BROWNISTS, groups in England (c. 1580–1660) that openly separated from the established church. The term was derived from Robert Browne, author of Reformation without Tarrying for Anie (1583). Browne advocated an essentially Congregational polity, a church made up only of the visible elect, who were to choose and install their own officers. Later Separatists, including the Pilgrims at Plymouth, probably owed much to Browne, as did the settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, although the latter always insisted that they had never separated from the Church of England.
Miller, Perry. Orthodoxy in Massachusetts, 1630–1650. Boston: Beacon Press, 1959.