The children of Captain William Greene (1626 – 1686)

Having searched the records fairly inconclusively for the grandchildren of my 8 x great grandfather, Captain William Greene of Ratcliffe (1626 -1686), I’m now returning to the subject of his children. As I noted a few posts back, William must have had at least three children. My 7 x great grandfather Joseph was born in 1677, the product of William’s second marriage to Elizabeth Elliott, which took place in the previous year. William’s daughter Mary must have been the child of an earlier marriage, since she was already married when her father wrote his will in 1685 – and we know that William was a widower when he married Elizabeth. And then there is the unnamed father (or perhaps fathers?) of Captain Greene’s two grandchildren, William and Mary, whose identity still remains unclear – but who must certainly be the product of an earlier marriage.

The Thames at London, 17th century

The Thames at London, 17th century

When might William Greene’s older children have been born? If, as seems likely, he was born in 1626, then William probably married for the first time by the mid-1640s, or even a little later. So we’re looking for children with a father named William Greene, born during a thirty-year period, between about 1645 at the very earliest and 1676.

Let’s assume for now that Captain Greene lived in the Stepney area for most or all of his adult life – we know that he was definitely ‘of Stepney’ when he declared his intention to marry Elizabeth in 1676. My search for children of William Greene begins with his ‘home’ parish of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney and then moves on to neighbouring parishes:

St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney

November 1647:  George, son of William Greene of Ratcliffe Highway, mariner, and Judith

26th June 1648:  Jane, daughter of William Greene of Shadwell, shipwright, and Anne

20th March 1654: Grace, daughter of William Greene of ‘Greene bank’, shipwright, and Elizabeth

6th September 1661: William, son of William Greene of Limehouse, poulterer, and Philodence

27th September 1668: Roger, son of William Greene of Ratcliffe, poulterer, and Elizabeth

St Paul, Shadwell

28th April 1672: Mary, daughter of William Greene of Wapping Wall, mariner, and Mary

25th September 1673: Thomas, son of William Greene of Upper Shadwell, cook (?), and Elizabeth

11th March 1674: Rebecca, daughter of William Greene of Wapping Wall, mariner, and Mary

13th August 1674: Thomas, son of William Greene of Upper Shadwell, poulterer, and Elizabeth

25th October 1675: Mary, daughter of William Greene of Upper Shadwell, poulterer, and Elizabeth

20th July 1676: Edmund, son of William Greene of Wapping Wall, mariner, and Mary

St John of Wapping

9th August 1657: Mary, daughter of William and Elizabeth Green of Green Bank.

31st December 1663: Elizabeth, daughter of William Greene, mariner, and Mary

13th April 1665: William, son of William and Mary Greene

25th November 1667: James, son of William and Mary Greene

St Mary, Whitechapel

8th August 1649: Francis, son of William and Joyce Greene

15th December 1651: William, son of William and Joyce

31st December 1657: Mark, son of William and Hannah Greene

12th February 1665: William, son of William and Mary Greene

20th September 1668: Mary, daughter of William and Sisly Greene of Well Close

14th January 1671: William, son of William and Sissily Greene of Salt Petre Bank

12th April 1674: Richard, son of William and Cecily Greene of Rosemary Lane

St Botolph, Aldgate

28th July 1653: John, son of William Greene, gunsmith, and Contento

5th October 1656: Thomas, son of William and Hosanna Greene

How can we begin to assess which, if any, of these William Greenes might be my ancestor? Perhaps we can start by dismissing, as extremely unlikely, the William Greenes who worked as poulterers or cooks: including the William living in Limehouse and married to Philodence, the one living in Ratcliffe and married to Elizabeth, and the (same?) one living in Upper Shadwell and also married to Elizabeth. Of course, it’s possible that William changed occupation in mid-life, but it seems improbable, given that he is described as a mariner in 1676, was a captain when his son Joseph was born in 1677, and an Elder Brother and Warden of Trinity House a few years later.

18th-Century-Shipwright

I suppose the transition from shipwright to mariner is more likely. If so, then William Greene of Shadwell, who with his wife Anne had a daughter Jane in 1648, is a possibility, as is William Greene of Green Bank, Wapping, who with his wife Elizabeth had a daughter Grace in 1654. I assume this is the same couple who had a daughter Mary in 1657. The latter date would certainly fit with what we know about Captain Greene’s daughter Mary: this Mary Greene would have been 28 in 1685.

As for William Greene, the mariner of Wapping Wall, who had three children – Mary, Rebecca and Edmund – with his wife, Mary: I’ve set out recently my reasons for believing that he is the person who married Elizabeth Noble in 1677, had a son named William in 1679, and died at sea in 1696, having written his last will and testament two years earlier.

Among those who are left, there are two William Greenes who are clearly described as mariners. In November 1647, William Greene of Ratcliffe Highway and his wife Judith had a son named George. I haven’t found records of any other children born to this couple, so perhaps the marriage was short-lived, possibly due to the death of one or other partner. Nor have I found a marriage record for William and Judith, though if it occurred in the mid 1640s, it would be perfect for Captain Greene, who was born in about 1626.

On 12th June 1664, George Greene, a mariner from Shadwell, married Patience Porter, a maid from the same hamlet, at St Dunstan’s, Stepney. However, if this was the son of William and Judith, he would have been only about seventeen years old at the time. I’ve found no more records for George and Patience.

In December 1663, William and Mary Greene, who presumably lived in Wapping, had a daughter named Elizabeth. I assume it was the same couple who had a son William baptised at the same church in April 1665. If they survived, these two children would have been 22 and 20 respectively when Captain Greene wrote his will in 1665. There is no mention in the will of a daughter named Elizabeth. If Captain Greene had a son named William, he too must have died before 1685, and he would certainly have been too young to be the father of my ancestor’s two grandchildren. So William and Greene of Wapping look like an unlikely match for ‘my’ Greene family.

I discussed William and Cecily Greene of Whitechapel in an earlier post. It’s certainly possible that this is ‘my’ William, though his daughter Mary would have been only 17 in 1685, while his sons William and Richard (if they survived) would have been 14 and 11. For these reasons, I think it more likely that William Greene of Whitechapel is Captain Greene’s son – rather than the man himself.

What about Captain Greene’s daughter Mary? The list above includes four children of that name born to a father named William during this period:

1657: Mary, daughter of William and Elizabeth Green of Green Bank

1668: Mary, daughter of William and Sisly Greene of Well Close

1672: Mary daughter of William Greene of Wapping Wall and his wife Mary

1675: Mary, daughter of William Greene of Upper Shadwell, poulterer, and Elizabeth

The last two of these were certainly born too late to be married, even for the first time, by 1685, even if there weren’t other good reasons for dismissing them as possible candidates. We’ve already considered William Greene and his wife Sisly or Cecily: it’s possible this is my ancestor, though as mentioned above, his daughter Mary would have been only 17 in 1685. I certainly don’t want to dismiss this branch of the Greene family out of hand at this stage.

That brings us back again to William Green of Green Bank, Wapping, and his wife Elizabeth. Their daughter Mary would have been 28 years old in 1685, so certainly old enough to be married, perhaps even for the second time. What do we know about this family? We know that the same couple – same occupation, same location – had an older daughter, Grace, christened at St Dunstan’s on 20th March 1654.

At this stage, the search for Captain Greene’s children remains unresolved. One possibility is that some of the William Greenes that I’m treating as separate individuals were actually the same person. For example, if (as seems likely, from the paucity of records) the Judith who married William Greene of Ratcliffe Highway did not live long, then her husband might have remarried – and he could be one of the other William Greenes in the list above. The search goes on…

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