GaspeeVirtual Archives
Rufus Greene, Jr. (c1748-1831)

The Gaspee Days Committee at www.gaspee.COM is a civic-minded nonprofit organization that operates many community events in and around Pawtuxet Village, including the famous Gaspee Days Parade each June. These events are all designed to commemorate the
1772 burning of the hated British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee, by Rhode Island patriots as America's 'First Blow for Freedom' TM.  Our historical research center, the Gaspee Virtual Archives at www.gaspee.ORG , has presented these research notes as an attempt to gather further information on one who has been suspected of being associated with the the burning of the Gaspee. Please e-mail your comments or further questions to
Evidence implicating Rufus Green:

Per Staples < > p67 Rufus Greene gave testimony on January 1773 before the Royally appointed commission on the burning of the Gaspee how an officer of the Gaspee, one James Dundas, master of the Gaspee (misspelt Dundass in references), assaulted him on board the sloop Fortune, belonging to his family's business, Nathanael Greene & Co. It ws this assault of Dundas on Rufus Greene, and the seizure of the sloop that began the whole Gaspee affair, for this created much resentment by the colonists. On p76 Peter May, one of the crewmen of the Gaspee, gave testimony that it was the same Mr. Greene he saw on that vessel that was part of the attack on the Gaspee:

" of which people was named Greene, whom he saw in the cabin of the Gaspee the day after they had seized a sloop, of which he appeared to be the owner and out of which he took some rakes; this deponent saith that the said Greene is a tall, slender man, wearing his own hair of a brown color."
Note that there were only two persons testifying before the commission on January 14, 1773, Rufus Greene and Aaron Briggs. It would have been easily discerned that Rufus had not come across Aaron during the attack, and someone (probably Darius Sessions) took pains to avoid Peter May and other Gaspee crewmen from testifying on the same day in order to prevent recognition of Greene during the depositions. The bulk of the Gaspee crew testified beginning two days later, on the 16th through the 19th of January.

We know that it was a Nathaniel Greene who was the owner of record of the Fortune and its cargo of 12 hogshead of rum that were seized by Dudingston and the Gaspee.  But we also know that Nathanael Greene of 1742 denied having been a participant in the Gaspee affair when asked sometime after the Revolution had started. This Greene went on to become General George Washington's second-in-command during the later part of the Revolution. This famous Nathanael Greene, more often than not, has had his name misspelt.  The proprietor of Nathaniel Greene & Co. could  have been this Nathanael, but was more likely his father, Nathaniel born in 1707, who would've been the uncle of our Rufus Greene, Jr. We can probably assume that Peter May is not talking about Rufus' father, Rufus Greene, Sr born in 1712, since the suspect is described as having brown hair and the elder Rufus would've been 60 years old at the time. Our suspect, Rufus Greene, Jr. would've been 24 years old at the time of the Gaspee attack.  For complete detals on this sideshow, see Bryant, SW, Rhode Island Justice-1772 Vintage, Rhode Island History, July 1967 26:3, pp65-71 which details the lawsuits the Greene family filed against Dudingston for the seizure of the cargo of rum. 

Of interest though, we do present some 1773 quips of Nathanael Greene on the issue of the Royally-appointed investigatory commission on the burning of the Gaspee, from:  Nathanael Greene: Strategist of the American Revolution by Theodore Thayer. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1960:

When aroused, few in Rhode Island were as bold and outspoken as Nathanael Greene. The commission, he warned Sammy, had alarming implications for every "lover of Liberty in America." If this "Mode of Tryal is established into a Precedent it will naturally Affect all the other Colonies." The practice of offering large rewards for information concerning offenses against the Crown encouraged perjury and led to no end of mischief, he declared. Lord North's ministry, it appeared to him, was actually thirsting for "American blood." The Rhode Island Assembly, of which he was a member, was, in his opinion, weak and cowardly for not taking a stand against the illegal directives of Crown officials.
Biographical Notes:

According to the RI Historical Cemetery Database at there are three Rufus Greenes listed, but none of the age suitable to have been involved in the Gaspee attack. He also doesn't show up in the 1790 census of Rhode Island on USGenWeb. This makes sense as we know Rufus Greene, Jr. died in New York.

< > (Link stale as of 2005) GREENWOOD.- An American ship of New York, commanded by Rufus Greene, which sailed from that city for the Northwest Coast in 1801. She is mentioned in E. B. Hewes, MS. Notes on American Vessels, but no reference to her has been found. This would have required a lengthy and dangerous trip around Cape Horn as there was no Panama Canal at the time.  Since Rufus Greene was known to be in command of the sloop captured by the Gaspee in February 1772, we can assume that Rufus continued in his career on the sea.

Catherine Williams in her book, Biography of Revolutionary Heroes: Containing the Life of Brigadier Gen. William Barton and also of Captain Stephen Olney. Providence, Published by the author, 1839, p84 names a Captain Greene as captain of a RI privateer vessel during the Revolution.

Per The Patriot Resource < > the Greene family were Quakers and owned a farm, grist mill, sawmill, ironworks, wharf, warehouse, dam, forge and anchorworks,  as well as engaged in coastal trading.

The extended Greene family, for the most part, was concentarted in the Coventry-East Greenwich-North Kingstown area about twenty miles South of Providence.  On the othe other hand, according to the 1770 List of Providence Taxpayers, James, Nathaniel, and Thomas Greene all held property in Providence at the time.

