Born in Kirkcowan on the 12th October, 1900, John Brown was the son of village joiner William Dougan Brown and his wife, Isabella Hannah Erskine. He attended the village school before going on, in 1912, to the Ewart High School in Newton Stewart.
In the 5th Form he was Dux. He remained at the school in 1918 to serve as a Junior Student Teacher.
In January of 1919, John Brown became an apprentice to the Messrs. Crouch and Hogg, Civil Engineers, in Glasgow. By taking a sandwich course during his apprenticeship, he managed to graduate with a B.Sc. in engineering in April, 1922. As a graduate, he continued to work for Crouch and Hogg for the monthly wage of £12.
In 1924, John Brown became Assistant Engineer with the Tarapaca Waterworks Company, Iquique, Chile. From 1927 to 1939, he was again Assistant Engineer, but with the Public Water Department of the Territory of Tanganyika. During the years of 1939 to 1949 he held the position of Senior Executive Engineer of the Public Water Department of Fiji and then, from 19141 to 1949, of Director of Public Works for Fiji. From 1954 to 1957, John Brown was the Director of Public Works and Secretary for Works of Kenya. In 1958 he returned to work in Britain. Until 1964 he was Resident Engineer, Ale Water Scheme, working with the Roxburgh County Council. Upon his retirement in 1965, he remained under a retainer with Messrs. Crouch and Hogg of Glasgow for participation in their work in Kirkcudbright, where he lived.
In 1954, while he was working in Kenya, John Brown was presented with a C. B.E. in the New Year’s Honours List. The award was presented to him at Government House, Nairobi, by Sir Evelyn Baring, later Lord Howick. John Brown died on the 15th of February, 1987.