Select Green Surname Genealogy

Green could have various origins; locational, one who lived near the village green; or a nickname, someone who was fond of dressing in green.  The Green root is the Old English grene, which is reflected in early spellings of the name (such as William Grene in the 1230 Yorkshire rolls). 

Green and Greene are the two main spellings in the English-speaking world.  Greene is now scarce in England, but relatively more common in Ireland and America.

Select Green Resources on The Internet
England.  An early and prominent Greene family were the Greenes of Buckton, later Boughton, in the county of Northamptonshire.   The first recorded was Alexander de Boketon Grene, said to a younger son of the Norman de la Zouche family, in the early 13th century. 

Their numbers included Sir Henry Greene, the foremost lawyer of his day and the Chief Justice of England in the 1360's.  They lived at Greene's Norton and they sponsored the annual Boughton Fair which is still held to this day.  These Greenes then ran into royal trouble.  One was executed in 1400, another died in the Tower of London in 1417, and his son fled abroad.  Later Greenes were Yorkists.  John Greene ran into more royal trouble in 1485 when the Yorkist Richard lost the throne and the Lancastrian Henry Tudor ascended. 

Greenes in Bobbing, Kent can be traced to the early 1500's (they were originally Nortons and for some reason changed their name to Greene).  Other Greenes in the 16th century were to be found at Navestock and Toppersfield in Essex and at Wilby in Suffolk.  Wilby has the following memorial plaque:

"Here resteth the body of Richard Greene gentleman.  He departed this life on May 21st 1658 aged 80 years.  His life a warfare, his death victorious, his body under hope, his soul glorious."
Greenes from Oundle in Northamptonshire were 19th century brewers of beer in Bury St. Edmonds.  They left their name to the Greene King brewery chain.  From one line of the family came Graham Greene the writer and Hugh Carleton Greene, the Director General of the BBC.

By the 19th century the Greene spelling in England was being replaced by Green.  Green was then widespread throughout most of the country, with the exception of its northeast and southwest extremities.

Ireland.  In Ireland the surnames Greene and Green are quite prevalent, often being an anglicization of the Gaelic names O'Huaithnin or O'Huainidh which also meant green. 

There were Gaelic Greenes in county Clare and in Ulster.  Daniel O'Hunonyn from the Greenes in Clare became an Admiral in the Spanish navy around 1750.  Augustine Greene of Liscannor was a 19th century lawyer in Clare.  His daughter Henrietta Greene, a nun, went by the name Mother Clare.

America.  John Greene from Dorset, a surgeon, came to America in 1635, first settling in Salem, Massachusetts and then moving to Providence, Rhode Island.  The Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene was a descendant.  Another early arrival, around the same time, was Thomas Greene from a Catholic family in Bobbing, Kent.  He settled in Maryland and was briefly, in 1647, governor of the colony.     

Later came Greene and Green arrivals from Ireland and from elsewhere in Europe.  The surname was often adopted by German or Jewish immigrants (from the German grun) and even by incomers from Sweden.

Canada.  Early Greens in Canada were Loyalists:
  • Benjamin Green from Massachusetts who was a British naval officer at Halifax in Nova Scotia in 1750 and subsequently a justice of the peace there.
  • and Adam Green from New Jersey who moved his family to Stoney Creek, Ontario in 1792. 
Adam’s youngest son, known as “Billy Green the Scout,” became famous at the Battle of Stoney Creek in 1813 when he was able to pass the American troop movements to the Canadian side and stop their advance.  Billy himself died in 1877.  His farm at Stoney Creek was to stay with the Green family for six generations. 

Lorne Greene the actor, famous for playing Ben Cartwright in the western Bonanza, was born in Ottawa of Russian Jewish immigrant parents who had changed their name from Grinvosky to Green

Select Green Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Green Names

Nathanael Greene was one of Washington's generals in the Revolutionary War.
Charles Green was an early aeronaut, making the first ascent with a hydrogen gas balloon in 1821.
Benjamin Greene was the 19th century founder of the Greene King brewery chain based in Bury St. Edmonds.
John and Benjamin Green, father and son, was prominent architects in NE England in the early 19th century.
Graham Greene was the highly regarded 20th century writer of novels and thrillers.
Al Green
is a very popular soul and gospel singer.

Select Greens Today

  • 166,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 150,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 63,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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