William and Cecily Greene of Whitechapel

My last post took another look at William Greene of Wapping Wall, mariner, weighing up the evidence that he might have been the son of my maternal 8 x great grandfather, Captain William Greene of Ratcliffe (1626 – 1686). My starting-point was the fact that the William Greene from Wapping had a son named William and a daughter named Mary – and we know from his will that Captain Greene had two grandchildren with these names. However, for a number of reasons I concluded that the mariner from Wapping was probably not my ancestor’s son.

In this post, I want to consider another William Greene who had children named William and Mary, which makes them candidates to be the grandchildren of Captain Greene. This William lived at various addresses in the parish of St Mary, Whitechapel, the neighbouring parish to Stepney, which was the home of my ancestor.

St Mary, Whitechapel

St Mary, Whitechapel

On 22nd September 1668 (eight years after the Restoration of the monarchy and two years after the Great Fire of London), William and ‘Sisly’ Greene had a daughter named Mary christened at St Mary’s. According to the parish register, the couple lived in Well Close, which was on the borders of Whitechapel and East Smithfield, between Cable Street and Ratcliffe Highway. Coincidentally, some two hunded years later a number of my paternal ancestors would be living in the same area.

On 14th January 1671, William and ‘Sissily’ Green had a son named William baptised at the same church. The register records their address as ‘in ye Salt peter’, which I take to mean Salt Petre Bank, a little to the west of Well Close.

Finally, on 12th April 1674, the same couple had a son, Richard, christened. By now, they were living in ‘Rose Mary Lane’, just to the north of Salt Petre Bank and west of Well Close. This is another area with family associations: a hundred years or so later, Captain Greene’s granddaughter Mary and her husband John Gibson would own premises in Darby Street, off Rosemary Lane, and their daughter Elizabeth, my 6 x great grandmother, would live there during her first marriage to John Collins.

Since these three addresses – Well Close, Salt Petre Bank and Rosemary Lane – are so close together (see map below), it’s possible that they refer to the same place. Either that, or William and Cecily Greene moved house a number of times within a very small area.

Section of Rocque's 1746 map, showing area where William and Cecily Greene lived

Section of Rocque’s 1746 map, showing area where William and Cecily Greene lived

Incidentally, the various renderings of Cecily’s name by the transcribers are candidates for my collection of Ancestry howlers. It doesn’t help that the parish clerk in Whitechapel struggled to spell the name, with ‘Sisly’ and ‘Sissily’ being two variations. But I’m not quite sure how the transcriber managed to read Cecily as ‘Giely’ and Sissily as ‘Fissaby’.

If they survived, then the William and Mary born to William and Cecily Greene would have been 14 and 17 in 1685, when Captain William Greene wrote his will. However, if they were his grandchildren, we would need to assume that their brother Richard had died in the meantime, since he is not mentioned in the will. Presumably, their parents, William and Cecily, would also need to have died, since they do not merit a reference in the will either.

Unfortunately, the register at St Mary, Whitechapel does not record the occupation of the fathers of those christened, so we know little about William Greene, father of William and Mary, beyond his wife’s name and their various addresses. However, we can assume he was probably married some time around the 1660s, which would mean he could have been born in the mid 1640s – which would make it possible for him to be the son of Captain Greene.

At this stage, though, and until further evidence is forthcoming, that remains merely a possibility.

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