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ED 250 01 01

Reference code

ED 250 01 01


Papers of Charles Brown, 1746 - 1827



Administrative / Biographical history

Born in the City of London, Charles Brown was practising as a doctor in Carmarthen by 1780 and was admitted an extra-licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in 1784. In 1788 he moved to Berlin and became Court Physician to the King of Prussia, Frederick William II (1786 - 1797). He remained in the service of his successor Frederick William III (1797 - 1840) and was appointed Physician to the Army but returned to England following the Battle of Jena in 1806. He received the Order of the Red Eagle 3rd Class, a Prussian royal order, in 1816 and was knighted in 1818.

In England he lived near Lynn in Norfolk on a property called Margaretta Farm after his elder daughter but his management of his financial affairs was poor, though not helped by repeated failures to pay his pension, and it is clear that he caused Dr Keate, who had married his second daughter Frances (Fanny) in 1803, a good deal of trouble and even financial loss.

Dr Brown's pension had ceased when he left Prussia and many of the letters in this album relate to his attempts to get it reinstated. In this he was ultimately successful but he then began a campaign for the payment of the arrears. His son William may also have been partly responsible for his difficulties as his father often found he had to settle his debts, and a repentant letter from William to his brother-in-law survives. However, it is clear that even while in Prussia Dr Brown was preoccupied with exactly what was due to him, both in money and status, as in /47, with its requests to be allowed when on campaign to eat with the ADCs and to have an allowance for nine horses ( two riding horses, four carriage horses and three baggage horses) instead of only six.


1784 - 1829

Content description

Included are letters signed by King William Frederick III and by distinguished ministers, including Heinrich Christian Kurt van Haugwitz, 1752 - 1832, Karl August van Hardenberg, 1750- 1820, and Friedrich Wilhelm van der Schulenburg­Kehnert, 1742 - 1815. Much of the correspondence and even Brown's annotations are in French and at one point Brown refers to getting letters translated into German, and (/47) the need for a secretary as he does not write the language easily or correctly. Rather touchingly, when asking for leave of absence in 1806 to sort out family affairs, he stresses the need to return home to his family and new grandchildren (John and Fanny Keate's children) and try and persuade his wife and elder daughter to return to Berlin, but it is clear that he had considerable doubts about his chances of success and little expectation that they would yield to his authority.


Dr Brown's letters were in an album, though simply placed between the leaves rather than attached. There was no apparent principle in their arrangement but at some stage, possibly in 1984 when as recorded in a label on the front H.S.L. Tottenham looked at the album, 25 of these letters were given red pencil numbers. These numbered letters have been listed first and the rest left in the order in which they were found. All have been removed from their disintegrating and highly acidic home but the folios in front of which they were found have been noted.
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