Our Green family, which we have traced back to Canada, has a family legend that William John Green, alias William Goodall Green, was the the son of Edward, Duke of Kent, and his mistress Julie de St Laurent. This legend has been fairly conclusively refuted by Mollie Gillen in her book The prince and his lady, so there is no need to go into that here.
William Goodall Green was in fact the son of Eliza Green, the daughter of James Green, a Quebec butcher, and William, Goodall, a London merchant. He was born in Quebec on 28 August 1790, before Edward Duke of Kent had set foot in Canada.
The legend did, however, become something of an obsession with some members of the family, and gave rise to some other minor mysteries.
William Goodall Green married Margaret Gray, the daughter of John Gray, the founder and first president of the Bank of Montreal. They had 15 children, born between 1815 and 1842, and Margaret died shortly after the last of them was born. William Goodall Green then went to the Cape Colony, in the Commissariat Department of the army, and two of his sons, Henry and Fred, remained in southern Africa. The eldest son, William, lived in Northumberland, England, and is son, also William, was the main propagator of the legend of royal descent.
It was William Goodall Green’s grandchildren who appeared to believe most firmly in the legend, and two of them changed their names as a result. Not only did they change their names, but they also seem to have disappeared, and therein lies the mystery.
Cecil Hollings Shipley Green was the youngest son of Major Edward Lister Green, and was born in Napier, New Zealand, in 1870. He became a bookkeeper at Alrig (wherever that may be), and in 1904 went to America. In 1917 his sister Florence Rutherfurd, then living in British Columbia, Canada, mentioned him in a letter to their eldest sister, Louie, in New Zealand:
I am writing to send you Christmas greetings and to tell you about Cecil, or Charles Stuart his name now is. Just the same initials, C.S. Green. He would like to hear from you. His address is
No 2503041 C.S. Green
No 10 Winnipeg Draft
Railway Construction Corps
He seems happier than for years and has been travelling about a great deal. He may have left for England so put if left, please forward. He has given my name as next-of-kin.
And that was the last (as far as we know) his family ever heard of Cecil Hollings Shipley Green, or Charles Stuart Green, as he preferred to be known.
And then there is his first cousin, William Alfred Goodall Esdaile Green, who was almost his exact contermorary, having been born in New South Wales about 1869.
He joined the Brisbane Volunteer Rifles in July 1887, was appointed Staff Sergeant in Feb 1892 and resigned in 1897. He was then appointed Second Lieutenant in the Queensland Defence Force on 30 July 1897 (1st Queensland or Moreton Regiment). He was a Lieutenant in the 4th Queensland (1st Imperial) Bushmen for service in South Africa, in the Anglo-Boer War, where he served from 18 May 1900 to 12 August 1901.
In 1902 and 1903 he applied for posts in the civil service in Natal and the Orange River Colony, and worked as a temporary clerk in the Public Works Department in Natal from 16 Aug 1902 until 31 Oct 1903, and then in the Treasury until 31 Dec 1904. On 13 Feb 1909 he was staying at 166 West Street, Pietermaritzburg and again applied for temporary employment.
After World War I he changed his name to William d’Este-Stuart-Grey, and that seems to have been the last anyone in his family heard from him. (Letter from Kathleen Schrader to her aunt Louisa Cowley, see Cowley 1996:194).
Did he change his name to emulate his cousin, or to go one up on him, or did both of them do it quite spontaneously without knowing about the other?
Both chose the name Stuart, which had royal connotations, though Edward Duke of Kent was a Hanoverian rather than a Stuart. Perhaps they both had a rush of royal blood to the head, but it would be nice to know what happened to them.