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d. 20 April 1865 in York Township, Canada West


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GREEN, WILLIAM, teacher and almanac writer; probably m. Sarah Cronk and had at least six children; fl. 1783–1833 in New Brunswick.

William Green arrived in Parrtown (Saint John, N.B.) in 1783 with the New York loyalists. By late 1788 he was advertising in the Royal Gazette, and the New-Brunswick Advertiser that for two guineas he would teach navigation in the house of Robert Wood, with a new method of finding latitude and longitude at sea. He also advertised the opening on 20 April 1789 of an “English School” where aspiring youths could be taught reading for 7s. 6d. a quarter and reading with “English Grammar, and the proper accent” for 10s. Green’s diversified curriculum included writing, arithmetic, bookkeeping, surveying, navigation, and map reading, all of these subjects being taught in a manner approved by the “principal Academies” of Great Britain and Ireland. A footnote to parents assured them that those giving him “a preference in the tutorage of their children, may depend on the strictest attention being paid to their natural genius, and their moral abilities.”

By October 1791 Green was on Campobello Island as a schoolmaster for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, teaching only 12 scholars in his first year because of the severity of the winter and the scattered nature of the population. In both this endeavour and his application to the society to become a catechist, he was supported by David Owen of Campobello Island, who recommended him to the SPG and provided him with a house and farm as well as a £10 supplement to his salary. The poorly defined financial arrangements made between Green and the society rebounded on him in 1792 when Charles Inglis*, bishop of Nova Scotia, conveyed to him London’s decision that his salary (half-yearly) be £10 instead of the previous incumbent’s £15. Green appealed this judgement in a letter to the society on 27 March 1792, arguing the necessity of SPG support in a situation where the poverty of the fishermen and the barrenness of the land made local assistance to the schoolmaster an impossibility. Nevertheless, Owen felt compelled to go to the people of Campobello to propose “certain methods to raise a small annual sum for the school in addition to the Society’s Salary and [Green’s] house and his farm.” The islanders’ response was a negative one, as Owen explained in a letter to the SPG on 16 June 1792, for “the settlers were dissatisfied with Green, and would neither do, nor promise anything for him; so that he does not, nor has taught school since Easter, but nevertheless says that he will draw for his pay, and will probably stay to receive this half year from the society, and then move away to the States, where he was formerly.” Owen added, with some acerbity, that Green had “acted very indiscreetly, having every sense but common sense,” had imposed upon Owen himself, and deserved “no countenance from any one, and has no claim to any pay from the Society.” The society agreed to dismiss Green and not honour any draft for money. By October 1792 the Reverend Samuel Andrews* of St Andrews had reported to the SPG, as had Inglis, that “Mr. Green, the Societies schoolmaster at Campo Bello has left the country, nor was there any School there, for some months before his Recess.”

At some point prior to his teaching experience on Campobello, Green had arranged for the publication of The British American almanack . . . for the year of our Lord God 1791 with John Howe in Halifax. Beginning with a preface dated 28 April 1790 this publication included tables, calendars, riddles, doggerel, axioms, arithmetical questions, and advice to farmers. It reflected the author’s personal wit in its epigrams and rhymes while at the same time providing navigational and astronomical calculations designed specifically for Maritime readers. The almanac closed with an advertisement for Green’s school in Saint John in which he included a verse satire on indulgent mothers and fledgling schoolboys:

On education all our lives depend;
And few to that, too few, with care attend.
Soon as mama permits her darling joy
To quit her knee, and trusts at school her boy;
O, touch him not, whate’er he does is right,
His spirits tender, though his parts are bright.
Thus all the bad he can, he learns at school,
Does what he will, and grows a lusty fool.

It would appear that difficulties with the Saint John printers Christopher Sower* and John Ryan* had led Green to publish his almanac with Howe at his own expense. Throughout 1791 while teaching on Campobello, he seems to, have been preparing a second almanac; this Sower and Ryan agreed to publish jointly as The British American almanack . . . for the year of our Lord Christ 1792. The almanac lacks the epigrammatic and witty tone of its predecessor, but it includes more practical information on the political offices, costs, and organization of New Brunswick society than does the 1791 edition.

Green, who reportedly spent some time in Nova Scotia after 1792, was apparently the William Green who moved to Grand Manan in 1803. In December 1806 he successfully applied for 200 acres on the island near Castalia. The following July he helped deputy surveyor Donald MacDonald survey sections of Grand Manan, and around 1811 he moved to Wood Island, off Grand Manan, to supervise the interests of its owner, William Ross. The 1821 census of Grand Manan shows Green and his wife with four children at home and two maintaining separate households. After Ross’s death, Green acquired his rights to Wood Island. It is likely there that he himself is buried; he had died by March 1836.

Green’s name on a petition concerning the fishery in 1833 and his reputed importation of the American hare into Grand Manan both suggest his involvement with the island’s development, but it is as a compiler of original almanacs and New Brunswick navigational tables that he is best remembered.

Gwendolyn Davies

William Green is the author of The British American almanack, and astronomical ephemeris of the motions of the sun, moon, planets and stars, for the year of our Lord God 1790 . . . (Halifax, 1791) and The British American almanack, of the motions of the luminaries, for the year of our Lord Christ 1792 . . . ([Saint John, N.B., 1792?]).

Charlotte Land Registry Office (St Andrews, N.B.), Record books, 8, no.347; 11, no.301; Q: 24–25; S: 840. N.B. Museum, Green family, cb doc. PAC, MG 17, B1, C/CAN/NS, I/12–I/12a, esp. I/12, folder 140; Ib/14, folder 168, no.286 (mfm.; copies at PANS); MG 23, D1, ser.1, 2, Saint John file, item 470, “Education for Young Gentlemen.” PANB, RG 4, RS24, S30-M11 (copy at N.B. Museum); RG 10, RS108, William Green, 1806. USPG, Journal of SPG, 25: 35, 390; 26: 40–42. SPG, [Annual report] (London), 1792: 33. Royal Gazette, and the New-Brunswick Advertiser, 23 Dec. 1788; 13 Jan., 7 April 1789. Saint John Gazette, and the Weekly Advertiser, 16 Jan., 27 March, 3 April 1789. Tremaine, Biblio. of Canadian imprints. J. G. Lorimer, History of islands & islets in the Bay of Fundy, Charlotte County, New Brunswick . . . (St Stephen, N.B., 1876), 24, 30. J. R. Harper, “Christopher Sower, king’s printer and loyalist,” N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., no.14 (1955): 84–85; “Old New Brunswick almanacks,” Maritime Advocate and Busy East (Sackville, N.B.), 44 (1953–54), no.8: 5–10. Keith Ingersoll, “Deserted Fundy island left to sheep, gulls,” Saint Croix Courier (St Stephen), 23 Feb. 1961: 9, 12.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Gwendolyn Davies, “GREEN, WILLIAM (fl. 1783-1833),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 20, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/green_william_1783_1833_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_william_1783_1833_6E.html
Author of Article:   Gwendolyn Davies
Title of Article:   GREEN, WILLIAM (fl. 1783-1833)
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1987
Year of revision:   1987
Access Date:   April 20, 2024