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Greenhow Family Bible

  • BX 5145.A4.1766
  • Richmond, Virginia

Partial Transcript

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[Title Page]

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[Family History: Page 1]

To transmit to my Posterity as far as I can, from
this torn & mutilated sheet, I now transcribe as much
as can from it & my own knowledge, where it is
deficient obtain. An exact copy of the sheet in
the handwriting of my Father the late John Greenhow
merchant in Williamsburg.

“John Greenhow Born Novr. 12, 1724 at Stenton near
Kendal in Westmoreland Great Britain _ and was
married to Judith Davenport at Williamsburg in Virginia
Novr. 29th 1759 who was born April 26th 1738 and dyed Janu
=ary 7th 1765 being Monday at 8 Clock in the morning
after a tedious sickness of 15 months_ the most
worthy of women and the Best of wifes ______________

“Robt. Greenhow their Son was born May 11th 1761
at 7 Clock in the Evening of Whitsun Monday; and
baptized Sunday.” (Here I am at a loss to state on what
month or Day: my Brother Samuel in one of his Youth
full freaks, having thought fit to cut out from [the?]
family register, that respecting himself, thereby oblitera
ting what regarded himself & the conclusive portion
written by my Father on his side of the page) my
own recollection enables me to state, that T’was
therein recorded, I was by Baptism made a member
of Christs Church Here on Earth, by the Rev. [James]
Horrocks Horrocks Minister of Bruton Parish

Ann Greenhow their Daughter was born        29th
1762 betwixt 8 & 9 Clock in the morning.

Febr 1st 1767 John Greenhow was married to Elizabeth
the daughter of John Tyler. Shee was Born January
[2d?] 1744.

John Greenhow their Son was born Feby. 4th 1769
Baptized by Mr. Johnson March 10.

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[Family History: Page 2]

Judith Greenhow their Daughter was born
May 27th 1770 about 4 Clock in the Afternoon and
christened June 24th by Mr. Johnson. June 6th 1771
Shee Dyed about 9 Clock in the Morning Clear of
actual sin. My own recollection of the Contents
of the cut out as noted by S.G. is this, That Their
Son Samuel Greenhow was born on the 19th of May
An[no] Dom[ini] 1771.

Eliz. Greenhow their Daughter Born Octr. 30th, 17 [blank]

James Greenhow their Son Born Augt. 28th, 17 [blank]

George Greenhow their Son Born May 26 177 [blank]

Charles Greenhow their Son born Feby. 13th, 1778

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[Family History: Page 3]

Patsey their Daughter Born Febuary
18th, 1780.

July 23, 1781 on this Wofull Day Dyed my
Dear Wife, Eliz. the most Sincere Frind
agreeable Companion & Faithfull wife that
man could have To enumerate her Virtues
is to Say She was a true & Sincere
Christian. A Loss to me and my poor
Childern not to be expressed.

She was Inoculated For the Small pox
and had [wished?] it to a high Degree
Bore it with the uttmost patience &
Resignation and left her Unhappy
Family an Example which Worthy
to be Imitated.

October 1782 Dyed Dear Baby Patsy
her Death was occasioned By Swallowing
a Pin—call’d to Eternal happiness
Early in Life.

Thursday March 16, 1786 I was
marryed to My third wife Rebecah
Harman Daughter of Mr. Benskin
Harman Born Aprill 24, 1769.

Mr. John Greenhow died after a short illness of about 30
hours on Thursday the 29th of August 1787 at about 8 or
9 o’clock in the Evening his Son Robert who writes this
with Truth can say that a better father never existed [torn]
all his children follow the Example he has set them & [torn]
[almost?] been [endurable?].

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[Family History: Page 4]

Robert Greenhow was married to Ann the Daughter
of Mr. Elias Wills of Richmond on Saturday about 8
o’clock in the Evening the first of July 1786 in Richmond.
She was born on Wednesday the 4th of May 1768 in
the County of Fluvanna.

