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Broun / Brown - Wyld Ancestry Pages

Reverend Canon Claud Leonard Broun (1879 - 1961)

BROUN, Claud Leonard, MA.
New Coll., Oxford (Schol.; Jun. Greek Test. Prize, 1901; Liddon Stud., 1902; Denyer and Johnson Schol., 1904); B.A. (i" cl. Class., Mod., 1900; l" cl. Lit. Hum., 1902) 1902; i" cl. Sacr. Theol., 1903;
M.A. 1905; Fellow, Magdalen Coll., Oxford, 1903. Edin. Theol. Coll., 1905. D 1906, P 1907 (Glasgow & Galloway). C Christ Church, Glasgow, 1906-09. Asst. C St. Mary's Cath., Glasgow, 1909-14. AssL C St. Mark's, Portobello, Edinburgh (in ch. St. Anne's), 1914-22. Bell Lecturer, Edin. Theol. Coll., 1914-40. Pr-in-Ch St. Matthew's Miss., Edinburgh, 1922-33. Sen. Canon and Vice-Provost, St. Mary's Cath., Edinburgh, 1933-40; Chancellor, I937-40. R Duror (with Glencreran and Portna-croish), 1940-43. Exam. Chap. to Bishop of Argyll & The Isles, 1943. Pr-in-Ch South Queensferry, 1943-49. Hon. Canon, St. Mary's Cath., Edinburgh, 1947. Rtd. 1949. d. 1961. Publ:- The Catholic Tradition in the Scottish Church; also a translation of the Scottish Liturgy into Greek.

The following information comes from his own writings:

I was born in Harmondsworth in Middlesex, where my father was then assistant curate, on July 31st, 1879, and baptised by him on August 20th. My own life was nearly cut short in infancy by whooping-cough, through which I was nursed by my mother's mother and my great-aunt Margaret MacKellar. My father's parents both died I believe in the year of my birth.

And from an earlier set of writings:

I was born on July 31st 1879; my mother died a fortnight later; and I was baptized on August 20th. My father was curate in Harmondsworth in Middlesex at the time; but previously he had been at Much Wenlock in Shropshire, and at Hythe in Kent. I was named Leonard after the Patron Saint of Hythe, and the reredos there is a memorial to my mother. Shortly after, my father became curate of St James' Newlands in West London, where he stayed five years; he taught me the rudiments of cricket (of which he was very fond) in Kensington Gardens; my other recollections include watching for a large flag to be run up in Notting Hill to tell us by its colour the winners of the Boat Race, and sailing a yacht on the Round Pond. My schooldays began at a Kindergarten quite near to our home in Holland Park Gardens.

In 1887 my father accepted the living of Verwood and West Moors, in Dorset but marching with the New Forest, where he maintained 3 Churches and 3 Schools almost entirely out of his own pocket, besides building a new Chancel and Vicarage at Verwood, and a new stone Church and School with houses for the Curate and Schoolmaster at West Moors. I was sent away to a Boarding School in May 1887 at Clevedon in Somerset, and moved to the Preparatory School of St Andrews College Bradfield in Berkshire after Christmas, owing to an outbreak of scarlet fever, and thereafter in May 1890 to Stoke House near Slough to be prepared for an entrance scholarship at Winchester which I gained in July 1892.

Claud Brown's love of cricket was not shared by Claud Leonard; he was completely put off cricket by (a) not being any good at it and (b) having to field in one of several games going on on Winchaester's playing fields and being dangerously nearer to the batsmen in the game behind his back than to those in his own game: his eyesight was suspect too and he wore pince-nez for reading - though the same two pairs did him from 1890 till 1944 (CMB)

The following was also written by his youngest son, my father.

Early days

My father, Rev Canon Claud Leonard Broun, was the son of a priest, also Claud [Claud Brown], so father was known generally in the family as Leonard. He was born on July 31st 1879 but his mother died a fortnight later. Father never talked to me about his stepmother [Georgina Frances Stephens Hyde] or his early childhood and I have therefore no extra information on the period before his father moved to his main ministry at Verwood in the Diocese of Salisbury, in 1887. There, according to father, his bishop (Christopher Wordsworth) tried to steer a middle course between high and low church and complained that whatever he did it was opposed by half his clergy (they being either very high or very low).