Alas, the Mrs. Rufus Greene portrait painted by famous artist Jonathan Copley does not appear to be the wife of our Rufus Greene, but rather one from Texas.
Genealogical Notes:

Parents: < (Stale link as of 2006) >
Rufus GREENE was born on 2 Jun 1712 in East Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island. He died on 11 Dec 1784 in East Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island. He married Martha RUSSELL on 13 Mar 1735 in Rhode Island.
He was the son of Jabez Greene (1673) and the brother of Nathaniel Greene (1707).  This Nathaniel Greene was the father of the more famous Nathanael Greene (1742) to which our Rufus Greene was first cousin.  We also discover a notice of bankruptcy published in the November 10, 1770 Providence Gazette for one Rufus Greene, merchant, of East Greenwich. During a subsequent auction, his mansion-house, outbuildings, and over 50 acres of land were sold to pay off the debts. A notice published in July 18, 1772 discusses the defunct Company of Rufus & Russell Green, and names Barbara Greene as administrix for the estate of Russell Greene, she being sued to recoup money owed from the company.  Legal notices regarding the resolution of the estate were still being published in 1793, long after he had died, and the matter referred to the State Assembly.
Martha RUSSEL was born on 24 Jun 1716 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts. She died on 30 Sep 1770 in East Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island. She married Rufus GREENE on 13 Mar 1735 in Rhode Island.
They had the 14 children, including: Abraham Greene, Russell Greene, Phebe Greene, Mary Greene, Joseph Greene, Rufus Greene, William Greene, Caleb Greene, Charles Greene, Stephen Greene, Martha Greene, Jonathan Greene, David Greene, and Martha Greene
Rufus Jr. GREENE  was born on 17 Mar 1748 (or 17 Jan 1747 according to some LDS files) in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. He died in 1831 in Houndsfield (v Haunsfield), New York. He  married Margaret BUCKOUT (v Buckhart) on 10 Jul 1768 in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York.
This is the Rufus Greene, Jr. of our concern. It is quite possible (and a common practice at the time) that Rufus Greene Sr and Martha Russell had a child born January 1747 who died shortly after birth, then named a subsequent child born in March of 1748 Rufus also. We admit to some confusion on his birth date.  In either event, we know that its WAS Rufus Green, Jr (not Sr.) who burnt the Gaspee.  In testimony in East Greenwich relative to the taking of the sloop Fortune in February 1772, he is identified specifically as Rufus Green, Jr. (Staples, p67).
Margaret BUCKOUT was born about 1745 in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. She died in Apr 1831 in Houndsfield, New York. She married Rufus Jr. GREENE on 10 Jul 1768 in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York.
Rufus probably met her on a packet freighter trip to New York for his uncle's company. Martha was the daughter of one John Buckout, who originally hailed from RI.
They had the following children:
  M i John GREENE was born in 1768. He died in 1837.
  F ii Nancy GREENE was born on 20 Mar 1770.
  F iii Phylotte GREENE was born on 20 May 1772. She died on 6 Jan 1866 in Salt Lake City, UT
  M iv James GREENE was born in 1774.
  M v Caleb   GREENE was born in 1775.

According to files, there was a Rufus Greene living in East Greenwich, RI in 1782 through 1830 which might or might not be our Rufus.  Curiously, there is also listed a Rufus Green, Esq. also in 1782-1830, and a Rufus Greene, Jr. who first appears in the 1830 census. We do not find any Revolutionary War pension records for Rufus Greene, but that does not necessarily exclude him from such service. From the Providence Gazette of November 6, 1799, we discover an ad for a Rufus Greene, Bookseller and Stationer, who had his shop on the west end of the Great Bridge. In 1801 he had moved his shop next to Governor Fenner's Mansion. We also note in 1801 that the firm of Christopher C. Olney and Rufus Greene was dissolved. We also see that Rufus Greene, Jr & Company's correspondence containing a note of $300 to Eliphalet Robinson was stolen in a stage-coach robbery in September, 1829.  We note that there was also a Rufus Greene of Boston, merchant.

From New York papers we see an ad throughout 1803 describing a paint pigment grinding and mixing machine, with ties to Rhode Island, and noting that a Rufus Greene was a druggist on 82 Maiden Lane in New York. In 1804 he entered with Francis Mariotte into the Firm of Greene & Mariotte, [v Mariette] distillers of fine cordials, a firm which was dissolved in 1809. In 1810 Rufus Greene and his wife, Eliza, had their buildings sold at auction. persuant to an order of the Court of Chancery.  All in all, we tend to doubt any relationship between the Rufus Greene, New York druggist with Rufus Greene, Jr. of Poughkeepsie, NY.

No close relationships are yet established between Rufus Greene and other Gaspee raiders, but then, the attack on Rufus Greene and the Fortune started it all. According to a William Greene married Welcome Arnold.  The Welcome Arnold House is two doors down from the site of the old Sabin Tavern where the tactics to burn the Gaspee in 1772 were laid out. Another great source is < (Stale link as of 2006)>.  All said, we have no idea what happened to our Rufus Greene, Jr, after he moved to Poughkeepsie, NY.

Based on the above evidence, the Gaspee Days Committee recognizes Rufus Greene, Jr as one of the true American patriots that attacked the HMS Gaspee in 1772.
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Originally Posted to Gaspee Virtual Archives 8/2002    Last Revised 07/2009   RufusGreene.htm