On 20th March 1676 (1677 by modern reckoning), a scrivener named Thomas Sumerly, from the east London suburb of Shadwell, published a marriage allegation on behalf of William Greene, a 50-year-old widower, and Elizabeth Elliott, a widow of 35, both of them from nearby Stepney. Four years earlier, Sumerly had been a witness to the last will and testament of his friend John Elliott, a well-to-do carpenter and Elizabeth’s late husband. The allegation ‘prayed Lycence’ for William and Elizabeth to be married ‘in ye parish Church of St Bartholomew the Lesse or St Paul Shadwell’.
I’m almost certain that the William Greene who married Elizabeth Elliott was Captain William Greene of Ratfliffe, and that he and Elizabeth were my 8 x great grandparents. Just two weeks before this allegation was published, ‘Jane wife of Capt. Willm. Green of Ratcliffe’ had been buried at the parish church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney. About eleven months after the allegation was made, a child named Joseph Greene, ‘son of Capt. Willm. Green of Ratcliff mariner and Elizabeth uxor’, was christened at St Dunstan’s. Joseph was my 7 x great grandfather. Clearly, Captain Greene had remarried in the interim, to a woman named Elizabeth, and this marriage to Elizabeth Elliott seems to fit the bill.
However, until yesterday I hadn’t been able to locate a record of the marriage of William and Elizabeth. I’d found a reference, in the parish register of St Botolph’s, Aldgate, to a marriage between William Greene and Elizabeth Leate on 7th February 1677. Since Leate or Leete was Elizabeth Elliott’s maiden name, I’d managed to half-persuade myself that this might be the right record, despite the fact that it describes William as a bachelor, and that February 1677 was almost a year after the allegation was made. Not only that, but St Botolph’s, despite its proximity to Stepney, was not even one of the churches mentioned in the marriage allegation.
Then, yesterday morning, carrying out another sweep through the records at Ancestry, I came across a reference to a marriage on 23rd March 1676 between William Greene and Elizabeth Elliott – at St Bartholomew the Less, one of the two churches named in the allegation published by Thomas Sumerly. Unfortunately, it’s an index-only record: it seems that the parish records for St Bartholomew have not been fully digitised. This marriage took place three days after the allegation was published by Thomas Sumerly, so I think there’s a fair chance it’s the right one.
St Bartholomew the Less is a small church in the City of London, associated with St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Only a selection of its parish records have been digitised and uploaded to Ancestry: unfortunately they don’t include marriages for 1676. The complete parish records for the church are held by St Barts’ own archive and can be viewed by arrangement. I’m hoping it will be possible to pay a visit, if only to see whether the register includes any details – such as age, occupation or home parish – that would confirm that the William Greene and Elizabeth Elliott who were married on 23rd March 1676 were in fact my ancestors.