Father's father [Claud Brown] was one of the very high and indeed used up the not inconsiderable family fortune in restoring his three churches, as well as those of high church friends, to a more catholic style. However he had enough money left to send father to prep school where he earned a scholarship to Winchester. I think it was at Prep school, but it may have been at Winchester, where they had to learn 100 lines of Homer (in Greek) every week, and then, at the end of term there was a prize for the boy who could score highest in writing them out off by heart. A certain politician-to-be was conscientiously learning his weekly 100 lines, father was not, but he didn't like his rival's boasting that the prize was his, so a week before the exam he set himself to learn all 1,000 lines off by heart. On the day he got over 800 and easily won and then couldn't sleep for the lines of Greek running round in his head - so he set himself deliberately to forget it totally, and succeeded! Maybe it was good memory training.

Winchester and Oxford

At Winchester he experienced public school life as it was in the 1890s - pretty tough. His favourite story was of the bathing 'facilities' which consisted of an unheated stone-floored room with only cold water laid on. Bath night meant you were supplied with a large kettle of boiling water and a tin bath. At first too hot to touch, by the time you dared get into it (ankle-deep) it was tepid. Some wit coined the phrase (from Campbell's poem on Trafalgar) 'bluish mid the burning water' to describe it. Anyway he survived and distinguished himself and went as a scholar to New College, Oxford. There he got a first in Greats (Classics and Philosophy) followed by a first in Theology, and was elected to a Fellowship at Magdalen. There he could have remained for the rest of his life, writing books, tutoring, lecturing etc, but he soon gave it up, feeling God's call, not only to the priesthood, but also to work as a parish priest in the Scottish Church.

From his days at Winchester, where he literally flew the flag, he had felt a great enthusiasm for Scotland, and had a great pride in his Scottish ancestry (seven of his eight great grandparents were Scottish), so much so that he altered his surname from Brown to the old Scottish spelling (and pronunciation) of Broun. He thought that this was how his ancestors had spelled it, but recent research (by Alasdair) showed he was [may have been] mistaken in this, though, spelling was very haphazard in the 18th c, and it may sometimes indeed have been spelt that way!


He left Oxford, therefore, in 1904/5 and entered an accountant's office in Edinburgh, to gain some experience in the secular world, prior to ordination - to take a secular job in such circumstances is common nowadays and encouraged by the Church, but it was unusual then. However, he had only done six months there when the bishop (probably John Dowden), learning of his desire for ordination, hauled him off to Coates Hall Theological College. Those six months were not wasted in father's opinion, as it gave him an insight into finance and, wherever he served, he made it his task to improve not only the spiritual and pastoral state but also the accounts, turning debit balances into credit and teaching Christian stewardship before anyone had thought of the name.

In 1906 & 1907 he was ordained deacon and then priest in Glasgow by bishop Archibald Ean Campbell (one of the 'good' Campbells - father was a keen Jacobite and therefore generally rather anti-Campbell!) and he became a curate on the staff of Christ Church, Mile End, where Canon Mitchell-Innes was rector and the great McBain brothers (who won renown for their social reforms in Glasgow's East End) were also on the staff. Christ Church was in those days a hotbed of Christian Socialism as well as Scotto-Catholicism, and father used to take his turn in preaching socialism on Sunday afternoons at Glasgow Green. He learned the technique of going with a small group from church, setting up his soapbox and starting to talk in a quiet voice, where all the other speakers were shouting loudly. Apparently this ensured that curiosity brought people away from other speakers to listen to him and find out what he was saying. Christ Church also held open air processions with cross, candles and incense on feast days, and were apparently often pelted with mud and stones not just by some of the Protestant Eastenders, but by some of the Roman Catholic ones too!

I think that he had to leave Christ Church in 1909 because the staff there had to be celebate and he had married. He had met his [first] wife, Hedwig Thewes, a German lady, in Strasburg. He moved to the Cathedral (St Mary's) in Great Western Road. There he came upon the Stewart family - Tom [Thomas Maclachlan Stewart] was a lawyer, Chancellor of the diocese, and a lay reader, and his wife Helena [Helena Mary Lang] was no doubt beginning her long ministry of organising various church activities - not least the Clergy Synod breakfast. They had three young daughters, of one of whom more anon, and a son who himself eventually became Chancellor.


