The original post on Thomas Greene included a story about his appearance as a witness in a disturbing court case. It came at the end of a long post, and I realized afterwards that it deserved its own space. You can read it here.
It’s been a long time since I wrote anything about the Green family. It was Samuel Green who got me started on this series of posts about early West New Jersey. Now that I’m up to 1690, it’s time to take another look at the Greens.
Why So Few Records on the Green Family?
In my first post on Samuel Green, I noted that it was very hard to find anything about Samuel Green or Richard Green in the late 17th century. I had estimated that Samuel Green was born around 1680, so he wouldn’t even be an adult until 1700. That would explain the lack of records.
Turns out I was mistaken in my estimate. I was lacking a crucial piece of information. Samuel’s eldest son, Samuel Jr., was buried near his home in Sussex County, and his gravestone states that Samuel Jr. was born in 1695. That explains why so many secondary sources declare that Samuel Green married in 1694. There is no record of the marriage; it is based on the birthdate of his eldest son.
So, not only is Richard Green who arrived in 1678 missing in the records of the 1680s and 1690s, but so is Samuel. If he married in the mid 1690s, one would expect him to be setting up his own household on his own property. But we have no record of that. (Once I get to 1698, I’ll be able to write about my theory for the lack of records.)
As for Richard Green who came to West New Jersey in 1678, the scarcity of records is very discouraging. Other than the purchase by Richard Greene of Gloucester City, County of Gloucester in England, of a 1/32nd share of West New Jersey in 1678 (Davis 2005, 91) and the sale of same to Anna Salter in 1681-82, I have found nothing. He had no estate and no other recorded deeds. And since the passenger list of the ‘Shield’ had Richard Green without a family, it seems less likely that he would have had a son Samuel born c.1670-75, unless he left him back in England with his mother.
I considered the possibility that Richard Green might have been living in Gloucester County, but the books on early Gloucester records written by Frank H. Stewart never mention Richard Green. They do list George Green with earmarks there, and a Thomas Green.
Who Was Thomas Green(e)
I have not written about Thomas Green in previous posts, because he is never mentioned as a possible father of Samuel. But Thomas Greene (Greene) did buy and sell a lot of land in West New Jersey in the 1680s and 1690s. Not one of the deeds abstracted in the Calendar of Records gives the name of a wife, so at present I cannot identify Thomas Greene’s family. But, in 1690, Thomas Greene was living in Maidenhead Twp. where he had purchased 150 acres from the 15,000-acre tract belonging to Dr. Daniel Coxe. He sold this to Lawrence Opdycke, which is for our purposes highly suggestive, since upDyck’s grandson John Opdycke married Samuel Green’s daughter Margaret about 1735.
Early records suggest that Thomas Green was a contemporary of Richard Green. But he came to West New Jersey a few years after Richard Green did. Although we have Richard Green’s name on lists of the earliest passengers to West New Jersey, I do not have a record of Thomas Green’s emigration. The earliest record pertaining to Thomas Green was a survey of property allotted to Daniel Wills on the Rankokus Creek made in 1679 for Thomas Green of Northamptonshire, England, among others [Basse Surveys 221]. Then in 1681, a survey was made of 200 acres on the Rankokus River for John Paine for the use of Thomas Greene; in 1684, John Paine had the tract resurveyed; the abstract included the reference to Thomas Greene (Nelson 1899, 21:350, 360).
The first record that shows Thomas Green is present in West New Jersey is in December 1686, when Tho. Green served on a travers (petit) jury in Gloucester County. In December 1689, he signed a petition from residents of the lower part of Gloucester County, petitioning for a court session to be held at Red Bank. In February 1690, Green was listed as an owner of 250 acres of land in an area between Mantoes Creek and Oldmans Creek in Gloucester County, also of 11 cattle and 1 horse. His tax was based on as assessment of 1 shilling per 100 acres of land, 2 pence per head of cattle and 1 pence for horses. Clearly in this still-frontier land, cattle were more valuable than horses. Green’s total tax would have been 2.5 shillings and 23 pence. If he was expected to pay this tax in specie (gold or silver coin), it would have been a great burden, but he probably paid in wheat or some other commodity. The total amount of taxes to be collected from the residents of this part of Gloucester County amounted to £6.1.6.
Green’s last appearance in the early Gloucester records was in 1694, on a tax record for Greenwich Twp. “Thos. Green for Horton” was listed owning 250 acres, 12 cattle, 17 sheep, no horses. There was no Horton on the list (Stewart 1942, 16, 21, 23, 30). Strangely enough, there was no Thomas Green listed in the abstracts for Gloucester County Deeds in Nelson’s Calendar of Records.
While Thomas Green was living in Gloucester County, there was a Thomas Greene living in Burlington County. The first mention of him is the trial of James Wills in 1686. I will cover that trial in my next post, but here will mention that the testimony suggests that Thomas Greene’s wife was named Katharine—only suggests, as it was not stated outright. Corroboration is needed.
