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
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.
Green Resources on

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
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
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

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

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
    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
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
Bonanza, was born in Ottawa of
Russian Jewish immigrant parents who had changed their name from
Grinvosky to

Green Miscellany

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

Green Names

was one of Washington’s generals in the Revolutionary
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.

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)



Return to Main Page

Leave a Reply