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GREEN, FRANCIS, army officer, office holder, author, and judge; b. 21 Aug. 1742 in Boston, Mass., second son of Benjamin Green* and Margaret Pierce; m. there first 18 Oct. 1769 Susanna Green, his double cousin, and they had five children; m. secondly 19 May 1785 Harriet Mathews, daughter of David Mathews*, in Halifax, N.S., and they had six children; d. 21 April 1809 in Medford, Mass.

Francis Green was educated in Halifax and Boston schools and in 1756 was admitted to Harvard College. He did not finish his degree, however, since in 1757 he was called to join the 40th Foot, in which his father had obtained him an ensign’s commission. Francis took part in the siege of Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), in 1758 [see Jeffery Amherst*] and remained there until June 1760, when his regiment was ordered to Quebec to reinforce James Murray*. He was promoted lieutenant in 1761 and saw service in the West Indies the following year. After the war Green spent several years as one of Major-General Thomas Gage*’s secretaries, but in 1766, seeing little chance of advancement, he sold his commission.

Green then went into the importing business with his father, who was in Halifax, and as the Boston partner of the firm he established a reputation as a rising young merchant. During the political controversies of the 1760s and 1770s Green initially supported the colonial party, but when he was dropped from its ranks in 1769 for violating the non-importation agreement he joined the government supporters. In June 1774 at several town meetings he counselled abolition of the committees of correspondence then forming, and his loyalist sentiments resulted in his being attacked by mobs at Norwich and Windham, Conn., while on a business trip in July. On the outbreak of hostilities in 1775 Green sided with the British and on 1 November was appointed captain in the Loyal American Associates. He served throughout the siege of Boston, and when the British evacuated Boston for Halifax in March 1776 Green, with his three children (his wife having died of fever in November 1775), three servants, and some of his goods and furniture, accompanied them.

The next spring Green followed the British army to New York City. There, sometimes in partnership with other loyalists such as George Leonard*, he outfitted vessels for privateering. Although he had hopes of aiding the British cause and retrieving his fortune, they were dashed in December 1779 when five of his vessels were lost to enemy action or shipwreck. In the autumn of 1780 he therefore went to England in an attempt to obtain compensation, and in July 1781 he was granted an annual pension of £100. His subsequent claim for £36,209 lost in goods, money, and extensive land holdings in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire was less fortunate: most of the component claims were disallowed for lack of proof, and he received only £295.

Green returned to Nova Scotia in June 1784 and in November was appointed sheriff of Halifax County, succeeding William Shaw*. His finances had, despite his difficulties, evidently remained healthy, since in April 1785 Penelope, sister of Edward Winslow, wrote to Ward Chipman* that Green “enjoys all the pomp of this pompous Town . . . gives dinners two or three times a week & tomorrow evening all the Noblesse are to be entertained at his house, a Ball and supper superb.” In his official duties Green encountered problems. Several prisoners escaped in 1786 from the jail, which was falling into disrepair and was consequently not secure. The following year Green was sued by John Stairs for allowing a man Stairs had had confined for debt to escape. Green blamed the poor state of the jail, claiming that he had repeatedly advised the Council of its condition, but to no avail. Green lost the suit, and to meet the costs he had to sell 100 acres of land near Dartmouth which he had inherited from his father.

Green’s son Charles had been discovered to be deaf when six months old, and while in Britain during the revolution Green had placed the boy in Thomas Braidwood’s academy for the deaf and dumb in Edinburgh, where Charles had learned to speak, read, and write. Encouraged by this improvement, Green published anonymously a pamphlet entitled “Vox oculis subjecta ; a dissertation on the most curious and important art of imparting speech in the hopes that other establishments of the kind would be stimulated. His son accidentally drowned in 1787 but Green persisted and, although he was disappointed initially, his visits to England and France before 1784 and his publication of other pamphlets between 1788 and 1793 were partially responsible for the establishment of a charitable school for the deaf and dumb at Bermondsey (London).

In 1793, after the death of his elder brother Benjamin, Green acted as temporary treasurer of the province in association with George Thesiger. In 1794 he was appointed a judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. Financial difficulties plagued him, however. Assured that strong feelings against loyalists had died down in the United States, in 1796 he sold his property at Preston, which included a fine house, to the commissioners of the maroons [see Sir John Wentworth] and the next year returned with his family to his native state, where he settled at Medford. For some years he worked as a marine insurance underwriter at Boston but in 1798 and 1799 suffered losses of $25,000. Thereafter he once more devoted himself to the education of the deaf and dumb, publishing various essays in an attempt to have a school for them established in America. He became an authority on the subject and is regarded as a pioneer in the education of the deaf.

Phyllis R. Blakeley

Francis Green is the author of “Vox oculis subjecta”; a dissertation on the most curious and important art of imparting speech, and the knowledge of language, to the naturally deaf, and (consequently) dumb (London, 1783); this was republished in part under the title A new edition ofVox oculis subjecta,” part I . . . (Boston, 1897).

PAC, MG 23, D1, ser.1, 2: 591–616. PANS, MG 1, 332D (copy); MG 100, 131, no.15; RG 20A, 19, no.53; RG 39, J, 8: 29. PRO, AO 12/105: 19; 12/109: 60; AO 13, bundle 45: 464–529; bundle 73: 714–25. Boston, Registry Dept., Records relating to the early history of Boston, ed. W. H. Whitmore et al. (39v., Boston, 1876–1909), [24]: Boston births, 1700–1800, 246. “United Empire Loyalists: enquiry into losses and services,” AO Report, 1904: 1208–10. Winslow papers (Raymond), 58, 59, 288. DAB. Jones, Loyalists of Mass., x, xviii, 12, 83, 153–54, 194. R. H. R. Smythies, Historical records of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) regiment . . . (Devonport, Eng., 1894), 18–38. Stark, Loyalists of Mass. (1907), 123–25, 132–37. P. R. Blakeley, “Francis Green – ‘A suffering loyalist and friend to the British government,’” Nova Scotia Hist. Quarterly (Halifax), 9 (1979): 1–14.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Phyllis R. Blakeley, “GREEN, FRANCIS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 21, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/green_francis_5E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/green_francis_5E.html
Author of Article:   Phyllis R. Blakeley
Title of Article:   GREEN, FRANCIS
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1983
Year of revision:   1983
Access Date:   May 21, 2024