Eric Gore Browne

Colonel Sir Eric Gore Browne (1885-1964) was a soldier, businessman and banker. He was a partner, and later director, of Glyn, Mills & Co from 1922 until his death.

Birth and early life

Eric Gore Browne was born on 2 October 1885, the son of Spencer Gore Browne of Rowledge, Surrey. He was educated at Malvern College and Worcester College, Oxford. He was called to the bar at Inner Temple, London, in 1909.

Military and wartime service

In 1912 Gore Browne joined the Post Office Rifles, a part-time volunteer battalion which was part of the London Regiment.

During the First World War Gore Browne was called to active duty, arriving in France with his battalion on 13 March 1915. He served throughout the war in various staff posts, and rose to the rank of brevet major. He was mentioned in despatches and won the French Croix de Guerre and the Distinguished Service Order.

After the war he remained with the Post Office Rifles and became their commanding officer, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the battalion was effectively disbanded in 1922 he joined the Leicestershire Yeomanry. He served as their commanding officer from 1933 to 1938, and was appointed colonel in 1939.

After the outbreak of the Second World War he served as deputy adjutant and quartermaster general, 48th Division, 1939-40, and assistant quartermaster general, Home Forces, 1940.

From 1942 to 1943 he served as Controller of Rubber, a government post introduced in 1941 to ensure good management of the nation’s precious rubber resources, which were vital to the war effort.

Banking career

In May 1919, after being demobilised from full-time army service, Gore Browne joined the merchant bank Glyn, Mills & Co as its secretary. His business acumen and astute judgement led to his appointment as a partner of the bank at the end of 1922. In 1939 Glyn, Mills was acquired by The Royal Bank of Scotland, and as part of the consequent reorganisation of Glyn, Mills’ business, Gore Browne’s title became managing director and deputy chairman. He became chairman of Glyn, Mills and an extraordinary director of The Royal Bank of Scotland in February 1943.

At the end of March 1944 Gore Browne was appointed chairman of Southern Railway, and in order to concentrate his efforts on that post, he gave up the chairmanship of Glyn, Mills, although he remained an active director for the rest of his life.

In 1933 Gore Browne published The History of the House of Glyn, Mills & Co, a privately published history of the bank, including its constituent businesses and their owning partners.

In 1962, looking back on his life, he reflected, ‘such success as I have had in life is all due to the House of Glyn. If they had not taken me on and helped me all my life, I should never have had all the good fortune which has come my way.’

He was vice president and later president of the Bank Clerks’ Orphans Fund from 1943 until his death.

Other business activities

Gore Browne held various other directorships and business roles, including:

  • Alexanders Discount Co, director from 1923 and chairman 1951-61
  • Southern Railway, director, 1930-48; deputy chairman from 1935; chairman from 1944. He remained chairman until the railways were nationalised in 1948
  • Provident Mutual Life Assurance Association, director from 1943 and chairman 1951-63, after which he remained a director until his death
  • Rio Tinto, director
  • London committee of the Ottoman Bank, director and chairman from 1944

Church and charitable activities

A prominent churchman, Gore Browne’s service to the Church of England included appointment by the archbishops to the central Board of Finance, one of its two main financial bodies, in 1951. He was chairman of the board, 1953-60. His contribution to the growth of the Christian Stewardship movement and the effective investment of church funds in business was considerable and his work put church finances on a much better footing.

Gore Browne supported many charitable causes, including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Imperial Cancer Research, Middlesex Hospital, Bedford College and Uppingham and Oakham Schools.

He was appointed High Sheriff of Rutland in 1957.

Honours

  • Croix de Guerre 1917
  • Distinguished Service Order 1918
  • Territorial Decoration 1926
  • Order of the British Empire 1939
  • Knight Bachelor 1948

Marriage

On 8 August 1912 Gore Browne married Mary Imogen (known as Imogen), daughter of the Right Hon. Charles Booth and Mary Catherine Macaulay. They had four children.

From about 1934 the family lived at Glaston House, Uppingham, Rutland.

Death

Colonel Sir Eric Gore Browne suffered declining health from 1962, and was forced to give up many of his business interests. He died on 28 May 1964 in Middlesex Hospital.

Related publications

  • Various obituaries and appreciations, including in Times, 29 May 1964, 30 May 1964 and 4 June 1964
  • Eric Gore Browne, The History of the House of Glyn Mills & Co (Privately published, 1933)