Born in 1882, the son of a WM missionary, John Milton Brown (1843-1934; e.m. 1865; in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and India 1866-1901), he was educated at Kingswood School where he distinguished himself as a sportsman and athlete. At Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he was a Wrangler in the Mathematics Tripos. He served in the Bengal District 1904-1936 and was Principal of Bankura College 1917-18 and Chairman of the District 1924-1929, before returning to circuit work in 1936 in England. In 1915 he was awarded the Kaiser- i- Hind for his work on famine relief, and later made a Companion of the Indian Empire for his services to education in Bengal. He died at Churchdown, Glos, on 15 July 1952.
His wife, Emily Gertrude, nee Parsons (born in Birminglham on 7 August 1882; died 13 April 1971) was educated at King Edward's School for Girls, Birmigham and Newnham College, Cambridge, taking a degree in medieval and modern French and English literature. She served for three years as the principal of the Methodist girls school in Colombo before their marriage in 1908 in Calcutta. With the outbreak of war in 1914 she became the first woman to be on the staff of an all-men's college in India. On her husband's retirement in 1944, the Browns became prominently active members of Churchdown Methodist Church, Glos.
Of their four sons and one daughter, the oldest son, Sir Ralph Kilner Brown OBE (1909-2003), was born in Calcutta on 28 August 1909. Educated at Kingswood School and Cambridge, where he was runner-up for the Presidency of the Union and represented the university three times at athletics, his career at the Bar was interrupted by war service in which he reached the rank of Brigadier. As a member of a small group briefing the Chiefs of Staff and the War Cabinet, he held outspoken views and correctly predicted that the Dieppe raid in 1942 would be a disaster. He later organized shipping into Antwerp and the delivery of supplies to the advancing Allied forces. His book Top Brass and No Brass (1991) challenged the view that the USA hd won the war single-handed. Returning to practice in 1946, he took Silk in 1958, was finally appointed to the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court in 1970 and retired in 1984. A lifelong Liberal, he unsuccessfully contested four general elections. He was particularly committed to the work of the Boys' Brigade and the Royal Institute for the Deaf. He died on 15 July 2003.
The Browns' third son, Arthur Godfrey Kilner Brown (1915-1995) was brought up in Warwick by a friend of his parents when they returned to Bengal. Educated at Warwick School and Peterhouse, Cambridge, his outstanding career as an athlete included silver and gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games, at which his sister Audrey also won a silver medal. Following a distinguished teaching career, he was headmaster of the Royal Grammar School, Worcester 1950-1978. He retired to Sussex in 1978 and died on 4 February1995. Their youngest son was a paediatrician on the staff of the Middlesex Hospital.
'[Arthur E. Brown] was Senior Prefect from 1899 to 1901 and in that position, too, he showed qualities of energetic and fearless leadership. [He] was, indeed, inevitably a leader, accepting unhesitatingly the obligation of a leader to lead.. He saw what he thought should be done and then went for it, whatever the obstacles might be. He was unselfconscious, with nothng small or mean about him and with no hint of self-seeking or self-advertisement…
'As Principal of Bankura College for many years he exerciised a powerful influence on many generations of students. In famine relief, work for lepers, and in countless other forms of service for Christians and non-Christians alike he brought to bear all his great organising abilities, his extraordinary energy, and his complete dedication to the cause of helping those who needed help. He acquired an intmate knowledge of Bengali, and by the quality of his personality he inspired hope and confidence in many thousands of poor and oppressed people.'
(J.S.M. Hooper in The Kingswood School Magazine, September 1952
'[Ralph Kilner Brown]' began practising in Birmingham at the chambers of Donald & Finnemore, a nonconformist and teetotaler (his was known as "Cocoa Chambers") who expected hs juniors to take on a company of the Birmingham Boys' Brigade,. Brown duly formed a company at Kingstanding, a new estate on the outskirts for families from the slums of Aston, instilling Christian discipline with Sunday morning Bible classes, weekly drill parade, a bugle band and an annual camp under canvas. '[After demobilisation] he too over the command of the Birmingham Battalion of the Boys' Brigade, whose 40 companies trained 2,000 boys over the next ten years… 'Ralph Kilner Brown was a gentle and modest man of complete integrity, as popular with other members of his profession as he was with friends.'
Kingswood Association Magazine, April 2004
[Godfrey Brown] 'The British quarter-milers Frederick Wolff, Godfrey Rampling, William Robers and [Godfrey] Brown, starved of training facilities, had little more to sustain them than the notion that " it might just be done". … This was the disarmingly casual approach that was about to be pitted against the world's best. There can be no instance before or since of a relay team being forced to get its act together after arriving at the Olympic venue.
'None of this mattered when the gun went off for the start of the 4x400 metres event in Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Running the first leg, Wolff was in only fourth positiion when he handed over the baton to Rampling. But although 12 metres back, he had been able to remain at least within striking distance of the American leaders. Rampling … now ran a blinding leg, handing over to Roberts three metres ahead of the Americans. Roberts increased the pressure to hand over to Brown as anchorman, a further three metres up. Brown now ran a killer final leg, closing out the opposition and extending the lead to 15 metres over the despairing American Alfred Finch, who floundered In his wake.'
Times obituary, 7 February, 1995