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Richard Henry Brown was born 13 November 1837 at London, England, the son of Richard and Sibella Margaret (Barrington) Brown. Brown married Barbara Davison (1842-1898) on 23 November 1864 and the couple had five children: Margaret Sibella, Elizabeth Purves, Annie, Richard Charles, and Lillian Seward. The family resided in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia where Brown worked as manger of the General Mining Association (later the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company), and served as the mayor of the town of Sydney Mines. Daughter Margaret (1866-1961) became an artist and served on the directorate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Richard Charles (1872-1928) studied engineering and worked with his father at the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company.