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Brownell was born in Westport, Massachusetts on Oct. 19, 1779. He studied at Union College, Schenectady, New York, receiving his degree in 1804. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by Bishop John Henry Hobart. He was consecrated Bishop of Connecticut in New Haven on October 27, 1819. Brownell's extensive writings include diocesan charges, liturgical material, scriptural commentaries and other works. He founded Trinity College, Hartford, where a bronze statue of him now stands.
- A Sketch-book of the American Episcopate, by Hermon Griswold Batterson
- The Episcopate in America, by William Stevens Perry