William Greene of Ratcliffe, 17th century mariner, and his wife Margaret

Still searching for the family of my 8 x great grandfather, Captain William Greene, I have been pursuing records of mariners of that name, in the hamlet of Ratcliff, Stepney, in the first half of the 17th century. In this post, I want to report on my discoveries about a William Greene, mariner of Ratcliffe, whose wife’s name was Margaret.

17th century seamen (Mary Evans Picture Library)

On 28 October 1632, a child named William Greene was christened at St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney. He was the son of William Greene of Ratcliffe, mariner, and his wife Margaret. Two years later, on 12 December 1634, a child named William, son of William Green of Brook Street, mariner, and his wife Margaret, was buried at the same church.

There’s a suggestion that William and Margaret might have had a second child named William, who must have died very soon after being born: on 21 September 1635, another William son of William Greene of Brook Street, mariner, and his wife Margaret, was also buried at St Dunstan’s.

Then, on 21 August 1636, yet another William Greene was christened at the same church. He was the son of William Greene of Whitehorse Street, mariner, and his wife Margaret. Since both Brook Street and Whitehorse Street were in Ratcliffe, and close together, there’s every likelihood this is the same couple.

I realised yesterday that I’ve been completely confused about the location of the hamlet of Ratcliffe. Distracted by the position on old maps of Ratcliffe Highway, I’ve been assuming that the village was to the west of Shadwell, when in fact it was to the east, between Shadwell and Limehouse. The section below, from Horwood’s map of 1792, clearly marks the locations of Brook Street and White Horse Street, as well as Ratcliffe Square and Ratcliffe Cross:

I’m unsure whether the William Greene who married Margaret was the son of the William Greene, mariner of Ratcliff, who died in 1634, and the brother of Bartholomew Greene, also a mariner. Nor am I sure if he is identical with the William Greene, mariner of Ratcliff, who married Elizabeth Fearne in 1614: though it’s possible that was his father, marrying for a second time, since the latter’s will of 1634 mentions a wife named Elizabeth.

Finally, I remain uncertain of the exact connection between these Greenes of Ratcliffe and Captain William Greene, from the same hamlet. If the transcription of his age on the family tomb is correct, then the William Greene who was born to William and Margaret in 1636 cannot be the same person. If this William survived, he would have been 49 or 50 in January 1686, but the first digit of Captain Greene’s age at the time of his death appears to be a ‘6’.

The search goes on…

Update: 11 October

I’m becoming convinced that the William Greene who married Margaret was, in fact, the son of the William Greene who composed his last will and testament in 1634. We know that the latter – William Greene the elder, mariner of Ratcliffe – had three sons, William and Bartholomew, both mariners, and another unnamed son who had children but who appears to have died before 1634.

As noted above, all of the records we have for William, husband of Margaret, describe him as a mariner of Ratcliffe. Since his first child was probably born in 1632, he would have been a father when his own father’s will was written. He probably married around 1630 (though I’ve yet to find a definite record of this), meaning he was probably born in about 1610. His (younger?) brother Bartholomew married in 1628. 

I’ve found more records for the offspring of William and Margaret, suggesting that they had a number of children who died in infancy. Here’s the latest information I have on their children:

28 October 1632  Baptism of son William, Ratcliffe

12 December 1634 Death of son William, Brooke Street, Ratcliffe

21 September 1635 Death of son William, Brooke Street, Ratcliffe

21 August 1636 Baptism of son William, White Horse Street, Ratcliffe

18 September 1636 Death of daughter Margaret, Ratcliffe – of plague

I’ve yet to find records of the baptisms of the second William or the second Margaret.

I am not clear as to whether this William Greene, mariner, and Margaret, of Ratcliffe, are identical with the couple of that name who can be found living at Wapping Wall in the 1640s. Their daughter Mary died there in 1642, and their daughter Margaret was born there in 1648: perhaps significantly, both baptism and burial occurred at St Dunstan’s.

Finally, I have not given up hope that the William who was married to Margaret might be my 8 x great grandfather, Captain William Greene. If so, then we must have married again, since his wife’s name at the time of his death in 1686 was Elizabeth. If this is indeed my ancestor, then he must have been very young at the time of his first marriage, and his second wife Elizabeth must have been somewhat younger than him, since she produced her last (?) child, my 7 x great grandfather Joseph, in 1677.

More on all of these possible connections in another post…

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One Response to William Greene of Ratcliffe, 17th century mariner, and his wife Margaret

  1. Kathryn Harris says:

    Hi Martin
    I have found yet another William Green – though the spelling is different – also of Ratcliffe.
    Details below:

    William ‘ Grene’ (AFN: 1853-NKG) Pedigree
    Born Abt 1585 – Died before 1612
    Married Judith Austin (AFN: G621-Z7) about 1610 – Ratcliffe England

    Parents – not known
    I found this record at FamilySearch.org. could he possibly be ancestor of your Captain William Greene? Perhaps another lead though also another possible red herring.
    keep up the good work – I enjoy reading your blog.
    Regards
    Kathryn Harris

    ——————————————————————————–

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