This material is quoted from Ancestors and Descendants of William Browning Greene and Mary Hoxsie Lewis with Allied Families by William E. Wright, pages 118-120. Footnotes and references have been eliminated. Copywright 1993 by William E. Wright. Used by permission of author. For more information on this book.
This link will take you to a summary of what eleven different authors have to say about John Greene of Quidnessett.
The identity of John Greene, Jr., son of John Greene of Quidnesset. is disputed. I have written a page setting forth the positions and arguments of various writers.
JOHN1 GREENE is known as John Greene of Quidnesset to distinguish him from another contemporary John Greene. The other John Greene, known as John Greene the surgeon or John Greene of Warwick, was the ancestor of General Nathanael Greene (See Family # PR37), famous in American history as Washington's second in command during the War for Independence.
A third John Greene is also alleged to have settled in Rhode Island. This is John Greene of Newport. However, Louise Prosser Bates concluded that John Greene of Newport was the same person as John Greene of Quidnesset. Mrs. Bates did identify a probable third immigrant John Greene who is discussed in footnote on page *.
Lora S. La Mance claims that John Greene of Quidnesset was related to John Greene the surgeon and that they are both descended from the Gillingham Greenes in England. Subsequent researchers have taken the view that the relationship of the two John Greenes has not been proven and that the ancestry of John Greene of Quidnesset is unknown.
The compiler accepts the interpretation of these later researchers that there were only two John Greenes that settled in Rhode Island before 1650 and that the alleged English ancestry of John Greene of Quidnesset has not been established.
John Greene died between 24 Mar 1681/2 and 25 Sep 1685. The latter date is the date of a deed from Joseph Clark of Newport to Francis Brinley which makes reference to land which was formerly in possession of "John Greene, Sr. of Narragansett, now deceased."
The time of John Greene's settlement in Rhode Island can not be determined exactly. He testified in 1679 that "forty years and more" earlier he lived with Richard Smith who first began "a settlement in the Narragansett." A week later in a petition to the king, he stated that he and Richard Smith had settled in the Narragansett forty-two years earlier, where there were no English within twenty miles. These two statements would place the time of his settlement between one and three years after Roger Williams' settlement at Providence in 1636. We know that John Greene was in Rhode Island by 1647 because he is named in deed dated 1647 from David and Edward Greenman. But an earlier date than 1647 is probably correct since he also stated in his 1679 testimony that he "did improve land and mow meadows several years before Warwick was settled by any English man." Since Warwick was settled in 1642, this would place the probable time of his settlement between 1637 and 1642.
Therefore, about 1639 John Greene worked for Richard Smith at an Indian trading post in the wilderness of the Narragansett. This area was called Aquidnesset by the Indians which was shortened to Quidnesset by the colonists. Hence, he is known as John Greene of Quidnesset.
According to Roger Williams, Richard Smith had left England "for conscience' sake"; and it is not difficult to imagine that both he and John Greene came to Rhode Island to extricate themselves from the religious yokes placed on the colonists in the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies.
John Greene was probably unmarried at the time he settled in Rhode Island since his oldest son was not born until about 1643. Nothing is known of the wife of John Greene, except that on 24 March 1682 Joan Greene joined her husband John in deeds transferring a hundred and twenty acres of land to their son, Daniel Greene, and sixty acres to their son, James Greene, on condition that they each pay 30s a year as long as either their father or mother was alive. We do not know if she was his only wife and the mother of all of his children, or if she were a later wife. Two or more marriages were quite common at the time because of an early death of a prior spouse.
The Narragansett country in which Richard Smith and John Greene were the first settlers was the subject of a controversy between the colonies of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as to which colony had jurisdiction. Rhode Island claimed the Narragansett country, but Connecticut and Massachusetts did likewise. Connecticut made its claim in 1663 and did not fully relinquish it until 1741. Massachusetts was less forceful in their claim basing it on various requests for assistance made by residents in the Narragansett. These requests included those by the residents of Warwick when they were quarreling with the town of Providence and request for aid during King Philip's War. John Greene and Richard Smith at one point threw in their lot with Connecticut probably because the Rhode Island Assembly had sought to void any purchase of land from the Indians without permission of the Assembly. The result was that John Greene was arrested on 11 May 1664. In court John Greene tactlessly spoke his mind offending the court and was forced to retract his statement. He then revised his position and requested that the court pardon his "offense in adhering to the government of Connecticut." This pardon was granted and he was permitted to return home.
In 1679, John Greene participated in a petition to the King seeking to resolve the jurisdictional disputes between Connecticut and Rhode Island over the Narragansett region.
John Greene participated in several major land purchases, including the purchase of Fone's Neck which became East Greenwich where he later moved and the island of Conanicut, now called Jamestown.
i. EDWARD2, b ca 1643; m MARY TIBBETTS.
ii. DANIEL, b ca 1647; d in 1729-1730 at North Kingstown; m 16 July 1689 at Newport, REBECCA BARROW.
iii. HENRY, b bef 1650 in Newport; d ca 1694; m bef 20 Oct 1670, SARAH GREENMAN of Portsmouth, RI, daughter of John Greenman. About 1680, he purchased 280 acres of land at Monmouth, NJ.
iv. JOHN, Jr. On 1 May 1690, John Greene of Newport, sold land in East Greenwich which John Greene, Jr., also called Lieut. John Greene of Newport, had acquired earlier.
v. ROBERT, b in 1653. He was admitted a freeman in 1674 and may have moved to either New Jersey or Virginia. He is not mentioned by Bates.
vi. JAMES, b in 1655; prob m(1) ELIZABETH JENKINS; m(2) ANN.
vii. BENJAMIN, b ca 1665; m HUMILITY COGGESHALL.
viii. SARAH, m ca 1668, THOMAS FOUNDERS. In an argument over "some language," Thomas hit Walter House, causing his death. Narragansett Historical Register says, "The place where Thomas Flounders (or Flanders) killed Walter House is believed to have been between Thomas Holloway's house and Jeremiah Carpenter's on the north side of the road and a little east of the town house. It is far more likely to have taken place somewhere between Richard Smith's house and the Devil's Foot." He was tried for murder and hung on 26 Oct 1670. They had one child.
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