On October 29, 1690, Thomas Greene had 150 acres surveyed by Daniel Leeds “by virtue of his deed from Mr. Tatham,” attorney for Dr. Coxe, adjoining Richard Ridgway.” This was property that was later sold to Johannes Lawrenson Updick (Nelson 1899, 21:392). Oddly enough, this property was not actually conveyed by Dr. Coxe to Thomas Greene until December 20, 1690 (Nelson 1899, 21:453-54).
On February 10, 1695, Thomas Revell, agent for the West Jersey Society, sold 105 acres to Thomas Greene for £12.5 (Witnessed by Henry Grubb, Samuel Terrett & Johannis Lawrenson Van Dyrk.) This was found in John David Davis’ book West Jersey New Jersey Deed Records 1676-1721 [pg 113], citing deeds in “Volume B.” This deed is not shown in Nelson’s Calendar of Records, which lists West Jersey deeds found in Volumes B1 and B2. Looks like I’ll have to locate Mr. Davis’ “Volume B.”
One thing to watch out for is the other, possibly third, Thomas Greene who was a resident of Bucks County and son of John Greene of same. Both John and Thomas were tailors. They appear in a deed dated May 25, 1695, just about the same time that Thomas Greene of Burlington County is getting land surveyed (Nelson 1899, 21:392, 490). The deed abstract said the property had been purchased by John Greene from Daniel Leeds on March 24, 1695.
By April 10, 1696, Thomas Greene is a yeoman “of Maidenhead, Burlington County” (Nelson 1899, 21:508), when he was selling off acreage from land he had bought from Daniel Coxe. There must be deeds missing, because Greene was selling more than he appears to have bought. On this date he sold 300 acres to William Biles of Bucks County out of a 400-acre tract. The other 100 acres he sold to Edward Mayo.
In 1697, Thomas Green was sued in Burlington County Court by William Wood and John Tatham, but the suits were withdrawn without comment (Reed and Miller 1944, 192-93, 202).
On November 3, 1698, Thomas Green served on the Burlington County Grand Jury (Reed and Miller 1944, 208). This was the last mention of him in the court book. On December 1, 1698, Thomas Greene of Springfield, Burlington Co., yeoman, sold a plantation of 356 acres at Oneanickon (alias Carmell), Springfield Twp., to Abraham Hewlings of Wellingborough Twp. Burlington Co., yeoman. Greene had bought 256 acres of the tract from John Tomlinson in 1696 and 100 from John Butcher on May 2, 1698 (Nelson 1899, 21:510). The next spring, on May 8, 1699, Thomas Greene of Springfield, Burlington County, yeoman, bought 300 acres on Great Egg Harbor Sound from Elias and Margaret Hugg of Philadelphia (Nelson 1899, 21:514). In 1701, a Thomas Greene bordered Manasquan River and land of Gawine Drummond in Monmouth County (Nelson 1899, 21:152). That is the last land transaction in the Calendar of Records for Thomas Greene. It suggests that he moved to East New Jersey.
Estates for Thomas Greene(e)
There is no estate listed for a Thomas Green(e) before 1730, and no early Thomas Greens for Monmouth or Middlesex Counties. There are two estates recorded for a Thomas Green of Burlington County. The first was dated April 9, 1747, in which Administration of the estate of Thomas Green, woolcomber of Chesterfield twp., Burlington County was granted to Michael Newbould Esq., and William Skeele, fellowbondsman. The inventory was made on May 21, 1747 by Samuel Wright and Benj. Shreve.
The second was for a will written on November 8, 1754 by Thomas Green and recorded on December 7, 1754 in which Michael “Nutbold” gave an account of the estate. This second Thomas was “of Willingborug” in Burlington County. He named his brother Joseph Green and brother-in-law John Clark executors. He also named wife Hannah, but his children (two sons and three daughters) were unnamed. Of all the deeds recorded in Burlington Co. in the 1680s and 1690s for Thomas Greene, none mentioned that he lived in Wellingborough Twp.
If the Thomas Green who was purchasing land in the 1680s and 1690s is the same man who died in 1747, then he lived to the ripe old age of at least 87. If he was the one who died in 1754, he lived much longer. I rather doubt that either of these two estates applies to the early landowner.
On September 30, 1694, John Greene of Mansfield Township, Burlington County, wrote his will. Inventory of his estate was taken on October 20, 1694. But he left his entire estate to Thomas Duglas, without mentioning wife or children, so we have no way to connect him with other members of the Greene family. Clearly he was not the same as the John Greene of Bucks County who sold land with Thomas Greene in 1695.
The scarcity of information on Thomas Greene’s family is about as frustrating as the scarcity of information on Samuel Green. For now, there is no way to connect Thomas and Samuel Green other than through that sale of land to the Opdycke family. Recently someone asked me how to find personal information on a Hunterdon resident of the 1740s. It’s all luck of the draw—for some people there are letters or bible records, court records or other documents that time did not destroy. For others, there is next to nothing. Recreating the lives of our 17th and 18th century forebears is very difficult. Thanks to vast improvements in the way old records are made available to researchers, the task is much easier than it was only 20 years ago, but these people we wish so much to know about still remain elusive.
For sources used in this post, please see Sources for West New Jersey.