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After two years and much head scratching, I would like your help to move on with my family history. My father was Alexander GREEN, born in Medomsley, County Durham, in 1906. He married Elizabeth Jane WALKER, from Consett, County Durham. My grandfather was Matthew GREEN, born at Stockton in April 1865; he married Elizabeth ROBINSON who was born at Blackhill. My great-grandfather was George GREEN, born at Stockton in August 1829; he married Elizabeth Mary DODDS from Stockton.

            His father, William GREEN was a ‘master mariner’ (ship’s captain), who was born in Stockton in 1807 and was married to Charlotte STODDART from Stockton. The baptism register of St Thomas, Stockton includes the entry: William Green Hemsworth, born May 1st 1807, baptized 28th Dec. First son of John Hemsworth, mariner native of Keyinham in […] by his wife Martha Atkinson, native of this parish.

            Therefore, William’s father was named as John HEMSWORTH, a seaman from Keyingham, near Hull. John married Martha ATKINSON in Sculcoates on 26th January 1806 and still lived with her in Stockton in 1861. As far as I can find, they had no more children. John’s birth date is estimated at 1786 but no record has been found, but I know John had at least one sister, Catherine, from Keyingham.

            Was William John’s true son? If so, why were we all GREENs and him a HEMSWORTH? Do I carry on and try to trace the HEMSWORTHs? What do I do next? Please help me with my brick wall.

Mrs Marjorie E Godfrey


I have to assume that there is no doubt that your great-great-grandfather, ‘William GREEN’, is without doubt the ‘William Green HEMSWORTH’ baptised at St Thomas, Stockton, on 28th December 1807. Therefore where did the middle name ‘Green’ come from, and why did your grandfather take it as his surname? I assume that William was using the surname GREEN by the time he married Charlotte STODDART.

            There does not appear to be anything untoward going on: John HEMSWORTH married Martha ATKINSON in January 1806 and their son William was born in May 1807. The name GREEN may have come from further back in the family, from either the father’s or mother’s side; or possibly it was the name of a godparent.

            I doubt if you will ever find out why the change of name was made but so long as you are certain that John HEMSWORTH was William GREEN’s father then you can safely continue your research.

            You have not given any death dates. I would certainly advise that you discover when both John and Martha died and see if either left a will as possibly there may be some sort of an answer to question there. As you know they were both living in 1861, then any probate records would be with the Principal Probate Registry at First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NP. Indexes to wills and administrations are available at other locations.

            If you are unable to visit First Avenue House you can order copies of wills and grants of probate or administration by post from: York Probate Sub-registry, 1st Floor, Castle Chambers, 5 Clifford Street, York, North Yorkshire YO1 9RG. There is useful information leaflet at

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