William Greene was born 16 March 1695 in Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island, United States to Samuel Greene (1669-1720) and Mary Gorton (1673-1732) and died 22 February 1758 Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States of unspecified causes. He married Catharine Greene (1698-1777) 30 December 1719 in Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island.


William Greene (16 March 1695 - 22 February 1758) was a governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. He was a clerk of the county court in Providence, deputy from Warwick, speaker of the Rhode Island Assembly, and then deputy governor from 1740 to 1743. He became governor for the first time in 1743 and served four separate terms for a total of 11 years, and died while in office during his final term.

Political Career

The use of paper money was a contentious issue during Greene's administrations. This bill was used after the Revolution.

Greene was made a freeman of the colony in 1718, and at the age of 32 was elected a deputy from Warwick in 1727, which office he held for five years.[1] He was the clerk of the county court in Providence and speaker of the Rhode Island Assembly in 1734 and 1739.[2] In 1728 he was appointed, along with John Mumford of Newport, to survey the boundary line between the Rhode Island and Connecticut colonies.[3] When Governor John Wanton died in 1740, Richard Ward became the governor, and Greene became the new Deputy Governor, which office he held until his own election to governor in May 1743.[4] This was one of the rare cases when a Rhode Island governor did not come from the island of Aquidneck where the towns of Newport and Portsmouth are located.[5]

One of the important issues of Greene's first term in office concerned the boundary lines of the colony. Several geographic boundaries were adjusted, and the towns of Barrington, Warren and Bristol were added under Bristol county, and the towns of Tiverton and Little Compton were added to the towns on Aquidneck island in Newport County. Another major issue facing the colony was the war against France and Spain, for which the colony was expected to share in the defense of the Crown.[5] When England declared war against France on 31 March 1744, the colony manned forts and reinforced them with guns and ammunition.[6] Commodore Warren, with the aid of Rhode Island forces, laid siege to Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, which surrendered in June, surprising Europeans that the "strongest fortress of North America had capitulated to American farmers, machanics [sic], and fishermen."[6] The colony also had a few war sloops at its disposal along with 15 privateers and was successful in capturing 20 ships and sending them to Newport.[6]

During Greene's third term, the colony had divided into two hostile camps.[7] The leaders of the two divisions were both future governors, Samuel Ward and Stephen Hopkins, with Greene siding with the Ward camp. Some of the divisive issues concerned war versus peace, paper money versus hard currency, and Providence versus Newport interests. Elections went back and forth between the two opposing sides, and amid the discord, Greene died while in office in February 1758.[7]

Marriage and Family

William Greene married his second cousin, Catharine Greene (1698-1777), the daughter of Benjamin and Susanna (Holden) Greene, a granddaughter of Randall Holden (1612-1692), and a great granddaughter of the first John Greene (c1594-1658). She is also a direct descendant of Frances Dungan (1632-1697), aka: "The Mother of Governors" for her connection to numerous governors. [8]

The couple had six children, five of whom survived to adulthood.[9] Their son, William Greene (1731-1809) became the second governor after Rhode Island became a state.[10]


Offspring of William Greene and Catharine Greene (1698-1777)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Benjamin Greene (1724-1811)
Samuel Greene (1727-1753) 28 April 1727 Warwick, Rhode Island, United States 24 November 1753 at sea Patience Cook (1727/1728-1809)
William Greene (1731-1809) 16 August 1731 Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island, United States 29 November 1809 Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island, United States Catharine Ray (1731-1794)
Margaret Greene (1733-aft1777)
Catherine Greene (1735-1785)
Christopher Greene (1741-1741)



William Greene was the son of Samuel and Mary (Gorton) Greene, and grandson of John Greene of Warwick, who had spent most of his long life as a public servant, including 10 years as the Deputy Governor of the colony.[11] His great grandfather, also named John Greene, had come from Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, was a surgeon, and an early settler of Warwick in the colony of Rhode Island.[11] His great grandfather on his mother's side was Samuel Gorton, the founder of Warwick, and for a very short period the governor of the two towns of Providence and Warwick.[12]


See also


  1. ^ Bicknell 1920, pp. 1068-1071.
  2. ^ Governor of Rhode Island.
  3. ^ Bicknell 1920, p. 1068.
  4. ^ Bicknell 1920, pp. 1068-1069.
  5. ^ a b Bicknell 1920, p. 1069.
  6. ^ a b c Bicknell 1920, p. 1070.
  7. ^ a b Bicknell 1920, p. 1071.
  8. ^ Turner 1877, p. 17.
  9. ^ RI Historical Society.
  10. ^ Turner 1877, p. 18.
  11. ^ a b Austin 1887, p. 88.
  12. ^ Austin 1887, pp. 302-305.


Online sources

External links

Template:Colonial Governors of Rhode Island Template:Colonial Deputy Governors of Rhode Island

NAME Greene, William
SHORT DESCRIPTION Rhode Island colonial governor
DATE OF BIRTH 16 March 1695
PLACE OF BIRTH Warwick, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
DATE OF DEATH 22 February 1758
PLACE OF DEATH Providence, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General

Robin Patterson

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at William Greene (colonial governor) . The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.