Tag Archives: John Greene

Surgeon John Greene, Salisbury, England to Providence, RI by 1636

For some time now, I’ve been posting sketches of some of my immigrant ancestors who arrived in, and remained, early Massachusetts. For the most part, they were much easier to research and discover, mainly because their descendants were patriots supporting American independence during the Revolutionary War.

It’s now the turn of my Rhode Island ancestors to step into the spotlight. This branch of my family were either pre-Loyalists, migrating to New Brunswick in the 1760s or else Loyalists who removed from the colonies in 1783.

Today, my focus is on Dr. John Greene, a surgeon, who sailed from Southampton, England to Massachusetts in 1635 on the James. He is said to be from Salisbury, Wiltshire, but The Great Migration Study further identifies him as being the son of Richard Greene of Gillingham, Dorset. He was born c1594 and died by 7 January 1658/59, when his will was probated.

Gillingham is about 28 miles west of Salisbury, with the distance from Salisbury to Southampton a bit less than that. Dave and I actually took the train from Southampton to Salisbury last year after one of our cruises and spent the day in the town around the cathedral.

Salisbury Cathedral, besides being a beautiful church, is home to the Magna Carta.


Dave, in front of Salisbury Cathedral

Just an aside, but it is a fun experience knowing that an ancestor was in the very spot you are centuries before you. 🙂

John Greene was an interesting character, as more seems to be known about his daily life than for many of my other ancestors. Dr. Greene first lived in Boston, but was there but a short time as on 8 October 1638, Roger Williams transferred land ownership to twelve men, including John Greene, who became the founding proprietors of Rhode Island.

Dr. Greene seems to have had perhaps a somewhat ornery personality when it came to authority. He left the Massachusetts Bay Colony very soon after arriving and moved to Rhode Island. He had apparently used disrespectful language towards some of the judges there and was fined. In 1643, he was still having issues with Massachusetts authorities and had cattle confiscated.

Even more interesting is his marriage to second wife Alice Beggarly, which took place by 14 December 1638. John Winthrop commented at the time that Mr. Beggarly was still living, Alice had not been granted a divorce and yet she married John Greene, so was “living in adultery.”

John Greene married three times: (1) Joane Tatarsole, 4 November 1619, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. (2) Alice Beggarly, by 14 December 1638. Alice died about 12 January 1643/44. (2) Phillip (MNU). Yes, her name was Phillip and she died probably in Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island after 27 August 1668.

All of John’s children were born to first wife, Joane, and baptized at St. Thomas (as in Thomas a Becket) Church, Salisbury.

Another aside – I wished I had known this last year when we were walking around Salisbury.

Children (all dates are baptisms):

  1. John, 15 August 1620; died between 5 November 1690 and 6 May 1709, when his widow passed away in Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island; married Ann Almy, by 1649.
  2. Peter, 10 March 1621/22; died between the date of his will of 11 May 1659 and 17 April 1663, when his widow married John Sanford; married Mary Gorton, by 1659.
  3. Richard, 25 April 1624; no further record, but he might have died young as a Richard Greene was buried there on 23 November 1625.
  4. James, 21 June 1626; date of death unknown; married (1) Deliverance Potter, by 1658 (2) Elizabeth Anthony, 3 August 1665, Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island
  5. Thomas, 4 June 1628; death date unknown; married Elizabeth Greene (maiden name in contention – was she a Barton?), 30 June 1659, Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island.
  6. Joan, 3 October 1630; death date unknown; married John Haden, c1650, probably at Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island
  7. Mary, 19 May 1633; death date unknown; married James Sweet, by 1655.

The life and family of Dr. John Greene are fully discussed in The Great Migration Study. If you are a descendant of this man and are a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, his sketch is found in volume G-H:141-148.

My line of descent:

Dr. John Greene & Joane Tatarsole
Mary Greene & James Sweet
Valentine Sweet & Eleanor (MNU)
Mary Sweet & Samuel Boone
Samuel Boone & Mary Wightman
William Boone & Ruth Hill
Mary Boone & Richard Jones
Rebecca Jones & Peter Crouse
Sarah Moriah Crouse & William Coleman
Hartwell Thomas Coleman & Anna Elisabetha Jensen
Hazel Ethel Coleman & Vernon Tarbox Adams
Doris Priscilla Adams & George Michael Sabo
Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean – me!