Long curacies, learning the ropes, were the order of the day, and in 1914 father moved on to St Mark's, Portobello (Edinburgh) with his wife and three young children, Pat, Ken and Marion, and began his long association with the Theological College, where he lectured on doctrine, ethics and church history (until 1940), all on a part-time basis, in conjunction with a busy and indeed devoted parish ministry, at first in Portobello, then running a mission in the slums of Abbeyhill, and finally as Vice-Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh. While the children were still very young, Hedwig died. Father was badly affected by her death and for some time couldn't sleep for worrying about her, and whether she was all right. But one night he had a vision of her and she was smiling happily, and from then on he slept well and could get on with life. The children were looked after by a maiden lady, a member of St Mark's, Miss Frances Durham ('Durry') until father remembered his Stewart friends and persuaded my schoolteacher mother Isabel [Isabel Frances Moncrieff Stewart], the middle daughter, to take on not only father but these three bright if unruly children.

It seemed to work and they became very fond of her, though frequently complaining that my sister Helena (b. 1926) and myself (b. 1930) were treated much too leniently, and never suffered father's heavy hand for our naughtinesses; perhaps father was mellowing under Isabel's influence, and becoming less strict!

I remember nothing of church-going or of father's work during our life in Edinburgh. What I did have to endure (!), until going to school (when it became holidays only) was Family Prayers at, I think, 10am - a shortened form of mattins at which mum, servants, and whoever else was around, were expected to attend. Indeed, I didn't see a great deal of him, but on Saturdays he liked to go out walking with the family. On one occasion when only him and me went, we got our timing all wrong and just about got lost in the Pentland Hills. However, with dusk falling, we found our way to a road from a reservoir which led to the main road and luckily got a lift from some friendly water-workers in their lorry. A favourite family walk was (tram to, then walk) up Drum Brae Road (which skirted the zoo) and over to Barnton, tea at the hotel and train back to Murrayfield station. One jaunt I always looked forward to was just after Xmas, when father no doubt had a day or two off - we would go off together round various Edinburgh churches (walking or bus) and look at their cribs - but I think what I enjoyed most was the wonderful incense-laden atmosphere in All Saints, St Michael's (in Hill Sq. then) and Old St Pauls, which gave a sense of 'the beauty of holiness' that was missing from the Cathedral!

For holiday, the Vice-provost got September (the Provost got August) so September 1st saw all hustle and bustle in our house as mum and the maids (we ran to two) got all the packing done including bed-linen, as we got ready to take over a house for the month. At the last minute father would rush in, having been tidying up parish business, change into his grey suit from his inevitable black, and throw his clothes etc into his suitcase. Mum always thought we would miss our train, but we never did! In his younger days father had holidayed in the Alps but the last time he climbed a mountain, I think, was on Arran in 1935 when I went on strike and refused to go to the top of Goatfell - Helena and father went on and I presume they did get to the top - mum was probably glad to wait with me for their return.


By 1940, now over sixty, father was finding the workload at the cathedral too heavy - in those days his only transport was the buses, and the congregation was scattered all over Edinburgh, and his parish visiting was conscientious in the extreme, with many people living several floors up in Edinburgh's tenements. I can remember his coming in for his quick cup of tea before choral evensong at 5.15pm and frequently upsetting mum by remarking that he'd be 'carried home on a shutter', so it was no surprise when he decided to find lighter work. His cousin Harold Malcolm, brother of the Laird of Poltalloch (who had had a 100-bedroomed house where father had stayed as a boy), was 'Poohbah' at St Adamnan's Duror and as it was vacant he was persuaded to move there. I was ten at the time and I went with my parents to Duror along with our cook and our housemaid (palmy days!); we could only afford to keep one, as father's pay was dropping to minimum stipend, but they refused to be separated for fear of loneliness in the remote fastness that was Duror - so they both came with us, and both eventually married local men, so obviously it wasn't so lonely! It was a bit lonely for me as my sister refused to leave Edinburgh and her school there, and went into digs. I had to travel to school in Oban by train, leaving the house at 7.30am and getting home usually by 6.40pm if the train wasn't late - then homework and straight to bed, so I had few opportunities for making friends. One bedtime feature I looked forward to was father reading to me from a book of the lives of the saints followed by prayers. Apart from holidays it was the only time I saw him - and even in my holidays he was out much of the time.

