Edward Browne house, 27 High St., Ipswich MA

Edward Browne House, 27 High St., Ipswich

This is a mid-to-late 17th Century house with 18th Century additions and refinements. The oldest part of the house at 27 High St. is the east side, which began as a one-room-over-one-room floor plan, built at least in part in the second half of the 17th Century. The first floor east side summer beam and chimney girt have beveled chamfers and flat “lambs tongue stops” found almost exclusively in the 17th Century. By the 18th century, summer beam beading was minimal, as found in the 18th century casings surrounding structural elements in the second floor of this First Period house.

Edward Brown was the original owner of this site in 1639 and died in 1659. His widow survived him and married second, July 1, 1660, Daniel Warner. In his will, also affirmed by hers, the house was left to his son Joseph. Joseph died in 1694, and may also have been the original builder. The “e” in the Edward Browne’s surname was dropped in successive generations.

Architectural elements in the west side and the saltbox shed are indicative of the mid-18th Century, and can probably be attributed to the ownership of John Brown (died 1758) or Daniel Brown (died 1796).

17th Century structural elements (east side)

Summer beam and chimney girt in the east side of the Edward Browne house, 27 High St. in Ipswich
The pine summer beam and chimney girt of the main east room have simple chamfers, similar to those found in the Fairbanks House in Dedham, which was constructed in 1641, and are the primary indicators of the age of the Edward Browne house in Ipswich. Similar chamfers and stops are in the c1700 Caldwell house on High St. and the 1688 Thomas Knowlton house on Summer St. in Ipswich. This summer beam had been recently sanded at the time of this photo.
Georgian quirk molding
Quirk molded casing around summer beam, second floor east side of the Edward Browne house. Often the framing on the first floor of First Period houses was chamfered and finished, while the upper floor was left more rustic. Structural elements in the second floor of east side of the Edward Browne house were probably boxed later, with quirk-beaded boards.
“Cox head hinge” in the east side of the Edward Browne house, identical to broken cocks head door hinge from the Chadbourne site, c 1690.It is unknown if this hinge is original; the other hinge on the same door is a more typical strap hinge.
Quirk beaded post and beam casings
East side bedroom: boxed quirk beaded casings around corner post and girt, from remodeling typical after 1720.

18th Century structural elements

In the mid-18th century the west side of the house was built, completing the common central chimney, two-over-two configuration. Later a rear lean to was added, greatly increasing the depth of the house. Most of the present trim dates to the 18th century and early 19th century. The significant architectural features of this house are protected by an agreement between the owners and the Ipswich Historical Commission

The west side downstairs room inside the Edward Brown house is later than the east side.
The west side downstairs room inside the Edward Brown house is later than the east side.
fireplace in the west side of the Edward Browne house, 27 High St. in Ipswich
Fireplace in the downstairs west side of the house
second floor floorboards and joists in the west side of the Edward Browne house, 27 High St. in Ipswich
joists and floor boards, west side of the Edward Browne house. Wide saw marks on flooring are indicative of 17th and 18th Century power-driven band saws
Paneling and fireplace in Ipswich house
Upstairs west side paneling and fireplace, Edward Browne house. This fireplace appears to be a predecessor to 19th Century Rumford fireplaces.
Fireplace, west side of the Edward Browne house, 27 High St. in Ipswich
Fireplace in upstairs west side of the Edward Browne house
Gunstock post, west side of the Edward Browne house, 27 High St. in Ipswich
Somewhat atypical gunstock corner post, west side of the Edward Browne house
Early colonial wallpaper
Early stenciled wallpaper, discovered in the west side of the Edward Browne house.