Their first son was born on Tuesday about thirty five
minutes after seven in the morning of the sixteenth
Day of September one thousand seven hundred &
eighty Eight & was baptized by the name of John
on Wednesday the 29th of October 1788 following by
the Reverend Mr. Bracken. ____ and on Friday the
ninth Day of October at 10 Oclock in the morning it pleased
the Almighty to take him out of this world free from
actual Sin, Disordered bowels & Teething his complaint.

Tuesday June the 9th 17 & ninety my Dear wife was
delivered of a large fullgrown Boy born dead & supposed
to have been in that Situation about three days before
its Birth She having gone her full time with him.

On Sunday July Eighteenth 17 hundred & ninety
Ann Greenhow & Elizabeth Greenhow were married
about 10 o’clock in the morning. Ann to Mr. Armistead
Long of Culpepper County & Elizabeth to Mr. Samuel
McGraw Attorney at Law in the City of Richmond.
My poor Sister Nancy enjoyed but little health after
her union & on the twenty fifth Day of February 17 hundred
& ninety one She Expired in the City of Richmond at abt
three Clock in the morning having been first delivered
of a Dead Child. Disordered bowels & an incurable
[torn]ptha her chief Complaints.

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[Family History: Page 5]

On Friday beween twelve & one Past morning of the thirty first of August
one thousand seven hundred & ninety two was born their
Third Child being a fine girl & on Sunday the seventh
day of October was baptized by the Revd. Jno. Bracken
her Sponsors Robert Saunders, William Davenport &
Dr. James Greenhow, Ann Davenport, Margaret Davenport
& Sally Parsons. ____ by the Name of Judith Ann —

On Friday the 4th of March 1796 it pleased the Almighty in his Wisdom
to deprive us of our Dear Child. On the Preceeding Friday morning the
26th February we found her Covered with a Scarlet Irruption
attended with a Smart Fever. On Monday following her throat
appeared much ulcerated & the Glands intensely swelled, her
Swallowing was of course stopped a Deadly Stupor & Sleep came
on from which she will not be roused until the Trumpet
shall sound & raise her to Life Immortal.

On Sunday the fourth of June 1797 my Dear wife in the
Seventh month of her pregnancy miscarried with a Boy,
a large Child, and from every appearance might have
been a healthy one, had she have been favoured by Heaven
with her full time, and safe Delivery. The Cause of her
miscarriage supposed to have originated from sitting too
long in her Neighbours Room, newly painted.

On Monday the sixteenth of June An[no] Dom[ini] 1800 it pleased
the Almighty once more to Favour us with a pledge of our
mutual Affection—their Son Robert was born at half past
five O Clock in the morning and was baptized on the first
of July following being Tuesday by the Revd. John Bracken
his Sponsors being Judge Joseph Prentis, Samuel McGraw
& George Greenhow. Mrs. Prentis, Mrs. Jane Cary & Polly Cole.

On Wednesday Morning between 12 & one oClock of
the 13th February 1805 one more dear solace was
afforded them in the birth of their Son George William
who was by that name introduced into Christs C[hurch?]
by the Revd. Jno. Bracken on the 17th March following
his Sponsors Mrs. Peachy Wills, Lucy Cole [torn]
[torn] Greenhow, Mrs. [G?] Harris & Roscoe C[ole] [torn]

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[Family History: Page 6]

On the 31st of August 1806, at three o clock in the morning;
our ever dear, once plump & healthfull George William,
disdaining to hold long or converse, with us his earthly
Parents, fled from their Embrace to Abrahams Bosom.
Thrice happy Soul from lisping forth in broken accents
thy little wants below; thou art now chaunting,in
heavenly strains, thy Makers praises.

