Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 81, page(s) 728-729


FRANK THURSTON BROWN was born in Norwich, Connecticut, February 27th, 1853, and died there April 17th, 1909. He was the eldest of three sons of Francis and Harriet Thurston Brown. From his ancestors, particularly the Thurston branch, it is evident that Mr. Brown inherited some of those intellectual traits which peculiarly fitted him for the legal profession.

His early boyhood was spent on his father's small farm, and in attendance upon the public schools of Norwich. At the early age of eleven he entered the Norwich Free Academy, and there prepared for Yale from which he was graduated in 1872. In his school and college life, while not a close student in the ordinary sense of the term, he gave clear evidence of an unusually acute mind. From college he returned, as an instructor, to his home Academy where he taught until 1876, studying law meantime in the offices of those distinguished members of the Connecticut bar, George Pratt and later Judge Hovey and Hon. John M. Thayer. He was admitted to the bar in 1878, and from that time until his death, continued to practice his profession in Norwich. He was married in 1885 to Isabel L. Geer, who, with two daughters, survives him.

Always much interested in public affairs, Mr. Brown never sought public positions for himself. It was because of this absence of self interest, as well as his practical and comprehensive judgment, that the public often turned to him for advice and leadership. In 1883 he represented his native town in the legislature and served on the judiciary committee. For about ten years he filled the office of corporation counsel of Norwich, and did most efficient service in that position. He was selected to represent that town in the Constitutional Convention of 1902, where his conservative judgment and power of clear and concise statement made him a recognized leader. He was president of the Board of State Police Commissioners from its organization, and was appointed by Governor Roberts a member of the Commission upon Laws relating to Primaries and Corrupt Practices at Elections. Many other positions of honor, both judicial and political, were urged upon him which he did not accept.

He was identified with many local interests. At the time of his death he was a trustee of the Norwich Free Academy, a director in the Hopkins & Allen Arms Co., a trustee in the three savings banks in Norwich, chairman of the Grievance Committee of the New London County bar, and a member of its Library Association.

Notwithstanding his prominence and efficiency in public matters, Mr. Brown's chief work was undoubtedly in his chosen profession. He was adapted by nature for it, and masterful in it. Through his own efforts he had become at the time of his death one of the recognized leaders of the Connecticut bar. Few of its members have been connected with more important cases. During the last few years of his life, such clients as the late Governor Lilley, the Southern New England Telephone Co., and The Norwich Gas & Electric Co., and his representation of the interests of the N. Y., N. H. & H. R. R. Co., and B. & M. R. Co., brought him into unusual prominence and into close touch with matters of state and national importance.

It was perhaps as an advocate that he excelled. Once persuaded that his contention was right, he was most tenacious in maintaining it. He possessed a most remarkable power of seeing the vital issues of a case, and of clearly and concisely stating them. Seldom, if ever, has Connecticut produced a man of keener, quicker intellect. He was not oratorical in his manner of address to the court, or jury, but his words were always forceful and commanded attention. He spoke for results and not for applause.

In his private life, Mr. Brown was unassuming and somewhat retiring, but possessed a kind and sympathetic disposition. He disliked ostentation and detested sham. To his friends he was loyal, but they must prove themselves worthy. He was fond of his home, and was ever a support upon which the members of his family and his relatives unconsciously and implicitly relied.

Mr. Brown was a man of pronounced personality. Positive in his convictions, he was frank and fearless in his expression of them. Of strict integrity, he held the confidence of his fellow men. In his death, the profession which he loved, and the State which he served, have suffered a profound loss. His memory will ever be an inspiration to his friends.