mystery!

  1. Janice Brown says:

    I love how you find odd artifacts and track them down! Everything has a story and you are so good at discovering and sharing it!

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