John Joseph Green was a boilermaker born on the 9th October 1846 in Deptford, London.

John Joseph Green, a boiler maker and iron rivetter, was my 2 x Great Grandfather. He was born on the 9th October 1846 in New Street, Deptford, London.

John’s parents John William Green and Wilhelmina Hannah (or Ann) nee Fox moved often, so I needed John’s birth certificate to confirm where he was born. In 1841 his parents were living in Hughes Fields, Deptford, in 1846 when John was born they were in New Street (unfortunately no number is given on the birth certificate), in 1849 they were in Butcher’s Row, and by 1851 they were living in Old King Street (later named Watergate Street). John was the fourth of nine children, and two of his older siblings had already died in infancy. His father was initially a general dealer, was now a labourer, and later became a greengrocer and fishmonger.

St Nicholas Church Deptford, about 1895

John was baptised at St Nicholas Church on 8th Nov 1846. At this time his family were living at 90 New Street.

By 1861 the family were living in New Street, Deptford (no number is given on the census), and John’s father was a greengrocer and fishmonger. (New Street was renamed Armada Street in 1912). Nobody with the name John Joseph is recorded with the family in 1861, but the census records a John Samuel Green of the correct age who I believe to be John Joseph. He was now 14 years old and was working as a factory labourer, possibly in the Penn’s boiler workshop in Paynes Wharf.

By 1870 John was a boiler maker and was almost inevitably employed at John Penn & Sons marine engineering works. He probably remained with them for his whole life. Penn’s were a major employer in the Deptford and Greenwich area employing more than 2,000 men in its Greenwich and Deptford works in 1875 (according to Grace’s Guide). By the time of John Penn’s death in 1878, the works was spread over 7 acres on Blackheath Hill. There was a separate boiler works at Paynes Wharf in Deptford. Penn’s was the major engine supplier to the Royal Navy and played a significant role in the growth of naval, mercantile, and passenger steam shipping. By 1878 the company had fitted 735 vessels with engines, including a refit of the SS Great Britain (1852), now preserved in Bristol, and HMS Warrior (1861) now preserved at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. John Penn was a progressive employer who recognised the value of rewarding his skilled employees with pensions, Christmas gifts, marine engineering education, and their own health insurance scheme, the Accident and Burial Fund. For a comprehensive history of Penn’s see Richard Hartree: ‘John Penn and Sons of Greenwich’, 2008, Landmark Publishing Ltd.

Paynes Wharf, the former site of John Penn’s boiler factory

John married Mary Ann Jane Dutton, known as Jane, at the age of 23, on the 25th July 1870, at St. Pauls, Deptford. John’s father was named as John Green, fishmonger. At the time of their marriage John and Jane stated that they were both living at 20 New Street with John’s parents. Witnesses to the wedding were Mary’s siblings, Edward William Dutton and Eliza Dutton. Jane must have been about six months pregnant, because their first child, my great grandfather John George Green, was born at 20 New Street on 29th October 1870. My DNA matches via John’s parents have confirmed that John was indeed the father.

By the time the census was taken in 1871 John and Jane were staying at 16 Frederick Street, Portsea, Hampshire, with their five month old baby. They were lodging with William Ellis, a Greenwich pensioner, and his family. John was working as a boilermaker and may have been sent to Hampshire by Penn’s to work at Portsmouth Dockyard. By 1873 John and Jane had returned to live in Deptford, where their second son Edward Henry Green was born. When he was baptised in 1874 they were living at 12 Frenches Fields. They were living at 15 Berthon Terrace by 1881, where their next son, Charles George Green, was born. (No baptism found for him yet). By 1883 they had moved to 86 New Street, Deptford, where their next son, George Thomas Green, was born.

In July 1887 their fifth son, William Ewart Gladstone Green, was born at 191 Church Street, Deptford. In 1891 the London Electoral Register shows John’s address as 95 Evelyn Street. Their sixth and last child, Alfred Wynn Green, was born in Deptford on 2nd June 1892. I have not yet seen the original baptism to confirm the address. In 1895 the London electoral register gives the family address as 23 Napier Street, Deptford. In 1896 William’s school admission record for Canterbury Road School gives the family address as 44 Canterbury Road, Lewisham (now Ilderton Road).

John’s mother died in 1890, and his father in 1895.

John died on 24th Nov 1899 at 23 Albury Street, Deptford, at the age of 53. He died from acute bronchitis and hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body). His profession was recorded as ‘formerly an iron rivetter’. His wife, Jane, was the informant, and was unable to sign her own name.

John was buried in an unconsecrated grave shared with nine other people, at Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, plot J-196a, on 2nd Dec 1899. He was listed as a labourer. His wife, Jane, survived him and died in 1914. She was buried in the same cemetery as her husband, but they were not buried together.

Children – six sons

  1. John George Green, my great grandfather (1870-1926).
  2. Edward Henry Green (1873-1956). Born 28th Sep 1873 at 18 New Street, Deptford, married 5th July 1896 to Martha Ann Stevenson at St Nicholas Church, Deptford. Died 7th March 1956 at 1 Benbow Buildings, Benbow Street, Greenwich.
  3. Charles George Green (1881-1916). Killed in action in WW1 on 1st July 1916. 8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment (1525). Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
  4. George Thomas Green (1883-1952?) Joined the Royal Navy (205738) on 2nd August 1899, age 15, and remained with the Navy until 1926 when he became a shore pensioner. Possible death in Winchester, Hampshire (unconfirmed).
  5. William Ewart Gladstone Green (1887-1970).
  6. Alfred Wynn Green (1892-1980). He was sentenced to probation for 12 months for his involvement in a robbery of a jewellers shop in 1913 when he was 21. In the Great War he served in the Machine Gun Corps, Regimental number 87678. He served in France and was wounded and gassed, but survived.

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