On the 19th of July, previous to this sad Event, my Dear
Wife, lost in the 4th month of her pregnancy, a male

And now I am to record the truly tragical Death of my once dear & dearly
Beloved Wife! who from Realms of ineffable Bliss looks down with Eyes of
Pity & Compassion on me her husband, and only remaining part of Herself,
our Son Robert!! If a Life of true Christian Piety; submission to the Divine Will;
Love, peace & Good Will to All (for I do firmly believe she had not one inimical
Sentiment to any Soul breathing when called to Eternity). If her fullfilling to
the very best of her Skill & Abilities all the relative Duties of Obedient & affecti
onate Wife; Anxious, Tender Mother; Sister & friend; can induce the Belief that
She is now reaping in full extent, the promises of the Gospel; Oh dear departed
Friend of my Heart, of Twenty five & near one half Standing, you are now in
Abraham’s Bosom, singing Hallelujahs to your Creators Praise. On Thursday
Evening the Twenty sixth of December Eighteen Hundred & Eleven to gratify more
the Solicitations of her Friends & her son Robert, She was Induced to go to the
Theatre to see a New play performed, called The Father of a Family. It was the
first she had been at during the Season; which was with the Week to Close.
About half past Eleven; [flames?] of fire were seen descending from the Roof behind
the Stage; when Instantly, a numerous Audience of about 700 persons, had to seek
their Safety, through a dark narrow passage, down a Stair Case: “Save my Child,” were
the last Words I recollect to have heard from her Dear Lips. I instantly caught our
only Child Robert in my Arms and with him pressed almost to suffocation by the
propelling Crowd; thrown prostrate to the floor; pushed, kicked and to struggle
with a blast of thick heated inflammable Air, which being inhaled pro=
duced from my Son, a Convulsive Throe, that wrested him entirely from my Grasp,
and caused him to say, Oh Father I am Dying, when my hand, directed by the pene=
trative Eye of a Superintending Power, seized the Skirt of his Coat and gave him
again to my Close Embrace; thus we were, still prostrate, with the Current brought
to the head of the Steps; and there finding myself, without rising hurled myself
with precipitation and over a pile of Dead Bodies and blazing pieces of wood, reached
its foot. Reanimated by a Sudden breeze, issuing from the lower Doors, I placed my Dear
Child & self unhurt in Safety!! But Oh my Dear Wife, you, preferring an heavenly
[to?] an Earthly Abode refused to comply with my Good Brother Dr. Jas. Greenhows wishes Carried
[torn] [?] progressing in a direction different from the one I was in to a Window, you hesitated to avail yourself of the then
favourable moment! And you were Torn forever Torn from my Earthly
[torn] from the Grave, the fatal Spot where you breathed you last; and
[torn] [?]terred; Your heavenly Soul I trust will meet me at a period that
[torn] distant; and witness for me that we have mutually Strove,
[torn] Times, Often & always at Morn & Eve, to make ourselves
[torn] the merits of our all Atoning Saviour.
[torn] Thee Our God.

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[Family History: Page 7]

My Habitation, till this most dolefull occurrence,
The seat of Domestic Bliss, & Harmony; was now become that
of cheerless Solitude! My Son at School, and taking his
necessary recreations, left me alone, Silently to brood
over my Misfortunes. To that overruling Providence,
who had through Life been my Aid & support; I had fre
=quent recourse; I sought not his Assistance in vain.
He directed my Steps to Wmsburg; and at the House of
Mrs. Powell and her amiable Daughter Mrs. McGill, I was
by the Revd. Jno. Bracken, Rector of Bruton Parish, united
in Marriage, on Saturday Evening at about 8 Oclock
the 13th of June 1812, to Mary Lorraine Charlton
second Daughter of Francis & Mary Charlton [late?]
of that City; who was born in the town of York 12
miles from Wmsburg on [blank] the [blank]
of [blank] AD.

On Friday Morning at half past 5 OClock of June
17th 1814; My Dear Mary presented me with a fine,
Lovely, Healthfull Boy; dear pledge of our mutual
Affection; On Sunday Afternoon we took him publicly
to the Altar of the newly erected Monumental Church
in this City; where by Bishop Moore in the presence
of the then Assembled Congregation; previous to Divine
Service; he was by Baptism, under the Name of
Francis, John, Seymour, made a member of Christ’s
Church. We his Parents, His Affectionate Aunt Jane Charlton,
his Uncle Seymour, together with Miss Maria
Davis, & Miss Peggy Briggs pledging ourselves as Sponsors
for his education & bringing up in the Christian Faith
which that we may be enabled to do; God of his
Infinite Mercy Grant: ____, ____, ____

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[Family History: Page 8]

At a quarter past twelve of the night of Tuesday the 14th of
February AD. 1815 my Brother Samuel Greenhow resigned
his Soul into the hands of his Creator. He was attacked about
15 or 16 Days before his Decease, with a Chill, succeeded by fever,
and a distressing Cough; he rapidly became more & more
debilitated, and with little or no bodily pain, expired without
a groan.

