GREEN, WILLIAM, lawyer, office holder, science enthusiast, and author; b. 5 Oct. 1787 at Quebec, son of James Green, an army officer, and Maria – ; m. there 27 May 1815 Elizabeth Irwin, and they had at least one son; d. there 15 June 1832.
William Green articled in the legal offices of Jonathan Sewell*, along with James Cartwright and Philippe-Joseph Aubert* de Gaspé. He studied there from 9 Aug. 1802 to 21 Aug. 1807, five years being the period then required before licensing as an advocate, barrister, attorney, and solicitor. He was called to the bar on 8 Nov. 1809, and practised his profession until 25 June 1812, when he was appointed clerk of the peace for the District of Quebec, conjointly with Joseph-François Perrault*. To this office he added that of English translator in the House of Assembly from 29 Dec. 1812, clerk of the crown on 22 March 1813, and law clerk for the assembly from 1 Dec. 1828.
On 15 April 1802 Green had acquired 1,200 acres in Barford Township, which belonged in part to members of his family. He is known to have made business arrangements with Pierre de Sales* Laterrière. In particular, on 11 April 1823 he signed an acknowledgement of debt for £150 in connection with purchases of furnishings and other objects. On that occasion he mortgaged his personal and real estate, including a property in the seigneury of Fossambault. He signed new recognizances on 12 May 1823 and 16 Aug. 1828 for £337 4s. 7d.
While carrying on his professional activities Green played an active role in Quebec intellectual circles. In 1814 he was one of the subscribers who made possible the opening of the Quebec Free School in a former theatre on the corner of Sainte-Anne and Des Jardins streets. He also displayed great interest in the sciences. When the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec was founded by Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay*] on 6 Jan. 1824, Green became a member of its first board, serving as recording secretary; five years later he held the offices of treasurer and secretary. At the time its museum was created he made several donations to it: an arrowhead, a piece of Irish peat, and a sample of anthracite used in lithographing.
During the period 1829–33 Green published six memoirs in the Transactions of the Literary and Historical Society. One, entitled “Memoranda respecting colouring materials produced in Canada,” attracted Lord Dalhousie’s attention. Dalhousie sent it to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in London, with some samples of colouring materials. This initiative was not wasted, since the society published Green’s work and awarded him the Isis gold medal. Moreover, his good friend the painter Joseph Légaré* experimented with the root of the Galium tinctorium (dyer’s yellow bedstraw) and he tried in his art a red lacquer extracted from the plant, finding this lacquer better and cheaper than that procured from Europe. The London society offered another medal to anyone who would send 40 pounds of the famous root in good condition. But there was no response because the reward was not commensurate with the work that it required, since the root, which runs underground, is no thicker than a thread. Green was also secretary of the Société pour l’Encouragement des Sciences et des Arts en Canada.
In 1832, when cholera was beginning to spread at Quebec, William Green succumbed to the disease and died on 15 June.
William Green is the author of several articles published in the Trans. (Quebec) of the Literary and Hist. Soc. of Quebec: “Memoranda respecting colouring materials produced in Canada,” 1 (1824–29): 43–46; “Notes on the country in the neighbourhood of the falls of Montmorency,” 181–87; “Some observations upon the myrtus cerifera or myrtle-wax shrub,” 231–39; “On some processes in use among the Huron Indians in dyeing,” 2 (1830–31): 23–24; “Notes respecting certain textile substances in use among the North American Indians,” 310–12; and “Pigments of Canada,” 3 (1832–37): 191–92.
ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 5 oct. 1787, 27 mai 1815, 17 juin 1832. PAC, MG 8, F131: 1269–84, 1554–56; MG 23, GII, 10, vol.5: 2336–42; MG 30, D1, 14: 491–93; RG 4, B8, 18: 6599–604. L’Institut (Québec), 3 avril 1841. Quebec Gazette, 6 Nov. 1809, 6 April 1815, 18 June 1832. Quebec Mercury, 13 Nov. 1809, 11 April 1815. F.-J. Audet et P.-G. Roy, “Greffiers de la paix à Québec,” BRH, 11 (1905): 247. F.-M. Bibaud, Le Panthéon canadien (A. et V. Bibaud; 1891). P.-G. Roy, Les avocats de la région de Québec, 207. Aubert de Gaspé, Mémoires (1866). Ginette Bernatchez, “La Société littéraire et historique de Québec (the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec), 1824–1890” (thèse de ma, univ. Laval, Québec, 1979), 20, 142–43. P.-G. Roy, Toutes petites choses du Régime anglais (2 sér., Québec, 1946), 1: 195, 251.