Major John Greene, Jr.

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Major John Greene, Jr.

Also Known As: "Green"
Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Death: Died in Warwick, Providence Plantations County (Present Kent County), Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Place of Burial: Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John "the Surgeon" Greene and Joan Greene
Husband of Sarah Greene; Philippa Greene; Mary Sanford and Anne Greene
Father of Sarah Tefft (Green); Deborah Perne Torrey; Captain Peter Richard Greene; Maj. Job Greene; Phillipa "Phillis" A. Carr / Dickinson and 9 others
Brother of Peter Greene; Richard Greene; James Greene, of Potowomut; Thomas Greene of Stone Castle; Jone Hade and 1 other

Occupation: Deputy Governor of Rhode Island, Deputy Governor of RI
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Major John Greene, Jr.

John Greene Jr. (1620 - 27 November 1708) was a deputy governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations who spent almost his entire adult life in the public service of the colony. Born in England, he was the son of John Greene and Joan Tattersall, and sailed to New England with his parents in 1635 aboard the ship James. His father, after coming from Massachusetts to Providence, became one of the original settlers of Warwick. In 1652 Greene served in his first public role as a commissioner from Warwick, and served in some public capacity every year until 1690 when he was first chosen as deputy governor of the colony. He then served ten consecutive one-year terms in this capacity, retiring from public service in 1700 at the age of 80. He was one of the ten Assistants named in the Royal Charter of 1663, which would become the basis for Rhode Island's government for nearly two centuries. During the devastating events of King Phillips War, Greene was one of 16 prominent inhabitants of the colony whose counsel was sought by the General Assembly.

Greene died in Warwick on 27 November 1708 and was buried on the Spring Greene Farm (later the property of Governor Theodore F. Green) in Warwick. Greene married Ann Almy, the daughter of William and Audry (Barlow) Almy, and a descendant of Henry II, King of England. They had 11 children, the youngest of whom, Samuel, married Mary Gorton, a granddaughter of Rhode Island colonial president Samuel Gorton. Their grandson, William Greene served for 11 one-year terms as a governor of the colony, and their great-grandson, also named William Greene was a governor of the State of Rhode Island. John and Ann Greene are also ancestors of United States President Warren G. Harding.


John GREENE, MAJ. (AFN: 842V-3T) Pedigree

Sex:  M  Family  



Birth:   15 Aug 1620   
 Salisbury, Wiltshire, Eng.   
Christening:   15 Aug 1620   
 St. Thomas's Ch., Salisbury, Wiltshire, England   
Death:   27 Nov 1708   
 Warwick, Kent, Ri   
Burial:   1708   
 Spring Green Burial Ground

Warwick Kent County Rhode Island, USA



Father:  Joseph GREENE (AFN: 2Z53-S4)  Family  
Mother:  Joanne (Tallershall) TATARSOLE (AFN: GL6R-5C)   
Father:  John GREENE (AFN: XBRR-SB)  Family  
Father:  John GREENE, SURGEON (AFN: 1SBP-S76)  Family  



Spouse:  Ann (Agnes, Annis) ALMY (AFN: 4GJ7-4D)  Family  
Marriage:  CA. 1648  
 Warwick, Kent, Ri  
Spouse:  Ann ALMY (AFN: 246V-B94)  Family  
  • **************************************************

Warwick’s Villages & Historic Places

By Don D’Amato

Conimicut Village (and its environs)

Smuggling activities and the Moses Greene house

One of the most interesting houses in the Conimicut Village is the Moses Greene House at 11 Economy Avenue. This house has been connected to the Triangular Trade, smuggling, and the Slave Trade during the period when the house was owned by members of the Lippitt and Greene families. Like the Captain Peter Greene house at 1124 West Shore Road, this house was built, ca. 1750. Both houses are 2 ½ story, 5-bay, center chimney houses and are so similar that it is believed they were the work of the same builder.

The history of the two houses differs, however, as the Moses Greene House is rich in the seafaring lore of Warwick. While the primary interest in the colony during the 18th century remained in agriculture, Warwick’s proximity to the bay saw a number of its leading families turning to the sea for their livelihood.

An easier lifestyle

Life in Conimicut in the 18th century differed from the very early period when there was great confusion and bitterness. Now the settlers there lived in greater accord with their neighbors in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. . After the “Glorious” or “Bloodless Revolution,” which deposed James II and placed William and Mary on the throne, the Toleration Act for Religion and an English Bill of Rights for politics brought about some harmony in Warwick and Rhode Island . This greatly reduced the religious animosity that once made the Gortonists objects of the wrath of other colonies and helped promote the concepts of political freedom that Warwick advocated from its early days.

