John and Elizabeth Elliott of Ratcliffe

In my last post I tentatively suggested that William Greene and Elizabeth Elliott, who were married in 1676 or 1677, might have been my 8 x great grandparents. I pointed out that many of the details in their marriage allegation match what we already know about Captain William Greene of Ratcliffe, Stepney, and his wife Elizabeth, the parents of my 7 x great grandfather Joseph Greene.

In this post, I’m going to assume (for now) that these are indeed my ancestors, and report what I’ve been able to find about Elizabeth Elliott – my possible great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. We know from the marriage allegation that she was a widow, living in Stepney, and that she was about 35 years old when she married William Greene. Armed with this information, I searched for evidence of Elizabeth’s first marriage. I was looking for a Mr Elliott living in the Stepney area, who died sometime before 1676/7, and who was married to a woman named Elizabeth.

Seventeenth-century carpenter at work (drawing by Jan Luykens)

When I searched in the usual places, only one candidate suggested himself. I came across christening records for three children of John and Elizabeth Elliott– Elizabeth (1663), Mary (1665), and John (1667) – all of them born in the hamlet of Ratcliffe and all christened at St Dunstan’s, Stepney. The parish register describes John as a house carpenter, perhaps to distinguish him from the many ship’s carpenters who must have worked in that waterside village.

My next discovery was the record of John Elliott’s burial, which occurred at St Dunstan’s on 25th March 1674, two or possibly three years before the marriage between Elizabeth Elliott and William Greene. Searching earlier records, I then found a record of the marriage of John Elliott of Ratcliffe Highway, carpenter, and Elizabeth Leete, which took place at St Dunstan’s on 11th May 1656, the parish register helpfully giving John’s age as 30, meaning that he was born in about 1626. Elizabeth was said to be a ‘mayde’- still a girl. In fact, if the age on the allegation for her second marriage is correct, then she might only have been 14 years old when she married John.

The last will and testament of John Elliott of Ratcliffe (first page)

Finally, I was fortunate to find a copy John Elliott’s will at Ancestry. It’s a refreshingly clear and well-preserved document, written in 1672 and proved in 1674. John’s wife Elizabeth is named as executrix, while only one surviving child – their eldest daughter, Elizabeth – is named. One of the two overseers appointed by John Elliott is his friend, Thomas Sumerly, scrivener – the same person who recorded the marriage allegation on behalf of William Greene in 1676.

John Elliott’s last will and testament might provide us with useful background information to help us in our quest, so I’ve taken the time to transcribe it in full. I’ll share my transcription, and my thoughts about what the will might tell us, in the next post.

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