The house spirit in Scottish superstition. He is called in
England Robin Goodfellow. At night he is supposed to busy
himself in doing little jobs for the family over which he presides.
Farms are his favourite abode. Brownies are brown or tawny spirits, in
opposition to fairies, which are fair or elegant ones. (See
“It is not long since every family of considerable substance was
haunted by a spirit they called Browny, which did several sorts of work
and this was the reason why they gave him offerings ... on what they
called `Browny's stone.' ” —Martin: Scotland.
Followers of Robert Brown, of Rutlandshire, a violent opponent of
the Established Church in the time of Queen Elizabeth. The present
“Independents” hold pretty well the same religious tenets as the
Brownists. Sir Andrew Aguecheek says:
“I'd as lief be a Brownist as á politician.”
Shakespeare: Twelfth Night, iii. 2.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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