Lt. John Greene

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John Greene

Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Probably Quidnessett, (Present Washington County), Providence Plantation (Present Rhode Island)
Death: October 6, 1729 (80-88)
Coventry, Kent County, Rhode Island
Place of Burial: Coventry, Kent County, Rhode Island, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Greene, of Quidnessette and Joan Greene (Beggarly)
Husband of Abigail Greene
Father of James Greene; John Green, Sr.; Abigail Clason; Deborah De lav an; Uzal Greene and 9 others
Brother of Captain Edward Greene; Enfield Greene; Daniel Greene; Mary Rider; Henry Greene and 4 others
Half brother of Benjamin Greene and John Robert Greene, Jr.

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Lt. John Greene

notes on ancestry


Identifying John Greene, Jr.

Son of John Greene of Quidnesset

Copyright 1998 by Wm. E. Wright - Send comments and questions by e-mail: wmewrght AT

John O. Austin in Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island and other writers identify John Greene, Jr., son of John Greene of Quidnesset as the John Greene who married Abigail and died in Oct. 1729. In his will proved in Warwick, he gives his age as being in his 79th year or there abouts (Austin, p 86; Beaman, RIGR, III:282). That places his birth ca 1651. The will is recorded in Vol. 1, pp 301-303 of Warwick wills. Both Austin and Beaman examined the original independently and there is no major difference in their abstracts, other than the surname of daughter Hannah. Austin calls her "Hannah Andrew" and Beaman calls her "Hannah Aldro." Neither report a son Andrew as reported by Walter and Ella Greene (A Greene Family History, 1981) and Huling (Narragansett Historical Register, II:137-144, 1651-176, 253-264; III:20-33, 320).

Louise Prosser Bates in articles published in Rhode Island Historical Collections, XI:69-78,117-121; XII:15-26 identifies John Greene with wife Mary Jefferay as the son of John of Quidnesset. Austin calls this John Greene, "John Greene of Newport."

The descendants of John and Abigail are many and they, quite naturally, would like to establish their ancestry. Generally they follow that given by Austin and others, that John, who married Abigail, was the son of John of Quidnesset. What are the arguments in support of each position.

Date of Birth

Austin and Huling list the birthdate of John Greene, Jr. as 6 June 1651. This is the same date of birth as that given to a John Greene, son of John and Anne (Almy) Greene and grandson of John Greene, surgeon, of Warwick (Clarke, The Greens of Rhode Island, pp 62,71). Arnold (Rhode Island Vital Records) lists this birthdate for John Greene, son of John and Ann, in the vital records of Warwick. LaMance (The Greene Family and Its Branches, 1904, p 74) says that he was born in 1645 and that the 16 June 1651 birthdate usually assigned to him really belongs to John3 of the John Greene, surgeon line (as reported by Clarke). The reason LaMance gives for the 1645 birthdate is that he owned land with his father in 1666. There was some squabble about the land and John, Jr. and his brother spent some time in New York. She reports that when he moved to East Greenwich in 168_ he was called "Lieutenant John Greene of New York." In order to own land in 1666, he would have had to be 21 years old. Hence the 1645 birthdate. This 1645 birthdate conflicts with his age as given in his 1729 will, but then ages reported by elderly persons at the time have proved notoriously inaccurate. Usually, however, their ages are overstated, not understated. John Greene does state in his will that he was in his "79th years or there abouts." So he was unsure of his age.

Bates says that Lieut. John Greene of Newport was born probably about 1640. She probably reached this conclusion because his wife was born in 1642.

Analyzing the likely birthdates of the three John Greenes:

John3 Greene, grandson of John Greene, surgeon, of Warwick, b 6 June 1651. John Greene, wife Abigail, died 1729, b ca 1651 (possibly as early as 1645 per LaMance). John Greene, wife Mary Jefferay, b ca 1640 (possibly as late as 1645 if this is the son in the 1666 "John Greene and Son" discussed below). John Greene and Son in 1666

Huling reports about this 1666 land entry. "In 1666 the proprietors of the northern part of Quidnesset neck made a division of their lands, previously, so far as appears, unsurveyed. On a plat which purports to indicate the boundaries of each piece of property in that region in that year, a tract of one hundred and fifty-one acres is assigned to 'John Greene and Son.' ... Previous to 1800 the whole of this property had been purchased from Greene's descendants by the Allen's, in which latter family nearly all of it is now owned." Note, the plat says that the land is owned by John Greene and Son, but the son is not named.

