Born in 1885 in Bolton, Lancashire, Frederic Holifield Brown was the son of Frederic James Brown and Charlotte Holifield. He was the eldest of seven children, two of whom died during childhood. In 1901 the family was living at St Anne’s-on-Sea near Blackpool.
Frederic qualified as a solicitor and by 1911 he and his family had moved to Hertfordshire. His father, originally a law clerk, was now a polish manufacturer with five of his children living at the family home, ‘Inglewood’, The Avenue, Bushey.