Birth: 1606 England
Details: As a young man, in 1635, he migrated to the New World, sailing on the ship, Matthew, to the West Indies, where he stayed for a few months. Finding the people there a “Godless set”, he sailed to Massachusetts, the great Puritan settlement.
Details: About 1639 three men named John Greene appeared in the colony. They were not relatives. They were likely men wanted as heretics back in England. It was the custom of that day when seeking an anonymous state to call oneself, John Greene. Today people use John Smith, but not so in the 17th century. When John Osborne Austin wrote his monumental Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island in 1887, he gave these men distinctive names to separate the families clearly. There was John Greene of Newport who owned many lands and helped forward settlement. Next was John Greene of Warwick whose descendants include Surgeon John Greene, ancestor of General Nathaniel Greene of Revolutionary War fame. Then there was John Greene of Kings Town, later called John Greene of Narragansett. Other records call him John of Quidnessett. It is John of Quidnessett who is the subject of this webpage.
Note: Differing with the religious authorities in Massachusetts, he accompanied Richard Smith to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, where the latter had a trading post at Quidnessett, or Aquidneset. The two together established a flourishing trade with the Indians. For some years, Smith and Greene were the only white settlers at Quidnessett.
Marriage: ABT 1642 to Joan ? Beggarly (widow)
Details: John Greene married her on one of his business trips to Massachusetts
Note: Roger Williams and a Mr. Wilcox purchased land there in 1643 or 1644, and Williams sold his holdings to Richard Smith in 1651. On June 11, 1659 the Indian Sachem, Coquinaquant, sold the entire region of Quidnessett, which had belonged to the Narragansett Indians, to a land company headed by Major Humphrey Atherton. There were few Rhode Islanders in the company but Richard Smith was among them, the rest being Boston and Connecticut speculators.
Birth of Son: 06 JUN 1651
Name: Major John Robert Greene
Place: Narragansett, Washington County, Rhode Island
Birth of Son: ABT 1665
Name: Benjamin Greene
Place: North Kingstown, Rhode Island
Note: John Greene was one of the early shareholders but not one of the original ones. He became the leader of the Atherton land purchasers when trouble came up concerning the title to the land. The reason for the dispute is not clear, but the settlers were told that there was a Rhode Island law forbidding settlers to buy lands from the Indians, and that they must rebuy their homes from the Rhode Island colony. Connecticut and Massachusetts also claimed the same land. In 1663 John Greene, Richard Smith, and others petitioned to be under the Connecticut jurisdiction. This made the Rhode Island officials angry, and Greene was ordered arrested.
He did not go peacefully, and when he arrived in Newport, he stood his ground so sturdily that the authorities came to some terms and he was released on the promise that he would be from that time on a “loyal freeman of Rhode Island”. He was “loyal” until he could reach home. The fight between John Greene and Rhode Isand went on for seven years more, and Rhode Island finally gave in, May 1671. A special court was held at that time at Aquidneset, and Greene and his followers were assured full possession of their lands if they would acknowledge Rhode Island’s jurisdiciton, so on May 20, 1671, John Greene and his son, Daniel, became “freemen” of Rhode Island and the dispute was at an end.
Details: John Greene testified for “forty years and more” earlier he had lived with Richard Smith who first began a settlement in the Narragansett stating that he and Richard Smith had settled in the Narragansett 42 years earlier (notified in a petition to the King) where there were no English within 20 miles. This happened when Massachusetts and Maine split off and the colonizers testified they had been defending their property for 40 or more years and the king could not give the land away to someone new.
Land Rec: 23 MAR 1682
Details: He divided his land among some of his sons who remained in Rhode Island, some of them having gone to New Jersey. John’s wife was still alive when these deeds were executed.
Death: ABT 1682
Burial: Old Field Graveyard, a mile west of the Maple Root Church, Rhode Island
Details: John’s grave does not appear beside his wife’s. In Rhode Island they point out a grave some miles away as that of John Greene. He is believed to have lived with his son, John, at Coventry from the time of his wife’s death until his own in 1695 and was buried in the Old Field Graveyard, a mile west of the Maple Root Church.
parents are unknown
1st Marriage: to ? Beggarly
2nd Marriage: ABT 1642 to John Greene Massachusetts
Details: John’s wife was Joan. There has been much idle conjecture as to who she was. She was not the daughter of Surgeon John Greene of Warwick, as some have claimed, for that Joan died when a child. Nor was she the daughter of Richard Smith, for Joan Smith married a Mr. Newton. Governor Winthrop, of Massachusetts, speaking of one held to be John of Quidnessett, uses this language: “One Greene who married the wife of one Beggarly”.
So his wife was a young widow, Mrs. Joan Beggarly, whom he married on one of his business trips to Massachusetts around 1642. It is interesting to note here that the wife of John Greene of Warwick, second cousin of our John, was also a Joan, her name being Tatarsole. They were married and had several children before they came to America.
Whether Joan Beggarly was handsome or plain featured; whether she was brilliant or dull, we do not know. But we do know that she possessed a remarkably even, sweet temper that nothing could ruffle or disturb. After the English custom, she had been baptized Joan but was always called Jane. There is an old family superstition among the Quidnessett Greenes tht all their Janes will be self-sacrificing women who will take special care of the sick and care for the old and infirm. This superstitions likely dates from the good, placid Joan.
Ever since this good dame’s day there have appeared again and again among her descendants some of her own sunny tempered kind. They look through rose-colored glasses and keep up a good heart and serene spirit whate’er betide. This disposition is illustrated by the stock family story of one of these good-natured Greenes whose wife had a furious temper. The story goes that when she was pleasant, he always blandly spoke to her as “Wife”. When she began to fret and scold, he would soothingly remonstrate “Come! Come! Sister Greene, let’s have no trouble”; but when the storm broke into a tantrum of rage and abuse, he would pick up his hat and beat a hasty retreat, philosophically saying, “Well! Well! Mrs. Greene, have it your own way, have it your own way!”
Death: AFT 23 MAR 1682
Burial: There are some old dilapidated graves in what was once a part of John of Quidnessett’s land. Two of the crude headstones bear the initials D.G. and R.G., marking the graves of John’s son, Daniel and his wife, Rebecca. The oldest is marked either J.G. or I.G. and is believed to be Joan Beggarly’s.
Parents are unknown