Greens Norton is a village in Northamptonshire, in central England and located about 85 miles northwest of London. The village is modest in size and probably best known for its St. Bartholomew Church, which apparently dates from Saxon times (7th Century). In early medieval times, the village was known as Norton Davy or simply Norton, but the name changed to Greene’s Norton after the land was purchased by Sir Henry de Greene around 1355. Some 4-5 generations of Greenes lived in the village. There is some debate as to the actual connections of Sir Henry and his descendents to the Greene family that lived in Gillingham, Dorset from the late 15th-early 17th century. Genealogists and historians have linked the “Gillingham Greenes” to at least two branches of Greenes that settled Rhode Island in the mid 1600s, to include the branch of “Surgeon” John Greene (my 13th Great Grandfather). What is still somewhat unclear is whether the “Gillinghman Greenes” are directly descended from the Greenes of Greens Norton.
While the Greene family inhabited the town, it was apparently a well-known place in England. Sir Henry de Greene was the Chief Justice of England and later Speaker of the House of Lords for two Parliaments. In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales wrote that Catherine Parr, the last wife of King Henry VIII and whose mother was a Greene, was said to have been a native of Greens Norton. There is a death of information about the village after it passed out of the hands of the Greenes, and it seems to have been largely forgotten for several centuries. The town website has an interesting write-up on the history of the town from about 650AD to the present.
According on one theory, at some point, a branch of Greenes left Greenes Norton to settle in Gillingham, in Southwestern England. Today, the village of Greenes Norton is home to some 1,000 people. The surrounding landscape is still dominated by the impressive St. Bartholomew parish spire, and in the church grounds the graves of generations of Greenes remain. A large sign at the entrance to the village includes the traditional coat of arms of the Greene family.