Robert Browne (1550-1633) was a separatist Puritan and has been described as the founder of Congregationalism. He gave his name to a separatist movement: the Brownists. He was born in Tolethorpe Hall, Rutland. He graduated form Corpus Christi, Cambridge in 1572 and was then ordained into the Anglican church.
While at Cambridge he became friends with the Norwich-born Robert Harrison (c.1546- 1585). Both were influenced it appears by Thomas Cartwright's lectures. They both settled for a while in Norwich. Browne was imprisoned by the bishop of Norwich in 1581 for preaching. He was released through the help of Lord Burghley. On release he went to Middelburg in the Netherlands where he set up a church based on Congregationalist principles
There were a number of disputes in the church at Middelburg and Browne left with a small number of followers to go to Edinburgh. He was imprisoned there but soon released. He was excommunicated form the Anglican church. However, he was reconciled with the church authorities and rejected his separatist teachings.,br.,br.