In March 1681-2, John Greene and his wife Joan conveyed to their son, Daniel Greene, one hundred and twenty acres bordering on Allen's Harbor,3/4 the farm now owned by Mr. Joseph Allen,3/4 and also to their son, James Greene, sixty acres adjoining across the brook to the northward, the consideration in each case being the same, viz., the annual payment of thirty shillings as long as the father or mother should live. At this time the land next north of James Greene's estate was owned by a John Greene, presumably the son of the elder John, who three years later was a resident of East Greenwich. In Feb. 1682 John Greenman acknowledged, for himself and his brother David, the deed he had given Greene to land in Newport in 1647.

Analyzing this information: In 1666 the son in "John Greene and Son" is not named. John Greene of Quidnessett with wife Joan convey this land in Quidnesset to sons Daniel and James in 1681/2. A neighboring landowner is another John Greene. Austin says this neighboring landowner is John Greene, the son of John Greene of Quidnesset.

John Greene of Newport and John Greene of Narragansett

Bates notes that Richard Smith of Narragansett and John Greene of Newport each bought one-fortieth of the islands of Conanicut and Dutch. John Greene was said to have been the first man who improved his land there. The land was purchased 17 Apr 1657. In Jan. 1661, Greene sold his land. Austin says this is John Greene of Newport, husband of Mary Jefferay. On 25 Sep 1685, the adjoining landowner sold his land which was bounded by land formerly in possession of "John Greene, Sr., of Narragansett, now deceased." These transactions identify John Greene of Newport and John Greene of Narragansett (Quidnesset) as the same person according to Bates. The 25 Sep 1685 deed also indicates that John Greene of Quidnesset was deceased by that time.

Analysis: Bates conclusion appears logical. Quidnessett is a part of the Narragansett. John Greene of Quidnessett lived in Newport some of the time in the 1640-1650s. So he could have been known as John Greene of Newport, John Greene of Quidenssett, and John Greene of Narragansett. But the later references in the 1680s to John Greene of Newport would be a different person. Bates also did not say that the John Greene of Newport who married Mary Jefferay is the same person as John Greene of Quidnesset.

Oath of loyalty

Bates notes that in May 1671 John Greene and his sons, Henry Greene and Daniel Greene, took the oath of loyalty to Rhode Island. Where was John Greene, Jr. and his other brothers?

Questions and analysis: The absence of Edward and John might support LaMance's idea that John and Edward were in New York at this time. Benjamin, Robert and James were too young to take the oath. If John was born later than May 1650 (as the 1729 will of John with wife Abigail suggests), he also would be too young.

Fones Purchase

1 Jan. 1672, John Greene of Quidnissitt was one of the men engaged in the Fones' purchase, which was confirmed to the twenty-four partners in 1677. This land was the genesis of the town of East Greenwich in 1677. John Greene and John Greene, Jr. signed a letter with John Fones and others on 27 July 1679 regarding this land purchase. John Greene, sr., drew the ninth house lot and the third ninety acre farm. Edward Greene sold these to George Vaughn in deeds stating that they descended to him by will of his father, John Greene, deceased.

Bates goes on to say that John Greene, Jr., called at the time Lieut. John Greene of Newport, had a special meeting of the townsmen of East Greenwich called, 14 May 1685, when as a Fones purchaser he was recognized as a townsman and was allowed to draw his town lot and farm. He drew the sixth town lot and the nineteenth farm. Austin also states that "Lieutenant John Greene of Newport" was admitted a freeman of East Greenwich and was granted 100 acres. Austin says this Lieutenant John Greene of Newport is the one who married Mary Jefferay. (Note, this is the transaction to which LaMance says he is described as "Lieutenant John Greene of New York." Huling also mentions that "Lieut. John Greene, of New York," was admitted a freeman in East Greenwich 14 May 1685, "concerning whose origin nothing more is known, but who may have been the partner of Fones in the above purchase." A review of East Greenwich deeds and records might clarify whether this is "New York" or "Newport.")

Per Bates, on 1 May 1690, John Greene of Newport sold to Giles Peirce the ten acre house lot that Lieut. John Greene of Newport had drawn in 1685. Lieut. John Greene of Newport's farm lot was sold 13 Feb 1707/8 by Thomas Langford and wife Sarah of East Greenwich to Zachariah Jenkins of Barnstable. No deed has been found that explains how this farm came into the possession of Thomas Langford. A Thomas Langford was one of the beneficiaries named in the will of John Greene of Newport. This will dated 4 Sep 1694 is recorded in Taunton, MA.

Bates says that Lieut. John Greene of Newport, was born probably about 1640. He married Mary Jefferay, daughter of William and Mary (Gould) Jefferay of Newport. Lieutenant John died suddenly at Seekonk, MA, 4 Sep 1694. He was admitted a freeman of Newport in 1668.