Again have I to record the Chastisement inflicted by
the Hand of the Almighty; and while, like frail, Human
Creatures, we deplore the Stroke; and lament sorely
the Loss sustained! We, with due Submission will Strive
in Honest Integrity of Heart to say, Thy Will O Blessed
Lord be done. On Easter Sunday March 26th, 1815 at
[erased] In the evening, our much beloved
Infant Francis John Seymour winged his Cherub Way
to the Seat prepared for him by the Death & Sufferings
of our Dear Redeemer! The foundation of his Diseased
State was laid we are inclined to think in an attack
of 20 progressive & successive Days Continuance of the Ague, & Fever,
when between 3 & 4 months old. When Freed from this
Complaint, a Dropisical Habit ensued; his Sprightly
Volatile Spirits forsook him; his Dear face, Hands and feet
prodigiously swoln; with more or less of fever, particularly
in the night; during which period, he had also to contend
with the maladies incident teething, shewing 2 below
& 4 above, when the water floating his dear little
system suffused itself upwards & attacking his Brain
terminated in dissolution!! But his Inheritance for ever
durable, & most transcendently Glorious, duly reflected on
by us his Parents, & his much Afflicted Aunt, & Godmother
Jane, to whom he was dear, as if he had been her own Child
will we most sincerely supplicate the Throne of Mercy
Stimulate us, so to Act, that when we are about to quit this our
sublunary abode he may be commissioned to waft our disembodied
Spirits to those happy Realms, he is now an Habitant of and
that to a never ending Eternity.

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[Family History: Page 9]

My brother Samuel Greenhow was
born in Wmsburg the 10th of May 1771 &
Died in the City of Richmond on the night of
Tuesday the 14th of February An Dom 1815

My brother Dr. James Greenhow was born
in Wmsburg Augt. 28, 1774 and died in the
City of Philadelphia in the Afternoon
of Christmas Day 1815.

On Tuesday the 12th of August An Dom 1817 at
½ past six in the Afternoon, my Dear Wife pre=
sented me with a fine, healthy, lovely Boy, perfect
in all its parts; She went her full time,
& during the whole of her pregnancy, enjoyed (Thanks be
to God) an unusual State of good Health. And
on the 5th of October following, he was made a
member of Christs Church by Baptism. The
Right Revd. Dr. Moore, Bishop of the State, & Rector
of the Monumental Church, baptizing him by
the name of James Washington; His mother,
His Aunt Jane Charlton, & myself as Proxy for
my Absent Son Robert, who I trust will to the
best of his Ability execute the Trust, standing
as his Sponsors.

Heavenly Father, Thou supreme dispenser of
Good to me, Thy very frail Servant; Oh that the
candid & impartial review of my Conduct since
the last record, would enable me, with Sincerity of
Heart to offer up to Thee, any Other than the
Publicans Petition; Lord Be merciful to me
a Sinner; A great Sinner, sinning not as He
did for want of Light But in the midst of it!!

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[Family History: Page 10]

[Thou] hast not dealt with me, as deep Conviction,
an irresistible Language tells me I have deserved;
But on the contrary, hast continued to smile on, &
propitiate my Worldly Views; And on Thursday
at 40 minutes past 8 in the Evening of the 9th of
September 1819 gave to my Dear Mary & myself
a third pledge of mutual Affection, in a perfect
& well formed Daughter; who on Wednesday the
27th of October 1819 was baptized by Bishop Moore
at three PM, by the name of Mary Jane
Charlton; My Niece Lucy Greenhow; My Dear
Mary, & myself Sponsors.

