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GREEN, JAMES, army officer, office holder, businessman, and jp; b. c. 1751 in Sweden; d. 1 Feb. 1835 at Quebec.

“Not having a single Farthing left,” James Green enlisted in the 62nd Foot in 1772. His abilities were soon recognized, and he had been promoted sergeant-major by 1776 when his regiment arrived at Quebec, then under siege by American rebels. In June, as Governor Guy Carleton* pursued the retreating Americans toward Montreal, Green saw action at Trois-Rivières, and in October he was in an engagement with Benedict Arnold*’s fleet on Lake Champlain. In 1777 he served on Major-General John Burgoyne*’s expedition into New York and was captured on 19 September during the battle of Freeman’s Farm. After ten months as a prisoner at Hartford, Conn. (during which time he learned of his promotion to an ensigncy, dated 20 Sept. 1777), he was exchanged and joined the British garrison at New York. Sir Henry Clinton, commander-in-chief in North America, gave him three appointments: barrack master for the “island of New York,” deputy judge advocate for the city of New York, and paymaster for troops whose regiments were not then serving in the vicinity.

Green’s appointment as deputy judge advocate proved of great value, for it gave him “an opportunity of acquiring genteel and general Acquaintaince with most officers in the Army – a thing so essentially necessary to a Young Officer, particularly to one under my circumstances, who had no one to recommend me, but such into whose good Graces I might be able to get by a constant perseverance in a Line of Good Conduct.” He resigned all three appointments in September 1779 when, with the help of Charles Stuart, lieutenant-colonel of the 26th Foot, he purchased a lieutenancy in that regiment; he also received appointment as the regiment’s adjutant, a post he held for 17 years. In December 1779 he and the other officers of the 26th were sent back to the British Isles on recruiting duty.

In 1787 Green returned to the province of Quebec with the 26th. He had married, and a son, William, was born at Quebec in early October. By 1798 Green’s household in Upper Town counted eight members. The following year his friend, the painter William Berczy*, whom he perhaps supported financially, did pen-and-ink sketches of his wife Maria, William, and a daughter.

Green had been promoted captain-lieutenant on 2 March 1791, but not until May 1795 did he succeed to the full captaincy of a company. In 1795 as well he was selected by Carleton, now Lord Dorchester, to be his military secretary. He continued to occupy the post under Carleton’s successors as commander, and was in addition employed at York (Toronto) from 1799 as civil secretary by Lieutenant-General Peter Hunter*, who was also lieutenant governor of Upper Canada. Replaced in the latter position in 1806, Green returned to Quebec and remained military secretary under Colonel Isaac Brock*, commander of the forces. In this capacity he held a key position in the administration of the armed forces in the Canadas. His merit was acknowledged in his brevet promotions to major in January 1798 and to lieutenant-colonel in September 1803, following his confirmation as major in the 26th Foot that July. With the arrival of Lieutenant-General Sir James Henry Craig* as commander of the forces and governor in chief in October 1807, he was replaced as military secretary, though he was continued for a short while as assistant secretary. In view of Green’s long service and great experience, in 1808 Craig offered him an appointment as acting deputy commissary general in place of John Craigie*, then under suspension for fraud and embezzlement. In his new position Green was acting head of the commissariat in the Canadas, but, though he was strongly recommended by Craig to the Treasury, new regulations prevented confirmation of his appointment, and he was replaced in 1810.

With the loss of this post Green found himself in “uncommon hardship” and pressed for an appointment more suitable to his “situation in society.” In April 1812 he obtained partial relief when he was made paymaster to a new provincial regiment, the Voltigeurs Canadiens [see Charles-Michel d’Irumberry de Salaberry]. In June a lengthy period of strained relations between Britain and the United States finally resulted in war and in August Green resigned as paymaster to be named director of the newly established Army Bill Office. The chronic shortage of specie in the Canadas and the difficulty of obtaining a ready supply in time of war prompted the government to introduce a paper currency through the issue of army bills. These notes did much to alleviate the problems of war-time finance, and the good faith shown in their redemption weakened a long-standing prejudice in the population against paper money.

The Army Bill Office closed in December 1820, but Green’s involvement in financial matters continued. In 1821 he was appointed a vice-president of the Quebec Savings Bank, in which he also served as treasurer; in November Green was given a vote of thanks “for his very strenuous and persevering services” in bringing the bank to “its present flourishing situation.” One year later he became president, a position he still occupied in May 1824. Green also took an interest in land transactions. In 1802 he, his wife, and their three children each received 1,200 acres of land in Burford Township, which he offered for sale, along with 6,000 acres in Potton Township, in 1811. At some point he arranged the sale of Major-General Lauchlan Maclean’s lands in Chatham Township on the Ottawa River.

From the humble station of a private soldier Green had risen not only to commissioned rank and some distinction in the army but also to a position of note in Lower Canadian society. A regular contributor to the Quebec Fire Society, he also subscribed to several charities assisting immigrants, most notably the Quebec Emigrants’ Society. He received a commission of the peace in 1821 and another in 1828. At his death in 1835 at the home of his son-in-law John Stewart*, the Quebec Mercury summed up his career with the affirmation, “In all . . . capacities Mr. Green maintained a high character for integrity and assiduity, and for a most conscientious discharge of his official duties.”

Glenn A. Steppler

ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 5 oct. 1787, 4 févr. 1835. PAC, MG 24, L3: 9706, 9712, 9737, 9739, 9781, 9838, 9856; RG 1, L3L: 48097–98, 48102–3, 48166–75, 48221–22, 48225, 48227; RG 8, I (C ser.), 0, 15, 112, 114, 223, 330, 703, 744, 1218, 1706; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841: 360, 640. William Berczy, “William von Moll Berczy,” ANQ Rapport, 1940–41: 22, 30, 36–37. “Les dénombrements de Québec” (Plessis), ANQ Rapport, 1948–49: 124, 174. Quebec Gazette, 21 March 1799; 10 April 1800; 13 Jan. 1803; 12 June 1806; 2 July 1807; 30 June 1808; 14 Sept. 1809; 12 Sept. 1811; 19 March, 6 Aug. 1812; 25 Feb., 25 March, 15 April, 30 Dec. 1813; 12 Jan., 19 Oct. 1815; 4 May, 11 June, 7 Dec. 1818; 22 April 1819; 5 June, 23 Oct. 1820; 2, 16 April, 19, 26 Nov. 1821; 18 Nov. 1822; 19 May 1823; 17 May 1824. Quebec Mercury, 3 Feb. 1835. Langelier, Liste des terrains concédés, 1413, 1446, 1459, 1465. James Stevenson, The War of 1812 in connection with the Army Bill Act (Montreal, 1892).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Glenn A. Steppler, “GREEN, JAMES,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 28, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/green_james_6E.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_james_6E.html
Author of Article:   Glenn A. Steppler
Title of Article:   GREEN, JAMES
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1987
Year of revision:   1987
Access Date:   February 28, 2024