In the year 1634, Charles I was King of England and the Civil War was still six years in the future. It was in this year that William Greene, a mariner of Upper Shadwell in the parish of Stepney, to the east of London, drew up his last will and testament.

I came across this will while searching for information about another mariner of the same name, Captain William Greene from the neighbouring village of Ratcliff, who died in 1686, and who I believe to have been my 8 x grandfather.

Upper Shadwell, from Rocque's map of 1746

In his will, the William Greene of 1634 mentions two surviving sons – William and Bartholomew, both of them also mariners. Was the younger William my ancestor? Or was he the son of one of these men? Either way, I think it’s at least likely that ‘my’ William Greene came from a family of mariners in the Stepney area – perhaps this one. Untangling the various strands of the Greene family in the 17th century is no easy task, but in the next post, I’ll try to trace the story of William Greene the elder of Upper Shadwell and his descendants.

First, though, here’s my transcription of the will – as best as I can make it out, with original spellings and punctuation:

In  the name of God Amen. The sixteenth xxx of xxx Anno Domini 1634 And in the tenth year of the xxx (reign?) of our Sovereign Lord Charles by the Grace of God King of England Scotland France and Ireland Defender of the Faith. I William Greene the elder of upper Shadwell in the parish of  Stebenhythe als Stepney in the xxx of Midd Marriner xxx (sick?) and weak in bodie but in good and perfect memorie at this xxx praise be given unto Almightie God for the same do therefore make and ordaine this my xxx testament xxx xxx my last will in manner and form following . I first and principallie commend my soule to God my maker trusting by and through the death and passion of Jesus Christ my Saviour to be made partaker of life eternal as for my bodie I commit into the earth which it was made and to be decentlie brought unto the ground and to be buried in the parrish church of Stebenhythe aforesaid wherein I now live and after my debts being paid which of right and xxx I ordaine (?) xxx and my funerall expense discharged I dispose of the rest and residue of my personal effects (?) that shall remaine in manner and forme following Item I give and bequeath unto my sonnes William Greene and Barthomew Greene both of the parish abovesaid in the xxx of Midd Marriners to each of them the summer of 10 pounds apiece (?) to be paid unto them by my Executive (?) hereafter named twelve months after my decease Provided all xxx my will and mind is that if either of my said sonnes William or Batholomew to decease (?) before the xxx of this my xxx bequeathed unto them shall growe due then I will that the whole twentie pounds shall xxx to xxx longer lived of them. Item I likewise give and bequeath unto my Grandchildren being the sonnes and daughters of my three sonnes xxx in number seaven that are now borne and living to each of them the summe of twentie pounds apeace of good and lawfull money of England to be and remaine with xxx of Elizabeth Greene my beloved wife until such time or times xxx my said grandchildren shall come to be of the age one and twentie yeares or be lawfullie married Provided or xxx that my xxx xxx Elizabeth Greene doe immediatlie after my decease putt in good xxx unto my xxx hearafter named for the xxx and xxx payment thereof at the time or times aforesaid which shall first happen and the proffitt xxx out thereof to be towards the educating and bringing up of my saide Grandchildren xxx during the time afforesaid (?) And further my minde and will is that if any of my saide Grandchildren decease before the legacie bequeathed to them shalbe (?) and growe due to them that then the saide legacie for (?) bequeathed unto him or her xxx shalbe bequeathed divided amongst my Grandchildren xxx then living and surviving (?) to each of them parte and parte like thereto (?) and xxx of my estate xxx bequeathed I xxx and bequeath the same unto my loving (?) wife Elizabeth Greene whom I make and ordain my saide Elizabeth Greene my full and sole Executive and I xxx xxx and xxx all former wills deeds of xxx or other grants (?) heretofore by me made mentioned or intended to be made and this my xxx to be and xxx in full xxx and effective. And I nominate and appointe my good friends Mr Jonas Jones of Ratcliffe in the county aforementioned Marriner and Richard Denton (?) of London xxx to be overseers in trust of this my last will and testament. And I xxx the xxx the xxx and xxx in the xxx this xxx xxx and performed. In witness whereof I the saide William Greene the elder have hereunto set my hand and seale Proven the daie and yeare first (?) above written in the xxx of these wittnesses hereunto subscribed the xxx of William Greene the elder Signed Sealed and subscribed by William Greene the elder and xxx will and testament in the xxx of Mr Jonas Jones the mark of Richard Stiles (?) & (?) William xxx among xxx