Saltbox rafter and purlin framing in the Edward Browne house in Ipswich
Original attic rafters and purlins in the east side of the Edward Browne house are hewn, while the rafters in the west side and the saltbox extension are sawn. The saltbox extension extends from the ridge pole but the original rear rafters remain in the attic, also found in the 1684 Thomas Low house on Heartbreak Road in Ipswich.
Attic ridge pole, Georgian addition to first period house
Rafters and ridge pole in the west side attic of the Edward Browne house
Paneled wall, first period house
Possibly early paneled wall, staircase to attic in the Edward Browne house


Bricks in the large early fireplace in the downstairs east side of the Edward Browne house have been parged with cement, and are no longer observable. The house has a massive stone chimney base, found in the 17th-18th Centuries, although arched brick chimney bases are more typical of the Georgian era. The original fireplace on the oldest (east) side is approximately 7′ wide. Three stages of the chimney construction are clearly visible in the attic.

bricks in colonial house, Ipswich MA
Chimney, attic of the Edward Browne house. In the middle is the early First Period chimney, as determined by the large bricks. On the right are additional bricks relating to the west wing. On the left are bricks for the fireplace in the saltbox addition. Brick sizes in the first half of the 18th Century were smaller.
Bricks in the Edward Browne house
Three generations of bricks in the Edward Browne chimney. Clay mortar was used throughout, and lime mortar above the roofline, as is typical.
The oldest bricks in the core of the Browne house chimney vary up to 2 1/2″ in height
Smoke Chamber, first period hosue
Looking up into the smoke chamber in the second floor roof of the east side of the Edward Browne house, 27 High St. in Ipswich. Used for curing meats, accessible through a door in the second floor, east side bedroom.


The primary characteristics that help determine the age of this house are property assessments of Edward and Joseph Brown, summer beam chamfers in the downstairs east room, variable sized bricks, up to 2 1/2″ tall in the central chimney core. Large clay bricks were used from 1630, but in 1679 the Massachusetts Court ordered that brick sizes be standardized at “9 inches long, 2 1/4″ thick.” A Massachusetts act in 1711 consolidated all previous brick laws and set the size at 9″ x 4″ x 2 1/2″. Re-used early bricks are found in houses constructed into the 18th Century, and between 1750 and 1780, bricks diminished in size despite the law, with the smallest 18th Century bricks being about 7 1/4″ x 3 1/2″ x 1 3/4″.Modern bricks measure about 7 1/2″ x 3 1/8″ x 2 1/8″. Read: “Early Brick Laws in Massachusetts” by Orville W. Carroll


Modern mortar was invented in the 19th Century. Abbott Lowell Cummings wrote in his seminal book, “The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725: “Clay was the only “mortar” in which the bricks of the chimney stack were laid, to the level of the roof at least, and the efficacy of this material is abundantly proved by the soundness and plumb condition of a substantial number of early chimneys…Not until late in the (17th) Century were extensive beds of limestone discovered at Newbury.” Clay mortars continued to be used until the mid-19th century.

Early owners of the Edward Browne house

Early land grants on High Street in Ipswich MA
The Edward Browne lot is on High Street, one of the original land grants in Ipswich, from the book Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Edward Browne (through 1659)

Edward Browne came to Ipswich with the original settlers and married Faith Lord. Although he served as a Marshal of Ipswich, he and several other men were brought to court because their wives were seen wearing finery above their station. Puritan law required one to prove 200 pounds in savings to justify such extravagances. He made his will on 9 Feb, 1659 to his wife, Faith; sons Thomas, Joseph and John; and daughters, but no names mentioned, and his brother Bartholomew of whom he purchased the land on which this house sits.

Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about the Edward Brown house in his book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony Volume I: “The Edward Brown lot of one acre (was) southeast from Bradstreet. He had a son John, who resided in Wapping, England, in 1683, when he sold land in the common fields left by his father Edward, (Ips. Deeds 4: 533).

“Edward Browne was of Ipswich, colony of Massachusetts Bay, between 1654 and 1660, and is the same who from 1656 to 1659 bore the title of “Marshall’* Browne, indicating the office he held in the colony. He died February 9. 1659-60, in Ipswich, leaving a will which read, “My will is that after my said wife’s decease my son Joseph shall have and enjoy my dwelling house & appurtenances & privileges belonging there unto, together with all the rest of my land & meadow.” (The Probate records of Essex County, Massachusetts).

