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Francis Green, 1853-1942

Francis Green, genealogist and local historian, was born an eldest son on 15th December 1853 1 in St. Mary Street, Carmarthen, where his father, also Francis Green, practised as an attorney-at-law who would become under-sheriff for the county. But the family home would be Oaklands, at Cwmffrwd, outside the town.

Although Carmarthenshire born, Francis Green, the historian, is usually identified with Pembrokeshire, where he spent the greater part of his life, a consequence of the fact that his mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of John Harding Harries of Trevacoon, Llanrhian, but Francis himself was to settle at St. Davids, where he received his early education at the Chapter School before proceeding to Shrewsbury. School over, he went to London to study law and qualified as a solicitor, after which he returned to work in his father's office.

In 1878 there came a seemingly unlikely turn of events for a family vocationally rooted in the law and the church his grandfather was the Rev. George Wade Green of Court Henry, and his first cousin, Charles Green, would become Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales for in that year they emigrated to Canada, where they bred shorthorn cattle and shire horses. But in 1892, Francis Green returned to London, where he took up an appointment in the office of the Financial Times. It was during this period of his stay in London that he made extensive transcripts from original documents in the Public Records Office and wills in Somerset House, spending his only free time, Saturdays, to undertake the work. The result of these researches constitutes thirty volumes of typescript now deposited at the County Record Office, Haverfordwest. In 1907 he retired to St. Davids, where he was to live at Glanymor, and devoted himself to the duties of a magistrate and the tireless pursuit of county history in West Wales, relieved from time to time by indulgence in his favourite recreation shooting. He died, unmarried, at St. Davids on 6th August 1942, in his 89th year.

As a lawyer, Green had inevitably handled a fair crop of deeds, conveyances and family records, and it is not unnatural that this should have stimulated his inborn interest, with the result that during his retirement he made it his task to inquire into the genealogies of county families in the counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke and into the broader fields of the history of these areas. By 1910 he was playing an important part in the establishment during that year of the Historical Society of West Wales, of which he was appointed secretary, beside which he also became editor of the society's Transactions. Although others contributed, the Transactions became very much the work of Francis Green and the fourteen volumes published as West Wales Historical Records remain a valuable source of reference and a worthy memorial to his painstaking dedication. The society, which was limited to three hundred members, owed much to his enthusiasm.

In 1927 the Cambrian Archaeological Association published Menevia Sacra by Edward Yardley, which had been edited by Francis Green, who had joined the association in 1898. The original manuscript, now in the National Library of Wales, had been discovered in the Cawdor library at Stackpole in 1879 and was deposited in the cathedral library at St. Davids, where it lay almost forgotten until brought to light once more. Bound in three volumes, the manuscript was compiled by Yardley while he was Archdeacon of Cardigan from 1739 to 1770 and gives a valuable account of the history of the cathedral, its offices and other matters relating to the see.

Green contributed much to learned journals and periodicals, including Archaeologia Cambrensis and Y Cymmrodor, and was always ready to help those who shared his interest. Among institutions which benefited from his expertise were the National Library of Wales, for which he catalogued manuscripts, and the College of Heralds. He also catalogued the library at Hawarden Castle for Lord Gladstone and prepared an index to the Fifth Series (1884-1900) of Archaeologia Cambrensis, which was published in 1902. He was also the author of a work on the history of the Greens of Denmark Hill, a London family long connected with the Stock Exchange and the world of finance from whom he was descended.

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