In the Year of our Lord 1821, my Dear Wife was again
pregnant; during the whole of which period, she enjoy
=ed a more uninterrupted share of Good Health, than she
ever before experienced; Encreasing in flesh, size and
excellent spirits, the Hour of ¾ after 5 O.clock on Thursday
Evening the 23d of November 1821 arrived, which was by
making her the 4th Time a Mother, to have realised
our most sanguine expectations; Dr. Foushee Senr. (havg
always attended her on those occasions) in an hour
after his arrival, brought into the World, a fine, per
fectly well formed, large (22 Inches in length) Still
born Daughter!! To thy divine decrees Gracious God,
without a murmur, it behooves us submissively to bow.
Accompanied by Mrs. Avery, Miss Polly Bush, our dear
little Washington & myself, I had its precious remains
deposited in the Corner of my Yellow house farm Garden
in the Country, situated near Cloptons; Beside it,
Friends, when it shall please my God to call me hence
let my mortal remains be interred.

June 20, 1826 My Dear Wife, for some previous weeks laboring under
debility and great depression of Spirits, was about 8 o clock in the
Evening delivered by Mrs. Morgan of a Stillborn infant, large e
nough to ascertain its Sex which proved to be male.

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[Family History: Page 11]

[These are probably John Greenhow’s original torn pages.]

John Greenhow Born Novr. 12, 1724 at
Stenton Near Kendal in Westmoreland
Great Britain — and was Married to
Judith Davenport at Williamsburg in
Virginia Novr. 29 1759 who was Born
Aprill 26, 1736 and Dyed January [7?]
1765 being Monday at 8 Clock in the
Morning after a tedious sickness of
[15?] Months — the Most Worthy of [women?]
[torn] the best of wifes.

[Robt] Greenhow their Son was born [torn]
[torn] 11, 1761 at 7 Clock in the evening [torn]
[torn] Whitsun Monday and Baptized

[page split]

[torn] Greenhow their Daughter was born
[torn]r 29, 1762 betwixt 8 & 9 Clock in the

Octr. 1, 1767 John Greenhow was married
to Elizabeth the Daughter of John Tyler.
Shee was born January 30, 1744.

John Greenhow their Son was born
Feby. 4, 1769 Baptized [by?] Mr. Johnson Mar. 10.

Judith Greenhow their Daughter was
Born May 27 1770 about 4 Clock in the afternoon
and Christened June 24 [by?] Mr. Johnson.

June 6, 1771 Shee Dyed about 9 Clock in
the Morning Clear of actual Sin.

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[These are probably John Greenhow’s original torn pages.]

Eliz Greenhow their Daugr. Born Octor. 30, 17[torn]

James Greenhow their Son Born Augst. 28, 17[torn]

George Greenhow their Son Born May 26, 177[torn]

