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Monday, Aug. 12, 2013

Milwaukee’s Irish Nobility

Lord Baron Michael George and Lady Roberta Helene Browne of Oranmore

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The Browne (DeBrun) family of Milwaukee and East Troy is descended from Irish nobility of Oranmore in Galway, Ireland. Lord Baron Michael and Lady Roberta (brother/sister) were invested with the British “courtesy title” at Irish Fest 2009. Their lineage dates to the 11th century and they’re cousins to the famed Guinness family. A 1543 legend claims fortune for the Brownes from a magic gift, the Coulston Pear, charmed to prosper its owners. Perhaps the gift still rewards the Wisconsin Brownes.

 

Lord Baron Michael:

 

As an Irish noble, what protocols must you follow?

Our name is Browne with an “e.” Our “courtesy title” is petitioned and given to non-Scottish Barons by the U.K. We represent the Royal Family and charitable causes while attending official Irish programs like Irish Fest and the St. Patrick’s Parade. When in royal capacity, a squire attends me; John Ruisch is my loyal first squire. I also cannot introduce myself; I must be announced. My mother is the “Baron Mother”; our children are styledHonorable.” Of Ireland’s 48 barons, ours is the oldest so I am the high Lord Baron.

 

What do you think about the British Royal Family?

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are wonderful people who are turning the heads of the Royals due to the somewhat normal way they live their lives.

 

Please tell me about your regalia.

My royal kilt is Heritage of Wales. Our family kilt is McKenzie, the tartan worn by the House of Windsor. The three colors are green for Ireland, red for blood and white for royalty. My royal caubeen (beret) has a crest with three feathers: white, green and black—turkey for our Wisconsin home. Five pearls signify the five points of the royal crown. My baron’s badge, a four-pointed cross, is green enamel. I carry a formal staff wrapped in white fox, as is my baron’s sash for our father’s family name, Fox. My sporran, also white fox, carries three coins; for food, lodging and ransom if I’m captured. Our crest is yellow with two black eagles. We strive to live by the DeBrun motto, “Bravely and Faithfully.”

 

What charitable project do you represent?

I gladly speak to groups about child abduction and abuse—a major concern and charity I support.

 

What do you say to Irish people who don’t support British rule over Ireland?

I do not comment on the feelings of the Irish regarding British rule. This is an ongoing problem facing the Irish.

 

Lady Roberta:

 

What does it mean to you to be Irish nobility?

Being born with an inherited title cannot be changed. On our coronation, it felt right, like coming home. We must be examples of nobility in every day life. If I can use my position to help someone or a cause, I will. Our family is from humble circumstance but blessed. Our ancestors settled Geneva, Ill., and were on the Mayflower. Our father George Fox Browne was a respected musician and set designer at the Goodman Theater. Lord Michael and I sang professionally in Europe and our children are doing well. We strive to share our blessings.