Irving Browne
Irving Browne

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

IRVING BROWNE, eldest child of Rev. Lewis C. Browne and Harriet Hand, was born at Marshall, Oneida Co., on the 14th of September, 1835. His father was pastor of the Universalist Church in Troy, N. Y., from 1837 till 1840, when the family removed to Nashua, N. H., and afterwards to Norwich, Conn., and to Hudson, N. Y. Mr. Browne's education was in the common schools and academies. Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen he worked considerably at the occupations of printing and telegraphing. In the fall of 1853 he commenced the study of law at Husdon in the office of Theodore Miller, now one of the judges of the Court of Appeals of this State, continuing there until the fall of 1856, when he entered the Albany Law School, from which he graduated in the spring of 1857, and was then admitted to practice. His graduating thesis, in favor of Parties as Witnesses, was published, at the solicitation of the faculty, in the "American Law Register." After six months spent as a law clerk in the city of New York, Mr. Browne entered into partnership with Rufus M. Townsend and Martin I. Townsend, at Troy, forming the well-known law-firm of Townsends & Browne, which continued until the summer of 1878. Mr. Browne then practiced law alone in Troy until the fall of 1879, when he was summoned to Albany, to succeed the late Isaac Grant Thompson as editor of the Albany Law Journal and the American Reports, and then removed to that city, where he is now engaged in that occupation. In 1858 he was married to Delia, only daughter of Richard F. Clark, of Hudson, N. Y., by whom he has two daughters. He has never sought office, and has never held any, except that of school commissioner of Troy, which he occupied five years.

Although leading an active professional life, Mr. Browne's tastes and inclinations have always been in the direction of literature, study, and the development of the critical faculty. He has been best known at the bar by arguments in the appellate courts, and particularly by his argument in the Mundy trade-mark case, which established in this State the right of every man to the fair use of his family name in business. Of this argument it has been said that "it has become the standard authority, and is used as a text for citation by the whole legal profession."

Mr. Browne became a contributor to the Albany Law Journal at its start, and continued largely to contribute to it until he assumed editorial charge of it. He republished in book-form two series of sketches which he wrote for that periodical, namely, "Humorous Phases of the Law," and "Short Sketches of Great Lawyers," both of which met with warm approval throughout this country and Great Britain. An eminent jurist of this State wrote of him: "In my judgment he is not second to the most brilliant and effective writers, at home or abroad, in the department of forensic literature." Mr. Browne has also made and published a translation of Racine's "Les Plaideurs;" has written several amateur dramas, and a great variety of esthetic and literary criticism for newspapers and magazines; and has edited several legal works and volumes of law reports. On his removal from Troy to Albany he was thus spoken of in the leading Troy newspapers: "Every production from his pen is replete with thought and suggestion, and his compositions are generally pervaded by a humor natural and effective, and by critical statements, the result of a full appreciation of the subject under discussion." "He is singularly well qualified by taste, culture, and experience for the duties of his new position, and those who are acquainted with his remarkable powers of application are confident that the high character of the publication about to be placed in his charge will suffer no deterioration. But while we congratulate Mr. Browne upon the unsought and deserved honor of his appointment to such an editorial chair, we joint in the general regret that his duties will compel his removal to Albany."

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