Sailing the British Empire : The Voyages of The Clarence, 1858-73

"Green's Celebrated Service"

Who owned The Clarence? Our first source of information was Lloyd’s Register:
“R. Green” of London gave us a starting point.  The obituary of Joseph Watson included with the log referred to “Green’s celebrated service”, suggesting that both our captain and our ship were connected to a larger story of significance to British shipping in the 19th century. Indeed, we were able to locate our ship's original owner, Richard “Dicky” Green (1803-63) in the Dictionary of National Biography and in a variety of older works on the merchant marine. (At the time of our voyage, the Clarence continued to be owned by the Green firm as it continued after Dicky Green's death.)

Here are two images of Richard Green. The second image shows a statue of Green and his dog, which is can still be seen today in Poplar, London. Sources: Basil Lubbock's Blackwall Frigates, and the Public Monuments and Sculptures Association, respectively.

Blackwall Yard

London’s Blackwall shipyard dated to the early seventeenth century and was historically associated with the East India Company.  Across the eighteenth century, the yard was operated by the Perry family. Richard Green's father, George, married into the Perry family and, in 1810, inherited half of the Blackwall yard, the other half going to the Wigram family.

From 1834 to 1838, Richard Green managed ships, and two of his brothers helped maintain the shipyard; the Greens sought to preserve the "fine traditions" of the East India Company by providing good service, discipline, navigation, and workers. As one aged sailor, George Taylor, recollected of serving as a young man on Blackwall frigates, "'[Green's] ships were models of what a ship should be...'," and of Richard Green, the article remarks that "...old deep-sea men retain the highest respect [for Green] because of his fairness, and for the high efficiency he insisted upon." (Source: Sea Breezes; The PSNC Magazine; February, 1924; Page 29)

The Greens continued building ships from 1837 to 1862, and in 1860, had about 30 ships.
Here's a map of Blackwall:

Both George Green and Richard Green, were charitable in character: they funded the construction of many buildings in Poplar, Richard's hometown, including Poplar Hospital, schools, a chapel, and a seamen's home. Moreover, they provided generously to Poplar charities and "supplied food for the poor in bad winters".

Walter Downie's Reminiscences of a Blackwall Midshipman (London, 1912), includes a vivid account of how news of Green's death traveled through his fleet:

“During our stay in Madras we received news of the death of Mr Richard Green, the head of the firm, an event much deplored by all his officers and crews, for he was a model shipowner. On these unwelcome tidings coming to hand, we proceeded to put the ship in mourning. The customary way is to paint all white parts…a pale blue, but for some reason or another, this custom did not appeal to our skipper, so instead we painted the lower masts black, and drew a thick black band through the line of our painted ports, making the ship, to my mind, look most gruesome.” (113)

The Unveiling of Richard Green's Statue
"A large party of gentlemen" assembled for the ceremony honoring Green's life. The statue was sited "in the midst of a district where Mr. Green had effected the greatest good", flanked by the Sailors' Home and the Poplar Hospital. It was said that "by his death that neighbourhood had lost a benefactor who could never be replaced."


James Burnley, "Green, Richard (1803-63), rev. A.W.H. Pearsall, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. [, accessed 30 September 2015]
Basil Lubbock, Blackwall Frigates (London, 1922)
"The Richard Green Memorial at Poplar," Illustrated London News (May 19, 1866): 494.

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