Drawn from Kent Family History Society Journal – Author Paul Greenstreet with additional notes by the author – Courtesy of Bernard Cork.
Elizabeth Selby, M.B.E., wrote a book entitled Teynham Manor & Hundred (798-1935). In the book she refers to the early Greenstreets of Kent, and their movements. James Greenstreet published books, (1884) listing the ancient Kent family as far back as 1494. He encompassed, in some detail, the pedigree of the elder line and their memorials. In 1314, John de Grenestrete was Prior of Rochester. He had brothers named Richard of Bromley and Robertus de Grenestrete of Tenham Hundred.
A John Grenestrete of Claxfield was Manor Reeve at Tenham in 1467. Adam Greenstreete - took part in Jack Cade’s Rebellion of 1450. He was pardoned. The village of ‘Greenstreet’ still exists today, dividing Teynham and Lynsted as part of the A2. London Road. The locals still refer to the village of Greenstreet and there is a Post Office, Pharmacy and Methodist Church retaining the name.
In Lynsted Church lies a ledger-stone, shattered by a W.W.2 bomb. It refers to the first-born daughter of John Greenstreet De Claxfield Gentleman in 1659. The Greenstreets controlled lands, mostly of cherry and fruit orchards, said to be contiguous from Lynsted to Canterbury. They moved from west to cast Kent. Properties included Painters Forstal, and lands in Ospringe, Eastling and Selling.
The fine old half-timbered farmhouse at Claxfield still stands, as does the Manor Farm at Painters Forstal. At the time of the Civil War, Simon Greenstreet was mentioned as ‘a suspect under the Commonwealth’ when commissioners were sent to Lodge Lynsted, to see if Lord Tenham held arms - none were found. A coat of arms and crest dates back to Lawrence Greenstreet, Gentleman of Ospringe who died in 1451. An alteration to the coat of arms was recorded in 1642, instigated by Peter Greenstreet of Ospringe. Two of Peter’s brothers, John of Canterbury and Robert were Lord Mayors of Faversham in 1635, 1644 and 1648. Members of the family lie under ledger-stones in the Naves of St. Mary’s Churches at Eastling and Selling, and John of Canterbury is listed as a benefactor to the poor in the Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, Ospringe, his pledge being made in 1671, to be paid annually by his brother Peter of ‘Paynters Manor’. There are numerous parchment documents of indenture, relating to these early Greenstreets, held in the archives at Whitfield.
John Greenstreet of Wingham — born in the mid 1600s, heads up my direct line of ancestry. I have not been able to positively identify his parentage, as there is a dearth of records about the time of the Civil War. The Wills of John of Wingham and his sons and grandson are retained in the archives at Canterbury Cathedral. I have comprehensive details following my direct line back to John of Wingham, including photographs of Stephen, my great-great-grandfather bp 1815, his wife, and his family gravestone at Walmer. John of Wingham’s extensive lands went to his grandson, John of Waldershare. The lands situated at Staple, Nonnington, Goodnestone and Waldershare were divided between his many children on his death in 1794. His son Stephen, my 4 x great, then took to Carpentry / Boatbuilding on the Isle of Sheppey, and Carpentry has continued down the line until today.
My own profession of architecture had connotations and my son runs his own Carpentry/Mould-making business - Invicta Moulds Ltd. Carpentry is in our DNA!
My great-uncle Thomas Greenstreet was Coxswain of the R101 Airship, which made its adventurous voyage to Canada in 1930. Sidney Hughes (Greenstreet the 1940s film actor derived from a line via William, the 1st son of my 3 x great-grandfather William. (This trail was researched and proven by Gus Greenstreet a recent contact and living cousin). I have yet to make a connection to Lionel Greenstreet, of Ramsgate - First Officer of Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to the Antarctic.
Recorded evidence clearly indicates how branches of my ancestry rapidly spread, reaching out from the Faversham/ Ospringe area of Kent, their rooted stronghold. The family Greenstreet owned, or controlled, contiguous lands from Claxfield to Selling, and pockets of lands beyond those parishes, over much of Kent. They were anciently seated Lords of the Manor, well connected with the Church, and their prime business was that of Farmers and Yeoman land owners of many orchards and cherry gardens. John Greenstreet of Canterbury and Faversham was Lord Mayor of Faversham in 1623. His brother Robert Greenstreet was recorded as Lord Mayor of Faversham in the years 1635, 1644 and 1648. (Extract from a Faversham biographical register by Edward Jacob) I found an indenture which led to the uses of a fine, dated 26th August 1625, between Thomas Greenstreet of Ospringe, Gentleman, of the one part, and John Macott, citizen and ironmonger of London, of the other part. It stated that whereas Thomas Greenstreet sold John Macott ‘all that capital messuage, tenement and dwelling house in Court Street, Faversham’, wherein one John Philpot of Faversham Esquire, (one of his Majesty’s justices of the Court of Common Pleas did lately dwell and was sometime owner thereof and also of the makings etc., the parties covenant to levy a fine. Margaret, the wife of Thomas Greenstreet is mentioned. Known Greenstreet brothers, at the time of the Civil War, were Thomas, John, William, and Peter. Robert and Symon were also related, in 1642 Peter of Ospringe, and Painters Manor had the coat of arms and crest altered.