The will mentions his wife Faith and his brother Bartholomew, and his estate was appraised at a little more than £250.00. By comparison, the cost of Massachusetts houses constructed during that era ranged from £12 for modest homes to £200 to finer ones (“Prices and Wages by Decade“). His widow survived him and married second, July 1, 1660, Daniel Warner.” (Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of Boston and eastern Massachusetts)

2nd Generation Joseph Brown (through 1694)

The widow Sarah Caldwell’s deed to her son Dillingham gives the eastern bound “land formerly Joseph Brown’s.” From the Probate Records, we learn that Joseph Brown (1) died before 1694, and that his estate was divided to his sons, John and Benjamin (Pro. Rec. 313: 559, 560), in 1721.

Joseph Browne, son of Edward and Faith Browne, born about 1639, was a turner, living in Ipswich, where he died September 30, 1694, at night. His estate inventoried two hundred seventy-five pounds five shillings. He married in Ipswich, February 27, 1671, Hannah Asselbie, who survived him. (Interestingly, the value of the estate of Joseph Brown had not improved significantly over that of his father.)

Third Generation, John Brown (through 1758)

Children of Joseph Brown, all born in Ipswich:

  • 1. Joseph, born February 18, 1672-3; was a cordwainer, and still living in 1742.
  • 2. John, March 12, 1674; yeoman and turner; died May 7, 1758. (inherited the house)
  • 3. Hannah, February 26, 1675-6; married before 172 1, Simon Finder; was a widow in 1740.
  • 4. Thomas, December 26, 1678.
  • 5. Elizabeth, married November 5, 1701, John Holland.
  • 6. Lieutenant Samuel, house carpenter ; married Martha Jacobs of Ipswich (published February 21, 1708) ; died August 16, 1763.
  • 7. Benjamin, yeoman and miller; bought three quarters of the Adams and Farley mill, 1732; married Elizabeth, widow of Thomas Foss, and died February 16, 1733-4.
  • 8. Sarah, married Richard Rindge (published 3, 9 mo., 1716) ; was a widow in 1741. (Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of Boston and eastern Massachusetts)

Fourth generation: Daniel Brown (through 1796)

John Brown, Turner, granted in his will, proved in 1758, to Elizabeth, his wife, “all the household goods she brought to me, and all the linen she hath made since I married her to be at her Disposal;” to his son John, the improvement of the two lower rooms and the northeast chamber and some real estate; to his daughter Esther Adams, and the children of his daughter Mary Lord, the household goods; and all the residue of real estate to his son Daniel (Pro. Rec. 335: 229). The house, barn and land were valued at £60 (Pro. Rec. 336: 17). Daniel Brown bequeathed the improvement of his property to his widow Hannah, during her life or until her second marriage.

Fifth generation: Daniel Smith (through 1844)

Daniel Brown made his nephew, Daniel Smith, his sole heir. The will was approved, Jan. 4, 1796 (Pro. Rec. 364: 232). Daniel Smith’s will, proved in 1844, provided for the division of his estate among his sons, Daniel Brown Smith, Thomas and Benjamin, and the Probate Record contains this interesting item: ‘Daniel Smith was a Revolutionary pensioner, that he died on the 28th day of January, 1844, that he left no widow, and that he left seven children and no more, viz. Daniel B., Thomas, Benjamin, Polly Lord, Elizabeth Treadwell, Sarah Perkins, & Anna Kimball, and that they all of them are living and each of them is of full age” (Pro. Rec. 412: 315, 310).’

Fifth generation: Thomas Smith

Thomas received the homestead, and occupied it until his death at a great age, when he bequeathed it to his nephew Charles Smith, who removed the old buildings and built his present residence in the rear of the site of the homestead. Daniel B. received a part of the house-lot and built a house upon it, which he sold to his son, Nathaniel P. Smith, March 1, 1866 (707: 16).

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