Another look at William Greene of Wapping Wall

In my last post, I wrote about William and Mary Greene, the grandchildren mentioned in the will of my 8 x great grandfather Captain William Greene (1626 – 1686). Searching through the parish registers for the Stepney area where Captain Greene lived, I identified two men who might have been the father of both William and Mary – and therefore the son of Captain Greene.

Wapping in the 17th century

Wapping in the 17th century

One of these men was William Greene of Wapping Wall who was, like Captain Greene, a mariner. On 28th April 1672, ‘Mary daughter of William Greene of waping wall Mariner and of Mary his wife’ was christened at the church of St Paul, Shadwell. Seven years later, on 8th April 1679, ‘William son of William Green of wapping wall Mariner and Elizabeth his wife’ was baptised at the same church. These two children would have been 13 and 6 years old respectively in 1685 when my ancestor wrote his will.

I suppose it’s possible, given that the two children had different mothers, that these records refer to two different William Greenes, both living in Wapping Wall, and both working as mariners. However, I think the more likely explanation is that this is the same man, and that between these two births his first wife, Mary, had died and he had married his second wife, Elizabeth.

In my previous posts about this ‘other’ William Greene, I’ve argued that he is the man who wrote his last will and testament in 1694 and seems to have died at sea, on board a ship called the Friendly Society, in 1696. If we look for other references to him in the parish registers, we find that on 11th March 1674, two years after the birth of their daughter Mary, William Greene of Wapping Wall, mariner, and his wife Mary, had another daughter, named Rebecca, christened at the St Paul’s, Shadwell. On 4th June 1679, this child was buried at the same church: she was three years old when she died.

St Paul, Shadwell

St Paul, Shadwell

On 20th July 1676, Edmund, son of William Greene of Wapping Wall, mariner, and his wife Mary, was christened at St Paul’s. On 4th December in the same year, the parish register records the burial of Mary, wife of William Greene of Wapping Wall, mariner.

I’ve argued before that William Greene of Wapping Wall is probably the person referred to in this marriage allegation of 11th October 1677:

Appeared personally Wm Green mariner of the parish of St Pauls Shadwell widower aged 42 yeares and att his owne dispose and alledged that hee intends to marry with Elizabeth Noble of the parish of St Mary Matfellon als WhiteChappell widow aged 36 and att her own dispose and that hee knoweth of noe Lawfull let or Impediment to hinder the sd intended Marriage & of the truth of the promises (?) he hath made under faith and received a Licence to bee married in the parish church of Stepney or St Mary White Chappell   Will Greene

Five days later, on 16th October 1677, William Greene of the parish of St Paul, Shadwell, a widower, married Elizabeth Noble of the parish of St Mary, Whitechapel, at the church of St Dunstan, Stepney. If this is indeed William Greene of Wapping Wall, then it would fit with the birth of a son, William, in 1679, to William and Elizabeth Greene.

Section of Rocque's 1746 map, showing Shadwell and Wapping. The street marked 'Wapping' was also known as Wapping Wall.

Section of Rocque’s 1746 map, showing Shadwell and Wapping. The street marked ‘Wapping’ was also known as Wapping Wall.

So does this mean that William Greene, mariner of Wapping Wall, is a strong candidate to be the son of my ancestor, Captain William Greene of Ratcliffe – and that his children, William and Mary, are the grandchildren mentioned in the latter’s will? Unfortunately, there are a few obstacles standing in the way of that conclusion.

Firstly, if William Greene of Wapping Wall is, in fact, the same person who married Elizabeth Noble in 1677, then according to the marriage allegation he was 42 years old at the time. That means he was born in about 1635 which means he could not possibly be the son of ‘my’ William Greene, who was born just nine years earlier.

Another problem is that the William Greene born in 1679 is probably the child of that name, said to be the son of William Greene of Wapping, who died of ‘convulsion’ and was buried at the church of St John, Wapping, in September 1680.

Finally, I’ve always believed that William Greene, mariner of Wapping Wall, was the person who wrote his last will and testament in 1694, and died in 1696. Not only was this man a Stepney mariner, married to a woman named Elizabeth, but he also mentions a son Edmund and a daughter Mary, married to George Perkins. As I noted in the previous post, there were a number of girls named Mary Greene born in the Stepney area in the mid-17th century. However, I can only find one boy named Edmund: and he is the son born to William Greene, mariner of Wapping Wall, in 1676. The fact that the 1694 will also mentions a daughter named Mary adds to the likelihood that it was written by the mariner from Wapping.

Further confirmation is provided by the record, in the parish register at St Dunstan’s, Stepney, or the marriage on 16th July 1691 between Mary Greene of Wapping and George Perkins of the parish of St Botolph, Aldgate, mariner. If she was indeed the daughter of William Greene of Wapping Wall, then Mary would have been about 19 at the time of her marriage. As I’ve reported before, George and Mary Perkins had three children, all baptised at St Dunstan’s: George, born in 1692 in Milk Alley, Wapping; Jeremiah, born in 1694 in Wapping but dying before his first birthday in ‘Ratcliffe (Highway?), Shadwell’; and William, born in 1696 at ‘Stepney Casey’ (?).

These facts would appear to rule out William Greene of Wapping Wall as a possible son to my ancestor, Captain William Greene of Ratcliffe – for now, at any rate. Whether he was related to ‘my’ Greene family in some other way remains an open question.

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