A publication entitled Teynham Manor and Hundreds (798 - 1935) by Elizabeth Selby M.B.E., says much about the movements of the Greenstreet family. Dr. Selby’s book illustrates Tenham as an agricultural manor, which, together with its divisions, consisted mainly of orchards, bearing cherries, plums, pears, apples and hops. Churchwardens listed included Laurence Greenstreet in 1609 and John Greenstreet in 1622 and 1623. In ‘Jack Cades Rebellion’ 1450, most of the towns and villages of Kent took part, and most rebels were pardoned, including one Adam Greenstrete. During the Civil War of Charles 1st’s time, the whole manor and hundred were evidently in confusion. There is no doubt that the majority of inhabitants were supporters of the King. Simon Greenstreet and Leonard Smith are recorded, mentioned as ‘suspects’ under the commonwealth in 1656, when, apparently, Commissioners were sent to Lodge Lynsted, to see if Lord Tenham held arms. They found nothing. As far as the village of Greenstreet is concerned, it is difficult to determine whether the family name came first, or the name of the street. However, a John de Grenestrete was Prior of Rochester in 1314, and he had brothers - Richard de Grenestrete of Bromleye and Robertus de Grenestrete of Tenham Hundred, who are mentioned in a deed of 1328. The names of Thomas de Grenestrete and Roberto de Grenestrete appear in a Subsidy Roll of 1339, paying eight pence and three pence respectively. John Grenestrete Senior and Roger Grenestrete appeared before Manor Court about a debt from Robert at Hatche in 1389. A John Grenestrete was Manor Reeve* (*A Reeve represented the King until the 11th century In medieval England he was a manorial steward) in 1467. This was probably the John Greenstreete of Claxfield, in the village of Greenstreet, who died in 1494, leaving property in Lynsted and Eastling. His Grandson, also John, bought Plumford and Painters Forstall in Ospringe about 1566, and his son Peter inherited Huntingfield as well as some of the Lynsted property. The family held Claxfield until 1674, when James Greenstreet sold it to Christopher Clarke of Frognal. They bore for arms Barruly of 8 pieces argent and azure on a canton of the 2 an eagle displayed with two necks or. A fine old half timbered farmhouse still stands at Claxfield, certainly dating back to the late 15th century, which appears to be on earlier foundations.
But was John Greenstreet of Claxfield fact or myth? I needed more defined evidence that the village of Greenstreet’ and the farm of ‘Claxfield’, at its western end, was where my ancestry developed. It wasn’t long before my ponderings prompted a further excursion via that village, to the adjoining village of Lynsted, and the church of St Peter and St. Paul, which dated back to 1229. We found the heavy studded oak doors of the church locked. A notice in the vestibule directed callers to collect the key from the ‘Old Forge cottage’ opposite, and I left Veron’ inspecting headstones in the churchyard, and sought out the cottage, which I found situated midst higgledy-piggledy houses, which had sat in adjoining lanes since Tudor times. Was John of Claxfield really a real life character, all those years ago? Sure he was. The evidence was right there in the floor of the Nave. The tablet in black slate, dedicated to Thomas Barton, was cracked and damaged in W.W.2., when a bomb hit the church, causing extensive damage from the blast. Nevertheless it was clear enough for all to see, [and translates as]: Here lies buried Mary, the wife of Thomas Barton, gentleman, the first born daughter of John Greenstreet of Claxfield in this parish, gentleman. She died on 20th February in the year of Our Lord - 1659. Mary was probably the Granddaughter of the John Greenstreet of Claxfield, who died in 1494.
In the Lynsted Church Book of Records, it was stated that another slate ledger-stone, entirely obliterated by the blast of the bomb in 1940, recalled the death of Rebecka, the late wife of John Greenstreet of Claxfleld, Gent. She was aged 43 years, and had issue of him — 4 sons and six daughters. No wonder the family spread so rapidly! The W.W.2 bomb was not the only time the church had been fired upon. The great solid oak south door had four holes in it, one of which contained the lead of a musket ball, dating back to the Civil War. From the angle of entry, it was fired by a Parliamentarian soldier, from the bottom of the path in Ludgate Lane. To the left of the holes, other damage was believed to have been caused by an axe. I wondered who was taking refuge. The sanctuary of a church meant little to Cromwell’s men.