GREENE, James (1759-1814), of Turton Tower, Lancs. and Llansaintfraed, Mon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
bap. 7 Apr. 1759, o.s. of Mordecai Greene, Spanish merchant, of Mortlake, Surr. and Bathford Place, Som. by Mary, da. and h. of Adam Bland. m. (1) ?Sept. 1777, Charlotte Ball, s.p.; (2) ?Feb. 1780, Anne, da. of William Owen Brigstocke of Blaenpant, Card., 5da. suc. fa. 1787; mother to Turton 1796.
Capt. N. Hants militia 1797-1803; cornet, Loyal Mon. yeoman cav. 1799.
The ubiquitous Greene joined the Whig Club, 5 Apr. 1796, and Brooks’s Club, 1 Mar. 1797. Thanks to his wife’s connexions he was a potential candidate for Cardiganshire in 1796, against Thomas Johnes*, but in the event he was returned unopposed for Arundel by the Duke of Norfolk. He voted with the Whig opposition on the critical divisions of 8 and 14 Dec. 1796, 28 Feb., 1 and 3 Mar. 1797. On 10 Apr., in his only known speech, he said ‘a few words in favour’ of Pollen’s motion for resuming peace negotiations. Then resident in Monmouthshire, he carried a county meeting against ministers in April.1 He voted for parliamentary reform, 26 May, but did not secede with Fox. He voted against Pitt’s triple assessment, 4 Jan. 1798, was teller against the suspension of habeas corpus, 20 Apr., and in the minorities against ministers on Irish questions, including the Union, 11, 22 June 1798, 31 Jan. 1799. On 3 Feb. and 1 Dec. 1800 he voted for peace with France, even a separate one.
Greene was reconciled to Addington’s ministry by the armistice. On 30 Dec. 1801 he wrote to his old friend Charles Bragge*, to ask for ‘employment’, as he was not rich and his health was restored. He added:
I do solemnly assure you that I would not make this application if I did not think that the present ministry entirely deserved the public confidence and if I were not determined whether I succeed or not to give them my most strenuous support.
On receiving an encouraging reply, he answered, 10 Jan. 1802,
Like many others of my friends I was carried away by the phantasms of liberty exhibited by the French revolution of 1789 ... Subsequent events have taught me the folly of forming such rash judgments and most heartily have I repented of the countenance which I gave at that time to the wild schemes of visionary liberty. I most certainly will attend this session very regularly and I am sure you know me well enough to be convinced that the support I shall give the present ministry will be as sincere as my gratitude to you for your very great kindness to me in this and many other instances.2
He did not draw attention to himself in the House and was left without a seat at the dissolution.
After the peace of Amiens, Greene went to Paris, where he was at once mistaken by General Berthier for Charles Grey* and showered with compliments. Thence he wrote to Bragge, 7 Jan. 1803,
I understand that the Duke of Norfolk has made frequent applications for me lately, and I know that he has been urged by the Duchess of Devonshire to make them properly. I am sure you will not let an occasion slip when you can be useful, and I do assure you that I do prodigiously want something no matter what pour le moment.
He befriended Marshal Junot and witnessed the rupture in Anglo-French relations. Buonaparte justified his decree for the seizure of English shipping, 13 May 1803, by reference to Greene’s having ‘in a café in his cups threatened to assassinate him’, a trumped-up story. By then he had made his getaway, with an American passport. He arrived from Rotterdam in November and wrote to Bragge, ‘Nothing could be more gratifying than Mr Addington’s reception of me, and I confess I was not sorry to hear of your anxiety about me ... Mr A. wished me to return as soon as possible.’ Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby informed Lord Holland on 19 Dec. ‘Mr Green[e] is in town. He has a great many entertaining stories of Paris having lived to the day he came away with General Junot. He is as bustling as ever, and is in great favour with the government.’ Having raised the alarm about a French invasion that winter, Greene was anxious to restore peace: his business with Addington was to obtain leave to return to France at his own risk to ascertain the prospects of success of a Russian mediation. But from Paris he informed Bragge, 3 Dec. 1803,
Our situation is now likely to be very unpleasant—we are all ordered from Paris—in a few days everybody must be off ... we go to Verdun. This great and unexpected act of severity is owing to a good many of our countrymen calling themselves gentlemen, who have broke their parole, and made their escape from Valenciennes and different places.
Within a few months he was scheming an exchange of prisoners of war.3
After returning to England, Greene, who was separated from his wife, lived at Raglan, where he made his will, 24 July 1811. When his friend Bragge entered the cabinet he wrote to congratulate him, 5 Jan. 1812, adding,
I have been for some years as you perhaps know living idle and unoccupied, but such sort of vegetation is by no means to my taste and if you have an opportunity to place me in any situation where I may be usefully employed I shall be most ready to accept it.
He died 16 Feb. 1814, ‘aged 54’. He left his friend James Brogden* £100 with interest from 1802, and expected his two daughters to pay his debts of £1,500, being confident that his estates, if sold, would raise more than £250,000. (‘Had they been sold as I wished and desired two years ago, they would have provided more than £300,000.’) After stipulating that no child borne by his late wife since their separation could be his, ‘as I hope for eternal salvation’, he asked his daughters to pay an annuity to Susan Scallon, whom he had ‘always respected ... as I should have respected my own daughter’.4
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: M. H. Port / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Morning Chron. 1 May 1797.
- 2. Glos. RO, Bragge Bathurst mss X17/1,2.
- 3. Ibid. X17/3, 4, 5, 6, 8; Leveson Gower, i. 367, 434; D. M. Stuart, Dearest Bess, 108; J. G. Alger, Napoleon’s British Visitors and Captives 1801-15, p. 178; The Times, 4 Nov. 1803; Add. 51724.
- 4. Bragge Bathurst mss X17/9; Gent. Mag. (1814), i. 410; PCC 186 Pakenham.