During this period, Warwick increased her agricultural products by the settling of the Cowesett division, the Wecochaconet Farms and the Natick Lands. Much of the produce from these farms, as well as those from Conimicut, were shipped to Newport and Providence from ports along Warwick’s shore and the colony became a significant part of the ever-growing sea trade.

Major John Greene

Much of the prosperity that came to the colony was due to the leadership of Major John Greene, Jr., an ancestor of the Moses Greene, who lived in the house at Mill Cove for a number of years. Major John Greene was annually elected Deputy Governor from 1690 to 1700, and served during the terms of Governors John Easton, Caleb Carr and Samuel Cranston. Major Greene, as Deputy Governor, received no salary but he was exempted from paying taxes, thus encouraging him to acquire large tracts of land in the colony.

During his tenure in that office, the town of Warwick was nearly destroyed by a smallpox epidemic in 1690-91, witnessed the introduction of paper money as bills of credit, and welcomed the beginnings of a post office. Major John Greene journeyed to Boston in 1692 to inquire about establishing a post office and helped bring about the development of a Post Road, which ran from Boston to Pawtuxet and Apponaug and eventually to Virginia.

The Privateers

Major Greene is also regarded as a champion for Rhode Island rights and especially as the man who introduced Rhode Island to the controversial practice of using privateers. As England was at war for over 30 years in the 1690-1763 period, there was a demand that merchant ships arm themselves to make war on the mother country's enemies. As an incentive, ships receiving privateer commissions were allowed to keep a large portion of the spoils of war. Governor John Easton, fearing that pirates would gain from this practice, hesitated to grant commissions. Deputy Governor Greene had no such reservations and granted several commissions, thereby paving the way for a dramatic increase in Rhode Island's commerce. A number of Greene family men did take to the sea and engaged in the wars of the mother colony. One, Godfrey Greene, who lived near Mill Cove had been taken prisoner by the French in the French and Indian War. He later served in the Revolutionary War and was captured by the British. Privateering, as one can imagine, brought high profits but was a very precarious profession. .

The Triangular Trade

The role played by privateers, with all the excitement, however, was only one of the segments of the lucrative maritime enterprises that were to aid in Warwick's growth as a seaport town.

The key to the maritime prosperity was the trade with the West Indies, which brought sugar and molasses into the colony. Through shrewd dealings, enough profit was made by selling cheese, fish, lumber, horses and livestock in order to gather a large enough cargo to trade with the Southern colonies and with the West Indies for sugar and molasses. This was distilled into rum, a commodity accepted nearly everywhere, and by no means confined to the African trade. The distilling of rum reached a high point in the middle years of the eighteenth century. While Newport, with its 22 distilleries and Providence with 12, led the production of rum in the colonies, there were also a number of small distilleries all along Warwick’s shore. At its height, many Rhode Island distilleries could produce rum for about 20 cents per gallon. Approximately 200 gallons or $40 worth of rum could purchase a slave in Africa which, in mid-century, often could be sold for nearly $400 in Cuba or in the Carolinas.

In 1712, many of the restrictions placed upon the American colonies in regard to the slave trade were removed. When the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, which concluded Queen Anne's War, gave England the right to furnish Spanish America with 144,000 slaves over a 30 year period, the colonies were now encouraged to participate in this lucrative trade.

Maritime prosperity

Warwick's inclination for the sea became obvious quite early. Because of low prices for agricultural products and the difficulty of acquiring and clearing land young men found it easy to be lured from their farms to seek adventure and high profits. At first the Warwick vessels were engaged in the coastal trade, then later as privateersmen and a few as slavers. . Historians such as Samuel Greene Arnold have credited Rhode Islanders' vessels with "superior sailing qualities." Arnold goes on to say, "very few of the enemy's privateers, in a gale of wind, will run or outsail one of our loaded vessels." According to Arnold, eighty-four vessels of all sizes were built in the colony and were manned by native seamen. A number of these ships were built in the shipyards at Apponaug and Pawtuxet and some of them came to Mill Cove, which was much deeper then.

The Moses Greene house, spanning a period of over 250 years of Warwick’s history is one of the City’s excellent visual reminders of Warwick’s heritage. Ernest L. Lockwood, in his Episodes in Warwick History, says of this house, “Tradition informs us that the old house was the scene of smuggling activities prior to the Revolution.

