Some time ago, in my search for information about my ancestor Captain William Greene, I came across a will that looked as though it might be his.  This William Greene was also a mariner from Stepney, and he too had a wife named Elizabeth. However, his will was written in 1694, while reliable sources claimed that ‘my’ William died in 1686. Also, the only children mentioned in the will are Edmond and Mary, whereas we know that Captain Greene had a son named Joseph, who was my 7 x great grandfather.

As I reported in a recent post, I’m now fairly sure that ‘my’ William Greene is the author of a different will, written in October 1685, and that the 1694 William is not my ancestor. However, I’ve been trying to find out a little more about this other mariner named William Greene, in order to separate him and his family clearly from my own forebears. My recent clarification of the location of the hamlet of Ratcliffe, home to Captain William Greene, and the position of its neighbouring villages, has helped me to do this geographically as well as temporally.

To begin with, I had great difficulty finding any records for the children of the ‘1694’ William Greene. This is probably because I was searching for children born to William and Elizabeth – the name of the wife mentioned in his will. However, I’ve now come to the conclusion that Elizabeth was William’s second wife, and that the two children he mentions – Edmond and Mary – were from his first marriage, to Mary.

It helps that Edmond is a relatively uncommon name, which means there are very few likely births to choose from. William Greene, a mariner from Wapping Wall, had a son named Edmond christened at St Paul Shadwell on 20 July 1676. Wapping Wall (marked simply as ‘Wapping’ in the map below) was the street that ran alongside the Thames at Wapping, but only a few streets from St Paul’s church.

Part of Wapping and Shadwell, from Rocque's map of 1746

Four years earlier, a daughter, Mary, was born to the same couple at the same address and christened at St Paul’s church on 28 April 1672. Another daughter, Rebecca, was baptised on 11 March 1674; however, she died five years later.

Mary Greene, wife of William, died five months after giving birth to her son Edmond and was buried at St Paul, Shadwell, on 4 December 1676.  Nine months later, on 16 October 1677, William Greene of the parish of St Paul, Shadwell, widower, married Elizabeth Noble of the parish of St Mary, Whitechapel, at the church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney. I don’t think William and his second wife Elizabeth had any children of their own, certainly none that survived.

I’ve had no luck in finding further records for Edmond Greene, beyond the reference to him in his father’s will of 1694, when he would have been 19 years old. Mary Greene married mariner George Perkins from the parish of St Botolph, Aldgate, on 16 July 1791, at St Dunstan, Stepney. They had four children that I know of. When their first child, George, was christened at St Dunstan’s, they were living in Milk Alley (which ran south from Milk Yard: see map above). George and Mary appear to have had two sons named Jeremiah. I’ve found a burial record for the first, on 26 January 1694, and a baptismal record for the second, on 15 June in the same year. The former record gives the family’s address as ‘Ratcliffe To.(?) Shadwell’.

William Greene signed and sealed his will on 14 May 1694, when he was ‘bound out on a voyage to sea’. The Latin postscript appears to state that he died at sea, and that the will was proven in August 1696. On 28 June of that year, George and Mary Perkins, now living in ‘Stepney Casey’ (?), had a son baptised at St Dunstan’s church. He was given the name William, presumably in memory of his recently-deceased grandfather.