ORIGINS IN
NOTTINGHAM ENGLAND

1ST GENERATION - ROBERT GREENFIELD – 1530-1590
2ND GENERATION - HENRY GREENFIELD – 1574-1624>
3RD GENERATION  -ROBERT GREENFIELD – EST. 1600-1640
4TH GENERATION - JOHN GREENFIELD  - EST 1620-1660000<

      The known Greenfield ancestors came from the shire or county of Nottingham in North Britain, not too far from the Southern border with Scotland.  Specifically they lived in Carleton in the Parish of Gedling or Godling, just to the East of the larger city of Nottingham.  This is just a few miles from Sherwood (Sherewood) Forest, home of the legendary Robin Hood.
       The first recorded mention of Gedling is in the Doomsday Book, 1086.  This is about the time, after the Norman Conquest in 1066, that surnames came into existence in England.  Before than the population was scant enough in each are that only first names were needed.
       But gradually this was not enough to identify everyone, so families began to develop surnames.  The names were based on many things.  Some were based on the individual’s occupation such as Smith (Symthe), or colors (White, Brown, and Black).  Others, such as my ancestors, were likely based on characteristics of the area in which they lived and John at the green field became John Greenfield.
       Thus it was quite possible for the same surname to develop among families in different areas who were completely unrelated by blood ties.  There are several other Greenfield families from entirely different areas of England. The Greenfields who immigrated to the New England area of America were unrelated to my ancestors.

      The earliest proven Greenfield ancestors were Robert Greenfield and his wife Agnes.  Robert was born about 1530/40.  At this point in time in England there was a bitter religious upheaval going on.  During the reign of Henry VIII, England quit recognizing the authority of the Roman Pope.  In 1534, parliament passed the act of supremacy, which made the King, not the Pope, head of the national church.  Severe religious struggles divided the church for over one hundred years.  Under Elizabeth I in 1558, the Church of England became independent.  It is thought that the Greenfields in 1540, and down to the time that Thomas immigrated to America in 1669, remained Roman Catholics, although they did not openly profess this due to the lack of religious freedom.  They were described as Crypto-Catholics, crypto being translated as secret or hidden.
       Both Robert and Agnes Greenfield left wills.  The wills show that they were weavers and clothiers and were apparently upper middle class and relatively "well off.”

     Robert Greenfield's  had three sons.  My 1ine of descent is from Henry Greenfield.  From the church records of the Parish of Gedling it was revealed that Henry Greenfield, son of Robert and Agnes was baptized on 7 April 1574, issued a marriage license on 4  July 1607, married Joan Lupton, was buried on 2 December 1624, at the church of Gedling.  He was age 50.  Henry Greenfield left a 1624 will.

        In Henry Greenfield's 1624 will he mentions two sons, Anthony and Robert.  My line of descent is from Robert Greenfield.  Robert would represent the third generation of Greenfields in Carleton on whom there are records.  Apparently Robert left no will but from the church records of the Parish of Gedling it was determined that his wife was Ann and that they were parents of five sons.  In order of birth they were John, William, Samuel, James, and Thomas Greenfield.  It was Thomas, the youngest son who was the first immigrant to Maryland in 1669 at the age of 21.

        The Thomas Greenfield who immigrated to Baltimore County was probably the son of Robert’s oldest son, John.  I do not have any firm dates of birth and death for him but it would have been in the time period above.  Evidence that supports the thesis  is the fact that Thomas named his first son who died in infancy, John.


            All Hallows Church that contains the parish registers of my ancestors still retains its thin spire that dates back to the early part of the 1300s.  The church was built mainly in the 13th and 14th century.
           During the Middle Ages although the peasant was not free, there was no fear of unemployment; every man worked his land in cooperation with his neighbor.  Living conditions were certainly poor for the villager, but they were not much better for the lord in the castle.  Sunday was a holiday, Saints Days were numerous and provided that he attended mass, the villager could spend the day as he liked at the village alehouse. There was even the Great Nottingham Goose Fair once a year only four miles away in Nottingham that continues to this day.
      But above all other sport and amusement was Poaching.  The Forest was a very large part of life to Gedling. A big change came later in the 1600 and 1700s with the advent of what was known as “Enclosure” of the lands.  It became more profitable to turn the arable land into pasture for feeding sheep because of the value of the wool trade.  Although my ancestors must have profited from this as they owned sheep and were weavers, it created hardships for many peasants.  In 1589 William Lee invented a stocking frame and this marked the beginning of the hosiery industry in the area.
        There were three great disasters that befell England in the 1600s – plague, fire and war -and probably affected our ancestors.  The most far reaching was the outbreak of the great plague that began in 1665, bringing London to a standstill and causing panic at the numbers of dead and the lack of knowledge as to how to deal with the terrible scourge.  This happened just before my ancestor immigrated.

    What led my ancestors to immigrate to America in the 1600s along with so many others?  The three main reasons usually were religious persecution, political oppressions, and economic considerations.  Other less obvious reasons were personal such as the end of a love affair, escape from fights, the desire to be with friends or family who were going or for adventure.  Many of these reasons could apply to my ancestors.
    Thomas Greenfield, the first immigrant was the youngest of five sons and as such stood to inherit very little from his father since the custom then was to leave the bulk of their estate to the eldest son (primogeniture).  It is likely that myr direct ancestor, Thomas, was also a younger child.  He also could have been influenced by the experience of his uncle who had already come to America and being single and young he probably also had an adventuresome spirit.

LINKS
Origins in England -1530-1668 Settlers in Maryland - 1668-1715
Long Green Valley - 1715-1800s Samuel K. J. Greenfield -Letters
Baltimore/Harford - 1860s On Family Photos 1860s on
  Genealogy Reports  King Family

  billyn@comcast.net
 
 
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