Photo from Lockwood, 1937


Warwick, as well as Rhode Island's other seacoast towns, prospered and became more dependent upon the sea for her prosperity. In 1733, when the British passed the Molasses Act in an attempt to gain a share in the profits being made by the colonists, Rhode Islanders resorted to smuggling. Mill Cove was well suited for this activity as small schooners could enter the cove and the illegal goods could be taken to the house at the cove to be stored and distributed. The belief is that Rhode Island ships, after eluding British patrol ships around Beavertail Point in Jamestown, and to avoid customs duties at Newport and Providence, came into Mill Cove to unload their contraband goods. From there, in smaller boats and under cover of darkness the goods could be sent to Providence or Newport. Later, when there were attempts to curtail the slave trade, Warwick, Newport and Providence resorted to the smuggling of humans as well. The discovery of chains in the cellar of the Moses Greene House has led to the belief that slaves were kept there at different periods.

Salutary Neglect

Almost from the beginning of the century, Rhode Island won a reputation for contrariness as well as for illegal trading and piracy. England's preoccupation with European wars had a positive effect on Warwick's prosperity as it was impossible for the mother country to strictly administer the restrictive trade laws or to closely supervise the granting of privileges to privateers. This era in the eighteenth century is often called the "Period of Salutary Neglect," for as England "neglected" her colonies, they prospered, especially in the West Indian trade and in the spoils brought in by the privateers.

Nearly all of Warwick's inhabitants benefited from the increased trade. Those directly concerned with ships and supplies were obvious beneficiaries. In addition, farmers received higher prices, and artisans found a market for their talents as Warwick began supplying the major ports of Newport and Providence. Goods were shipped via a ferry that ran between Warwick Neck and the northern end of Prudence Island and from there to Newport. By 1742, Warwick Neck was a vital link in the postal and commercial trade as a ferry from Providence stopped there and then sailed on to the islands. After the French and Indian War ended in 1763, England felt she had the resources to stop the smuggling and the pressure against the colonists was increased. The trade in rum, made from molasses, was so lucrative that Warwick ship captains and owners, like most of the others in New England, found it more profitable to smuggle than to comply with the law. The many coves and inlets in Warwick, especially those around Warwick Cove, Mill Pond Cove and Pawtuxet, continued to smuggle despite the increased risk. As the British increased their patrols, the gap between the mother country and the colonies grew greater and eventually resulted in a struggle for independence. Rhode Islanders from Conimicut took part in this fight for freedom.

In the decade following the Revolutionary War, there was a growing sentiment against the slave trade. In 1787, it became illegal for Rhode Islanders to engage in this “nefarious” trade. Once again there was smuggling in Mill Cove and the Moses Greene house may have played a role in the trade.

The Farm & Grist Mill

It should be noted however, that while smuggling was at times very profitable, it was not the main occupation of the people who lived in the house. Moses Greene, whose name is most closely associated with the house, was primarily engaged in agriculture and was actually born in 1815, after the “glory days” of smuggling. He was the only son of Amos and Mary Lippitt Greene. His grandfather was Moses Lippitt, known as “Moses Lippitt of the Mill.” He was called that, as he owned the Grist Mill built by Thomas Stafford in the early days of the colony. It was the first and only mill in Warwick for a time, and his ancestors ground corn for the entire town of Warwick. Moses Lippitt continued to run the mill, farm the land and most likely engaged in smuggling.

During much of its existence under the ownership of Moses Greene and those who followed him, the house was the center of a large farm and the prosperity of the farm was evident during the 19th century. One indication is that in 1870, a large ell and veranda were added to the house. In the 1880s, a Victorian living room, hall and staircase were added. In time, other changes occurred, such as blocking off the six fireplaces and remodeling sections of the building.

The Moses Greene House today has been restored to its 1750 persona. Notice the 19th century porch has been removed.

Photo Don D’Amato 2004

In the late 1980s, the house was restored as close to its 1750 style as possible by Mrs. Cindy Laboissonniere. Part of the charm of the 10 room house lies in its structure which was framed with massive beams that were all cut and beveled by hand. The well preserved and restored clapboards clearly show the rose-head nails of the Colonial Period. In addition there are paneled mantelpieces, fine bolection mouldings, and a beehive oven. There is also an area adjacent to the massive center chimney that was used as a “smoke house” to cure meats. In the cellar, there is a large “summer beam” or central support that may very well have been taken from a house built on the site in 1718.


A SPECIAL NOTE: There were two JOHN GREENE's who immigrated to Rhode Island at the same time in the 1600's. One is known as John Greene "of Quidnessett". He was born Abt. 1606 in Gillingham, County Dorset, England, and is known to be the son of Robert Greene (b: 1580, who was the s/o Henry Greene) and unknown wife. John "of Quidnessett" married Mrs. Joan "Jane" Beggerly, a widow. The other is known as John Greene "of Warwick" who married Ann Almay or Almy. This John "of Warwick" is the brother of my James Greene "of Potowomut" mentioned here. John "of Quidnessett" and John "of Warwick" are 2nd cousins.