Charles Greenhow their Son Born Feby. 13, 1778


  • The page torn by Samuel Greenhow has obscured the dates of Robert’s brothers and sisters. Harold Gill’s answer to a research query (6/25/1979) gives the following dates for some of them:
    • Ann: b. December 29, 1762
    • John: b. February 4, 1769; d. 1795
    • Samuel: b. May 10, 1771; d. February 13, 1815
    • Elizabeth: b. October 30, 1773; d. 1804
  • Robert Greenhow copied the information from pages written by his father, John Greenhow, and then added data concerning his second wife, Mary Lorraine Charlton Greenhow and their children. Page six of the diary describes Robert Greenhow’s misery after the death of his first wife, Mary Ann Wills Greenhow, and his loneliness without his son, Robert, now at school. The Greenhow family had attended a performance at the Richmond Theatre on December 26, 1811. A fire broke out and Mary Ann Greenhow was killed; Robert barely saved his son Robert. The Monumental Church was erected on the site as a memorial to the 72 people who lost their lives.
  • Robert Greenhow was 53 when he married Mary Lorraine Charlton, aged 21. There are no more entries in this Bible after June 20, 1826. Robert Greenhow died in 1840 at the home of his son, Robert Jr. in Washington D.C.; his wife died in 1855 and is buried in Winchester, Virginia.
  • Both James Washington and Mary Jane lived to adulthood: “Washington” attended the College of William and Mary. Beginning in 1843 he edited a Petersburg newspaper, The Daily Republican. James K. Polk nominated Washington Greenhow of Virginia, to be consul of the United States for the port of Buenos Ayres on March 2, 1847 but he declined the post. He died in 1849 at age 32. Mary Jane married Hugh Lee in 1843 and moved to Winchester. Her husband died 1856. Mary Greenhow Lee vigorously supported the Confederacy, and left Winchester under orders from the occupying army in 1865 and eventually settled in Baltimore where she lived until 1907. She kept diaries depicting the social life of Washington, D.C., during part of Van Buren’s administration and portions of the Civil War as observed from her home in Winchester, Virginia. Her papers reside at the Library of Congress.
  • An undated, unsigned note on a separate sheet found within the Bible is probably written by Mary Greenhow Lee after James Washington Greenhow’s death in 1849: “Above all things my dear husband don’t forget the obituary notes for the Herald. Mention the mistake in the Union as to age, they say 34 he was born August 12th 1817. You can see the record made by his venerable father in the old Bible in your window. Be sure to state the value of early religious instruction the respect he had for the bible and religious people the facility with which he quoted the scriptures and that he was never made proud by the adulation he’d received everywhere speak of the grief of his devoted sister and the submission and resignation of his mother in consequence of the manner of his departure from earth.”
  • The Bible was given to the John D. Rockefeller Library in 2007.


  • Barbee, David Rankin. “Robert Greenhow,” William and Mary Quarterly, Second Series, Vol. 13 (1933), pp. 182–183.
  • Calamity at Richmond being a narrative of the affecting circumstances attending the awful conflagration of the theatre, in the city of Richmond, on the night of Thursday, the 26th of December, 1811 … collected from various letters, publications, and official reports, and accompanied with a preface … Philadelphia Published and sold by John F. Watson, 1812. [Available from Library of Congress American Memory.]
  • Richmond Portraits in an Exhibition of Makers of Richmond 1737–1860. Valentine Museum, 1949. Entry 64 on page 83. “Samuel Greenhow” by Lawrence Sully, miniature on ivory, reproduced in black & white.
  • Crayon profile portraits of Robert Greenhow, Sr. [ 1761–1840], Robert Greenhow, Jr. [ 1800–1854] and Mrs. Robert [Mary Ann Wills] Greenhow [died 1811] (p.74 & 168–170) are reproduced in black & white in Saint-Memin in Virginia: Portraits and Biographies by Fillmore Norfleet. Richmond: Dietz Press, 1942. and in Saint-Memin and the Neoclassical Profile Portrait in America by Ellen G. Miles, National Portrait Gallery: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994, pp. 311–312.
  • Goodwin, William Archer Rutherfoord. The Record of Bruton Parish Church [Richmond: Dietz Press, 1941] reprints the words on John Greenhow’s tombstone: “Here lies in hopes of a joyful Resurrection all that was Mortal of JOHN GREENHOW late of this City; Merchant; He was born in STAUNTON near KENDAL in Westmoreland, Great Britain, November the 12th 1724 & died the 29th August 1787, after a very short illness. On his left side lies ELIZABETH the daughter of JOHN TYLER his second Wife, who was born in JAMES CITY the 30th Jan 1744, and died of the Small Pox on July the 23rd 1781, which she endured with the greatest Christian Fortitude and Resignation.”
  • Phipps, Sheila R. Genteel Rebel: The Life of Mary Greenhow Lee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004.
  • Scott, Mary Wingfield. Houses of Old Richmond, Valentine Museum, 1941. Historical sketch of the Greenhows.
  • Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 20, 1912, p. 283. The death of John Greenhow was noted in the Virginia Gazette, 9/6/1787.
  • William and Mary Quarterly, 1st series, Vol. 7, (1898–99), page 17 has a brief list of the descendants of John Greenhow.
  • ______1st series, Vol. 17 (1909), pp. 273–275, “The Greenhow Family in England” shows a family tree that includes John Greenhow’s father and grandfather. There “Staunton” is spelled “Stainton.”