Meantime father was trying to learn Gaelic although it was already dying out in this part of the Highlands as an everyday language, and he had three churches to look after (Duror, Kentallen and Glencreran) and a parish about 30 miles in length. He was saddened by the fact that what had been a solidly Episcopalian area until the War (the chancel at Duror had been added in the thirties by local craftsmen in the congregation) emigration and the search for jobs had led to depopulation, although it was probably a longer ago clearance that had reduced the congregation at Glencreran from 300 to less than 30. But he used to point out that 'in the old days' people had walked for a whole day to be in church on the Sunday.

While there he re-opened for weekday services a fourth church, the one at Appin (Portnacrois), which had been left neglected for some years. I was present for the grand reopening service with the bishop celebrating, and was greatly amused as we waited for the service to begin, when there was a crash and father entered from the vestry rather precipitously - the stair down into the church had collapsed from woodworm or dry rot under his weight. The bishop was able to clamber over the wreckage and the service went ahead. All visiting was done by bike (an ancient and rusty machine bought for 15/- from a Swede who lived locally) or by train or both. One day after visiting in the Benderloch area he missed the train at Barcaldine (the road unfortunately was out of sight of the train at the crucial moment or the driver would have waited for him!) and he had to cycle all the way home, a matter of about 14 not unhilly miles. On arrival he lay stretched out on the sofa while mum plied him with tea or maybe brandy. A combination of things but mostly mum's worries about the effect of the long days' travelling to school on my health, and the fact that Helena was living in Edinburgh led her to persuade father to leave the Highlands and take the charge at South Queensferry, where not only could the family be reunited but there was a telephone, and electricity instead of the oil-lamps, hated by mum. Life would be cheaper too - no live-in servants, and no need to order coal in 20-ton loads from Edinburgh by rail, which was then dumped beside the road outside the rectory and all local folk in need encouraged to help themselves (times were hard for many people but none would have touched our coal without father's encouragement).

South Queensferry

In 1943 therefore we moved to Queensferry, about ten miles from Edinburgh (and a mere half-hour's bus journey to school), where father found that almost the whole stipend was paid by one man, who was Lay Elector, Lay Rep and de facto patron, a retired Rear Admiral who had invented the torpedo and whose pension was therefore rather more than everyone else's earnings. While keeping on excellent terms with the Admiral, father managed to divest him of all but Lay Electorship, and got the congregation paying their fair share of the stipend. One thing that no doubt, attracted him to Queensferry was the fact that, apart from a church in Lewis, this was the only pre-reformation church in Episcopal hands, having been part of the Carmelite Priory there. Cromwell apparently stabled his horses in it when conquering Scotland, but it had become the possession of the local Dundas family, was restored as their private chapel and eventually handed over to our Church.

As always wherever he went, father managed to rout out by frequent visiting a number of poor families with plenty of children which produced Sunday school, servers, 'choir' (they looked nice but couldn't sing) and confirmation candidates (I was in his confirmation class for two years before I was adjudged fit material for the bishop to lay hands on!). As the rectory had a large, child-friendly garden these somewhat deprived children were given free run of it (weekends and holidays) and in return provided a surpliced choir at Evensong. My chief memory of this is of four kids sitting in the front row right under father's eye as he was preaching, and whispering to each other. Suddenly the sermon stopped and father descended on the group and separated them all, then returned to the lectern (we had no pulpit) and plunged back into his sermon more or less in mid-sentence. I remember not one word of his sermons, but when he was ill and we had a retired priest or two helping out, I remember finding the sermons incomprehensible and rather long - so I suspect that father preached short and simple sermons generally.

A feature of church life, up to 1946 or so, was that a small number of servicemen (army and naval personnel) came to church, all of whom were made welcome, those coming to evensong being invited home to supper. They included a young Welshman who has had a distinguished career in the Church of Wales (with whom I have recently corresponded) and a naval officer who was brilliant for a boy like me, as both of us were mad keen on cricket and football (though he supported England). Thus began a longstanding friendship which survived his emigration to Italy (which gave us a pied de terre there) until his death in 1990 or soon after. By 1949 father's health was deteriorating. An enlarged heart had been diagnosed (well, he always was big-hearted!) a few years earlier and he had given up walking back to the rectory up the steep direct routs (the Loan) and instead took the bus up to Hopetoun Xroads and walked home the long way. His main problem however was Parkinson's which we attributed to his having been knocked over by a taxi in Edinburgh in the blackout in 1942 or thereabouts. His side was bruised and he got a bang on the head but seemed none the worse at the time but the signs were there soon after we'd moved to Queensferry. However in 1949 he had to have the prostate gland operation and, although that was entirely successful, his Parkinson's took a real grip while he was in a weakened state, and he realised he could not continue to run a parish.