Analysis: Even though John Greene, Jr. was one of the original Fones purchasers and signer of the 1679 letter, he was not a resident and hence may have been ineligible to draw his town lot and farm. Where was he? Wandering around New York as LaMance says or in Newport? Huling probably read the East Greenwich records and read "Lieut. John Greene of New York." Austin read the same record as "Lieutenant John Greene of Newport. LaMance claims to have researched many original records. Bates probably also read the original record and read "Lieut. John Greene of Newport." We have an obvious conflict and an important one that demands that anyone trying to identify this Lieut. John Greene also read the original record and make his own determination of whether it says "New York" or "Newport." However, Bates subsequent evidence when the property was later sold supports her reading of "Newport."

John Greene of Newport

On 26 Oct 1670 John Greene(, Jr. of Newport) and Edward Greenman petitioned the General Assembly that the estate of Thomas Flounders, lately executed for the murder of Walter House at Kingstown, after the expenses for the execution were paid might go to his late wife Sarah (Greene) and her child.

Lieutenant John Greene of Newport is mentioned in the Newport town records in 1679, 1681, 1682/3, 1683 and 1684. On 14 May 1685, Lieutenant John Greene of Newport drew house lot and farm in East Greenwich. In 1686/7 he is back in the Newport records. 21 May 1690 he sells his town lot in East Greenwich and disappears from Rhode Island records. He died at Seekonk, Massachusetts 3 Sep 1694 and his will is proved in Taunton.

Analysis: John Greene does not appear to have remained in East Greenwich very long. Austin says that "he never have settled at East Greenwich probably, but doubtless disposed of his land there, as did so many other Newport owners." He may have been a resident 14 May 1685 when he was made a townman or freeman of East Greenwich. But he appears to have been back in Newport in 1686/8 (approximately 18 months later). The other possibility is that he never left Newport and John Greene of New York drew the house and lot in East Greenwich in 1685.

John and Abigail Greene

Arnold (Vital Records of Rhode Island) lists the birth of John and Abigail Greene's three oldest children: James, John, and Jane, in the birth records of East Greenwich between 1685 and 1690. But this is the same period that Lieutenant John Greene of Newport is being reported in the Newport records.

Walter and Ella Greene report that John Greene leased land in East Greenwich from David Shippee in 1685. Is this the same person as Lieutenant John Greene of Newport?

Analysis: At first blush the birth records of John and Abigail Greene's three oldest children in East Greenwich seem to indicate that they were residents from 1685 to 1690/1. However, the early birth entries were usually entered in batches, not sequentially. Arnold does not indicate when these entries were made, but they appear on one page of the record (1-10). If they were entered in a batch (all at one time), then the entry must have been made in 1690/1 or later. If this is the case, then we can only postulate residence in East Greenwich at the time of entry in 1690/1, not between 1685 and 1690/1 and the possibility of residence earlier.

In reading my East Greenwich records, it is apparent that the town clerk differeintiated between two men, both names John Greene. One is referred to in the records as Lieut. John Greene of New Port. In May 1685, he perfected title to his land in the Fones' Purchase and he later sold part of this property in 1690. Prof. Huling read "New Port" as "New York". The handwriting is not easy to decipher, but a careful study shows that it is "New Port" as Mrs. Bates read it. The town clerk referred to the second John Greene, simply as "John Greene." He leased property later in 1685 and recorded the births of his children. This latter John Greene was the husband of Abigail and later moved to Coventry. His parentage is unknown.

Qualifications of Bates

Walter and Ella Greene have this to say about Bates. She "searched original records in Rhode Island and had access to extensive notes of George Sears Greene. The library of the Rhode Island Historical Society at Providence has on file her scrapbooks (over a hundred bound volumes) in which she pasted copies of documents, letters, and miscellaneous genealogical data. Every name in these many volumes has been carefully indexed on cards which are filed alphabetically. One must conclude she was a thorough and systematic searcher. Using the records of land transactions to prove her arguments, Bates contends that the man referred to as John Greene of Kingstown (Quidnessett) and the man referred to as John Greene of Newport were one and the same person."

Analysis: This description by Walter and Ella Greene suggests that Mrs. Bates' conclusions need to be carefully considered. In fact, Walter and Ella Greene write, "I believe this bears further investigation by those whose family lines are directly affected."

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Lt. John Greene's Timeline

Probably Quidnessett, (Present Washington County), Providence Plantation (Present Rhode Island)
August 18, 1685
Age 40
Warwick, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
April 9, 1688
Age 43
East Greenwich, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Age 43
Stamford, Fairfield County, Dominion of New England
Age 45
Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut Colony
Age 45
Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut Colony
Age 47
Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut Colony
January 23, 1694
Age 49
Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island
May 1, 1694
Age 49
Stamford, Fairfield, CT