Greenwood Genealogies, 1154-1914 (Chapter 8)

By Frederick Greenwood, East Templeton, MA — 1914


The first person by name of Greenwood to settle in America, so far as obtainable records show, was John Greenwood. English shipping lists show him to have been 16 years old; that he sailed from the port of London, Jan., 1634, on the ship Bonaventure, James Ricrofte, master. He settled in Virginia and has descendants who are mentioned in this work.

The earliest Greenwood to settle in New England was Nathaniel. He was from Norwich, Eng., and was a son of Miles Greenwood, a worsted weaver of Norwich, where he was baptized at the chapel of St. Michael-at-Pleas, Aug. 23, 1631. He came to this country as early as 1654, then 23 years of age, and on Jan. 24, 1655, at Weymouth, Mass., m. Mary, the daughter of Samuel Allen of Braintree, Mass. He engaged in ship building in Boston, Mass., and for 30 years successfully pursued that occupation, his death occurring, as appears from his tombstone now standing in Copp's Hill Cemetery, Boston, July 31, 1684, aged 53. He left a widow and three children and considerable property.

On Nov. 3, 1659, as appears from Dorchester, Mass., early records, one Alice Greenwood was m. to Robert Portis (probably Porteous), the ceremony being performed by Major Humphrey Porteous), the ceremony being performed by Major Humphrey Atherton, a magistrate of Dorchester. Court records show this Robert to have been a witness to the will, signed Nov. 27, 1645, of one Lawrence Buckminister, a seaman, about sailing on a voyage. Robert was a Scotch tobacconist and first Treasurer of the Scots' Charitable Society, Boston, Mass., organized 6 Jan., 1657. He died a widower. Alice was probably a sister of Thomas Greenwood of Newton and daughter of Thomas Greenwood of Heptonstall, Eng. Whether she came to this country with friends or her father is a matter of conjecture. If her father was ever in New England he left no record. A will of a Robert Porteous, dated Boston June 22, 1681, proved July 28, 1681 (Suffolk county, Mass., deeds), bequeaths his soul to God, his body to earth, his bones to rottenness and says that he shall be raised up again the last day and with these eyes behold his Savior. He gives 10 pounds to Daniel Brewer and 5 pounds to Nathaniel Brewer, both of whom he calls brother and dear friend, and remainder of his estate he gives to Hannah, his daughter, and her husband, John Weld. Evidently he had but one child and as Alice was not mentioned she may have died before the will was made. Hannah Porteous, Roxbury, Mass., records show, m. Jan. 22, 1678, John Weld, a glazier, of Roxbury, b. June 26, 1653, son of John and Margaret (Bowen) Weld and grandson of Captain Joseph Weld, who came to America in 1635. Their children were: Hannah (Weld), b. Dec. 14, 1681, d. Oct. 6, 1683; John (Welb), b. Oct. 7, 1683; Joanna (Weld), b. Sept. 15, 1685, m. Samuel Lyon; Abigail (Weld), b. Aug. 19, 1687; Elizabeth (Weld), b. June 20, 1692; Sarah (Weld), b. Nov. 17, 1693, d. Jan. 16, 1708; Dorothy (Weld), b. June 21, 1695, m. William Dennison; Samuel; (Weld), b. May 18, 1697.

About 1665 there appeared in Boston, Mass., one Thomas Greenwood, aged 22, and one Samuel Greenwood, aged 21. Samuel Greenwood was brother of Nathaniel, above mentioned, and son of Miles of Norwich, Eng. He remained in Boston and engaged in shipbuilding; was a public spirited man, often holding office in the gift of the town's people, and at his death, Aug., 1711, left a large property in Boston which was divided among his widow and four children.

Thomas Greenwood was by occupation a weaver. He remained in Boston a short time, then removed to Weymouth, Mass., and finally settled in Cambridge Village, now Newton, Mass., a short distance from Boston. He was son of Thomas Greenwood of Heptonstall, Eng., and possibly brother of Alice, above mentioned. He was baptized at Heptonstall (Eng.) Parish Church June 4, 1643. He grandfather was Abel Greenwood, who was son of Rev. John Greenwood, the Puritan separatist who suffered death for his religious convictions at Tyburn, Eng., Apr. 6, 1593. Thomas Greenwood was an educated, intelligent man whose judgment was often sought by his neighbors and held town office. At his death, Sept. 1, 1693, he left an estate to a second wife and four children.

Aside from the four Greenwoods last mentioned there are no records of other Greenwoods permanently settling in New England for nearly 100 years, or until 1760. The will of Nathaniel Greenwood (Suffolk County, Mass., records) mentions his cousin Benjamin who is to have L5 when "his time is out," but no record being found of this Benjamin he evidently returned to England after serving his apprenticeship. Of the Greenwoods now in America full 65 per cent are descendants of Thomas of Newton, 5 percent descendants of Nathaniel and Samuel and 30 percent descendants of John of Virginia, or are later arrivals.

Early English shipping lists contain these items: Robert Greenwood, age 18, sailed Nov. 20, 1635, port of London to Barbados, ship, Expedition, Peter Blackler, master; was examined as to his conformity to the discipline of the church of England. Thomas Greenwood, aged 15, sailed Apr. 3, 1635, Gravesend to St. Christopher, ship, Paul of London, J. Acklin, master. The minister of St. Katherine certified that "he had been examined as to his conformity to the discipline and orders of ye church of England and he did take ye oath of allegiance."

John Greenwood, aged 26, sailed Jan. 6, 1634, to St. Christopher and the Barbados after taking ye oath of allegiance. Records of the parish of St. Michaels, Barbados, show the death of a John Greenwood in 1679.

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