Brown, John (1826–1883)
The personal servant of Queen Victoria, (1819–1901) from
December 1865 until his death. A rough-mannered Highland
gillie (attendant on a Scottish chieftain), he became fascinated
with the queen of England during her visits to Balmoral Castle,
Scotland, and later at Osborne House, Isle of Wight. Their unusually
close association gave rise to many rumors and spiteful
gossip.
Brown was born at Crathie, near Balmoral, Aberdeenshire,
Scotland, December 8, 1826. He first came to the notice of
Queen Victoria during her visits to the Scottish Highlands,
when Brown served as her outdoor personal attendant. After
the death of her beloved Prince Albert, the widowed queen
came to rely heavily on the companionship of Brown, after he
had been summoned by her to Osborne House in 1864. He had
brought the queen’s favorite Highland pony ‘‘Lochnagar,’’ and
soon afterward, the kilted, red-whiskered Highlander became
a privileged associate of the queen, and enjoyed powerful influence.
Rumor had it that he was even her secret lover or that he
took part in Spiritualist séances with her.
It was an open secret that the queen had a special interest
in Spiritualism, particularly after the death of Prince Albert.
She certainly held a number of séances and is said to have used
the services of medium Robert James Lees.
Brown died March 27, 1883, at Windsor Castle and was buried
at Crathie cemetery. He was praised by the queen in the
Court Circular as her ‘‘best and truest friend,’’ and she had a
statue erected to him at Balmoral.
Sources
Underwood, Peter. Queen Victoria’s Other World. London
Harrap, 1868.
Victoria, Queen. Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the
Highlands. Smith, Elder, 1868.
Williams, Henry L. Life of John Brown. . . . for 30 Years Personal
Attendant of . . . The Queen. London E. Smith, 1883.