THE GREENHAW TREE
Genealogical History 1650-1977”
by Clyde Greenhaw Newman
The Greenhows or Greenhalgh (as was earlier spelling)
seem to have lived in several different counties in the north of England –
Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland in the lakes region. Probably the surname originated here
after the Norman invasion of 1066.
The ruins of the Greehalgh Castle, built by the first
Earl of Derby, is listed with the principal old castles of Lancaster in
John Greenhow, the emigrant-merchant to Williamsburg,
Virginia and founder of the Greenhow family in America, came from High
House, Staunton, near Kendal, in Westmorland, 22 miles north of
Lancaster. He was born November 12,
1724 at High House.
Of French origin, his parents were Robert and Anne
Dodgson Greenhow. She was a daughter
of Thomas and Mary Strickland Dodgson of Kendal, Westmorland.
The first of the Strickland family of Westmorland, “Sir
Roger” de Strickland landed in 1066 during the Norman invasion and conquest
of England. “De” once preceded all
of the ancient Norman names. The
Normans were descendents of the Vikings.
The following is quoted from William and Mary College
Quarterly, Williamsburg, Virginia:
A brief sketch of the Virginia Branch of this family is
given in Quarterly, VII, provided by Mr. R. Ralph Greenhow of Partridge
Road, Cardiff, Great Britain. Mr.
Greenhow writes: “I enclose you herewith a genealogical chart which shows
you John Greenhow’s English ancestry.
I am sorry I cannot yet take it farther back, but the fact is at
some period, before my time, some evil person cut out the first twelve
pages of our family record book, but I hope at some future date to be able
to find the link which will carry the genealogical history to a branch of
that name which is frequently mentioned in the old Northern MS in the
thirteenth century. However, a
little of John Greenhow’s mother’s (Anne Dodgson) history will possibly
interest you. Anne Dodgson’s mother
was Mary Strickland. She married
Thomas Dodgson of Kendal, Westmoreland.
The Strickland family of Westmoreland are one of our oldest families
– The first “Sir Roger” de Strickland landed in 1066, and as he stepped on
the English shore, he struck the shore with his sword and claimed it in the
Duke’s name, and was given the Manor of Westmoreland and took the name of
Strickland, which afterwards became Strickland. The head of that family still lives at
Sizergh Castle, near Kendal, Westmoreland. The celebrated historian, Agnes
Strickland, was of that stock also.” ²
History tells us that the Battle of Hastings on October
14, 1066 gave the Norman duke control of England and the title of William
the Conqueror. He was crowned King
William I of England on Christmas Day, the same year, at Westminster.
Sizergh Castle, located three miles south of Kendal, has
a 14th century peal tower and a great Tudor Hall. It was the home of the Strickland family
from 1239. It has belonged to the
National Trust since 1950. ³
Kendal is a market town and municipal borough, 22 miles
north of Lancaster and is on the main road from London to Scotland. ¹
Lancaster was an important Roman station and traces of
the Roman fortification wall remains. ¹
EMIGRATES TO AMERICA
Williamsburg was the Capital of the Virginia Colony and
a cultural and political center for 81 years (1699-1780). Starting in 1632
as a settlement of Middle Plantation, it became the Capital of the Colony
and was renamed Williamsburg in 1699.
John Greenhow came from High House, near Kendal, in
England and settled in Williamsburg in 1754 or as early as 1750. He became the founder of the Greenhow
family in America. The emigrant
ancestor of the Greenhaws in America was a prosperous merchant of
Williamsburg, carrying quality merchandise and fine teas. He was active in the commercial and
social life of Williamsburg for more than a third of a century.
COLONIAL CITY RESTORED
Restoration of the 18th century city—Colonial
Williamsburg—was begun in 1926 through the support of Mr. John D.
Rockefeller, Jr., visualized by W. A. R. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish.
(The late Winthrop Rockefeller, former governor of
Arkansas, was director and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)
Many buildings in the restored city were reconstructed
upon their foundations and numerous modern buildings razed and restored to
18th century appearance.
John Greenhow, prosperous merchant of colonial times,
lived in a “large and commodious dwelling house with adjoining store” on
the Duke of Gloucester Street almost opposite the Palace Green. At the eastern end of the street stands
the reconstructed Capitol and at the western end is the College of William
Greenhow home in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, is on the main
thoroughfare – The Duke of Gloucester Street – almost opposite the Palace
Green. A marker in front of the
house reads: “John Greenhow, Merchant in Fine Teas, 1768.” An identification plaque hangs at the
GREENHOW HOUSE DESTROYED
The John Greenhow house was destroyed during the Civil
War. The Battle of Williamsburg in the
Civil War was a rear guard action on May 5, 1862.
Reconstruction of this property included the house and
store, a lumber house, two kitchen outbuildings, a brick dairy, corn house
and “necessary house”. It was one of
the largest single reconstruction projects.
The main building has a double storied basement which faces the rear
yard and gardens. 4
The Greenhow lumber house, now known as the Spinning
Weaving house, is one of Colonial Williamsburg’s operating craft shops,
open to the public.
GREENHOW – REPITON HOUSE
The Greenhow-Repiton house and brick office stands
adjacent to the east of the Greenhow dwelling in the same block. This white frame house, a story and half
in height, with steep, gabled roof, destroyed early in this century, was
reconstructed. It faces north on the
Duke of Gloucester Street opposite the Market Square and the court house of
1770, now a museum. The original
brick office, behind the house, a one-story with semi-basement, was
The boot and shoemaker’s shop, separating the two
dwellings, is an operating craft shop, open to the public.
MAN OF MEANS
John Greenhow’s home was the scene of many social
gatherings. Records indicate he had
considerable wealth, owning property in Williamsburg in addition to his
residence, office, and mercantile house.
BRUTON PARISH CHURCH
Bruton Parish Church stands at the corner of Duke of
Gloucester Street and the Palace Green, almost opposite the Greenhow
house. The Greenhows worshipped at
this church. John and Judith
Davenport Greenhow had their son, Robert, christened in this church, his
birth being recorded as “Whitson Monday’ 1761. John Greenhow had slaves baptized in
Bruton Parish church during the years 1762-1764. ²
CAPITOL MOVED TO RICHMOND
In 1780, John Greenhow followed the move of the
government to Richmond, 50 miles distant, leaving his son, Robert, to carry
on his father’s merchandising business in Williamsburg. John Greenhow became the owner of some
choice lands in Richmond besides his mercantile business. 4
John Greenhow died August 29, 1787, after a short
illness, and is buried in Bruton Parish cemetery at Williamsburg. He left his estate to his son, Robert,
who was named executor of his will.
Robert Greenhow was mayor of Williamsburg for several years and
twice a delegate to the State Legislature.
SOLDIER OF THE REVOLUTION
Some of the early members of the Greenhow family took
part in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. John Greenhow is listed as a soldier of
Virginia in the Revolution by John H. Gwathmey, Historical Register of
Virginians in the Revolution, Richmond, Va. ²
(1) Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 13, pp
638-Lancashire, N. W. County antiquities.
Pp 322 pp 643
(2) College Quarterly, Series 1, 17 (April,
1909), 231 Research by Ida Greenhaw Taylor and her husband, Hugh L. Taylor,
of Norport, Alabama, 1969.
(3) Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 25, pp 543
(4) Report on Colonial Williamsburg by the
Board President, 1954.
This book available from:
Boone County Historical and Railroad
113 South Cherry Street
P.O. Box 1094
Harrison, AR 72602-1094