Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

John Greene of Quidnessett

John Green (not to be confused with his second cousin John “the surgeon” Green of Warwick), was born in England about 1606. According to family histories, he left England in 1635, as a young man, first sailing to the West Indies on the ship Matthew. Within a few months, finding the people there “a Godless set” he sailed to Massachusetts.

He eventually left Massachusetts because of the oppressive rule of government, the authorities endeavoring to dictate men’s conscience in matters relating to religion. He removed to Quidnesset about 1639, with Richard Smith, who was ten years his elder.

Smith also had emigrated from England to America and eventually left Massachusetts, buying land from the Narragansett Indians on the western side of the Narragansett Bay area and built a trading post at Aquidnessett, which the settlers later called Quidnessett, (later called King’s Province) about 1637, according to Roger William’s writings. Richard Smith was the first white person to settle in that area of Narragansett and he and his family were the only white people there for years. John Green worked for Richard Smith and lived with the Smith family for a number of years and became a landholder in his own right.

Roger Williams was a friend and colleague of Richard Smith* and Williams and a Mr. Wilcox purchased land and built a trading post about a mile north of Smith’s. They traded with the Indians in the area and the trading posts were on the well traveled Pequot Path and served many travelers. Williams later sold his trading post and his holdings to Richard Smith to finance his trip to England to secure the second charter for Providence and the nearby colonies.

The area at Quidnesset became involved in a land dispute, after a land company (Atherton Company) comprised of speculators from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Connecticut and headed by Major Humphrey Atherton** purchased much of the region in what later was deemed to be an illegal purchase, and the controversy lasted for years. Richard Smith was one of the few Rhode Islanders in the company and one of the original share holders. John Green was also a shareholder though not one of the original but a somewhat prominent figure in the community at that time. The dispute was eventually settled in May 1671. The following was written by John Green:

"King's Province in Narragansett 21 July, 1679.

To All Whom This May Concern :

I, John Greene, inhabiting in the Narragansett Country, called King's Province, I being a sworn Conservator of the Peace, do on my Oath affirme, that forty years and more ago, j\Ir. Richard Smith that I then lived with, did first begin and make a settlement in the Narragansett, and that by the consent and approbation of the Indian Princes and people, and did improve land mow meadows severall yeares before Warwick was settled by any English man ; and I, being present did see and heare all the Narragansett Princes being assembled together give by livery and seizing some hundreds of acres of land about a mile in length, and so down to the sea ; this being about thirty years agoe, many hundred Indians being present, consenting thereunto . This I certify to be true as I am in Publique office, on oath and under my hand.

John Greene. ''

(Source: The Greene Family and It’s Branches by Lora S. LaMance 1904)

John married his wife Joan about 1641 and there is some dispute over her last name. In Governor Winthrop’s writing he mentions “one Green who married the wife of one Beggarly” It is written they had nine children and John divided his land between some of his sons before he or his wife’s deaths. Joan Green died sometime after 1682 and it is believed John lived with his son John in Coventry, until his death in 1695.

Benjamin Green the youngest of John and Joan’s children was born about 1665 and married Humility Coggeshall, the daughter of Joshua and Joan Coggeshall and the granddaughter of John Coggeshall, who served as President of Providence Plantation.

Benjamin and Humility (Coggeshall) Green had at least twelve children. Their son John married Mary Aylesworth, the daughter of Arthur and Mary (Brown) Aylesworth and the great-granddaughter of Obadiah Holmes and Chad Brown. Benjamin and Humility’s daughter Phoebe, married Thomas Wells.

Doyle Davidson traces his lineage to John Green of Quidnessett through his mother, Alba Sarah (Miller) Davidson.

Most remarkable, Doyle Davidson’s great-great grandmother, Vashtia (Green) Miller is a third-great granddaughter of both John and Mary (Aylesworth) Green and Thomas and Phoebe (Green) Wells.

Compiled by Kathryn Currier

early map of Quidnesset from Narragansett Historical Register, volume 5, p 62.
Early map of Quidnesset from Narragansett Historical Register, volume 5, pg. 62

*Richard Smith had come to America from Gloucestershire in England, according to Roger Williams, where "he left a fair possession" because of his "conscience toward God." He arrived in New England at an unknown date, where he settled for a while in Massachusetts and later purchased land on the west side of Narragansett. Roger Williams wrote of the wilderness location in which Smith lived—that it was suitable to him for being "instrumental under God in propagating the gospel among the natives, who knew not God as they ought to know him," and that Smith took great pains in this regard until his dying day.

**Major Humphrey Atherton was one of the company from Massachusetts Bay Colony sent to arrest and try Samuel Gorton and others at Warwick.

 Sources: Wikipedia;; One Rhode Island; (Photo courtesy of Narragansett Historical Register)

You can watch and listen to Doyle Davidson and Paul Peters read and discuss John Greene here, starting at the 27:55 mark:

"Rhode Island Founders" Page

"A Nation Bringing Forth Fruit" Page

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