Pensionable retirement age in the church was then 70, and while he had always wanted to go on longer he had now just turned 70, and was thus able to retire at the end of the year - moving back to the family home he had bought for just over £100 in 1933, which had been leased first to the army and then to the Cathedral for curates till then, and which provided a home for my mother until her death in 1968 and my sister thereafter till she moved to York, selling it for £38,000!

Just before father moved I was called up for my two years' national service, so by the time I came home on leave at Christmas he had dropped into a steady routine which he tried to maintain throughout his retirement - study and prayer in the morning, light reading and a nap in the afternoon, choral evensong at the Cathedral after tea, and more reading etc in the evening; on Sundays he never missed the 9.45am Family Eucharist (Scottish Liturgy) which he and Provost Margetson had started in the thirties, as a counter-attraction (!) to the 11 am Choral Mattins, and the late Communion according to the English rite. This was an informal sort of service which the congregation didn't dress up for; it was accompanied on the piano, didn't last too long, and ended with breakfast in Old Coates House.

At first he was able to get about reasonably well and even helped with services. I remember what may have been the last time he preached - guest preacher at Oban Cathedral; there was no amplification in those days and father found it very difficult to make himself heard, something that had never been a problem before, even in the Cathedral in Edinburgh, notorious for its poor acoustics, pulpitwise. By the time I had finished national service and Oxford University (1955) father was having great difficulty with his balance and needed someone with him when walking to ensure he didn't fall, or pick him up when he did. But he kept fighting his growing weakness, and was very reluctant to accept the wheelchair we eventually had to get for him from the Red Cross. As I was unavailable on Sunday mornings once I started at Theological College - though it was just round the corner - we used a disreputable acquaintance of mine (a compulsive gambler) to gain some merit by wheeling father to church and back.

Under the strain of living with Parkinson's mum's health was also deteriorating - depression, mostly, but also she hadn't the sheer physical strength required, and various expedients were adopted. A room was offered free to (usually) a student in return for dressing father in the morning and undressing him at night. Sometimes this worked well and we had a nice young Pakistani for a while, but also some odd characters, including an ex-gentleman's gentleman who gave father the creeps and didn't last long. Generally father accepted all these various helpers with a good grace and few complaints. Indeed he made few complaints about any of his disabilities, which included a very bad shake, especially when he was tired. But he regretted very much that he was unable to do the studying and writing he'd hoped to do in retirement. He used to sit at the big dining room table in the morning with his books, notebook and pen, but a few lines were all he could manage so bad was the shake. Providing him with reading matter for his afternoon relaxation was a bit of a problem but he enjoyed good detective stories and PG Wodehouse among others, and as his immediate memory deteriorated, as it does with most of us, he could read the same story again after a month or two as if for the first time, which we found very handy!

It was a great joy to him that I was entering the ministry (deacon 1958, priest 1959) especially as his oldest son Pat who had also been ordained, had died in as car crash in 1953. A further sadness was the death of his son Ken in 1963. My posting as chaplain at the cathedral had been 'compassionate' so that I could continue to help with father. By 1960 he had become very weak, and had given up going to Choral Evensong (but he and mum and, when I was around, me, said Evensong together every day. But he still struggled (with help) up and down stairs three times a day, and never missed his Sunday trip to the Cathedral, until he became bed-ridden in Spring 1961. Even before that, when I was putting him to bed, he would say how he longed not to wake up again in this world. On a lighter note he also used to say that his surefire way of getting to sleep was to recite the office of Compline, which he knew by heart, and that he never managed to complete it!

Life must have been pretty insupportable by this time, and very undignified, and painful, with bedsores etc, but he never complained, and at least he lived to see his eighth grandchild, and my mother's first, since I had married in 1957 and our firstborn, Alasdair, was born in March 1960. In September 1961 we had, very reluctantly, to put father into a nursing home while Janice and I went our holidays, and by a strange chance, we were in Duror on the 13th when news came through that father had taken an infection and died. Although in the confidence of youth I had often argued on theological matters with him during my time at Oxford and Coates Hall, I must have admired him and absorbed more than I was conscious of, as I found myself shaping my priesthood and ministry along much the same lines as he had done, especially in principle; the practical applications, of course, were sometimes different since the times differed, but the basics were the same.