The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

General Sir Samuel Browne VC

General Sir Samuel Browne VC

A cabinet card portrait of General Sir Samuel James Browne (1824-1901), who served as a British Army cavalry officer in India and the Near East and is best known today as the namesake of the Sam Browne belt. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for ‘valour in the face of the enemy’ at Seerporah in India on 31 August 1858. During the engagement, Browne’s left arm was severed at the shoulder.

As a result of this amputation, Browne began to wear the accoutrement which bears his name, as compensation for the difficulty his disability caused with wearing his officer's sword. Other army officers who had known Browne in India subsequently started wearing the belt but it did not come into common use in the British Army until after his retirement. Browne's original belt is now on public display in the India Room of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Browne was promoted to general in 1888, and awarded the Order of the Bath's Grand Cross in 1891. He retired from the army in 1898 and settled at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, where he died on 14 March 1901 at the age of 74. His body was cremated but there is a memorial to him in the Ryde Town Cemetery, as well as plaques in St Paul’s Cathedral and Lahore Cathedral. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the National Army Museum in Chelsea.

Photographed by Bourne and Shepherd of India.


Code: 125994
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