Member Biography

Nathaniel Borrodaille Browne 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1855       2 Democrat
1856     Speaker 2 Democrat
1857       2 Democrat

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


07/21/1820 - 03/13/1875

Quartermaster Nathaniel Borrodaille Browne (D2) Philadelphia County 1855-1857

Early Life: 

Nathaniel Borrodaille Browne, born July 21, 1820, Northern Liberties neighborhood, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; son of William and Elizabeth Young Browne; public school education, Reading; University of Pennsylvania; graduated with honors, 1838; studied law, Philadelphia bar, 1842; married, Mary J. Kendall, 1846, (d. 1856) married, Emily Valeria Taliaferro Browne, 1859, children, Mary Kendall Browne Miller, Katherine H. Browne, Nathalie Emily Browne; law practice, commercial law, West Philadelphia; president, West Philadelphia Board of Commissioners, 1853; elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate 1855-1857, elected, Senate Speaker, 1856; presidential appointee, Philadelphia Postmaster, 1859; delegate, Charleston Democratic Convention, 1860; Quartermaster, 25th Regiment, Civil War, 1862 assistant treasurer, treasurer, Philadelphia Mint, 1869; died, March 13, 1875 (aged 54), Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; interment, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. 

Early Career: 

Studied law, Philadelphia bar, 1842; law practice, commercial law, West Philadelphia. 

Quartermaster, 25th Regiment, Pennsylvania Emergency Militia, Civil War, 1862.

Professional titles; business ownership; board memberships; local government; club memberships:

Financed land acquisitions, Fairmount Park,  1857, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; member, first Board of Commissioners, Fairmount Park, 1863; lifetime president, Fidelity Insurance Trust and Safe Deposit Company; trustee, University of Pennsylvania, 1869; charter member, treasurer, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; member, American Philosophical Society; board manager, House of Refuge; treasurer, Edwin Forrest Home; member, Philadelphia Union League, 1863 with Senator Charles L. Gibbons.   

Pennsylvania Politics:

President, West Philadelphia Board of Commissioners, 1853.

Elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 2nd district, Philadelphia County, 1855-1857, elected, Senate Speaker, 1856. 

Delegate, Charleston Democratic Convention, 1860. 

Continued Government Service:

Presidential appointee, James Buchanan Jr., Philadelphia Postmaster, 1859. 

Assistant treasurer, treasurer, Philadelphia Mint, 1869.


President, West Philadelphia Board of Commissioners played a considerable role toward the consolidation of Philadelphia and Philadelphia County, instrumental in the Senate’s passage of the enabling act that led to the merger. He modernized and widened Philadelphia streets, supported the relocation of the University of Pennsylvania to its present site.

Authored two unique pieces of legislation Temperance Act of 1855, "Act to Restrain the sale of Intoxicating Liquors." "Act to Restrain the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors." This measure, commonly known as the "Jug Law," permitted the sale of "vinous, spirituous, malt, or brewed liquors, or any admixture thereof" in quantities of a quart or more only and prohibited under a heavy penalty the main tenance or the use of a "bar room or any room where liquor could be purchased and drunk” Laws of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, 1855, p. 53.

The 1857 Normal School Act, which established the State Teachers College system.


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members B"Wilkes University Election Statistics ProjectWilkes University.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Monday, March 15, 1875, Page 2.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Wednesday March 17, 1875, Page 5.

Nathaniel Borradaille Browne (1820-1875) - Find a Grave Memorial