My next ancestor is James Greene "of Potowomut" (1626-1698), son of John and Joanne Tattershall Greene. He married Elizabeth Anthony, daughter of Joseph Anthony and wife Susanna Potter. James Greene and Elizabeth Anthony Greene are my biological maternal 8th great grandparents -

JOHN GREENE (1597-1659), surgeon, the progenitor of the Warwick Greenes, was the son of Richard and Mary (Hooker) Greene, and was born on his father's estate at Bowridge Hall in the parish of Gillingham, County Dorset, England. about 1590. ' Though not so recorded, dates before and after him would seem to determine this is the year of his birth.(1)

John Greene (1597-1659), aka John "the Surgeon" Greene was the first of my Green ancestors to come to America. He was the fourth son of Richard and Mary Hooker Greene of Bowridge Hall, Gillingham, County Dorset, England. John Greene was born September 9, 1597 in Bowridge Hall, Gillingham, County Dorset, England; died in January of 1659 in Warwick, Providence (nka Kent) County, Rhode Island, in the America's; married first in November 04, 1619 at St. Thomas Church, Salisbury, County Wiltshire, England, to Joanne Tattershall, daughter of Richard Tattershall and wife Margaret Fox. John Greene (1597-1659) was the Surgeon of Salisbury, County Wilkes, England. One page 234 of "A Family Genealogy" by William Henry Beck, III, is the following account of JOHN GREENE (1590-1659):

My Notes About JOHN GREENE and JOANNE TATTERSHALL from "The Greene Family and it's Branches"; by Lora S. LaMance; Mayflower Publishing Company, Floral Park, New York, 1904, p 47,48. (I am now told that her work is highly suspect and mostly fictitious. Please take all her information with a grain of salt.)

John Greene was a deputy governor.
Deputy Governor John Greene, the son of my ancestors, JOHN & JOANNE (TATTERSOL) GREENE, was baptized on August 15, 1620 in Salisbury, England. He was married about 1648 to ANN (ANNIS) ALMY, daughter of WILLIAM & AUDREY (BARLOW) ALMY.

John Greene inherited the family farm, which had been purchased from Indian Chief Miontonomi on October 1, 1642 and called "Greene's Hold"

In 1651, he and three others agreed to build a corn mill in Warwick, R. I. He was "General Recorder" keeping the town's records in 1652-4, Commissioner from 1652-1663, Deputy for Newport to the Rhode Island General Court for many sessions between 1679 and 1690, General Solicitor in 1655, Attorney General in 1657-1660, Warden in 1658, Assistant in 1660- 1673 and several years until 1696. On June 29, 1670, he was one of two men chosen agents to go to England discuss the Rhode Island charter with His Majesty and defend it against injurious violations. He received oe10 for going to New London in 1676 for a treaty. Being one of several of the "most judicious" inhabitants, he was part of a counsel of sixteen men that were called upon to value the land at Mt. Hope and to purchase a bell for public use in the Colony to give notice of Assemblies, Courts and Trials.

In 1683 he was notified by Gov. Andros of his appointment as a member of the Governor's Council. He was agent for Rhode Island to the King of England in January of 1685/7 and presented a request for the sum of 60 pounds for a debt from the Colony for services done in England. On January 30, 1690, he along with others sent a letter of congratulations to William & Mary on their ascention to the throne.

He was commissioned Captain by October, 1664 and "Major of the Main" from 1683 until 1696.

His will dated 1706 was proved December 20, 1708 and names his wife, sons: Peter, Job, Richard and Samuel as executors, and daughters: Deborah Torrey, Anne Greene, Catherine Holden, and Audry Spencer, as well as granddaughter: Mary Dyer and the children of Phillis (Carr) Dickinson, deceased. It also says that he is an occupant of "Greene Hold" alias Occupasituxet. It is believed that he is buried on the old family homestead named above.

He was Deputy Governor of Rhode Island from 1690 to 1700.

This is not accurate. Anne Almy was not married to Robert Griffin. She was married to John Greene. Her name was never Griffin.

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Major John Greene, Jr.'s Timeline

2, 22
2, 25
August 15, 1620
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
August 15, 1620
(St. Thomas's) Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
August 15, 1620
St. Thomas's Ch., Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
August 15, 1620
St. Thomas's Ch., SALISBURY, Wiltshire, England
August 15, 1620
(St. Thomas Church) Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
August 15, 1620
St Thomas Ch., Salisbury, Wilts, England
August 15, 1620
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
August 15, 1620
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom